Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Strange Tale of Melanie Bowers.

OK, I read wayyyyyy too much right-wing drivel online,especially LGF and Michelle Malkin. That is how I find random stuff like the tale of Melanie Bowers.

Melanie is the kid in Athens, Texas, who was asked to create a political protest sign for a social studies class. She brought one in that said "If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration".

So far, so good, not my cup of tea, but certainly a reasonable protest sign. Then, she claimed, she was surrounded in the hallway by upset, presumably Latino classmates, assaulted, scratched, had her face slammed into a brick wall, and had the poster snatched from her. She said the boys involved threatened to gang-rape and kill her. She said she was ordered back to class and not allowed to call her parents. Three kids were put into in-house suspension.

Problem is that the school has surveillence tape running, and they've now reviewed it and discovered Melanie inflicting injuries on herself, scratching her arms. The whole thing seems to have been a fake. The local authorities are charging her, and the parents seem to agree that the kid filed a false report.

Various anti-immigration blogs and such have taken this in various ways. Most seem relieved that the hoax was discovered, many are concerned that this will prevent future such attacks from being taken seriously (and they're clearly expecting lots), and some just can't seem to realize where fault lies here. My personal favorite guy posted to

I have to agree with your comment. I don’t think this girl is anti-hispanic per se, but is simply feeling overwhelmed by the radical cultural imposition occuring, as a result of these selfish/parasitic invaders. I don’t agree with what she did, but I totally understand her frustration/desperation.

Can you imagine what this guy would say to a left-winger using language like that? 'Radical cultural imposition'? That sounds like something I had to read for class in college. Hoo boy.

As a teacher, though, I have to say that my question is, what is going on with this girl? Did she want attention? Did the parents set this up? (The parents were, understandably mad as hell at the initial report, but seem to have accepted the new evidence.) Why does a kid do a thing like this?

Of course, figuring out why a teenager does anything can be a tricky matter. One of my own students, rebounding from a bad breakup, recently told all the girls on campus that her ex-boyfriend had gotten her pregnant and now wouldn't talk to her, she was going the next day to get an abortion, and she also had a heart murmur and a tumor. The ex was nearly lynched by angry fifteen-year-old girls. The doctor's appointment the next day, when we called home, turned out to be for tooth cleaning, and no heart murmur or tumor were recalled by her mother. Where does a kid get ideas like this? (Telenovelas is my best guess.)

What I'm wondering is if she expected/wanted to be a martyr. One thing I notice about my right-wing sites is the expectation that teachers will punish right-wing students, blatantly give them Fs on assignments that don't align to the teacher's political views, etc. I wonder if the teacher looked at the poster, said, "Very neat work, Melanie, good research, A-," and some kid said "You're a racist," and the teacher said "Remember, we weren't going to judge people's causes," and life moved on, except for some hostility from other thirteen-year-old kids. Was this not what she/her parents had planned? Did she need to get the TV cameras rolling some way or other?

I don't know, and I don't know if this kid needs therapy, or to be grounded for a year and a half, or to live with her aunt. I have no way of knowing. Somehow, the whole thing just struck me as weird, and worrisome. I'm really thankful they had tape rolling.


Eliyahu said...

Telenovelas! if only i knew spanish....on the other hand, i have never cared for soap operas....on the other hand the telenovela promos certainly show more cleavage...

Eliyahu said...

speaking of the influence of the soaps,