Friday, December 9, 2011

Lemming Tracks: "Sexual Harassment" in the Information Age

The Lemming will be back, later today, with something lighter.

First, though, there are two items from the news that warrant attention. The first is a followup on the latest lunacy from America's government schools. The second is an example of why the Lemming doesn't want laws that force niceness down our throats.

"Sexual Harassment," When Everyone's Looking

This post is about a "sexual harassment" charge that wasn't decently hushed up.

As for what happened to the principal: maybe forcing him into retirement was a bit extreme; maybe not. The Lemming doesn't have enough facts to have an opinion.

Is it possible that the nine-year-old boy is a big meanie, and is to blame for the principal losing his job? Maybe. Maybe not.

Could the mother of the nine-year-old be seeing her son's treatment from the point of view of a parent? Could be.

Anyway, here's the Lemming's rant on what happened in the Gaston County School District.

Ex-Principal: 'It's Not Fair'

"Principal forced to retire amid 9-year-old boy's suspension" (December 6, 2011, updated December 7, 2011)

"A Gastonia principal who accused a 9-year-old of sexual harassment retired abruptly Tuesday night.

"Principal Jerry Bostic told Eyewitness News he retired as of 5 p.m.

"He told the Gaston Gazette the Gaston County School District gave him one hour to decide whether to quit or be fired.

" 'One mistake in 44 years, and I'm not given the benefit of the doubt. I really don't believe I was treated fairly,' Bostic told Eyewitness News...."

Maybe what happened to Mr. Bostic really was 'unfair.' "One mistake in 44 years" suggests quite a few things to the Lemming. Several of which are mutually exclusive:
  • Mr. Bostic
    • Is 44 years old
    • Has been
      • Employed for 44 years
        • Anywhere
        • In the Gaston County School District
          • In a variety of positions
      • A principal for 44 years
        • With G.S.D.
        • In several school districts
  • The 9-year-old's suspension
    • Was Mr. Bostic's only lapse in judgment
    • Something that
      • Didn't happen
      • Wasn't Mr. Bostic's fault
      • Was demanded by School District policy
        • (Remember "zero tolerance?")
Not all of those things could be true, obviously: and the Lemming doesn't have enough facts to have an opinion about how fair - or unfair - Mr. Bostic's dismissal was.

The WSOC TV article clears up one point, right at the end. Mr. Bostic had been with Gaston County Schools for 44 years: 35 as an administrator; 15 at Brookside Elementary.

'Sexual Harassment' and He Said / She Said

The Lemming has done time inside academia, on both sides of the desk. It's possible, in the Lemming's opinion, that folks with the school district are telling the truth. There are other possibilities, too. Back to that WSOC TV article:

"...Chiquita Lockett said her son, Emanyea, was suspended from Brookside Elementary last week for calling a teacher 'cute.'

"The school initially claimed it sexual harassment, adding Emanyea used the word 'fine' in a suggestive tone. School officials said in addition to the comment about the teacher, Emanyea had been warned about calling students bad words...."

Again, the Lemming doesn't have enough facts to sort out what happened from what "the school," Emanyea's mother, and Mr. Bostic:
  • Remember
  • Wish had actually happened
  • Want folks to believe
It's the Lemming's opinion that "the school" would have been well advised to do at least one of the following, before making a public statement:
  • Find out what Emanyea actually did
  • Think about what should be said in the statement
  • Notice which decade we're at
Everybody involved in the "sexual harassment" thing at Brookside Elementary is probably rather tense just now: so it's no wonder that their stories don't match. Or that "the school" seems to have been changing it's version of events as reality intruded.

Which threatens to get the Lemming distracted by the (un) reliability of eyewitness testimony, video cameras, and how not to deal with embarrassing situations. Which is another topic. Topics. Some of which the Lemming ranted about last week:

"Cute," Dictionaries, Sexual Harassment, and Getting a Grip

The word "cute," by itself, can mean quite a few things, including:
  1. Princeton's WordNet
    1. Attractive
      • especially by means of smallness or prettiness or quaintness
    2. Obviously contrived to charm
  2. Google dictionary
    1. Attractive in a pretty or endearing way
    2. Sexually attractive
    3. Affectedly or superficially clever
Saying "cute" in some contexts could, using definition 2B, could be considered "sexual harassment."

On the other hand, coming from a 9-year-old, after too many cases of "sexual harassment" being more about snits than sex: someone in the school district should have checked the calendar to see which decade they were in.

Before someone has a stroke: Yes, the Lemming knows that "sexual harassment" happens. Real sexual harassment. The Lemming also remembers when "she's as smart as a man" was supposed to be a compliment.

Moving on.

"We Regret" - That, the Lemming Believes

There's one part of the school district's collective story that the Lemming believes.

Back to WSOC's article:"...The story went viral with reports showing up on Fox News, CNN and the Huffington Post in addition to papers and blogs across the country.

"But Tuesday, the district released a statement apologizing to the family and saying there was no sexual harassment.

" 'We regret this situation happened. The superintendent has attempted to contact the family to offer an apology to the parents and student. The school system is also sending an official letter of apology to the parents and student,' the statement says in part...."

The Lemming has no trouble believing that the school district's leadership regrets that "this situation" happened. It's almost certainly an embarrassment, joining the ranks of exposed bunglers in education.

Particularly since the folks at Brookside Elementary and Gaston County Schools may not have realized how important it is these days, to get your story straight before blurting something out in public.

From Yellow Journalism and Spunky Girl Reporters to Blogs and Camera Phones

There was a time, not many decades back, when American journalism was a rather tidy affair: a gentleman's club, if you will, 'yellow journalism' and 'spunky girl reporters' notwithstanding.

That was then, this is now.

For the last few years, folks of the 'right sort' enjoyed a degree of protection from The Masses. We weren't likely to hear about a nine-year-old accused of sexual harassment, or a teen girl strip-searched, unless we knew the family or lived in the neighborhood.

Ah, those were 'the good old days.' For some folks.

Information technology, and the social structures developing around it, have changed America's 'good old boy' network: and are in the process of ruining the retirement plans of despots in the Middle East and elsewhere.

On the whole, the Lemming likes the "chaos" that happens when The Masses start learning more than what their 'betters' think is good for them.

"Something That Everyone Needed to See"

Before one last excerpt from WSOC TV, some good news about Emanyea.

Now that they're being watched, the school district won't count the suspension against Emanyea; and he'll allegedly get help with catching up on classroom time missed. That's very generous of them, the Lemming thinks. Also an example of enlightened self-interest.

Meanwhile, his mother has something to say:

"...'This is something that everyone needed to see,' Lockett said, 'just to see what's happening within our school systems.'

"Lockett said she will likely pursue legal action...."

The Lemming thinks that America has seen quite enough silly lawsuits: but in this case, Lockett may have a valid point. If she decides to go ahead with legal action, the Lemming hopes she's got documentation for everything, and a lot of money.

Related posts:


Brigid said...

Is this the right word? "the school district won't county the suspension"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


*Part* of it's the right word. Fixed, and thanks!

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