By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
If you have read either of Michael Rodriguez’ stories about the San Benito High School cheerleading controversy, or have watched a local TV news segment about the subject, then there is a good chance that you have already made up your mind and formed an opinion about the whole situation based on the information provided.
As a reporter, I am paid to do what the title implies—report. In doing so, it is imperative that so-called reporters make every attempt to approach all angles of a story without bias or an opinion. It’s not a law, but its responsible journalism. It’s actually very simple: find leads, find sources, report, repeat. It is a basic process, but do not mistake simplicity for ease. I can recall more than a few occasions where I seriously considered titling a story, “Guy (or lady) won’t answer freaking phone.”
That being said, I am granted the privilege of stating my opinion about certain issues in this dusty space. But I am not using this to state an opinion, other than my belief that the work put into one TV report was absolutely reprehensible. While I would not base my opinion on one poorly constructed story from a TV station that has a reputation for impeccable reporting, said story has created a nightmare for a group a kids as a result, some of whom were not directly associated with the photo in question.
I spent a good amount of time reading the comments left on sbnewspaper.com and examining the main arguments made by several individuals. The ratio of the supporters of the cheerleaders and the supporters of Alex Hernandez and her uncle are pretty much balanced, like the stories Michael wrote.
One of the accusations being thrown around is that the cheerleaders in question discriminated against Alex. They discriminated against her because she only has one leg, so they left her out of the picture. Discrimination is a serious accusation, especially when it’s used to describe a group of teenagers who took a picture together.
I know what you’re probably thinking. How do I know that they didn’t discriminate against Alex? My response would be the following: How do you know they did? Is the evidence so surmountable that those cheerleaders are guilty as charged?
And where do adults get the nerve to call these young girls “brats?” Do you know them personally enough to make that type of judgment? I don’t. I only know one cheerleader, and she is far from that. She is the hardest working young lady I have ever known. Whether it’s staying up past 2 a.m. doing homework, waking up at 5:30 a.m. for cheer practice, or devoting her time to community service, I don’t think she has time to be a brat. In fact, the only person she seems to want to make like a living hell for is yours truly. But then again, what are sisters for?
I’ve also read comments alleging that parents know little about their daughters, presumably implying that their little girls hide things. Newsflash: Teenagers hide things. When discussing matters of this magnitude, however, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the criticism unjustly levied at the entire squad is not only unfounded but unfair, especially since my sister and several other girls had nothing to do with the controversial photo in question. I’ve had a full 16 years to brainwash my sister, and I never remember filling her head with discriminatory nonsense.
I can’t speak for those other girls, but if my sister is any indication, then they can’t be that bad. But that is just what I take from the information provided to me. When I read these severely ill-informed comments made at the expense of these hardworking young ladies, people who you’ve probably never had the privilege of meeting, I can’t help but feel ashamed. Why is this even an issue? Name-calling a group of teenagers? Really?
I’m not trying to stir the pot in any way, but I hope you can at least choose reason before irrationality. Besides, I think this community has more important issues to deal with than whether or not someone is included in a picture. As the immortal Rodney King would say: Can’t we all just get along? Let’s focus our hatred on those godforsaken, seeing-impaired referees at Friday night’s game.