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Shaken, Stirred, and Sorry (March-April 2011)

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by , March 1st, 2011 at 01:00 AM (746 Views)
As many of you are aware, in the January–February issue we published a letter written by member Glenn Welsford that spoke of his religious intolerance of the LGBT community. Mr. Welsford penned the letter in response to the article we published in the September-October issue of SWIMMER profiling Tyler Duckworth, a gay swimmer and reality TV star. In the same issue, we presented a book review of Jeff Commings’s autobiography, "Odd Man Out," which chronicles his life as a gay, black swimmer. I also wrote about diversity in my editorial for that issue.

During our editorial review prior to publication, we felt that Mr. Welsford, while entitled to his beliefs, is clinging to an antiquated viewpoint in a society truly coming of age—one in which all its members are afforded equal respect—something that USMS, a subculture within this society, does very well.

Our intent in printing the letter was not to give any individual a platform to “spew hatred,” but to allow a member’s opinion to be discussed and defused. Many of us don’t feel that Mr. Welsford’s viewpoint can survive in our rapidly integrating society. In reading his words, I felt they were intolerant, but I didn’t see them as a hateful personal attack.

A dispassionate lens may not always be the best way to view things, especially when serving a large, diverse, passionate group of people. As the editor, it was my responsibility to be sensitive to how some readers may react. And in that, I failed; and offer my sincere apologies.

Regardless of our intentions, the right thing to do was apologize to those who were hurt or angered by the publication of the letter. We did so in timely responses to all readers who wrote in, and by publishing a formal apology on the home page at usms.org.

We received letters from readers, both gay and straight, who strongly disagreed with the printing of the letter—they did read hatred in Welsford’s words, not just intolerance. We also received letters from readers, both gay and straight, thanking us for printing the letter, for various reasons. They appreciated our willingness to print a controversial response to what some consider a difficult topic—one that we introduced with the original articles.

This has been a learning experience for us here at SWIMMER. We remain committed to providing you with a quality publication that covers the wide range of interests of our members, including competition, open water, fitness, training and technique, health and nutrition, history, product reviews and profiles of our diverse members—the fascinating people who make up U.S. Masters Swimming.

We are unable to print all the letters we received, and we didn’t want this incident to prevent us from publishing letters on other topics, so we have extended the Letters department for this issue (“Letters” starts on page 3 and is continued on page 44) and we have published an extended version online.

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Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:53 AM by Editor

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