Stop being an internet troll. That’s a suggestion from Pope Francis to Catholics considering a Lenten sacrifice.

“We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words,” the pope said.

So this Lent, he suggests, Catholics might consider refraining from verbal and written abuse on the internet.

It’s good advice for all denominations. And we submit an addendum: Try to cut back on overreaction, too.


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● Last month, a columnist for the UND newspaper penned an opinion piece that detailed her disapproval of a Super Bowl halftime show featuring the gyrations and pole-dancing of two pop stars. Cortnie Cottrell concluded that “when we decrease the values of our bodies by wearing few clothes and dancing inappropriately, we are telling society that it is acceptable to view women as just a piece of meat, rather than a heart and soul.”

Some say she was victim-blaming, and she later apologized. But her point, we believe, was that women are more than objects – they have hearts and souls. America needs to hear this, and we’re proud of this young writer for saying it.

College newspapers traditionally have been a bastion for strong opinions and far-reaching material as young writers experience independence, learn the craft and attempt to catch the attention of fellow students. Those days are fading; the writer took a beating online.

● In Bismarck, a photographer withdrew his request to hang a large portrait outside a bakery after the idea drew negative comments, including threats to boycott the business.

The work is the result of a rare wet-plate portrait – one that produces great detail and stark contrasts – of young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who visited North Dakota last year. After the photographer withdrew plans to put the mural in Bismarck, it is appearing in cities worldwide, including Paris.

So, because of online criticism, a work of art will not be seen in Bismarck, but it will be displayed around the globe. Perhaps Michelangelo’s David may someday be displayed in Bismarck; and perhaps people will gaze at the exposed parts God gave man and revel in their open-mindedness. But an artistic photo of a young activist? Well, that’s just too much.

Editorially, the Herald has backed oil and coal projects, but we appreciate other opinions about climate, too. We also like interesting and artistic photos. Why can’t people be both?

● A Valentine’s Day poster at Grand Forks Central included references to Nazi Germany, including swastikas and a corny Nazi pun. Appropriate? No. Worthy of overreaction? Probably not.

As far as we know, whoever made the poster wasn’t selling drugs in a bathroom. It’s possible it was just an overreach by a good kid trying to be interesting with a project.

Teens sometimes don’t sense the repercussions of their choices, and teachers sometimes might not immediately grasp the impact of a dumb joke or awkward comment.

Central High freshman Adina Weinstein put it in perspective in a Viewpoint in Saturday’s Herald, saying it’s a good start to a needed conversation. Just a freshman, her piece was ripe with level-headed logic.

These are learning experiences for everyone.