I am usually very calm about issues. I respect people’s opinions just for the mere fact that they have made a decision on what they believe and where they choose to stand. I don’t have a need to fill by letting everyone know where I stand. I live my life as I believe and pick and chose my battles with careful decision. I think that we need differences of ideas so that we can grow and evolve as human beings, or at the very least to keep things interesting. What will the snarky gossipers do with their time if we are all the same? (Ooooh!)
By sheer genetics we can not all be alike. So, I am not a letter writer to companies when things go wrong. I don’t wear my political gear around my small town. But I crossed over a line yesterday when reading our VERY SMALL Town’s newspaper and was fired up enough to post an opinion.
The article in the paper listed crimes, names, ages and home addresses of minors who were involved with the law over the weekend. Let me note here that many people in our little town grabs the paper from the front drive and opens it right up to the arrests section. Other articles in the paper contain news that has already been heard, so the arrests are the only real excitement factor which usually consists of the small handful of adults picked up for drunk driving.
But this big news about the teens that came to my iPhone was not in the arrest section, but rather as a headline article, and it was so invasive that I was stunned. I scrolled down to read the comments left by the good members of our upstanding community. There were very good points made about the drinking age and such on many sides of the issue, but when the author of the article defended herself with an excuse intended for idiots I was moved to write.
Here are quotes from the article comments:
Smart and concerned citizen writes – “Why do [this paper’s] reporters find it necessary to include the names of teens arrested? . . . Other papers, whether print or online, will report the Police Blog, but they do not give names and addresses of people arrested. These people you are reporting on are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, yet [your paper] prints all names, addresses, and mug shots of teens without any consideration given to the harm being done to these individuals and their families. What possible reason, other than sensationalism, does this serve?”
Author of sensationalism article responds – “The information is public record. If you visit [the Village’s] website and look under Departments, click on Police and Press Bulletins, you will see that the information is quite visible to anyone who wants to find it. (Well NOW it is – thanks for the tutorial) The people named are charged as adults; therefore the names are made public. (although her article does state that the MINORS received UNDERAGE/ minors in possesson drinking tickets = not charged as adults) We are not trying to sensationalize the news, as you say. We are merely reporting what is happening in the community and that includes the fact that a number of teens have been arrested for underage drinking. You may not find this important information, but we report on public safety issues and this falls under that category. (whatever) You are more than welcome to submit a letter to the editor sharing your opinion with the community. (ooookay? Thanks for the tip)“
Another citizen supports her – “I agree with [paper] in including the names. The deterrent of being embarrassed is good discipline and then parents of other teens and young adults can be but on notice as to who they should be or should not allow their children to gather with and whose parties to stay away from.”
So this is what I wrote in the heat of my moment –
“Teens are not going to sit in their car outside of a party and decide that they shouldn’t go in to avoid having their names published in the [Our Small Town Newspaper]. Good Grief! A deterrent, really? Perhaps for adults driving home from the bar, but these are teen aged children. Let families deal with their personal issues without adding public humiliation to the mix. Teens are kids that often make mistakes; they are not prepared to be the representative for the judgement of an entire family. ‘Public record’ can be very personal and is not synonymous with ‘small town news’.”
What do you think?
Should the names and addresses and misdemeanors of minors (under 18) be published in the community paper?
Am I right or am I right? 😉