LETTER: Think before you talk — or tweet

To the editor:

“Keep it under your Stetson.” Once the tagline of a World War II poster, it represents advice about keeping secrets and confidences, along with pretty much anything else that you would not express beyond trusted friends and relatives. But along came e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, and off came the proverbial hat to reveal everything that we really did not care to know.

Since Jan. 20, Twitter has kept us (painfully) apprised of every presidential brain dropping. Once, it required a court-ordered release of tapes, or a perusal through long-ago journals, to glean those.

In recent days we watched as two more folks journeyed down indiscretion alley. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton found it hilarious to hear a female reporter speak of receivers’ pass routes when quizzed by the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue. Newton has a right to any personal opinion, of course, but he couldn’t help blabbing it to a bank of media microphones.

One longs for the days when most athletes subscribed to the Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Henry Aaron, et al., approach to public comportment. “Just the facts, m’am (or sir),” judge by what happens on the field.

Ms. Rodrigue had barely a few days of sympathy, however, before her Twittered past came a-haunting with ill-advised postings of her own. While some of it has been described as insensitive or racist, none of it is worse than what gets bandied about by all but the few “saints” among us, regardless of demographic.

Did both Newton and Rodrigue become targets just too tempting for the self-appointed politically correct police wielding their ever-ready truncheons?

There are, naturally, more than a few lessons here. As trite as it sounds, don’t point fingers as there are usually several pointing back. Don’t be quick to assume the mantle of victimhood because everyone’s, uh, breath smells bad occasionally. Think very hard before punching that send button.

Just keep it under your Stetson.

Douglas Smith