Roger Marolt: An apology to Aspen that is long over due
Perspective is a high-definition mirror that can make one look ugly. I was an underground creator of fake news. I tainted candidates and issues. I caused discord by manipulating facts and data. The worst of it is that it did not happen on the national level where I would have had no effect. I did it in Aspen where my gut tells me I might have.
I have told this story before so indulge me for doing so again, but I need to do it briefly so that I can get to where I am going with this piece. What makes this necessary for me is the current revelation that Russia, without any doubt, has meddled in our nation’s election process, and it makes me sick.
Here is a local version of that story expressed as a confession: Over a period of four years at the turn of this century, I anonymously wrote and got published 180 letters to the editor in both local papers under 22 different pen names. Many people know this.
Now, 15 years after the fact and far too late in the coming, I want and need to apologize to this community. What began and ended as a joke in my mind, and what I have defended as such in that same sometimes seemingly very small place, I now see for what it was: a full-on attack on the local treasure of a privileged means of communication in our small town — our newspapers. I don’t care if you love them or hate them, together they are an incredible amenity that most towns of comparable size do not have and, if they do, they do not oftentimes encompass equally high journalistic quality.
I am sorry. The people who said I was wrong are right. Please forgive me for being arrogant, aloof and defensive in my previous defense of my actions. The town has survived my transgression and, with time, that has added clarity to what I saw gazing backward after I pulled my head out and has produced a feeling of needed humility as the impotency of my effort was revealed and fizzled into the ugly ash left from a flash fire ignited with a fuse of vanity.
What makes an exercise such as I undertook most troubling is the allure of humor and entertainment value I purposefully imparted in it. I can still laugh at much of what I wrote, sometimes as an expression of nervousness and embarrassment, but other times because it is actually funny. This doesn’t make it right or even OK. It is simply the truth. I am sure things the Russians published in their nefarious scheme to cause chaos in our country also are entertaining, otherwise it would not have worked. Over the long haul, which we can guess was and still is their aim, humor and innuendo will be inserted to effectuate authenticity.
I hope the Russians feel guilty and it will lead them to repent someday, but I doubt it. The main reason is that they are making a living perpetuating fraud. Money is the thing that pulls the moral compass perpetually away from pointing to true north. Thank goodness for tomfoolery that only costs its perpetrator.
I will finish with an “anonymous” quote I submitted as the facade I hid behind began to cave in. I don’t clearly recall my state of mind when it was published, but my hope today is that this reflects a latent hope then that this misadventure would all turn out OK someday:
If we stand back to back and walk away from each other; you moving due east and me due west, continuing these ways the rest of our lives, we will each etch a very narrow path around this globe. Will meet time and again after covering familiar ground; always moving in opposite directions.
But, if I alter my perspective a fraction of a degree to the northwest and you to the southwest, we will at least canvass the different hemispheres, although we will find ourselves near opposite poles, never quite getting to the point.
What we need then is a short, right sidestep over the axis before moving on. As we continue forward, our courses will imperceptibly alter 180 degrees. We will begin to trace the other’s steps as soon as we cross the middle ground again. The opposite, unknown pole will eventually be negotiated the same way.
When we meet again, our positions will appear the same as when we started this journey, but we will have reversed our bearings completely and then back again. We each will have seen all the different lands, seas and peoples of the Earth.
What an interesting conversation we will then have!
The entire body of evidence against Roger Marolt is contained in his full confession titled “Dear Editor:” Email at email@example.com.
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