When people ask me to tell them a joke, I always pull the one my mom shared with me out of my back pocket:

If you have five pinon nuts in one hand and four pinon nuts in the other hand, what do you have?

A difference of a pinon!

I think this joke may drop even lower than the infamous “Dad Jokes,” but it seems to me that lately the punchline isn’t so funny. Who knew a difference of opinion could truly be so degrading?

In the past two weeks in Sheridan, I and others at The Sheridan Press have fielded several calls and messages expressing their opinions about cartoons we have run or events our reporters have covered. Our readers and community members sharing their opinions with us is not my concern. It’s actually a highlight to receive feedback on our publication; we write for the people and hold those entrusted with our taxpayer dollars accountable by showing up to everything we can with the staff we have, and it wouldn’t make sense not to also be in conversation with the people for whom we write.

The part that sinks my heart into my stomach is the way in which some readers and community members are lashing out at The Press or their fellow neighbors when a difference of opinion occurs.

People are stooping further than I’ve ever experienced. They take a public opinion, sometimes held by an entire group of people, and make it personal. I’ve been personally shamed over the phone for an opinion of a cartoonist a thousand miles away.

While the pride march last weekend fielded little resistance from community members at the actual event, we’ve received nasty messages bludgeoning The Press for even covering it.

That’s what The Press does. We cover events that are happening, regardless of affiliation.

Our newsroom strives to be unbiased when it comes to the news we report, regardless of individual political affiliations, religious beliefs, sexual orientations or otherwise. Our personal opinions cover the gamut, just as they do throughout the community, but we leave them at home.

Don’t take this the wrong way: I still want to hear the good and the bad feedback about our product and will continue to field the many calls I receive as best I can.

What I don’t want is the ugly.

If we’ve done something to harm someone or have a correction that needs fixed, I’m happy to hear you out. What crosses a line are those callers that accuse The Press of being heartless for a decision made, especially when those callers then turn around and share heartless comments about the other side of whatever affiliation is upsetting them at that moment.

Everyone is human and bound to have an opinion. Sometimes, those opinions won’t line up with yours. Instead of tearing into each other, practice civil discourse and remain open-minded and curious about someone unlike you.

You never know what you can gain by openly recognizing the difference of a pinon.