Editorial: This is not a reflection of our community!

Last week, The Sabetha Herald was notified by the Sabetha Police Department that a crime had been committed at Sabetha High School.

An individual or individuals illegally entered into the school after hours and destroyed property and left hateful messages written on areas throughout the school.

I am responding to what I have been exposed to by social media posts and watching a television station broadcast that interviewed two individuals in our community. I, like most of you, was appalled by the crime. No, the breaking and entering of the building did not appall me, but the messages scrawled on the board definitely did. It was disturbing to see this kind of hate message surface in our community.

Is this a reflection of our community? I don’t believe so! Superintendent Todd Evans told our reporter that this incident was “not a reflection of our student body or our school.” I agree with him wholeheartedly. The person or persons responsible for this crime will be brought to justice, you can count on that. I am confident that our police department will work diligently to solve this crime.

As I said, I was deeply disturbed that this occurred in our school in our community, but I was equally disturbed by the fact that photos of the crime scene were publicly displayed on the social media site Facebook.

No, I don’t look at Facebook. No, I don’t have a Facebook account. Yes, I have a distaste for sites such as this. Yes, The Herald has a Facebook page, but I don’t have a thing to do with it and I sure don’t look at it! Yes, I realize it is now a big player in our daily lives, but that does not mean it is for everyone.

Each is entitled to his own opinion and usage of the site. But, I sure do not think it was proper for the crime scene photos depicting the hateful messages to be posted on the site. I was told about the posting of the photos and then I was told that the photos were taken off shortly afterward.

Evidently, the party who posted those photos thought better of what they had done, or someone told them to remove the photos. I am not sure, but they should never have been on there in the first place! I contacted a city official and a city commissioner about the matter just to gauge their opinion, and they were in agreement with my sentiment.

Posting those photos did not serve any purpose whatsoever. If there was a good reason for the posting, I would sure like to hear it. Whoever posted those photos needs to give an explanation for doing so.

After watching the television broadcast of the interview, I was equally upset. No, I am not trying to sweep this crime under the carpet and keep it under wraps, but what good did these interviews do? I know that the entirety of the interviews with the two individuals was not put on the broadcast, and I have no clue what all these people had to say, but what was broadcast left me with the impression that Sabetha has a racial problem and our school has a safety issue for minority students.

Maybe other people did not take this from the broadcast, but I sure did. Do I believe this to be the case in Sabetha? Absolutely not! Our community is home to people of many different races.

I have never personally seen or heard of any racism toward any of these people. Maybe there has been, and I am not aware of it. Maybe I live on an isolated farm southeast of town and am sheltered from it, but I don’t think so. I believe that the crime in the school building was horrible, but I also believe it is an isolated incident and is not what our community is about.

I also believe that publicly broadcasting the incident on Facebook and television glorified the incident and could possibly incite others to seek such attention by committing such acts. We have seen this kind of reaction from people across our nation who have mimicked criminal behavior after seeing it through media.

Please don’t think I am trying to downplay this hateful crime. I am not! It is hurtful to members of our community, and so it is sure hurtful to the rest of us. We live and play here together and support one another, no matter what our background or race. I believe that with all my heart, and I believe in this community.

Let us as a community not let the actions of an individual or group of individuals define who we are. We are a community that lives and works together for the good of all.

Tim Kellenberger137 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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