Headline, story were insensitive

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By The Staff

It was with dismay that this week’s Local had a front page headline about the death of a Henry County man. Death anytime is so sad, but at this time of year, it is worse. The family will never celebrate another Christmas season without remembering the loss of that loved one, and it will be a bittersweet memory for them.

The main thing that troubled me about this story was the headline “Accused arsonist dies.” The news about the alleged arson was thoroughly covered in your newspaper when it was a current event. I don’t understand why you felt it relevant to remind everybody of the charges pending against him, and in effect put the family through another rehash of a story that had already been printed, but this was like pouring salt into an open wound.

What has the fact that he had charges against him have any relevance in reporting his death? If that is a change in newspaper policy, then I expect to see other deaths reported in a like manner. A, for instance, “Hard working farmer dies,” “A dedicated mother dies,” and make all the obituaries a two column by eight-inch article, with a continuation on page 5 of one column and seven-inch additional space.

His poor family has suffered enough hurt and humiliation as it is, and it is a shame that you think that a tragic death of a beloved son, husband, father and brother gives you license to drag his failings to the front page. I wonder if you took the time to try to find out what his life was really like. Did you know that he was a hard worker, a good provider, a loving family member, a church goer, a community activist, or are you interested in any of the attributes that make him a good man?

We all make mistakes, we do things that we wish we could change, and say things that we wish we could take back. There are ways to remedy the wrongs we commit, through an apology, or with penalties imposed by the courts, and had he not been taken by his untimely death, the courts would have imposed what they thought the appropriate penalties should be. I am sure that Mike had made the apologies and had asked  forgiveness from our Heavenly Father, and he would have served the time the courts imposed. And would have done it like the man I knew him to be.

It just saddened me to see a small community like Henry County verbally kicking a dead horse, instead of lending a helping hand. Not only in this situation, but countless other instances that happen everyday that I probably don’t even know about. Why don’t we stay off the phones spreading gossip, and instead call the family to see what we could do to help the family.

We have got to become a forgiving community instead of a condemning community. After all, we will stand before God on judgment day, and I hope to be able to say that I have done all that I could. Can you answer that question in that manner?

Bonnie Ethington