Letter to the editor: Singling out one offender not fair
This past Thursday, Dec, 22, there was a separate article in the news section of the paper with a size 26 font heading about a Brandon man being cited for DUI. The article went on to give a blow by blow of the incident. The young man had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.103. The last paragraph was about the young man’s accomplishments in high school. It had nothing to do with the incident. It was strictly about his athletic abilities, and the honors he had earned in high school sports.
Further into the paper, buried in the sports section beside the public notices, was another DUI. This was part of the Vergennes police log, not a separate article. This man had a BAC of 0.123. Again, there was a detailed report of the incident but nothing about this fellow’s personal life or accomplishments.
While I do not personally know the young man from Brandon, my son does, and looks to him as a role model. This young man has done lots of good, and has brought pride to his family, school and community. I had to wonder as I read, “Why is this a standalone article as opposed to part of a police log? What good comes from writing something like this — pointing out how great he had been? What does it accomplish?” Spectacular athlete or not, all young people make mistakes. I am sure this one has learned a valuable lesson from the incident itself. Making a big deal of it only serves to cause embarrassment to him and his family, and tarnish him in the memories of those who stood so proudly with him and bragged about him when OV won the Championship and he was Gatorade Player of the Year. I was sad and disgusted that the Independent chose to take this approach. Seems that the Lynn girls were student athletes not so long ago. Would Angelo have done that to them under the same circumstances?
Editor Angelo Lynn’s response:
Michelle, it’s a good question that deserves an answer. You asked me directly if I would have put my girls’ names in the paper (or mine, which is also a good question) if ever that were the case. You bet, and when my daughters were in school, I warned them as much, and in headlines precisely because the paper would not want to have the appearance of shielding them. But also because each of the girls were team captains of various sports. It is no secret in news that the more well-known one is, the more exposure they are subject to — good or bad. That is precisely because they are held up as leaders. Professional athletes, politicians, business leaders and community leaders face the same fate.
We also did not infer that the student athlete in question is no longer great, as you infer. On the contrary, lessons learned may make him stronger, as is often the case. This person was charged with a first-offense DUI. His future is not in jeopardy; nor does his esteem among others need be diminished. As a society we understand the minor mistake is allowed, we all learn and benefit from it.
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