Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of those things I just don’t get...

Got a letter from a disgruntled reader this morning:

Your page 15 Sheriff’s calls from this week’s paper had a pretty appalling story regarding the “condom.” My wife and I have 3 girls in the Sisters School district, 2 of which are HIGHLY encouraged by the middle school teachers to READ the Nugget every week.

Can you imagine how likely it is we are going to allow them to freely read the Nugget on their own after a story like this is allowed to be published? Of course, we realize the Sheriff Calls are meant to be ironic and poke fun at some of the stuff in the life of a small town. However, will you please consider that kids in this community are reading your newspaper when making a decision about what content to include?

Our hopes are you will cease from publishing any further content of this nature for the sake of all of our children here.

The offending entry:

• A man reported finding a condom hung on his door knob. There are no suspects. The man disposed of the condom - and cleaned his doorknob.

Honestly, folks, this is one of those things I just don’t get. “Sisters sheriff’s calls” also includes people getting jacked up on booze and hitting their wives or girlfriends, and The Nugget also has run stories about local men being arrested for sex abuse, etc., etc.

And the mention of a condom on a doorknob is what someone gets spun up about? I mean, yeah, it’s obnoxious and gross, (so is a bag of burning poop on the porch, which has also been featured in SSC) but are the implications really more “appalling” than somebody beating up his wife?

Whenever something like this comes up, I think of it as another “pixelating Apollonia’s breasts” moment. I came upon “The Godfather complete and uncut” one evening on TNT. I’ll watch “The Godfather” any time, so I tuned in.

Yep, there it was, in all its horse-head-in-the-bed glory. No editing of the brutal slaying of Sonny Corleone on the turnpike. But WAIT! Michael and Apollonia’s wedding night. The shy Sicilian girl demurely lowers her blouse and... her chest is pixelated.

I laughed aloud. Apparently it’s OK to show Sonny being chopped to hamburger by machine guns or a movie producer slimed with blood from the severed head of his prize racehorse, but god forbid that anyone see a female breast.

I'm not trying to get on a high horse about violence in media here; just noting a curious disparity in response. There's an discussion to be had over what constitutes gratuitous, but it's beyond the scope of this particular piece.

I, too, have a daughter in middle school. She reads The Nugget — mostly to hunt for hidden vocabulary words and for stories about horses. She also knows that if she reads or sees something in any media that upsets or bothers her, she can ask about it and her mom or I will talk to her about it.

Of course I recognize that people react differently to the same things and obviously the condom on a doorknob thing bothered the writer to a high enough degree that he took the time to e-mail his displeasure. Fair enough. There’s a constant weighing of where to draw the line in this business and it’s good to know where some of our readers would like to see it drawn.

But I remain flummoxed by the consistent degree to which people react so negatively to anything with any hint of sexual content and yet give the casual violence of everyday life and its media interpretations a pass. And the American media responds: buckets of blood, but no boobs please.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. That is hilarious!I hope those poor kids who read the article grow up knowing what a condom is.Not knowing is just con-dumb! I would think that this would open a healthy conversation between parent and child. People that are uncomfortable w/sexuality issues are usually very uncomfortable with their own bodies.Thanks for giving me a chuckle this morning.

  2. Hey Jim,

    Good for you, my wife and I also have teenage sons and a daughter. We've made darn sure that our children are educated enough about sex that we don't have to cover their eyes during PG 13 movies...

    A condom on a doorknob, holy crap, somebody call the brown-shirts, let's line them up in front of a firing squad. This is the kind of stupid, Palin-promoted thinking that is dangerous, what's next? Kids in Sisters reading Catcher in the Rye, Catch 22 or Anais Nin? Uh oh...

    Stop the progress, don't talk about sex, it's dirty!!!! Then we can all have pregnant teenage daughters whose futures are ruined. Yay!!!

  3. I wonder if the disgruntled reader found the offending tidbit on his own, and (over)reacted as he did, or if one of his daughters brought it to his attention. I would think that most middle school students know what condoms are, and what purposes they serve. If one of them did bring it to his attention, I would guess that it would in the "ewww, gross, can you believe that" vein, and not in a morally offended vein.

    The tone of the complaint - using the term "appalling", and yelling in ALL CAPS in a couple of places, makes it appear the moral outrage and request for censorship derives from a misinterpretation of a quirky news item as a salacious bit of sex mongering.

    This individual would be better served reevaluating his position on this issues, rather than asking The Nugget to reevaluate theirs.

  4. Really? I mean, REALLY? There's a pair of folks (the parents who were apparently Traumacondomnized by the "Sheriff's Call" blurb in the Nugget) who need to take a date night together.