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Posted: 10/1/2004 8:11:20 AM EST
A Roanoke, VA woman sparks controversy when she is photographed smoking a cigarette while 7 months pregnant. What is ironic is she is complaining that noise from a jackhammer is harming her unborn child.


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Criticis­m doesn't bother smoker


By Joe Kennedy
THE ROANOKE TIMES


Mellissa Williamson came to her door smoking a cigarette Thursday morning. It was a sign that the Southeast Roanoke woman didn't know or didn't care about the furor her photograph had ignited since it appeared in The Roanoke Times on Sept. 20.

The photo showed her seven months pregnant and smoking a cigarette. It accompanied a story about unpopular "traffic-calming" measures under way on Bullitt Avenue, where she lives. The caption said she worries about the effect of jackhammer noise on her unborn child. She couldn't have touched off a controversy more quickly if she'd called President Bush an Islamic extremist.

Dozens of calls and e-mails came to The Roanoke Times impugning her reputation and criticizing the paper for printing the photo. It glamorized or promoted smoking while pregnant, some people said. At least one syndicated talk radio host mentioned it, and the picture proliferated on Web sites, with the caption and some wise remark like, "Yeah, the noise is what the baby needs to fear."


That's life

We'll deal with these issues one at a time.

First, the furor: Yes, Mellissa Williamson, 35, violates sound medical behavior every time she takes a puff. Yes, she deserves censure.

Second, the weighing in of egomaniacal talk-radio hosts: Yes, they're correct in saying Williamson's unborn child - a boy named Emmitt, after her "old man," who also smokes - can be damaged by her smoking.

But egomaniacal talk-radio hosts should be viewed with antipathy because they troll for people to demean. "Mercy" is not in their vocabularies. Their favorite word begins and ends with "I."

Third, the newspaper's decision to publish the picture: My view? That's journalism.

My bosses' view? The same.

"A good newspaper depicts reality, for good or ill," Times Editor Mike Riley said, "and sometimes people don't like what they see on our pages. ... We're not promoting smoking or pregnancy; we're simply documenting one person's viewpoint on an issue."

Managing Editor Rich Martin concurred: "Our photographers are out there to show what's really going on - not to stage or edit a scene just so we can photograph someone in a more favorable light."

Staging and editing scenes constitute filmmaking, advertising or propaganda, but not journalism.

When you write in your journal, do you present the truth as you lived it or a purified account that makes you look good?

Never mind.


A target market

Thursday morning, Williamson said she knows smoking is bad because people have criticized her since she took up the practice 20 years ago.

"I really don't pay that much attention to it," she said. "If people don't like it, that's their opinion. They've got theirs and I've got mine."

She has tried every way to quit without success, she said.

As for smoking while pregnant, she said her doctor told her "it would be good if I cut back, but if I totally quit, it would not only cause stress on me but it would cause stress on the baby."

Speaking generally, Eric Earnhart, spokesman for Carilion Health System, said any pregnant person who comes to its facilities "is going to be advised to quit smoking."

It is possible, he said, that a person having difficulty quitting would be advised at least to cut down.

Williamson said she has cut down from two packs per day to one-half pack.

Smoking is estimated to account for 20 percent to 30 percent of low birth-weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries and 10 percent of all infant deaths. Asthma is twice as likely in children whose mothers smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day. This is just a fraction of the possible harm.

"The most effective way to protect the fetus is to quit smoking," the American Lung Association says.

Williamson is a small woman with long brown hair. She didn't finish high school. She hasn't seen her father since she was 13. She has worked in fast food, but doesn't have a job.

"I've heard of the Internet," she said, "but I've never used it. I have no knowledge of computers whatsoever."

She didn't learn about her widespread critics until a few days after the photo appeared. Her ex-husband said his co-workers had talked about it.

"It didn't bother me," she said. "It went in one ear and out the other. I've heard this all my life."

I think she's an easy target, and I think Andrea Siebentritt of the American Cancer Society had the most thoughtful response.

