Judging a book without opening the cover

Published 7:09 am Saturday, September 10, 2016

Editorial by Dawn Burleigh

Conversation on The Orange Leader Facebook page concerning a meme circulating social media has lead to a change in our policy. As of Thursday afternoon, any posts to the Facebook page will need to be approved by a moderator.

Concerns leading to the change are not due to censorship, as I do believe in our right to freedom of speech. However, while I did not personally see the posts, I was informed of several posts using profanity. As a family newspaper, profanity and racial slurs are unacceptable.

While we are free to speak our opinion, it does not make us free from the consequences of what we say.

The person, or persons involved with creating and circulating the meme in question, I hope, now understands how inappropriate and insulting his actions were.

The WO-S football player, whose name I will not mention because he has been through enough the last couple of days, will hopefully understand that not everyone thinks as the individual involved.

I spoke to people who spoke highly of the targeted student. Each person told me what a great kid he is and how he did not deserve such treatment from anyone.

Speaks volumes for the WO-S young man.

Bridge City Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Dwayne DuBois was first in issuing an apology to the young man and to all of Orange.

In his statement he said, “It is with a sincere heart I ask your forgiveness on behalf of our entire organization. Also, I extend an earnest apology to every WOS Mustang athlete, Coach Thompson and the entire coaching staff, all Mustang fans and supporters, as well as the West-Orange Stark community. What was created is highly offensive. It absolutely does not represent Bridge City ISD, Bridge City Athletics nor the community of Bridge City.”

Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD Rickie R. Harris in a statement said, “As a school district, we request that WOCCISD students and the Mustang Family refrain from giving further attention to this negativity and concentrate on our vision of Empowering Lives through Excellence Every Day.”

Sound advice which some have not yet heeded.

Emails and private messages of screen shot of social media postings have shown the attacks continue.

As one woman wrote, “This needs to stop. It’s parents also.”

It does need to stop. Not just in this instance, but period.

From a young age, I was taught to never judge a book by its cover. Recently I heard a continuation of the saying, ‘open up the book and find out what is inside, you might find out you like it.’

I wonder if the person who created the meme took the time to get to know the young man he offended?


Dawn Burleigh is editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com