News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2006


Higher calling not held up to higher standard?

This letter is in reference to the July 25 front page story titled "Minister, 26 others snared in Refuge indecency sting." The first paragraph began with "A Hartselle minister was among 27 people cited for ..."

The article went on to tell the minister's name and the name of the church he pastored. At the end of the article on page three, it listed the other 26 men who were cited and their hometowns.

My problem with this article and others like it in the past is the sensationalism of the word "minister." The article did not state what the other men did for a living or where they were employed. I noticed the headline of the article didn't say "plumber" or "electrician" or "carpenter" cited in the Refuge sting.

What is the reason that newspapers and television news like to emphasize "minister"? It seems to me that it must make people feel better about themselves if a minister is accused of doing something wrong.

I have also noticed that when charges are dropped on a person, that news isn't printed on the front page with a large headline. It is always on another page in small print that most of the time is overlooked by the reader.

We must remember that we do live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty.

Brenda Reyer Halbrooks


Article should not have focused only on minister

Your story with the headlines about United Methodist minister Grad Tanner showed your paper's need to sensationalize stories. A number of others were arrested and listed but the story was centered on the Rev. Tanner. Why did you single him out? Could it be that such headlines and lead paragraph would make a more shocking story and more of your newspapers would sell? THE DAILY's "news" handling puts it in the same category as the National Enquirer or the Star.

Having known Grad Tanner since he was a baby, and being part of his family through the marriage of his mother's sister to my uncle, I can tell you that if Grad Tanner said he was just doing what men have been doing since time began (relieving himself in the woods and certainly not thinking that any other person would see him), then that is what he was doing. Why didn't you report the exact circumstances of the "captures" of each and every person listed as being arrested by this sting operation? Why, because such coverage would have become boring to the reader; you already had their attention just by putting "minister" in the headlines and lead paragraph.

Shame on your, Mr. Editor, for allowing such sorry journalism to reach print in your paper. An apology to the Rev. Tanner and his family should be published immediately.

Elizabeth Lacks


Johnson made Decatur Nursery blooming success

In the "Know Your Neighbors" supplement from June 18, there was a lovely story titled "From loyalty blooms success."

It is so refreshing in this day and time to read an article about family loyalty in business. I am sure it was an oversight, but give credit where credit is due: Without my grandmother, Della Mae Johnson, there would have been no family business. She was a friend to many and one of the hardest working women I have ever known. I know this to be true, as I was at Decatur Nursery, working with her for many years.

Della Mae made sure of success for Decatur Nursery. She was unstoppable and hardcore. Work and family were her life.

Susan Johnson


Judge's past not relevant to fatal airplane crash

On July 25, I was disgusted with the media, both television and newspaper. A man tragically died in a plane crash. I had never met nor heard of this man before that day. But thanks to the media, I not only know that this gentleman is deceased, but I also know his criminal past. What does the story of a former judge being tragically killed in a plane crash have to do with him being in prison more than 20 years ago?

The story was that "A man has been tragically killed in a single engine plane crash." The fact that he committed a crime more than 20 years ago was news 20 years ago. It is not news today. It has nothing to do with today. So why bring it up? Is it to upset his loved ones and friends? Is it to get more people to listen to the news and/or read the newspaper? The job of the media should be to inform us of news, not to run someone's name into the ground one more time.

The world is full of enough negative things without adding unnecessary information that can only be hurtful to those that love the person being written about. He is deceased. The media needs to leave his reputation alone.

Tammy Zigenfus


Film depicts important truths

"Keeping up with the Joneses" speaks to a need by some to try to outdo their peers to prove they are equal, if not better. Modern day versions have parents throwing humongous birthday parties to prove their love, even when the honoree is merely a year old and the noise, over-indulgence and related hullabaloo are more fearsome than "funsome."

Fast forward to debutante and prom-night extravaganzas. Guilt is often placed on parents who are unable or unwilling to shell out big bucks for tuxedos, ball gowns and limousines and hotel accommodations because "all my friends are doing it."

"Keeping Up with the Steins," now playing at Regal River Oaks Cinema 8, is a tongue-in-cheek Jewish version of that syndrome produced by former Decatur residents A.D. and Daniel Oppenheim. It depicts a successful but misguided Jewish film producer who thinks he can use his 13 year-old-son's bar mitzvah (coming-of-age ceremony) to prove his love as well as his prominence to family, friends and associates.

As the farce unravels, the father's unresolved sense of abandonment by his own irresponsible father touches on the "black sheep" relatives present in most families, and how unresolved hurts can taint the lives of those who refuse to confront them.

Religions are generally thought to bring out the best in people. However, current world problems indicate religious differences are often the cause. But perhaps it's not the differences, but ignorance and indifference to their unfamiliar customs that is the real problem.

"Keeping Up With The Steins" provides a glimpse into the rituals of the Jewish religion and reveals that, regardless of rituals, we all have the same basic needs and sometimes it take a 12-year-old's coming-of-age to make us see them. "And a small child shall lead them ..."

Gerry Coffey


Yard sale signs should promptly be removed

Okay, here is the deal. Almost everyone loves to go to yard sales. One man's junk is another man's treasure.

But while you are out looking for the house where the sale is, you see all kinds of yard/garage sale signs from weeks, months, maybe even years before. The city does not charge to have yard sales or to put up signs, but maybe they should charge for not taking them down. It's not like they won't know where to find you.

Decatur is a beautiful place, but with all these signs left up for months and months, it makes it look bad. I know from experience that, after having one, you are tired and probably a little irritable, but it would not take you long to go take them down. Wouldn't it be a shame to have to use the money you made to pay for your fine?

Sandra Pennington


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