Letters to the Editor -- April 17, 2008

Published on Thu, Apr 17, 2008
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
Such unprofessional journalism. You say, in regards to the recent suicides that the “two young adults... were discovered in a public place,” and that this “takes the tragedy from the private to the public realm.”
Are you really that sure of your facts? Are you honestly ignorant of the fact that the bodies were found on private property and that the sheriff had to request permission from the owner to search it? Or are you just lying in an attempt to save face? Either way, I am appalled and angered, as are many others. I hope and demand that you recognize that your publisher’s note contains false information and realize that the matter is, or ought to have been, a private one.
The young man was one of my very best friends, and on behalf of all his friends and family, I am demanding that you print a formal apology to them and the community. You should see this not only as an opportunity to set the record straight, but to garner respect from the community, rather than the loss of your readership.
Paul Freeman
Blaine

The Editor:
Thank you to The Northern Light for presenting the facts as they could discover them in the time available before their publishing deadline.
I feel profoundly sympathetic toward the families of the two young people we lost in the woods that day – however we lost them, and for whatever reason.
We live in a community. It is generally in the best interests of the community to bring forward crisis and near-crisis events that take place behind closed doors. Denying the community access to details about a tragedy robs the community of any ability to either help and support the families or prevent a duplicate tragedy later.
In my opinion, a healthy community works in the best interests of all its members. This means that we need facts about unfortunate events. Facts can trigger compassion, understanding, and comfort.
Ultimately, this means documenting events like this one, in print – in a newspaper, that serves the community. Learning a tragic story from ‘the grapevine’ or from ‘word of mouth’ is never healthy or in the best interests of anyone. Hiding tragic stories serves no one.
Nothing in a suicide event merits shame or secrecy. We owe it to each other, to neighbors and families, to talk about suicide. Every human must understand that s/he is not alone. Help is available. Finally, I encourage a follow-up story that includes resources.
Elle Tracy
Blaine

The Editor:
Apparently Jerri Weaver and Laura English have no idea what the job of a newspaper really is. It is to inform their readership about what is going on in their community, county, state, nation and/or their world. In this context, two young people in the community being found dead of gunshot wounds is news the community needed to hear.
Even a suicide, since possibly this news might make other parents, teachers, neighbors and friends pay a little more attention, listen a little harder, try to understand a little better exactly what is really going on in the minds and lives of other young people and maybe prevent this sort of thing happening again. I said maybe because nothing is really fool-proof.
One other benefit of reporting the incident is it allowed strangers (myself included) to grieve for the tragic loss of these young people and pray for their families who would otherwise never have heard about it. This is not gossip. This is news. And this leads me to the criticism of the police report humor. I love it.
It turns what would be nothing more than a dreary recitation of people behaving badly into a column my husband and I look forward to reading to see what clever twist they have created.
I have never seen them write a malicious report and I hope they continue to exercise their gentle and witty senses of humor to the delight of this reader of The Northern Light.
Carole Peterson
Blaine

(Publisher Note: We appreciate the letters from our readers on this matter, both in support and in opposition to our decision to print news of the tragic deaths of two young citizens. The suggestions offered were especially welcomed. Out of respect for the families, however, we will not accept new letters on the subject. Due to an error, an incorrect version of last week’s Publisher Note was published. The intended version is as follows:
As a rule, The Northern Light does not cover deaths by suicide as we consider such to be private matters. The article Ms. English is referring to involved two young adults who were discovered in a public place, dead of shotgun wounds, in uncertain circumstances. Neither the sheriff's department nor the medical examiner had characterized the deaths as suicides at the time the story was published. Unfortunately, the deaths of two young adults take the tragedy from the private to the public realm and we believe it is the newspaper's duty to inform the general public. Regarding the police reports, they are printed as received by us from the police department, without any editing on our part.)

The Editor:
I am responding to the ad on Page 5 in the April 10-16 edition of The Northern Light announcing the Blaine Earth Day event to be held in the city council chambers at 344 H Street at 7 p.m. on April 22.  This may be one of the most important Earth Days in the history of the event in Blaine.
I am going to join in the informal community discussion primarily because I have a deep concern about the earth environment our children and their children will inherit from us.  I hope every family, business and institution in Blaine will be represented in the discussion. 
Guy Hughes
Blaine

The Editor:
Since its very beginning the Blaine senior activity and community center has been a source of inspiration for the people in the Blaine area.
There are some wonderful people on the staff and many volunteers at the center who maintain a fantastic blend of food, friends, and fellowship. Hot nutritious food is served there six days a week to many of our seniors and on a donation basis. The many activities for seniors cover a wide range from needlework, crafts, pool, card games, table games, Bible studies, a library, to a very well equipped strength training center. It has been a wonderful haven for many.
One of the many activities is the annual indoor garage sale, where many items are donated for the center’s benefit. This is a very important event since a large portion of the center’s funding comes from this sale. Good, clean items would be greatly appreciated, no electronics and large items, please.
JoAn  Newby
Blaine

The Editor:
I would like to share an article that I recently read in a Vancouver publication, Swedish Press. This publication has a circulation of 7,000. There are 6,000 U.S. subscribers.
The article, written by Kristian Karlsson, starts by asking the question, “Have you ever heard of the War Against the Bath Tub, the Potato or the Street?”
The journalist notes the vast amount of resources allocated to the war against terrorism, despite the fact that to date terrorism has killed an average of only 220 people each year. Yet between 300 and 400 Americans die each year in their bath tubs, 640 fatally choke on food and 6,000 are run over when they try to cross the street.
Kristian Karlsson doesn’t intend to downplay the threat of terrorism, but questions the measures used in, and the cost of, the war against it and argues that perhaps the war on terrorism is a bit of overkill. Further, he notes that historically this has been the norm in the face of threat, whether real or perceived.”
So what will I do with this information? From now on when I encounter a fresh-faced youth, wearing his large colorful homeland security badge, I will lift my eyes, smile and whisper, “Thanks for the overkill.”
Jean E. Male
Blaine

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
E-mail:editor@thenorthernlight.com

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com