Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 18, 2012

Kenneth Hart: Column dishonors MU crash victims

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with newspaper columnists opining on controversial topics.

Nor is there anything wrong with stating opinions in newspaper columns that are controversial in and of themselves.

Lord knows, I’ve done my share of both.

But manufacturing controversy and getting people all stirred up for no apparent other reason than to draw attention to yourself? Well, that’s another matter entirely.

And inciting anger just for the sake of it doesn’t mean you’re a good journalist, either. It just means you’re a jerk.

Henry Culvyhouse, you have a lot to learn about being a journalist. And a human being.

His name might not be immediately familiar to you. But, I think I can state with a reasonable degree of certainty that within the Marshall University community, the alternative spelling for it is M-U-D.

Culvyhouse is a journalism student at MU. On Wednesday, the day after the school had a ceremony marking the 42nd anniversary of the plane crash that killed 75 Marshall football players, coaches and fans, the MU student newspaper, The Parthenon, published a poisonous and mean-spirited little diatribe by Culvyhouse in which he essentially ripped the school for continuing to honor those who perished 42 years after the fact and states in no uncertain terms he believes the university should discontinue the practice.

“Forty-two years have passed since these young athletes died; why must we continue to be reminded?” he wrote. “The old cliche goes, ‘Time heals all wounds.’ Well, I say 42 years is healing enough.”

Culvyhouse also takes issue with what he refers to as the “pageantry” of the annual memorial ceremony. I’m really not sure why he finds it so offensive, but I have to wonder if he feels the same away about ceremonies in honor of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Or whether he’d write columns about them stating essentially, “Hey, those people died years ago. It’s time to forget about them and move on.”

I wonder also whether Culvyhouse would walk about to broadcaster Keith Morehouse, whose father, Gene, died in the plane crash, and say to him, “You know, you should really just get over the fact you had to grow up without a dad.” Because, in effect, that’s exactly what he is saying in his column.

But the portion of the column that those who have read the column — myself included — have found most offensive is the one where Culvyhouse actually has the audacity to compare MU remembering the crash victims to displays of fan hooliganism at West Virginia University.

“Mountaineers burn couches ... and Marshall has this crash,” he wrote. “It’s the sort of thing that we carry on, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Given the level of animosity between Marshall and WVU, I’m wondering whether it’s still safe for Culvyhouse to show his face on the MU campus.

He also argues the memorial ceremony has become “devoid of meaning” and “just a motion we go through every year” because, obviously, the vast majority of current MU students were born years after the tragedy and had “nothing to do with it.”

Well, Henry, the reason the school continues to honor those it lost 42 years after the fact is pretty simple, really. So simple I’m quite surprised a seemingly bright young fellow such as yourself fails to grasp it.

Forty-two years ago, Marshall — and the entire Tri-State community, for that matter — made a solemn promise to everyone who was on that plane.

It promised them they’d never be forgotten.

The school and the community have kept that promise. And they will continue to do so long after you and your hurtful words have become a distant memory.

Simply because they are ... Marshall. And that’s how they roll.

If you don’t wish to be a part of that family and its proud traditions, I suggest you consider transferring to another school.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.