Friday, November 13, 2009

Hard conversations

Yesterday, after school, hanging out in the freshmen religion teacher's office, one of the boys says: "I still don't understand why that girl isn't in trouble for under-age drinking."

This has been a recurrent question, asked at the assembly too. I don't fully understand why it preoccupies them so, but they seem troubled, seriously, by the idea that several young men are in custody for rape and battery, while an under-age drinker gets off scot-free.

"Try to look at it this way, Moish," I said. "Let's say you steal a book from Baruch's locker. That's wrong, it's against the rules, and you will get in trouble for it, right?"


"But let's say that before we get a chance to punish you for stealing a book, Baruch comes after you with a baseball bat, beats you to within a inch of your life and puts you in the hospital. Believe it or not, we are going to be so concerned about the felony Baruch committed, that we may not even bother about punishing you for the book, especially since you're in the hospital, recovering. Got that?"

"I guess so."

"If that girl had been black, this wouldn't even be in the papers," says Baruch.

"I think maybe you guys are making too big a deal out of this," says Ahuva. "I mean, it's kind of a big deal. But this has been going on for weeks, and it's not THAT big a deal."

"Ahuva," I say, "I don't want to start reciting all the details of this crime, and trying to scare you. But the detective who's been working this case, every time he speaks to the press, says that this was horrifying, one of the worst things he's seen. This is a guy who's a detective for the Richmond PD. He's seen everything. If he says it's bad, I believe him."

Apparently, one of the girls simply refused to wear one of my turquoise ribbons to the assembly. She told her teacher that "that girl" shouldn't have been drinking with guys, and it wasn't her problem.

Cold world these children live in.

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