Like anyone who watched yesterday's heartwrenching press conference held by Colts coach Tony Dungy after his son James' funeral, we were touched, saddened and overall deflated by Dungy's straightforwardness and obvious devastatation. We continue to find the speculation about when Dungy will return to the Colts confounding and unnecessary; in a similar position, we wouldn't be able to imagine coaching ever again, or typing, or going to the grocery store, brushing our teeth — much of anything, really. (For an example of the ways losing a child can devastate a person, look at the Jeff Reardon story yesterday.) But we are much weaker men than Tony Dungy.
Of course, seeing Dungy's pain in the flesh brought up, to many people, our own conflicted decision yesterday to link to James Dungy's MySpace profile. This was obviously a heavily debated decision, not just on our message boards, but also in private emails. We still aren't sure of the right decision on this, so, after the jump, we present the two most compelling emails (with permission granted but anonymity requested), pro and con, for pointing out the profile. And then we'll drop it.
For Running The Profile
I support your posting of James profile, and if this has any relevance, I consider myself a close friend of his father. Teen death is a tragedy, whether it be by freak accident or the perceived rational act of an irrational mind, the main difference is in the mindset of the survivors. Accidental death can carry some guilt, as in "why didn t I stop him from driving drunk" or "I should have made him wear a seat belt," but in general one can take comfort in knowing death was an accident, could happen to anyone. Suicide offers no such comfort, so closure is difficult — if even possible. James profile is only one of the scraps of knowledge people like myself will seek out in hopes of finding something tangible to point at and say, there, that is why he did it. For lack of finding that scapegoat, if you will, fingers are going to point at my good friend, who is beyond reproach as a father and a human being, and I simply cannot accept that.
I want to make sure to add that I come down on the side of this profile not meaning a lot. I have looked at my own son s profile and have blanched at the profanity, the twisted images and the dialogue, but also know that anonymity fuels alter-egos. I know that James was not this person, even while admitting that there may have been some release of a repressed persona involved. I wish he didn t kill himself, I wish he hadn t left this troubling snapshot of himself, but he did, and all of it fits into the puzzle that Tony will no doubt be trying to solve from now on.
Against Running The Profile
I don't know a lot about you, or your organization and I thought it was important for me to share a few of my thoughts.
I am glad that you expressed the fact that your organization questioned yourselves as to whether or not a posting should have been done. You have showed me, and many others, that you have a conscience and that you are attempting to listen to it. That is great.
It doesn't change the fact however that I am extremely dissappointed that you went ahead and published this information. In fact, I read another article that mentioned this profile but was under the impression that it it was taken off the internet last Thursday.
I am sure you must know this, just because someone's information is/was "out there," and yes, it might even be of interest to many, it does not mean that it is worth reiterating, mentioning or discussing. If you perished, or let's say that you had a child that did something very similiar to this young man, is this the way you would want him or her to be remembered?
It is not always about appealing to what you think might be of interest to the masses. I also don't believe that you "owe" it to your readers to direct them to his website. The decision that has been made, not only affects this young man's memory and legacy, but think about his family and how they must feel right now. Think about how they might feel when they find out about this, and again, put yourself in his and their shoes, how would you feel?
I am glad that you have tried to show us some level of sensitivity as to what we might think, but please, please please do the honorable thing and take this information off the internet. This family has suffered enough. I have read many articles and I don't get the impression that they are denying this profile, and what their son's intent might have been. Allow them to grieve in peace.