This Is What Ugly Looks Like, Folks | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

This Is What Ugly Looks Like, Folks

When I got in this morning, one of my writers had emailed me about a new Facebook page bashing the Jackson Free Press—apparently because the folks on it are sore for not winning Best of Jackson awards.

photo

Donna Ladd

That part is nothing new: Over the years, we've had various blogs obsess over us, especially due to our inclusiveness, and each year, a handful of people get angry and nasty because they didn't win Best of Jackson awards. (Most of them didn't vote, either, but hey.) So I forwarded the writer's email to Todd so he could glance over the page. Soon he appeared in my office, saying that the page had detailed lies on it about me, saying that I had acted badly at a domestic-abuse fundraiser—an event I haven't actually attended since 2009 because it coincides with Todd and my birthdays, and we go to Florida then.

I went and looked at the page and couldn't believe the long, detailed story about me, all of which was an outright fabrication. Not to mention, right in the first sentence, the man who posted it ("Ray Dowdy") called me the "c*nt in chief" of the Jackson Free Press. He said that I threw my weight around at the last Heather's Tree event (I was in Florida with Todd), demanding that food be brought to me and my friends because we were the main sponsor of the event (we weren't). I acted so badly, he said, that Heather Spencer's mother (Linda Francomb) banned me and JFP folks from their future events. I was astounded that anyone would make up such outrageous lies about me, the mother of a murder victim and a wonderful event that raises money to help domestic-abuse victims.

I immediately called Linda (Heather's mom) on her cell and read it to her. She was as astounded as I was—maybe more, considering that she is not a female newspaper editor in Mississippi who regularly sees lies and vicious insults (and the words "c*nt" and "slut") used about her by people who disagree with her. She called Mary Ann Kirby, her family friend and the main organizer of Heather's Tree. Mary Ann then emailed me a response to the post, telling me to put it out so people can see the truth. Here it is verbatim:

It has come to our attention that inciting comments were made about you recently on an, "ANTI JFP" facebook page (created by Wes Avent). This is not a page that we subscribe to and were unaware of until today. Regretfully, the person responsible for these comments has used the Heather's TREE Soulshine Memorial Concert as a reference point in his post. While we do not know what the motivation was for making such comments or what precipitated them given the timing of the event, Heathers TREE does not in any way endorse of or condone the message. To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever happened or been mentioned. If my memory serves me correctly, you've not actually attended the event since 2009. Thank you for your continued support of Heather's TREE.

Best regards,
Mary Ann Kirby

Meantime, Todd tried to get on the page to respond to the lies (they didn't let him in), and I looked up and called the number of a Raymond Dowdy in Brandon who asked who I was and then said he'd never heard of a Raymond Dowdy. I was going to ask him where he got this story. Soon afterward, the real Ray Dowdy had taken the post down—saying that he was taking his "opinion" down so we wouldn't sue him for defamation of character. Others are now under that post saying that his post was true and "f*ck" us, etc.

Let me end with this: Five years ago, or even two years ago, I likely wouldn't have blogged about this publicly, writing it off to hatefulness. (I've ignored a lot of stupid and vicious lies about us over the years.) But after hearing of so many local woman who are cyber harassed and called vicious names because they dare express an opinion, I've decided that women have to speak out and stick together. (And I thank Linda and Mary Ann for responding as they did, and so quickly.) It is sad and ironic that this gentleman tried to use such a worthy cause—and one about abuse of women—to try to assassinate my character and hurt my business (the same page wants people to boycott our advertisers).

But women must speak up and speak out in our state because and despite of people like this, who want to hurt us and our livelihoods. We must stick together and demand respect. We must tell men like this to disagree with us without calling us "c*nts" or "sluts" or "liars." (See this related post from a couple months ago about a similar situation.)

This kind of behavior, if left unanswered, is part of what runs smart people out of Mississippi. It is not "opinion," or protected speech, to say you witnessed an amazing woman like Linda Francomb "banning" me and the JFP from an event that I did not attend because I did and said things that never occurred. That is presenting lies as facts, and it is sick behavior. And it's defamation.

