Wednesday, August 9

Fight, Team, Fight! Oh, Wait.

Assuming that your memory, unlike that of the idealized news consumer, actually goes back five months, you might recall the story of The First Little Columbine of Spring, where an overheard remark on a Johnson County (IN) school bus led to the timely arrest and conviction of four international terrorists teenaged homicidal maniacs fifteen-year-old boys, three of whom had fallen in with one who was disturbed enough to fantasize about killing his principal and holding the school hostage. In case you don't, the story pushed everything else off the local news for 72 hours; the county prosecutor announced within a couple hours of their arrest he'd seek to try them as adults; the boys were said to be upset at student athletes for making fun of them; having failed to turn up any weapons to go with the plot, the local Sheriff told the press that at least one of the boys "had access" to guns, a newly-discovered criminal act; the principal professed not to know too much about them; and the fact that three of them were special education students didn't crop up in news reports until a couple of weeks later.

Three of the four, all except the supposed mastermind, were quietly released, and by "quietly" I mean "without local media owning up to having sensationalized a story that wouldn't have sold nearly so much soap if they'd actually uncovered, and reported on, the basic facts of the matter from day one."

Well, wouldn't ya know it, just five months later and they've learned their lesson:
Police: Center Grove teen assaulted in locker room

August 6, 2006

Police in Johnson County are investigating allegations that a Center Grove High School freshman football player was assaulted in a locker room by his teammates.
According to a police report, a 15-year-old boy said he was attending football practice and "horsing around" with some other students when they ganged up on him.
The boy said another youth pinned him to the floor and told others to take a "free shot." Several team members then allegedly struck and kicked him.
The boy also told police that another boy dropped his own pants, then rubbed his buttocks on the boy's head.
Finally, the boy said that while he was pinned down, an unknown upperclassman placed a 2-foot round metal rod next to him and said, "Defend yourself." The older boy then allegedly attempted to insert the rod into the youth's rectum.
When the boy screamed, which alerted coaches, the teammates scattered.

Because this story wasn't sensationalized, oh no. No screaming black ink on the front pages for this baby. It appeared next to the obituaries in the Metro section. In other words, on the inside back page.

Oh, sure, the Conspiracy Freaks will claim that this one gets buried because there's a double standard which lets athletes get away with sexual assault while students with autism are threatened with hard time for some other student's notebook-scribbled fantasies. But I say if we equate the two then the terrorists have already won. Wait, does that still work?

Anyway, innocent until proven guilty, blah blah blah. Honestly, I have no real opinion about what happened, just about how the story plays out, and how the school is reacting. Tuesday's Star brought new details:
Johnson County Sheriff's Maj. Steve Byerly said that once the school turns over the results of its investigation, the case would be submitted.
High school officials were preparing to file their police report late Monday, said Superintendent Candace Milhon-Baer.

So, the Sheriff is waiting for the school to investigate. An interesting choice, especially since the school didn't bother to call the sheriff. The boy's father did.
The incident should be classified as "bullying," Milhon-Baer said Monday. She said administrators have met twice with football team members about bullying and other actions.

And we've met twice with team members about bullying, this despite the fact that bullying by student athletes was the supposed reason for four students trying to blow the school up and kill the principal last spring. Well, at least they're avoiding message fatigue.

But lemme go out on a limb here. Sure, the incident could be classified as "bullying". But no, it "shouldn't". If it happened as the victim alleges it should be classified as a physical assault, and if the details are correct--I include here the application of one's buttocks to the "head" of an individual who is being forcibly held down, not just the supposed attempt at rectal penetration--then it's sexual assault, and the prosecutor should be making noises about trying that in adult court. This is one of the ways this sort of thing gets dismissed as "PC bullshit"--halfhearted mutterings about "bullying" used to defuse a situation the school doesn't want to publicize, as opposed to March's all-out Columbine offensive, which it did. Regardless of the facts in the case, if it determined that an assault took place, anything beyond a teenaged shoving match, the school should have acted immediately by forfeiting the first game of the season. That's before we determine individual culpability. And the coaches--blameless or no--need to be reminded that they are there to supervise a group of fifteen-year-old boys, not to conduct a training camp for NFL wannabees. And just how is it they come upon the scene after the perpetrators "scatter" and they don't immediately grab every last kid and make him tell what he knows? That's second nature for a teacher.

(Geezer alert): Okay, I was a high school athlete, and a certain amount of shenanigans went on, but if there was any bullying it was mostly confined to the field. I think a couple of freshmen got stuffed into lockers along the way, but just in fun. The hallway and lunchroom bullies were no-account JDs. If you had a reputation for hooliganism you were drummed out of the athletic department. And that was in the days before you had to keep one eye on the weird-lookin' kid doodling skulls n' shit all over the cover of his notebook.

We've had thirteen murders in Indianapolis in the last four days, and I didn't expect this sort of thing to push that sort of thing off the front pages. What I do expect is that it be given the proper amount of attention given all the excitement last spring. Your kid and my kid are a lot more likely to be bullied at school than they are to be blown up by autistic pipe-bomb builders. But that's not the way the newspapers think you see it.


Anonymous said...

Geeze, I've got access to weapons, too; you can buy 'em down at Big 5 so I guess I'm almost a felon. Coupled with my thought crimes, I'm an enemy combatant in everything but action.
Seriously, Doghouse, high school athletes have had a free pass for far too long. Cops deferring to a school's investigation? BS
"C'mon, now boys, no bullying, m'kay?" is not the way to handle it. Our kids deserve better.

Heydave said...

Shit like this is definitely not Reason #5 to be cheerful.

What passes for local "news," particularly the way it's handled, just serves to piss me off daily.

harry near indy said...

yeah, that's how the gannettized wad of a newspaper covered it. but seriously, doghouse, would the coverage had been better ifthe pulliams still owned and ran the paper?

this incident involving the athletes give me another reason to wish for the ban -- yes, ban -- of all interscholastic sports, high school or college. i was a jock in high school, but i didn't act like those beasts.

Uncle Mike said...

That's why I was a drama fag. We just had sex with each other and got it over with.

Anonymous said...

Here in sunny Ohio, we've had a minor scandal on a related note where some high school athletes caused a car wreck when they placed a deer decoy in the road. A Hardin County judge decreed that they could finish the football season before doing the jail time. Utter bogosity IMHO.

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