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Today's Mepham stories

[previous stories on this topic: Most recent and then here, here here here here here, here, here and here]


We'll start with this piece by Josh Plotnick of Cornell University. In it, Josh takes the whole town of Bellmore, Long Island (where Mepham High School is located) to task:

It is absolutely clear that good, family values are completely lacking in this Long Island community.....Bellmore residents need to question their own morals, and their own humanity. Because right now, my opinion is there is a lack of both.

There are 34,546 residents in Bellmore. The crime index there is, in all categories, below or on average with the rest of America. Can we really determine that an entire community is guilty just by the virtue of living in the same town as badly behaved boys and self-centered parents? If one person in a town commits a crime, does that mean the whole town committed it?

Perhaps it is just the school that has a bit of a behavior problem:

A former Mepham High School football player was arrested over the weekend in connection with a Labor Day assault that left the quarterback of a rival team badly injured, police said.

The player in question graduated in 2001. He played under the same coaches, beneath the same administration that exists today.

Of course, my contention that the problem lies within the school can be proved wrong just by extending the the search for blame to the parents of the students. We cannot blame a school for the way a parent raises their child. Still, I refuse to condemn the entire town because of one group of badly behaved boys and self-centered parents.

Today marks the day that the coaches of the accused players will finally speak out on the incident. Not by choice, of course. They will be facing a grand jury in Pennsylvania.

More people are coming forward to cooperate. Perhaps they have been shamed into talking. Perhaps they are just fearful of having to appear before a grand jury and they think that by talking to a police and/or a prosecutor they will be able to get away with that duty. Of course, once a prosecutor knows what a witness knows there is no way that witness, if his testimony will help the prosecution, will get away with speaking before the grand jury.

At some point today we may know what the coaches knew. It will also be interesting to see if anything comes out of the this information I gathered last week.

Either way, this case is much more complicated and drawn out than it had to be. It's the secrecy and the silence that has taken it this far.

Will the town suffer because of it? Will it forever be branded as that place where those boys did that thing? Can we really judge 34,000 residents by the behavior of 50 or so?

It all depends on how the media represents the community, of course. Because America, in its vastness, can only know what the media reports in a "small town" case like this.

You want to know about the good residents of Bellmore? Ask me. Ask some of them. Get out there and find the story. But don't assume, as Josh Plotnick of Cornell did, that the entire town is full of selfish, violent, arrogant boys and the parents who feed on those traits.

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» Carnival  Of  The  Vanities  # 54 from Dodgeblogium
Welcome to Carnival of the Vanities #54; Dodgeblogium is very pleased to host this event. Perhaps a word of explanation of the layout would be helpful: Are you a bit befuddled by all this Cthulhu stuff? Andrew has written an... [Read More]

» Carnival  Of  The  Vanities  # 54 from Dodgeblogium
Welcome to Carnival of the Vanities #54; Dodgeblogium is very pleased to host this event. Perhaps a word of explanation of the layout would be helpful: Are you a bit befuddled by all this Cthulhu stuff? Andrew has written an... [Read More]

» Carnival  Of  The  Vanities  # 54 from Dodgeblogium
Welcome to Carnival of the Vanities #54; Dodgeblogium is very pleased to host this event. Perhaps a word of explanation of the layout would be helpful: Are you a bit befuddled by all this Cthulhu stuff? Andrew has written an... [Read More]

Comments

I think the town should have some responsibility for this. In your posts (thank you for staying with this, BTW) I have seen no indication that the townspeople are pushing for punishment of the players involved. At some point, they need to take a stand, or else be criticized for tolerating or encouraging the coverup.

Just hope Bill O'Reilly doesn't pick up the story like he did with the Benton Harbor, so that he makes assumptions and then, when proved wrong, almost brags up his ignorance...

It's my experience that if the media is talking about anywhere outside of New York City, don't listen to them...

Are the links just messed up for me? I think maybe the title words have gotten mixed into the URL. I mean, I can tell what it's supposed to be and go there, but clicking gets me that cool pink bunny o'love.

I think they are fixed now. Sloppy copy and paste on my p art.

I would agree with you more, Michele, if it were only the parents of the accused who were whining. But as your own coverage shows, even people who don't have kids involved, even those without school-age kids at all, are huffing that it's nooot faaaair, that the football season might be cancelled, that it punishes other students, that the accused are going to have their Whole. Lives. Ruined. just for this one little thing.

I'd say there was some collective admonishment due. (Of course, that depends on whether the news media is selectively reporting these types of responses.)

As for Josh Plotnik, the name rang a bell and I did some googling. I didn't find the piece I only vaguely remember, but I did find that Josh wasn't always so keen on collective guilt.

In this article, he takes to task another student columnist, one at a much less illustrious school than Cornell. That columnist decreed that "Islam sucks", and Plotnik gives him a (rather mild) dressing down.

That column is a little confused, in that it's about more than whether or not Islam sucks; it's about freedom of the press and other matters. However, I will note one thing: according to Plotnik, Rall's "Terror Widows" cartoon was within the Pale; writing "Islam sucks" is not, because it "crossed the line between constructive criticism and disrespect."

My conclusion is that Plotnik is a bit of a twit, and your typical student newspaper sort of twit at that.