Oct 18, 2013 - Ronald E. Howard, RivertonEditor:
I don't want to get into a spittin' contest with Belle Bransky through letters to you, so I will make this my last response to this subject.
It seems there aren't many who would speak out for those who can't. I have resolved to be that person when I can, as I plan on teaching my children to do the same. I feel that it is our duty as citizens to do so.
At no point in my last letter did I refer to Ms. Bransky as a racist.
I never insinuated that at all. I don't even know this person so I can't and won't make any judgments.
I am sorry if you were offended by my words, Ms. Bransky. I will not, however, apologize for writing them. Read the letter again. I didn't brand you to be anything. I am sure you're a very nice person who made some comments that I happened to disagree with. That's all. I certainly meant no disrespect.
If you ask people around town what first comes to mind when they hear the term "park ranger" most (not all) will think of drunk Native Americans, even though we all know it's not just drunk Natives who hang out at the park. The term "path ranger" is nothing more than an extension of the aforementioned "park ranger." It was a racial stereotype from the very beginning. We don't need to add to our repertoire of racial slurs to refer to a group of people in this town.
This isn't playing a race card. This is saying what needs to be said, not just to you, Ms. Bransky, but to others who feel as you do. Yes, it is unfortunate that there are vagrants along the trail. My hope is that those people will find their way out of the rut in which they find themselves.
Referring to others as "path rangers" is not only hurtful and disrespectful to this community as a whole and, most importantly, to the families of the victims, but it is also dangerous. It is dangerous because it creates yet another group of people to make fun of. It creates another group of people to dislike or hate and it creates another group of people that our children will learn to consider with the same disdain and disregard as others in this community.
There is more than enough racial tension in the world. We are fortunate that it doesn't exist around here as much as it does in other parts of the country. We have a nice community that is Riverton and for the most part, diverse people get along pretty well. Let's not make things worse by creating new racial slurs. Labeling others is never a good thing. Our concern should be for the people who were attacked.
Our concerns should be with the people who were related to those victims. Let's prosecute the people who committed this terrible act and put them away. We should not expect anything less of ourselves than to be the best that we can be. I rest my case.
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