Friday, November 23, 2012

AMERICA : STONE DISHONORS FALLEN SOLDIERS

SPECIAL TO JCE NEWS BY: 

Stone dishonors fallen soldiers: LIFE, Inc. bears the brunt

People are notorious for displaying images on Facebook of themselves or others doing foolish things. Why anyone would want to be remembered for some of the antics photographed is inconceivable. However, one young woman thought she should be immortalized with her mouth open as if shouting and her middle finger up next to a sign at a landmark military cemetery reminding the public of proper respect and decorum while visiting.
Immature? Yes.
Disrespectful? Certainly.
Worthy of destroying the reputation of her employer whose business it is to provide independent living for adults with disabilities? Absolutely not.
Living Independently Forever, Inc. (LIFE) is a non-profit organization that manages independent living facilities for adults with disabilities in Cape Cod, Mass. Their employee,Lindsey Stone, is featured in the infamous photo at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier inArlington National Cemetery. She has since been placed on leave along with the co-worker who took the photo after it caused outrage on Facebook.
The outrage that ensued regarding the photo has become seemingly misdirected. LIFE, Inc.issued the following statement:
“On Nov. 19 at approximately 6 p.m., we became aware that one of our employees had posted an offensive, inappropriate photograph on her personal Facebook page. The photo was taken at a national historic site in October by a fellow employee during a trip to Washington, D.C. attended by 40 residents and eight staff. The photo has since been removed from Facebook, and both employees have been placed on unpaid leave pending the results of an internal investigation.
This photograph in no way reflects the opinions or values of the LIFE organization, which holds our nation’s veterans in the highest regard. We are proud to have veterans serving on our staff and board of trustees, and we value their service. The men and women who have selflessly fought and sacrificed their lives to protect the rights and lives of Americans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. We are acutely aware that this photo has done a disservice to veterans and we are deeply saddened that it was taken and shared in a public medium.”
Although, the statement clearly reflects a sincere effort on the part of the employer to deal with the behavior of their employees during a work related trip, the company continues to receive vitriolic posts on their Facebook page. Many of the comments are not appropriate to reprint, thousands of them accuse LIFE of not acting in a swift or severe enough manner. Posts attacking the photo and the company have even been included on status updates that are unrelated to the event.
What does the counter reaction say about those who oppose Ms. Stone's photo?
Isn't there a hint, or rather, a truck load, of hypocrisy entangled in the backlash?
Everyone wants their First Amendment Rights to free speech when said "speech" is what they wish to hear. And, does free speech include the right to be disrespectful and lack civil decorum? What about how the behavior of a person reflects personal character and virtue?
Stone's behavior which received reprimand, if not yet dismissal from her position, is certainly nothing worth emulating; neither is the reaction from her critics. Christian witness calls for the admonition of the sinner (cf. Mt 15:18) with love and gentleness through proper channels. The vilification of LIFE, Inc. is as disrespectful and disturbing as the crude act of a misguided woman who dishonored the memory of our fallen soldiers.
BY: 
Kathy Vestermark is a Catholic writer with an MA in Theology. She is a wife and mother of six children, one with significant special needs. As an RCIA Instructor, Women's Bible Study Facilitator, and writer of a Catholic blog, Kathy is an avid teacher of Catholicism. You can find her blogging at faithonthehighwire.blogspot.com

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