From the editor --Why this is a story

From the Editor:

Recently, The BayNet ran a story about the arrest of a young adult who got caught stealing some rather provocative merchandise from a local retail store. Our reporter learned about the items and the arresting officer’s investigation from court documents. This is a highly ethical way to go about finding information.

The problems some of our readers had with this story were--he was a young man, the crime wasn’t that serious, and having his picture and the sensitive details published were embarrassing enough to forever ruin his life.

Allow me to address all of these concerns.

First, as to the young man’s age, in the eyes of the law he is an adult, and therefore is old enough to know that shoplifting is a crime. Some of us learned that at a much earlier age. He was also unwise enough to tell the officer what he had planned to do with the merchandise and those details were chronicled by the thorough officer in the charging documents. The young man had the right to remain silent and he should have exercised that right.

While shoplifting doesn’t rise to the level of murder or armed robbery, it’s still a crime and there are many victims. These include the merchants who are trying to earn a living and provide a paycheck to employees. One little incident isn’t going to break the bank but compound that with several other similar minor crimes and staying in business becomes a challenge. Furthermore, many retailers pass the loss of stolen merchandise off on those customers who play by the rules and pay for their purchases. Where’s the fairness in that?

As to the embarrassment this story has caused this young fellow—and people are being highly presumptuous to simply believe he is, in fact, truly embarrassed—it may have ruined his DAY but it’s a stretch to say it has ruined his LIFE. Learning to cope with humiliation is part of growing up. Today’s youth are growing up in a high-tech information age where many indiscretions will haunt and hound them for several years. You would think this would prompt better behavior. There is considerable evidence that indicates it has not. Young, middle-aged and old need to own their bad decisions. It’s not the media’s fault you did something wrong. It’s not the media’s job to assure your resume remains immaculate.

It is The BayNet’s hope that all of our area youth will give us a whole lot less crime news to write about going forward. However, when someone goes afoul of the law we have a responsibility and right to report it. That right is courtesy of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Marty Madden, The BayNet News Editor

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