Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lake County = Peyton Place

Lake County, Tennessee has long been known for it's "fertility." It's farmland is among the best in the nation. All my life, I've had friends and relatives living there. The current rage there is not that different from stories which have cropped up at schools, large and small, across the country. The difference is in a small community, where everybody knows everybody, everybody also knows everybody's dirty laundry, or at least the rumors of it. Throw in cellphones and the internet, and news travels at the speed of light. It doesn't take long to travel across the small county, and beyond......perhaps even to Nancy Grace?

Here we go again. A well known teacher accused of improper relations with a student, with alleged cellphone text message to boot and there's more. An assistant principal resigns in the "fallout."
The story is lurid enough in it's "official" form. Now throw in the world wide web version of "beauty shop" gossip: the "comments" on the story on the internet.

The newspaper story gives the official version. The comments section gives the "beauty shop" version. In a way, it's tough to turn away. In a way, it's also disgusting, and unfair to all involved. As far removed from the situation as I am, even I know or have figured out who the players are in this situation: I know the identity of the kid, his mom and the "Spice girl."

In a way, it's an old, old story. This kind of thing was going on when I was in high school (gulp) 30 years ago, but although it's an old story, it's a new world information-wise. In the old days, teachers "moved on" to different schools, and they had either learned their lesson, or not. Not un-like the situation with Catholic priests. These days, more than not, it goes to court eventually, based on internet rumors, text messages and cellphone images, etc.

For the record, I hope it's not true. The courts will decide that. Defendants ARE innocent until proven guilty. For the record, teachers AND students AND everyone, for that matter, should keep in mind, the same technology that connects you, can also convict you. Keep your pants on, and your cellphones off.

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