"We have to see her as an audience we need to reach out to," she said.


Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:20:20 AM EST
"TPT" without the "T"?
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:23:54 AM EST
I don't give a fuck if she wants to smoke and ruin her own health. but don't kill your child before they even realize what you're doing to them. Moron.

Raaaaaaaarugh I hate stupid people who are buttheaded about their ignorance.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:25:22 AM EST
What a jackass...

I betcha she drinks, too


- BG
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:27:45 AM EST

Originally Posted By GabbasaurusRex:
I don't give a fuck if she wants to smoke and ruin her own health. but don't kill your child before they even realize what you're doing to them. Moron.

Raaaaaaaarugh I hate stupid people who are buttheaded about their ignorance.



She confuses opinion with fact. Mult be a liberal.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:31:58 AM EST

From the article:
Williamson is a small woman with long brown hair. She didn't finish high school. She hasn't seen her father since she was 13. She has worked in fast food, but doesn't have a job.





I'M SHOCKED!
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:33:42 AM EST
Yep, what a jackass... If that child has some serious defect, or DIES because she smoked while pregant (or anything else she may be doing), she should be charged with negligent homicide.

Personally, I think if a woman won't give up smoking for the sake of her child, it's a serious indication of her character. I would seriously doubt her ability to be a good mother.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:34:50 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/1/2004 8:36:02 AM EST by GabbasaurusRex]

Originally Posted By Matthew_Q:
Personally, I think if a woman won't give up smoking for the sake of her child, it's a serious indication of her character. I would seriously doubt her ability to be a good mother.



Those are the kind of people who leave their baby in the car on a hot summer day and the poor kid bakes to death.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 8:50:21 AM EST

Originally Posted By GabbasaurusRex:

Originally Posted By Matthew_Q:
Personally, I think if a woman won't give up smoking for the sake of her child, it's a serious indication of her character. I would seriously doubt her ability to be a good mother.



Those are the kind of people who leave their baby in the car on a hot summer day and the poor kid bakes to death.



Those idiots should be shot.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:00:35 PM EST

"It didn't bother me," she said. "It went in one ear and out the other. I've heard this all my life."

Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:03:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/2/2004 9:21:17 PM EST by warp_asylum]
.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:08:40 PM EST
Oh she's not worried about trivial shit like this. Hell her momma smoked 2 packs of Pall Mall a day when she was pregnant with her and it didn't affect her now did it. Hell if this one don't come out right she'll just have her another.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:15:54 PM EST
Wheres the pic?
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:21:59 PM EST
1. The bitch is dumb.

2. The bitch is a hypocrite.

3. The newspaper is edited by idiots.

4. I want a FAL.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:34:00 PM EST

Originally Posted By leelaw:
1. The bitch is dumb.

2. The bitch is a hypocrite.

3. The newspaper is edited by idiots.

4. I want a FAL.



1.) yup

2.)looks that way

3.)you don't know the half of it

4.) sorry but the fal's escaped from their holding cells on 9/13/04 if you are lucky you might catch one running the streets
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:42:53 PM EST

Originally Posted By Ogre_4070:
As for smoking while pregnant, she said her doctor told her "it would be good if I cut back, but if I totally quit, it would not only cause stress on me but it would cause stress on the baby."



What a fucking lying bitch. There is NO doctor that will in any way shape or form justify smoking for anyone for any reason. No one ever died of nicotine deficiency. Don't worry though, she'll sue the doctor if the baby doesn't turn out perfect and I'll be paying even more malpractice insurance next year.
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 2:49:57 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/1/2004 3:24:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/1/2004 3:27:46 PM EST by napalm]

Originally Posted By GabbasaurusRex:
I don't give a fuck if she wants to smoke and ruin her own health. but don't kill your child before they even realize what you're doing to them. Moron.

Raaaaaaaarugh. I'm a dinosaur. I hate stupid people who are buttheaded about their ignorance.




Fixed it for ya, Gabs.
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