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Our Opinion: Time for cooler heads in yearbook issue

Sometimes we forget that words carry weight, and that weight can have a tremendous impact.

Those of us in the news media know that well. The Brainerd High School Brainonian yearbook staff now knows it, too.

Last week, when it was first reported that a student was quoted in this year's Brainerd High School yearbook as saying she would like to behead President Donald Trump, we've seen the passion—both good and bad—that can be elicited from the use of words.

Now, we hope, is the time when cooler heads will prevail.

For sure, there were mistakes made on multiple levels that allowed such a comment to be printed in the yearbook.

The student made a mistake by making the comments, though she told the Dispatch her quote was a bad joke and not a representation of what was actually said. Regardless of the intent or the circumstances surrounding the quote, such statements have no place in public or private discourse. The Brainonian staffer who took the comment and used it also should have known better.

For the student, it's a lesson learned, and it's time we let her move on. She's just 15 and has her whole life ahead of her, so let's let her get to it without hanging this over her head.

School officials also share in the responsibility. How was it that such a comment was allowed to get to print? School officials need to determine that, and how to make sure it never happens again, which we're sure they will do.

But the time for pillorying those with whom we disagree regarding the quote is hopefully over. We doubt the comment was a nefarious act on school officials to indoctrinate our children with specific ideology.

On the other side, we also must recognize the legitimate concern some parents had with the comment, and that those concerns did not necessarily amount to a condemnation of the entire school district.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that mistakes will be made but they can be corrected and forgiven. And we should allow that to happen. There are many more issues that will be affecting our community that deserve more attention.

In the bigger picture, maybe as a society, we just need to take a deep breath. All too often lately we whip ourselves into a frenzy over issues. We don't need to do that. If we approach an issue in a more calm fashion, better decisions will be made. Civil discourse doesn't have to be a thing of the past.

And in the future, we'd advise leaving politics out of the Brainerd yearbook.

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