As everyone knows, there’s two sides to every story. And that’s the primary reason why the Times has a policy to contact anyone who is specifically attacked in a letter to the editor and give them opportunity to respond.
One such letter arrived at the office last week from a mother in Barwick who was horrified—and livid—over a conversation that occurred in a kitchen tent during the Girl Guides rally May 29-30 at Sturgeon Creek.
The mother’s version of the story, which she got from her daughter who was in the tent at the time, was quite a disturbing read—but also so incredible that it immediately made one wonder if that was what really happened.
That prompted several phone calls to the guide leaders named in the letter so as to get their side of the story. And needless to say, their version in no way matched what the mother had recounted in her letter. About the only thing that was clear is that the conversation did revolve around a “silly” story about an incident involving “condom earrings” that had occurred at a leaders’ convention some years ago.
After seeing both sides of the story, so to speak, it was decided the leaders’ version more accurately reflected what was said in the kitchen tent and so we aren’t running the mother’s letter.
At the same time, however, the Times acknowledges that the gist of the mother’s letter, which is what is appropriate conversation in front of 12-year-old girls, is a valid one. Even if the “condom” story was not relayed in a sexual context, the leader(s) involved should have shown better judgment in this case.
It’s true the word “condom” has become much more commonly used today, whether in movies, TV sit-coms, health class, or in the school playground. It also may be true the leader(s) themselves feel the word shouldn’t be taboo in this day and age of AIDS.
What can’t be forgotten, though, is that children are raised differently, and how their parents do so is their business. Let’s hope those involved take this lesson to heart before they recount another “silly” story—no matter how tame they feel it may be.