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MAG Properties LLC (Margaret Anne Goldsmith) reflects on Face Book Bullying and her Building

at 119 North Side Square

My story began when my company did not renew its 119 North Side Square lease in order to renovate,
repair deterioration, and bring the building up to code. Plans are for the first floor and mezzanine to be
a restaurant; offices will be developed on the second floor. To be a good steward, I felt it was my
responsibility to insure that my 150 year old historic building is kept in good condition to benefit
Huntsville’s downtown square for another century and a half. The other side of the story was that the
tenants were upset when their lease was scheduled to terminate in 30 days and they were granted an
additional 60 days to find another location. They wanted to continue leasing through August 2019.
None of the alternatives we presented to each other were suitable. This is not an unusual situation
between a landlord who needs to repair his/her building and a tenant who is reluctant to move. What is
unusual is that our differences received headlines and public outcry.
The Antagonist in my story, the “bad guy,” has been Face Book, which was developed for friends to keep
in touch and share their lives with each other. Unfortunately Face Book and other social media have
also provided a forum for people who don’t know both sides of a story and who may not know each
other, to denigrate, threaten and attempt to destroy the character and good name of the one being
attacked. Free speech is to be respected but to disagree is not equal to creating conflict. Thankfully I
have not been physically hurt as over one thousand Face Book posts flew back and forth with some
suggesting physical violence. One person wrote that I should be lynched. I was frightened, as only a
week earlier a nationally publicized shooting had occurred in Pittsburg. Although upset, I did not fall
into a depression which does happen, especially to young people who have been attacked on social
media. During a period of more than a month that this story has been in the news, a few friends have
provided my side of the story, which I appreciated. It has always been my goal to make contributions to
Huntsville that improve the quality of life for our citizens. If my contributions had been mentioned and
my side of the story presented as outlined above, my character may not have been denigrated as it has
been. However, this story is now old news and will eventually become history.
What is important is how our community can prevent behavior similar to what I experienced. When we
as a community observe unbridled bullying on Face Book and other public forums, we have a
responsibility to neither contribute to the attack nor remain silent and indifferent. No matter how
unpopular or how difficult it is not to allow one group to negate the needs and dignity of others in this
type of bullying, we must not ignore another’s suffering. As good citizens we are charged not to be
indifferent for indifference creates an illusion of unity. Silence and indifference to what often begins as
bullying can lead to the tarnishing of not just an individual or a community but it can lead to an even
worse fate, as history has taught. It is my hope that as a community we have the strength to speak up
and the courage to stand up for those who are vulnerable, and the wisdom to know that in the face of
bullying, we must neither perpetuate the situation nor remain indifferent.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it is indifference. The
opposite of faith is not heresy, it is indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it is indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel – 1986 Nobel Laureate