Let’s do the better thing | TheUnion.com

Let’s do the better thing

Oh, for crying out loud, Nevada County. Do any grownups live here? And are any of them involved in the fight over NH 2020?

Take this Web site thing. Susan Levitz – who I feel comfortable calling a staunch supporter of NH 2020, seeing as how she edits the SupportNH2020.com Web site – registers a handful of domain names like “noonnh2020.com” and “defeatnh2020.org” and sets those domains up to redirect to her site.

Levitz is accused of breaking the law. But no, it’s not illegal.

Levitz points out, in a letter on these pages, that plenty of other domains remain available, among them “NH2020stinks.com” and “IHateNH2020.com.” This is true.

She also points out that domain names are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, and that names like “GeorgeWBushsucks.com” have been registered by Bush’s people. What she’s done is standard practice.

But none of those are the point, and Levitz is just one of many people on both sides of the NH 2020 fight – I’m not going to dignify it by calling it a “debate” – who don’t seem to get it.

The point is, I like the environment. I’m generally in favor of planning. And I have trouble relating to United Nations-conspiracy freaks. So I should be pro-NH 2020.

But I don’t like what Susan Levitz is doing either. No, it’s not illegal to redirect people who type “defeatnh2020.com” to a site in support of the program. But is it necessary? How many people type in random domain names anyway – i.e., how much extra traffic is it going to bring to your site? And how many people who do randomly type in “noonnh2020.com” really want to be directed a pro-NH 2020 site? What, because they’ve finally found a Web site called “SupportNH2020.com,” they’re going to see the light?

I guess I don’t get the George W. Bush reference either, or at least I was surprised to learn Levitz was a fan of his. She must be, right? Why else would she justify her actions with his precedent? It sounds to me like she’s saying, “George W. Bush does this too, and he’s a model of virtue, so it must be OK for me to follow suit.”

That’s odd for a staunch environmentalist. Unless she’s saying, “George W. Bush does this, too. Many of my opponents support him, so they can’t whine at me for doing the same thing he does.” But that would also mean, “I have no problem acting the same way as someone whose ethics I purport not to share.”

This is the deal: Registering domain names that should be available to the anti-NH 2020 camp isn’t illegal, but it’s petty as hell. It does little or nothing to help the pro-NH 2020 side – actually, now that it’s been made public, it probably hurts. And her defense – “It’s legal! It’s standard practice!” – strikes me as about as sophisticated as something a junior high school student could muster.

We should not, as people, strive to do the legal thing or the socially acceptable thing. We should strive to do not even just the right thing, but the better thing.

If Susan Levitz were to cede her registration of “defeatnh2020.org” to a willing buyer who actually wants to defeat NH 2020, it wouldn’t hurt anything. As she’s pointed out, that buyer could get on the Web with a different domain name anyway.

But it would be a gesture of good will. And it’s beyond me why so many people don’t understand it – especially on either side of NH 2020 – but those kinds of gestures would do more for Levitz’s cause than a million domain names.

Josh Wimmer works on the copy desk at The Union. His column appears on alternate Fridays. E-mail him at

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