Dear Editor: Illiteracy is widespread in our county and our country. I encourage you to read up on its many causes and its devastating effects. I am confident that if you had done this before publishing Commissioner Henderson’s letter you would have made a better editorial decision.
Mr. Henderson’s actions in his private life and his public performance leave plenty of room for criticism on a substantive basis. It was in poor taste to pile on by attempting to embarrass him for having a crippling condition, and doubly so by printing a letter voicing the ridicule you fostered.
You would not seek to embarrass someone in a wheelchair. They may have dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool. They may have been born with a physical disability. They may be a wounded veteran. They may have been hit by a drunk driver, or they may have been the drunk driver. You just don’t know.
Adults who are illiterate may have attended poor schools with inadequate teachers. They may have been born to a substance-abusing mother. They may have dyslexia or another undiagnosed condition or learning disability. They may have left school prematurely to earn money for their parents and siblings, or they may have dropped out to join a gang. You just don’t know.
Stigmatizing illiteracy perpetuates it, and newspapers, if for no other reason than self-interest, should not be doing it.