The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 24, 2014

We're too sensitive

By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — When did society become so sensitive?

Possibly the advent of the Internet has drawn more attention to our inability to accept other people’s culture and point of views, but after Richard Sherman’s attempt at cutting a promo for the WWE on Sunday after his team went to the Super Bowl, it became clear that our nation, or at least Facebook, Twitter and any other medium available, doesn’t like football players yelling into the camera.

If you haven’t seen Sherman’s interview, then you likely don’t own a television or have Internet access, but if you did see it, you likely have formulated an opinion.

And was it that bad? It sounded more like an interview with a professional wrestler than a football player, and since I loved wrestling when I was a kid, I thought Sherman’s interview provided great entertainment.

What’s better? Sitting through another pre-rehearsed coaches interview about how great their team played together or seeing real emotion play out on live television. I know which one I’m taking.

But the majority of the nation is siding with the “Our team executed well and we were fortunate enough to win because the other team is well-coached and disciplined, blah, blah, blah,” coach-speak.

I don’t cover sports anymore, but I spent plenty of years in my early life hearing the same words spoken by coaches, and that hasn’t stopped. And I don’t blame them.

Because if they were honest, they would likely be fired, or be called a thug, or have to call a press conference explaining why they said little Johnny could have played better after committing 20 turnovers.

The truth sometimes hurts, or at least that’s what I’ve always been told. Far too often, though, we don’t get the truth, because the source of information is too scared to be chastised by someone for saying something that isn’t considered politically correct.

We face that obstacle every day in the newspaper business. Sure, we hear plenty of information, but we can’t go to print with it because the information must go through several different channels before the statement is so watered down that it doesn’t have a shred of redeeming value.

It’s hard for me to understand this fear of someone espousing a different opinion than mine. I put not only my name, but my face, on my opinion every week for the world (or at least my close family and friends) to read.

And I will disagree with many people’s opinion. It doesn’t mean that I dislike that person as a human being; it just means that I don’t share the same beliefs. I grew up a Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Vikings and Iowa State Cyclones fan. It takes thick skin to go to verbal warfare each day at school rooting for those teams in the 1990s.

As a journalist, thick skin is a requirement. Every reporter I hire, I warn them that they’re entering a profession where being disliked is the norm. Just ask someone what they think of the media, and I’m sure most respondents will reply with a negative view.

If they knew me as a person, I hope they wouldn’t hate me as much. But I can’t help what movies and some high-profile journalists have done to hinder people’s perception of journalists.

It’s time to toughen up a bit. Not everyone is going to agree with everything we say. Sure, some people get their point across by screaming a non-profanity-laced post-game speech about a wide receiver and others choose a more subtle tone.

Either way, don’t get too offended by someone’s opinion. Sometimes, freedom of speech is hard to handle.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.