Friday, April 28, 2006

Blown Out Of Proportion

It seems that the big news story in the Pittsburgh Moist-Towelette this week has been the "Top 25" list at Mount Lebanon High School. Basically, some of the boys took a bit of time and effort to compile a list of female classmates and rated them on all of the things that teenage boys look for in teenage girls. In other words, it's quite salacious. Parents of the girls are (rightly) outraged, while the boys have their own defenders among the adult population of Lebo. Many locals are demanding that something be done about this! To the casual observer, it looks like an internal matter. If the list was distributed among boys at school and came into the possession of someone who would be offended, then it would be punishable by whatever sexual harassment policy the school district has. If the boys had kept it to themselves and outside of the school, it would be their business and no one else's. It hardly seems like a legal matter.

But this is Mount Lebanon, where people have a lot of money to throw around. Lawyers are getting involved. The Lebo police department is desperately trying to distance itself from something that is likely not against the law (and if it is, it's a stupid law). In my day, the principals would have dealt with the situation quickly and quietly with suspensions. If you were a "good kid" as many of these boys are alleged to be, the knowledge among your peers that you had been suspended would have been enough humiliation to shame you for years. No one would have considered taking it to court.

But then again, I didn't go to Mount Lebanon. I attended school in a neighboring district where we considered Lebo to be our greatest rival. Anything bad for Lebo was good for us. A story like the Top 25 list would have been ultimate Schadenfreude at my school.

Now that I am an adult more than 20 years out of high school, I feel sympathy for the kids, both boys and girls. It's tough being a teenager in any era, but even more so in this hypersexualized era. One could argue that this case is a good reason for sexual segregation during the high school years. Or you could argue that this whole thing is as ridiculous as it sounds. If you take a gander at the Moist-Towelette's special reader forum, you'll see that the news coverage of the Top 25 list has raised more hackles than the list itself. For instance

What, "The List" is out again? Is the Post-Gazette afraid to publish it? I'd
like to see it, it's been a while since the last one came out ...

That guy graduated 27 years ago! And then there's this:
Although I do not condone this behavior, I also do not feel this warrants front page coverage for the Post-Gazette! Is this really the state of our social conscious, that a juvenile list makes the front page of a supposedly large newspaper?

And this:
Wow, newsflash!!! "Teenage boys rate their fellow female classmates." Who cares! We were all teenagers once. This is all being blown way out of proportion.

And:
This is not a criminal matter. The students involved should be disciplined by the principal and that is it. Once again, a situation has been blown out of proportion by the media, the school board, and the school district. I bet most of the girls on the list are honored
to be on the list.


And:
People, we are at war, gas prices are through the roof and the City of Pittsburgh can't manage its finances, and what gets us all up in a fuss??????? A stupid, teenage prank. Priorities people, priorities!!!!!!!!

And:
The amount of media coverage and public attention this "story" has received galls me. If this is indicitive of what people are truly concerned with, then God help us all.

And so on. Does it seem that the big issue here is not so much what the boys did, what the school district will do about it, or why there are lawyers involved, but why the hell the media is making such a big deal about such a minor matter?

1 comment:

jipzeecab said...

My mother expressed outrage over this but she's the most prudish of prudes. I suggested that it was actually the culmination of all the intellectual skills we are trained with applied to the one subject boys think about 60 minutes of every hour/ 18 hours a day. Clumsier versions of this list have existed everywhere since boys first took pencil to paper, perhaps on a smaller scale..
She allowed that she would happy if the PG published the names of all the boys who authored the list along with their parents names and addresses.
Of course being from another neighboring rival school I am quietly enjoying the "cake eaters" getting all this wonderful negative publicity.
This you may remember is one of their "official fight songs":

"We are from Lebo
We are the best
We eat more cake than all of the rest
Sophomores, juniors, seniors too eat cake for the golden blue."