Slap a butt day

Discussion in 'Politics' started by chuck.ells, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. Well, at least they're not trying to saddle these boys with the "sexual offender" label anymore.

    School bottom-slap flap hurts authority

    The case of the two 13-year-old McMinnville boys who declared “slap-a-butt” day at Patton Middle School is going to trial after all.

    Friday, after a judge dismissed remaining misdemeanor sex abuse charges and recommended counseling for the boys, it looked like they would finish off their time in the limelight with an appropriate lesson learned.
    However, Circuit Judge John L. Collins on Monday ruled that prosecutors — who initially sought felony sex charges against Ryan Cornelison and Cory Mashburn for slapping female students’ bottoms and touching their breasts — were not selective or arbitrary after all. The judge ruled that the boys will stand trial Aug. 20 on the remaining harassment charges
    That’s a vindication of sorts for beleaguered Yamhill County District attorney Brad Berry, who has been roundly criticized for initially charging the boys with felony sexual abuse. Those charges were later reduced to misdemeanors, but still could have led to the boys’ being labeled as sex offenders.

    Collins’ decision means that Oregon will again be in the news for a case that has garnered $38,000 and more than 15,000 letters of support for the accused.

    It is a case where there appears to be little space between advocates for “zero tolerance for sexual harassment” and supporters of a “boys will be boys” attitude. Unfortunately, both extremes have failed to make this a teachable moment for the students, who have watched their elders’ less-than-decisive role modeling create an overheated discussion that seldom amounts to common sense. That is because the adults in charge, who should have set an example of level-headedness, have discussed the case in the “Did too! Did not!” tone of a school playground (or, for that matter, of a cable-TV news show). We’d prefer the measured tones appropriate to a matter of justice, education and child welfare.

    After many weeks of media attention and speculation about how to proceed, we wonder: What is the real lesson that these boys and girls will have gained from the whole overblown brouhaha?

    We can think of other, more effective ways that school officials, parents and fellow students might have involved law enforcement in this matter.

    The boys (and some girls) involved in the unfortunate and vulgar “butt slap day” could have been obliged to write apologies, published in the local newspaper. They also should have been asked to apologize personally and publicly to the people they might have offended.

    The simple wisdom of a “keep your hands to yourself” policy merits discussion.

    And we’d hate to think that the boys concluded — based on the $38,000 raised in their defense — that they did nothing wrong.

    They’ll certainly learn that Aug. 20. However, we wonder whether such an adult, public trial will serve to emphasize that education is what’s most needed here.

    These boys (and some girls) should have known that school is no place for vulgar touching games.

    The judge’s recommendation Friday that the accused boys undergo counseling sounded like the right way to go.