Today's Mepham stories
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.