If you are reading this and outraged by this, please consider donating even $10 to the Heather's Tree fund. Mary Ann, Linda and the other friends of Heather do amazing work, providing emergency grants to families in immediate danger. Please do what you can and support the next concert in October and turn today's unfortunate incident into a positive effort to raise more awareness about domestic abuse.

And please read Ronni Mott's stories in honor of the late Heather Spencer and Doris Shavers: Did She Have To Die? and Grant Me Justice. May they rest in peace.

Previous Comments

ID
165859
Comment
1. Wow. Just...wow. 2. Sorry that happened, because I respect you as a strong outspoken person. Even when we don't agree. (And yes, I have jokingly called you HBIC, but... in respecful love.) 3. Your proof-reader missed putting an asterisk in that last C*NT. It's there, plain and nekkid as a... well... 4. Donation made. Keep your chin up, lady.
Author
Michael Kennedy
Date
2012-01-26T16:33:24-06:00
ID
165860
Comment
My chin is perpetually up, Michael. I'm really posting this on behalf of other women who squelch their own voices because of people like this. And the gay-bashing on that page is disgusting as well. Ew.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-26T16:37:20-06:00
ID
165861
Comment
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7 In other words, karma is a boomerang that will bust you in the eye (I read that somewhere). I know what it's like for someone to beat you up online. I tried to start a civic organization a few years ago and was called a "dumb s*** rebel without a clue" on this very site. It hurt, and I cried. After continued opposition, I gave up a few months later. However, Donna is not the type that gives up. Even if she cried and snotted behind closed doors (which I doubt), she won't let junk like this stop her from the mission of promoting the best of Jackson. I still don't get why people get angry at the JFP since readers pick the winners, but that's another story.
Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2012-01-26T17:01:12-06:00
ID
165862
Comment
I would also like to know this: What do so many Mississippians have against smart women?
Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2012-01-26T17:10:39-06:00
ID
165863
Comment
No, I gain energy from this kind of thing. Some day these fools are going to learn that paying us no mind would be their smarter strategy. (smile) But there are two things (off the top of my head) that I have a tough time keeping quiet about: (1) Picking on my staff members and (2) stooping into sexual (and violent) innuendo to try to silence women. And, now, a third: Trying to take advantage of an amazing organization that helps families such as Heather's Tree to try to hurt other people. And I'm getting a lot less patient with a fourth: outright lies about me, my family, my company and my staff. None of us can stand for that sh!t. It's harmful for us all, our city and our state. I'm speaking out precisely because I'm strong and these kinds of words bounce off me. But I don't want them to bounce on, and hurt, other people, especially women who are already victimized. No.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-26T17:11:12-06:00
ID
165864
Comment
Oh, and I've cried, Latasha. But never over some dumb fool without the courage to look into my face and insult me.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-26T17:14:52-06:00
ID
165865
Comment
If I had the time, I'd start an anti-anti-JFP page just for kicks. LOL What funny to me is that when you go out of way to insult someone thinking that you're bringing them down, you draw more attention to them, so you get the opposite effect.
Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2012-01-26T17:23:07-06:00
ID
165866
Comment
The sort of man who eats his lunch wearing a baseball cap. Let me know if you learn his identity. I'd be delighted to knock it off his head along with the chip on his shoulder.
Author
Belvedere
Date
2012-01-26T17:24:59-06:00
ID
165867
Comment
I know his identity and all sorts of other stuff. People have been writing me about him all day. But sounds like I'd better not give you any more info, Belvedere. ;-) Latasha, not sure what this guy was thinking, especially drawing Linda and Heather's T.R.E.E. into the game. Just: wow.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-26T17:29:45-06:00
ID
165868
Comment
