Saturday, November 10, 2007

Excuses are like...

I wrote earlier this week about The Post-Star's publication of the name of a Fort Edward football player accused of public urination and fleeing police who tried to question him about it. This despite the fact that the paper has a policy of not publishing names of people under 18 charged with misdemeanors or less.

When I posted this query on the paper's website about this apparent hypocrisy, an editor responded as follows:

There are a couple of reasons why we chose to run his name. First, our policy is that we 'generally' don't run the names, but we make exceptions in special cases where the arrest is of an unusual nature or interest. In this case, the player was indeed charged with a crime -- a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. It carries a jail term of up to a year. This was not a routine arrest; it involved a police chase in which an officer was injured. In addition, a superstar football player in a sports town like Fort Edward at sectional time can be considered a public figure, and therefore his arrest is of interest to the general public. And finally, we have a separate policy in which we do publish the names of minors who have been arrested for drinking-related crimes. The justification is that the threat of publishing names might discourage some minors from drinking and discourage some parents from hosting parties in which alcohol is served to minors.

The main point is legitimate, although I'm not sure I'm convinced. The last point, however, is ridiculous.

According to this policy, the paper will not publish the names of minors accused of sex crimes or assault, provided it's not a felony.

A kid was recently arrested by the FBI and state police for posting a message on the Internet that indicated someone intended to infiltrate the Queensbury High School with firearms.

Police did not release the name of the kid but an editor stated that even if the authorities had released the name, the paper wouldn't have published it.

The editor stated that 'a case involving a 13-year-old is a completely different matter than one involving a 17-year-old.'

Yet, there's also a difference between a kid who implicitly threatens a Columbine-style massacre and a kid taking a leak on a public street.

Apparently the paper sees a more compelling public interest in discouraging a 17 year old from having a beer than a 13 year old from threatening gun violence in a school.


That said, the reaction to the paper's coverage of the Fort Edward case was equally shameful. As anyone could have predicted, there were legions of apologists out in force for the drunk football player.

Awww, he's just a kid and kids do stupid things.

He was just celebrating a "MAJOR milestone" of winning a big game.

Everyone has "been deluded by the politically correct police...."

There was even a thread which blamed the volleyball team.

Umm... yea.

Forget for a moment whether you think it's a big deal for the kid to be drinking.

The fact of the matter is that athletes in Fort Edward (and most other schools around here) agree to a code of conduct promising, among other things, not to drink.

There are no exceptions for "MAJOR milestones."

There is no loophole allowing a football player to blame the volleyball team.

I don't want the kid crucified but I think the punishment by the school is appropriate.

But the message that some people are really sending to ALL the kids in Fort Edward is that it's ok for your word to mean nothing. It's ok for your promise to be worthless, so long as there's a "MAJOR milestone" involved. It's ok to sign something without reading it or with no intention of following it. You must follow certain standards of behavior, except if you're winning.

No wonder there are so many problems in Fort Edward if this is the message the so-called responsible adults are sending.


Anonymous said...

I am glad to see the police do their job. I am sure there are some residents who don't agree, but many times in small towns they sweep these things under the rug, especailly with a big game on the line.

Mark said...

I am not familiar with the longstanding problems of Ft Edward, but perhaps they need a few more dead DWI kids before they get the message...

A Social Skidmark said...

This editor is alittle wishy-washy. He can't make up his mind what his policy actually is. I think his policy is if public urination is involved, then he can publish the name of the kid. But if a actual crime is involved, then he needs to protect the innocent criminal. I read this story but for me it's a none story. I don't think it's something that should have been that news worthy.This type of story is one of the reasons I so dislike most media outlets. In one instance they are writing about things that actually matter in the world, real news. Then they go off on some tirade about a simple dumbass act and use a week of front pages to highlight this stupidity. Sorry. I need to remember it's a business and their business is entertainment.
I agree that underage drinking is bad, just like over age drinking is bad. I think that it's something that messes up people's lives. But I don't see adults cutting back on their alcohol consumption for the sake of children. For the most part, alcohol consumption is an act copied. And most kids copy it from their adult role models and there is alot of "Do as I say, not as I do" involved in our society. And with the personal conduct code and contract thing. It's the same thing as the alcohol. When adults don't/can't follow the rules, why should we listen to them?
As far as the public urination part of it, MAN, I WOULD STAY IN TROUBLE.

Mark said...

Heh, and we thought Ft Edward has problems. The Italians are still trumping us all!