By C.L. Harmon
Since when is the truth in bad taste? When is informing people of actions that may affect them not okay? Is it okay if I call the police and report a prowler in your backyard? It’s probably fine with you, but not so much with the prowler. Who is in the right, the prowler or the homeowner? Is it okay if I report a drunk driver as long as he’s not related to you? What if that driver kills someone? Is it okay to cover that up and pretend it didn’t happen? After all, it was an accident. The intoxicated driver drunk didn’t mean to kill that family. He was inebriated! He didn’t set out to do any harm, its just kinda happened. Do I sound ridiculous yet? I should! To me, so did the person who posted a negative comment to the website regarding the PTSD story. To those unfamiliar, the result of an intoxicated PTSD sufferer was cause for local evacuations.
Without going into much detail, let me just just hit the highlights: “Shameful”, “Is this what our newspaper wants to portray as news?”, “This is over the top.” “I have been bothered by this post all day.” Let’s look at this for a moment, shall we? How many people were affected by my reporting this scenario? And what about the residents’ right to know the reason for evacuation? I suppose those people are just expected to trust they were removed from their homes for good reason with no entitlement to know why their lives were disrupted. Maybe the person who left the comment does not feel it’s any of their business to know why they were removed.
What about law enforcement and all the resources used to control the situation and protect all parties involved…resources paid for by public funds? According to this person’s reasoning, it seems tax paying citizens should not be allowed to know what their public agencies are doing either. In stark contrast to this line of thinking, the federal government and the state of Oklahoma both agree that those people do have a right to know. Through legislation they have upheld what our Founding Fathers define as a principle of freedom…the right to be informed.
What about the woman who drove her car into the crowd of people at the OSU parade? I suppose we shouldn’t be informed about any of that tragedy either, especially since it looks as though she may not have been mentally competent at the time of the incident. So everyone who watched a video of the tragedy and every law enforcement officer who spoke to the press and public should be ashamed because they did so? Is that how we should feel for wanting to know the truth about what happened that dreadful morning? Let’s not forget about Timothy McVeigh. Yes, he blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City and killed and injured scores of people, but he was a veteran. Should we not say anything about his actions. Again, is that how we are supposed to feel?
Here’s a thought. How about we feel good about being informed? Drunk driving, methamphetamine abuse, crime rates, gun safety for children, seatbelt laws, among many other issues were all recognized and dealt with because people were AWARE they were a problem. I wonder how many people bought a gun lock or safe after learning about an accidental shooting involving a child. I further ponder on how prevalent designated drivers have become simply because people are AWARE of the dangers and penalties associated with drinking and driving. And further still, I am curious to know how many parents, teachers and employers are aware of the signs of drug abuse because they are AWARE of the signs and symptoms simply because we inform each other.
Telling the truth should never be in bad taste nor ridiculed. Knowledge changes things while secrecy and ignorance are an injustice to humanity. Whether the main subject in the story is guilty of anything is not for me to decide. It is not my place to pass judgement or assess his mental state. It is my place to inform you of actions that occur which may affect you and to pray for those involved. This is exactly what I did. I relayed PUBLIC facts about an incident that occurred in this community. We do not live in Candyland or the North Pole with Santa Claus. We live in a world where horror and tragedy are real and we should want to live in a place where such horrible things are recognized and dealt with so those horrors don’t become common place. Knowledge is and will always be power. What we know, we can address. What we witness, we can begin to understand. What we inform becomes real to others. The subject of, and the story itself have pushed from the darknessan an illness that desperately needs to be brought to light more than anything other affliction I can think of in this community.
Because of what has happened and it knowledge now in the public, I once again wonder how many people will step up to help this man, his family and others who suffer from PTSD. Because people now know of what occurred they can begin to understand the seriousness of the illness and can begin to do their part in bringing attention to PTSD, thus bringing hope for significant differences. This is what information does! This is why I disagree the story is in bad taste or shameful.
I chose to not use the person’s name who left the negative comment or the three people who liked it simply because I feel it would serve no purpose to do so. My response to them is this editorial, so I can hopefully shed some light on the newspaper’s perspective.and decisions on what to publish. Besides, happy news is not always available. The Mannford Reporter’s coverage area does not encompass Candyland or Christmas Town.
In A New Light
By C.L. Harmon