Donna, you go. It's amazing to me the lengths that some people will go to in order to put down others. Not only did this Ray Dowdy (or whoever he is) lie about you, he lied about Heather's TREE and he lied about Heather's mom, Linda. Why? What personal space in hell does he occupy to be so small minded? He's backing down on the site now, saying that maybe it was someone impersonating Donna (ha!). And he's apologized—even if it's lame. So good. Regardless, the people on that site certainly have an agenda or two. First, they're saying the JFP staff skew the Best-of results somehow. People, the only thing employees can do is vote, and we get one of those, just like all other voters. As of this year, we've even eliminated ourselves from the competition. We did that by unanimous vote during a staff meeting. Second, they don't like what we write. I can live with that. We certainly aren't in the business of ramming our opinions down anyone's throat. Don't like it? Easy fix: Don't read it. There are a whole slew of publications and websites that give me a case of the creeps. I don't go there without a really good reason. What galls me is the downright nastiness of some of the comments, littered as they are with derogatory woman bashing and cursing. I'm no prude. I've seen and lived through some truly awful events and I've even been known to cuss like a sailor, but most people I know wouldn't let such filth out of their mouths, let alone post it forever on the Internet. Get a grip.
Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2012-01-26T17:36:39-06:00
ID
165870
Comment
Yes, posting stuff like that online - especially Facebook - isn't a good idea. Potential employers check resumes and Facebook pages now. Hope none of them are looking for work.
Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2012-01-26T17:39:59-06:00
ID
165871
Comment
Someone "inpersonating" me? And was someone "impersonating" Linda, too, when he saw her tell "me" that we weren't welcome at their events any longer. And why don't the Heather's TREE organizers, or Linda, remember telling someone "impersonating" me?!? Here's the problem: All of us know each other. The organizers know each other. We all work together and with the Center for Violence Prevention and the Coalition (which I believe he referred to as well). Had I been doing the stupid stuff he said, everyone would have known it was me. He can't put this genie back in the bottle. He made up a horrible story about me, Linda and Heather's TREE to try to hurt my reputation. Plain and simple. Busted.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-26T18:23:06-06:00
ID
165872
Comment
(Y'all, don't forget to donate; use this fool's idiocy to help domestic-abuse victims, please!)
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-26T18:23:57-06:00
ID
165873
Comment
This is me, Ray Dowdy, coming clean. I said some awful things towards Ms. Donna Ladd and the JFP earlier today in a post in an Anti-JFP group on Facebook and I regret doing so, BECAUSE IT WAS A FABRICATION OF THE TRUTH, and one said out of anger because I do not care for this paper or it's opinion. But that is is no way an excuse for my behavior AT ALL. Turning it into a personal attack on Ms. Ladd's character was very inappropriate of me and totally uncalled for and I want to sincerely and publicly apologize for doing so. I also apologize to Ms. Linda and Mrs. Many Ann as well. Heather's T.R.E.E. is a wonderful organization I have been honored to help volunteer with for the last for years because I was friends with Heather before her passing and I do believe in what Heather's T.R.E.E. stands for and accomplishes every year with it's efforts in educating others about and against domestic violence against women and others. And on that note, I am even more embarrassed that I stooped as low to call Ms. Ladd a c**t, because there was no reason for me to have done so in the first place, even out of misguided or misplaced anger. I want to apologize for that as well, and I will say that to her credit, Ms. Ladd has been very understanding and hopefully forgiving in this matter. And I apologize towards all women out there for using that term in the first place, no matter what reason I had for doing it, because it was simply wrong to do so. I will not be making any more derogatory comments towards her or this paper in the future, I know that I was very much in the wrong, but I hope that by being man enough to admit it, I can somehow make it right. Thank you to Ms. Ladd for letting me apologize and come clean, and I am terribly sorry for any hurt my post may have caused. Ray Dowdy
Author
raydowdy
Date
2012-01-26T19:12:39-06:00
ID
165875
Comment
Incredible. They are not only so threatened by you that they lie about you, they're hell bent on ending your career. (Well, as "hell bent" as empty Facebook complaints can get.) Because any opinion that is not their opinion is a threat and needs to be silenced. What a remarkably pathetic display of moonshine-fueled insecurity. What a bleak reminder that being an outspoken, strong woman in this state gives people a reason for rebellion. You handled this very well, and I look forward to their embarrassment.
