When I was a cub reporter in a small town, I frequently got yelled at and threatened when I published a story people didn't like. They didn't like it because it made them feel a certain way; uncomfortable, angry, afraid. Whatever the emotion, it prompted people to act like lunatics, cursing out a stranger over a few paragraphs no one will remember next week. One, for example, told me she hoped my mother died, among other choice directives. It bothered me. I cried in secrecy. It made me feel horrible to think something I had written had hurt someone. I was a nobody who liked to write. I didn't want power. I just wanted to get paid my meager wage for doing what I love.
It was my job to report, not to judge. And just as many times a tough story spurned fury, others sparked changes for the greater good. It was difficult to please everyone. No, it was impossible. And that's why journalists can't cave to threats of violence. It weakens the entire system and leaves them even more vulnerable. Maintaining a steady fairness is imperative. Or it's one day someone doesn't like a religious cartoon, the next day they don't like a certain font. Where does it end and who decides?
When I'd tell my editor it bothered me to be hated, he said if I wasn't, I wasn't doing my job. Similar to other professions tasked with the oversight of many, you're bound to make mistakes or make people mad. It's more difficult to keep peace than it is to create violence. Those who resort to threats to manipulate are no different than the bullies of our childhood. They never win in the end. Their fulfillment is fleeting and the damage eternal.
I'm ultimately a pacifist so I can't relate to evil and my immediate reaction in all conflicts isn't to kill people, no matter what they've done. I'm used to debating this and I understand both sides. Peace is a tough order these days but it's always worth it if it means a better world for one, some or all.