It’s no secret that this is an unpopular time to be a journalist.
Many see reporters as negative, biased and nosy troublemakers whose stories shine a spotlight on America’s woes.
This was clear the Sunday of the vigil in downtown Ripon. Two people — one on Watson Street, the other on Blackburn — graphically demonstrated that I am No. 1 in their cross hairs.
I had spoken to neither the burly fellow at the Little White Schoolhouse cookout nor to the guy in the Milwaukee Brewers T-shirt standing just outside the vigil before each gave me a bird that looked nothing like the American eagle.
I offered not a word. Not even a bad look. My camera seemed to set each off.
Seeing me take photos, the cookout guy in his “Bikers for Trump” T-shirt and camouflage baseball cap assumed I was a member of the fake news fraternity, and so told me what he thought of me with his middle finger.
The other guy, standing with Ripon police officer Timothy Grenier next to a barricade, flipped me a two-handed salute for doing nothing but taking his picture after he yelled, “Get a job you f***ing hippies.”
These minor occurrences are emblematic of a pervasive feeling — given voice by social media posters — that the “lame-stream media” are the enemy.
Of course, they’re right.
We are the enemy of government propaganda, of politicians who skirt the truth, of those who oppress the underprivileged, of those who violate laws and ethics.
We are enemies of ignorance and those who exploit others’ ignorance for their own ends.
We are enemies of those opposed to a common set of facts because alternative facts enable leaders to divide us.
But we are not enemies of the people.
We make mistakes, have personal biases and sometimes behave irresponsibly. So please, feel free to give us the finger when we point our cameras or pick up our pens. Your speech is protected, too.
But beware with your gesture toward those who keep our republic free by keeping its public informed. One finger at journalists, four fingers at you know who.