Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Complaints and questions

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

That idea was to write about a European Web site devoted to women on Pennsylvania's death row. There is little question that the creators of the Web site are opponents of the death penalty and are interested in rallying support for these poor women, who are victims in their eyes.

The point of the May 18 article by staff writer Linda Metz was that the Web site completely ignores why these women are on death row to begin with. Of particular interest is one of the convicts: Michelle Tharp, who was sentenced to death in Washington County for starving her daughter, Tausha Lanham, to death and dumping her body in a trash bag along the side of the road.

We had a feeling that readers would be outraged by the article. They should be outraged at the folks who like to see Tharp as the victim here. But some of the outrage has been directed at us, and for all the wrong reasons.
One letter-writer was appalled at us for glorifying these women. But I think we made it clear who was doing the glorifying. We even called the glorifier in Europe and interviewed her.

And just today we received a scathing letter in defense of Tharp. "What makes you think she killed her daughter?" the person asked. We weren't the ones who determined that. It was a jury of her peers.

As messengers, we're used to being attacked and shouldn't be surprised. But I sure do wish readers would first understand the message before swinging that ax.


Ellipses said...

Sr. Burroughs,
Be careful what you wish for... if we suddenly have the public attempting to understand the information around them, we will lose vital segments of our economy of information. Gone will be the misplaced outrage about your newspaper and Ms. Tharp, outrage about Obama's middle name, outrage about gay marriage, etc... Actually, most of what will be lost is inappropriate outrage. Perhaps then we would have time to be outraged at real things... or at least the correct ones. We could be outraged that Kanye West didn't win a grammy. We could be outraged that baseball players use steroids. We could be outraged that -insert unimportant person- is doing -insert unimportant action-.


Park Burroughs said...

Ahhh! I love the smell of sarcasm in the morning.
Good comment!