Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Oh, whatever will we do?

Salon's Farhad Manjoo wrote today about a story I read about many months ago -- a 27 year old prospective teacher who was denied her teaching degree for posting a picture of herself drinking on MySpace. I think it ties in with the current wringing about Roger Clemens. In both cases, there has been a huge over-reaction to entirely typical behavior.

The prospective teacher, Stacy Snyder, was of legal drinking age. She is not giving alcohol to minors. She is not doing anything the least bit risque. She is just wearing a pirate hat and drinking out a cheap plastic cup; she's labeled the pic "drunken pirate."

Obviously, this is shocking result. Teacher preparation programs are charged with ensuring the appropriate "dispositions" in their graduates, and I suppose that that is what the dean was thinking about when he denied her the teaching degree. But it is not as though teachers don't drink. The New York Times wrote a story last summer about teacher drinking and teacher bars last summer. Young workers in every industry go out for drinks after work, especially on Fridays, and teachers are no different. 

So, what's the problem? That someone took a picture? That students could find out that their teacher drinks? Perhaps it was the cheap plastic cup? Maybe, if she looked more poised, and had a wine glass in her hand, it would have been viewed differently. But so what?

27 year olds drink after work and on weekends. 

It has come out in the past week that Roger Clemens might have cheated on his wife. A baseball player has cheated on his wife! Stop the presses! 

What was the last baseball movie that did not allude to, mention or even depict ballplayers hooking up with groupies, even married ballplayers? What is your best guess as to the fraction of players in the Hall of Fame who did not cheat on their wives? 

Do you think that it resembles the percentage of 27 year old teachers who don't drink? 

And yet, in both of these cases, each of the the individual engaging in these expected behaviors was selectively vilified. 

This garbage happens all too often. Barak Obama has been vilified for not wearing a flag-pin, even though neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain wear flag-pins. 

I've got to admit, I don't get it. I don't understand what prompts this kind of selective outrage. 

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