Author
Stacey Branson Spiehler
Date
2012-01-26T20:18:12-06:00
ID
165876
Comment
Hello. My name is JOHN WESLEY AVENT. I started the group JFP (Jackson False Press)…NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS PUBLICATION. On that note, Anybody can say what they like at anytime without being prescreened in that group (in America that is a Constitutional Right.) By the way that is a TRUE FREE way to express without having to buy an ad. I will not allow such false statements made with out a mouth to be heard. NO WOMEN OR GAYS were bashed. Please do not mislead your readers. People are not upset over an unrecognized award that is purely concentrated towards the downtown area and support groups. Jackson is much more than an award or an opinion. We are a community. Please take note of that and branch out and see the rest of the city. I am not angry. I am disappointed. I miss the Jackson of old…The Jubilee Jams!, Booming nightlife, lesser crime, less drama…and so forth to name a few. What I read from the publication only states 1/16th of what the State's Capitol has to offer. It concerns me. I understand there are listings and "to do's each week", event schedules, and so forth. That is great and all but each one seems to come with an opinion. Please let the citizens and tourists develop their own opinion. So I feel if I should speak just like you I would like to be heard also. Feel free to contact me for an interview if you need more answers from a different angle. I am hoping that we can all bring back the Jackson of old. Thank you, Wes Avent
Author
Wes Avent
Date
2012-01-26T22:06:40-06:00
ID
165879
Comment
Hey John Wesley, thanks for dropping by. You are exactly wrong: No one has the right to tell lies about another person, which Ray Dowdy did -- and some others on your page as well, such as one man (who owes us money) -- directly about his interaction with our business and one of our employees. If you stay in this, er, publishing business very long (I know you just have a Facebook page so far, but still), you will learn that *you* are responsible for what people post on your media property -- especially if you encourage the lies yourself. Let me give y'all new to this whole publishing/blogging business a little advice: It is your constitutional right to state an "opinion" about someone else -- like she's ugly, she's dumb, she' wrong. It might even be distasteful to others, but it is protected speech. And others have the right to slam you back for it, and it is not somehow violating your speech (as whiners will also claim) because someone else talked back to your childish taunts. What is not protected and is libelous is what Ray Dowdy and at least one other person did on your page: tell defamatory lies about things they say that we (as individuals or a company) did that we did not do. Ray told a whole long story that was pure fabrication about me by name after calling me the "c*nt-in-chief" in the first line, with y'all cheering him on. And, no, you can't just stick "It is my opinion that" in front of "Joe Blow killed someone" or "John Wesley effed his mother"* or "Linda Francomb banned Donna Ladd from events" and claim that you or the people you're encouraging and publishing didn't just libel Joe Blow, you, or Linda and me (not to mention the Heather's TREE organization). That would be straight-up defamation, and if you don't learn the difference between that and actual opinion, you're going to find yourself making an ass out of yourself in front of a judge who is laughing at your dumb little butt because you think you have the "right" to lie about anyone you want because you know how to create a Facebook page. If all y'all had done was whine about how much the JFP and "liberals" and "Best of Jackson" and Fondren sucks because y'all didn't win awards, then I would have just rolled my eyes because it's not like I haven't seen that behavior before. It was the lies and attempts to defame us that got my attention. You don't get to do that. I also know a couple of people at Facebook, by the way, and they don't take kindly to their service being used for libel, either. You're choosing the wrong forum. You also say no one bashed women or gays; funny that you say that, but I don't recall any of your folks, or you or your admins, telling Ray not to call me the "c*nt-in-chief"--in fact, y'all encouraged him. Do you really not consider calling a woman a CUNT "woman-bashing"? If not, I pity you. As for gays, numerous posts over there were bashing the JFP for being a bunch of gays, etc., etc. I