April 30, 2008: Traumatized by shooting photo

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To The Editor:
Since my move to the area three-and-a-half years ago, I have enjoyed the return to “small town” life. I grew up on a farm in Ohio. My music career took me to New York City for five years, but I was a country mouse living in a world that did not suit my sensibilities. I desired a return to a simpler, wholesome life where the press might actually be so inclined as to be able to focus on the positives even more than the negatives in our daily lives.
In my family, we have turned off our cable, and the only media I really have time for in my life is the occasional reading of the Catskill Mountain News. I personally know of a few “positive” press releases that never reached print because they were not a priority in lieu of stories like this.
As the general K-12 music teacher at Stamford Central School, I have had every one of the young girls who are victims of the terrible shooting/suicide as students or former students—the daughter and nieces of Dale and the children of Connie Merwin. Here in the Catskill Mountains, we live in a small community where everyone is an extended family of sorts. Stamford is not as far from Margaretville as some might perceive. I only pray that these children do not get to see a copy of your newspaper with Dale Rossman dead under the sheet with a pool of blood seeping from beneath.
Not only were these children traumatized by this event, but also the numerous children whose parents fight at home—the ones who went to our school counselors throughout this week, petrified that the same horrible chain of events might happen to them because “their parents fight bad…real bad.”
Domestic violence happens in every community, across all economic and racial lines. In this community, as it is all over the world it seems, if the “haves” around here abuse their spouse or break a law, then it’s hush-hush and they receive a slap on the wrist. When it’s the “have nots,” pictures of their dead bodies are slapped on the front page of the local paper and the devastated families are raked across the coals.
Let this be a lesson to us all. On the larger, universal scheme, let it be a call out to all of us to be more conscious of our actions—to evolve into peaceful cohabitation rather than this incessant need to own, control, oppress, exploit, hurt, maim and destroy each other…not to mention the world we live in.
In the small town scene, let us maintain a dedication to preserving a sense of innocence for our children and compassion for the difficulties we all have in our day-to-day lives. Please opt, next time, for compassion over exploitation and the “big city news” photo. It’s bad enough that I have to go home every night with intrusive thoughts and concerns about my students who live in severely dysfunctional homes without having to be traumatized by looking at the front page of your paper.

Pamela West-Finkle,
Fleischmanns