Chief’s column backfires; apology follows


Scott Burroughs

Scott Burroughs

A storm of reaction followed a Jan. 27 South Jetty column written by Port Aransas Police Chief Scott Burroughs.

Criticism toward Burroughs made him decide to write a letter of apology, which ran in the Feb. 10 edition of the newspaper.

Burroughs’ weekly South Jetty column, called Chief Concerns, has run in the South Jetty since 2010. The column often delves into police-related matters but also addresses general topics, sometimes through humor.

In his Jan. 27 column, Burroughs wrote what he later said he considered to be a humorous piece about his hair turning gray. But he styled most of the column as if he was gay, had spent years hiding it and was about to finally come out as an openly gay man.

At the column’s end, he didn’t write that he was gay and had accepted it. He wrote that he was gray and had accepted it. As it turned out, most of the column was one big double entendre. While the reader might have thought for a while there that he was writing about his sexuality, the subject matter actually was his hair the whole time.

But the column was no laughing matter to some folks.

Three people sent in letters to the editor objecting to the column. The South Jetty printed all three in its Feb. 3 edition.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” wrote Ginny Moss of Port Aransas. “The column lacked character and integrity. I’m humiliated by it and by your representation of our community through it. We are a community that supports and loves one another. We shouldn’t have public officials, especially police officers, who prey on the weak and degrade those we love for the sake of a good-ole-boy joke.”

In his letter of apology, Burroughs wrote that the column “was intended to be a self-deprecating stab at my coming to terms with my lifelong battle with my gray hair by drawing parallels to some people coming to terms with their sexuality.”

He also wrote: “As a 62-year-old man with nearly 40 years in law enforcement I don’t always recognize that my sense of humor doesn’t necessarily align with the mainstream. As your chief of police, I accept responsibility for my actions and while I am used to being criticized, after reading today’s letters to the editor, I was truly hurt by the fact that my column offended so many people that I have grown to know and respect and that I believe respected me and my commitment to this community. Please accept my apologies and I hope that I can re-earn your respect going forward.”

After the South Jetty posted the letter of apology online, the newspaper’s Facebook page received more than 250 comments. Most defended Burroughs.

“Wow, just wow,” wrote Randy Hansen. “You have nothing to apologize for. Anyone demanding an apology for this column, has bigger problems than just being “gray”.

Wrote Brenda Owens: “People need to lighten up and take things as they are innocently meant and not read anymore into it… So sorry this happened to you.”

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