have the PDF, dude, so don't bother deleting now. My advice to you is to GROW THE HELL UP. Your buddies, including one who changes his club name every few months it seems, are over there whining because they don't like who won the Best of Jackson awards (who could vote for a club with constantly revolving names, anyway?). Meantime, everyone of you is using your real name to show people what the Worst of Jackson look like. If y'all want to win awards so badly, start acting like the kind of people that someone would bother to sit down in front of a computer and write on to a ballot. Get your friends to vote, and vote yourself. But the last thing you have the RIGHT to do is put out lies about me, my family, my staffers or my company. Capiche? * John Wesley did not eff his mother to my knowledge.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T10:51:04-06:00
ID
165880
Comment
Oh, and I have no interest in interviewing you, John Wesley. If that's what you wanted, you chose the wrong avenue.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T10:52:28-06:00
ID
165881
Comment
Now to Ray Dowdy: Thank you for the apology. You're right: You showed you are man enough to admit when you're wrong. And I appreciate your private comments to me about what you hope to learn from this experience. Good luck to you: It's never too late to lift yourself up and change for the better.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T11:09:57-06:00
ID
165882
Comment
Ray There's a common punctuation mark used at the end of a sentence. Its called a period. Learn how to use one. Its making my vagina hurt to read all those run-ons. With that being said...I can't believe I totally missed all this! ;-)
Author
Lori G
Date
2012-01-27T12:12:45-06:00
ID
165883
Comment
Ray, good for you on coming clean. Consider that your next step is posting your apology on the anti- facebook page where your lies continue to fester. Just a thought.
Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2012-01-27T12:30:37-06:00
ID
165884
Comment
Ronni's right, Ray. Your half-apology over there still contains the mistruth that Linda was told about a Ladd impersonator, and that the whole thing really happened. I appreciate what you did here, though. Many "men" have not bothered to apologize for their brand of misogyny—including against Ronni. If you're serious about it, I believe there's hope for you. Stay the course. (And Eddie Outlaw: Don't you get any ideas about Ladd impersonators!)
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T12:40:10-06:00
ID
165885
Comment
Now Ladd, you know me and you have bumped heads in the past. But, it is what it is and its in the past. But I like having my posting rights back up here also, yes indeed! lol!!
Author
Duan C.
Date
2012-01-27T12:56:37-06:00
ID
165886
Comment
Still waiting for YOUR apology, Duan. ;-)
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T13:01:39-06:00
ID
165889
Comment
I am not trying to publish or blog or whatever it is you spend your time doing. thanks for the tips and advice though…it is noted. Just know this…I have personally never mentioned a name but my own. I never said who I was directing comments to. But i did see you directed some towards me. noted
Author
Wes Avent
Date
2012-01-27T15:23:36-06:00
ID
165890
Comment
Yes, I did answer you, John Wesley. It's right up above if you missed it.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T15:34:20-06:00
ID
165891
Comment
@ Ladd I thought I did? lol!!! If I didn't, I'm sorry for being the male chauvinists pig I am. I'll make sure Tenika is pampered this weekend in your honor. lol!!
Author
Duan C.
Date
2012-01-27T15:50:33-06:00
ID
165892
Comment
You did, Duan. Teasing. Pamper Tenika anyway, though. *glaring*
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T15:54:06-06:00
ID
165893
Comment
Ray posted his apology on facebook. Good for you, Ray. I know it took courage. Your friends—your true friends—will eventually understand, or at least seek to understand. Take courage in the fact that you have done the right and honorable thing.
Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2012-01-27T17:30:39-06:00
ID
165894
Comment
I echo Ronni's sentiment. Ray and I have talked quite a bit one-on-one, and I think he's really genuine about his apology and his desire to get some stuff worked out. I'm serious that, in the end, he's showed more class than so many fools who have tried to defame the JFP and its people over the years. None of this diminishes the awfulness of what happened, but he knows that. I believe good may come from all of this.
Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2012-01-27T18:49:51-06:00

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