Mike Thornberry

A friend told me the other day that I did not fit the publisher’s stereotype, to which I replied, “Thank goodness for small favors.”

 I am not sure what the publisher’s stereotype really amounts to. However, if you knew some of the publishers I have known over the years, you would probably agree with my sentiment.

Actually, I prefer to fit no one’s mold. I would rather just be me with all of the good, the bad, and the ugly that I have accumulated and developed in my life thus far.

What exactly is stereotyping?  According to Webster, it is “to categorize individuals or groups according to an oversimplified standardized image or idea.”

To me that means putting people and situations in a “box,” without really taking the time or effort to learn the facts.  

It reminds me of “connect the dots.” If you follow the dots properly, you will have a logical picture when you are finished.

Stereotyping in my view, however, is when the dots are not connected properly and you end with a distorted picture, filling in the blanks to suit your own prejudices.

It is also a strong belief of mine that stereotyping is a precursor to discrimination.

For example, what would your reaction be to meeting two senior citizens walking with the aid of canes on a dark street as opposed to meeting two young people in leather jackets? I dare say that in most cases the fear factor would be much higher from the latter. Is that not a form of discrimination based on stereotyping?

Please do not misunderstand me. I used the above example solely for illustrative purposes. I understand that personal safety is a major concern in our country and that cannot be ignored. I also  know that  all stereotyping is not necessarily bad.  Personal experiences, whether good or bad, play an important role in formulating prejudices.  

However, being the cynic that I am about this particular subject, I believe there are people who label others and react in a discriminatory manner based on either ignorant or cruel misconceptions.

Some examples might include: that is just like a blond, what do you expect from a politician, introverts are less intelligent than extroverts, or all Muslims are terrorists.

So much of that sort of stereotypical nonsense can be cruel. It seldom has any relation to reality, and in most cases it is just dumb.

We recently received a letter with no identification and a return address of only “Fellow Editor.”

We are always appreciative of constructive criticism from our readers, and we always learn something valuable to enhance our efforts in making the Grove Sun Daily a better newspaper.

My main issue with the criticism in that particular letter was how it was administered. The individual did not have enough conviction to identify him or herself.  It is hard to put much stock in words hidden behind anonymity.

Also, the implication of the “editing” was that we should not have used “I” in our columns.

That would be correct if the columns were news articles. However, they were not news articles, and if  he or she would have looked above the columns, he or she would have seen the word “OPINION” in bold letters as the heading for the page.

“OPINION” means that the use of “I” is appropriate, as our columns are supposed to be “personal’I’zed” perspectives of the subjects at hand.

The movies of yesteryear generally typecast a newspaper editor as a middle-aged, cigar smoking, rough talking, whiskey drinking male. This stereotypical editor was generally a biased, one-dimensional curmudgeon, and he was almost always cast to look as much like a troll as possible.  

OK, I have actually known a few editors that came really close to fitting the movie mold.

However, my current editor fits none of the “editor” stereotyping, and I appreciate that she doesn’t. She is an unassuming, quiet, slow-tempered, accommodating individual who is quite intelligent and enjoys writing poetry and novels. (I really cannot speak to the cigar smoking and whiskey drinking aspect, but I would suspect it does not apply.)

I have never seen her in a felt fedora with a press card stuck in the front hatband, nor have I seen her running around in a trench coat. I have never heard her swear and she is forever reminding others to look for a silver lining in whatever is going on instead of being cynical about everything.

She does not rant and rave over someone pointing out a mistake that has wound its way into the newspaper, and she takes responsibility for those mistakes that do. She cares for people and wants to do a good job for all of the Sun’s readers. She realizes the paper deserves some of the criticism leveled at it and works everyday to improve what news is reported and how that news is presented.

Everything she does has her name on it and she does it knowing that she will receive warranted as well as unwarranted criticism. She takes the criticism, for the most part, without commenting on it. While I admire her resilience, I do not share her ability to just let some things go, especially those that come out of the dark.  

Tell us we are wrong, debate with us, and fuss at us, and at the end of the day, we will thank you and respect your opinion.   However, do not do it in a cowardly way - behind a veil of secrecy. If the last comment stereotypes someone, color me guilty.

Mr. T out