There's something about this Shelton High School Prom punishment saga that's left me uneasy.. conflicted.. even a little concerned.
It's not the ultimate outcome -- not at all -- James Tate deserves to go to his prom. He never should have been banned in the first place. The punishment did not fit the crime. In fact, the policy that indiscriminately banned anyone who got a suspension after April 1st is too "black & white" for me.
What bothers me, is the way -- or maybe the "why" -- the decision changed.
School leaders admitted they were bowing to "international pressure" that had made it difficult to maintain a good learning environment at the school. Facebook and twitter were buzzing with support for Tate.. and hate for Shelton High's Headmaster. The school campus was crawling with reporters and photographers for a week.
In other words, the angry mob won.
"Crowd-sourcing" is a big thing these days. But crowd-sourcing implies a group of people is asked to make a decision or do a job. Take reality television shows, for example. They often decide who stays and who goes by popular vote. Shelton schools didn't ask for input on this decision -- but, boy did they get it. Of course, that kind of thing has always been around in some form. It's just that facebook, twitter, and online comment sections make it easier than ever for people to express their opinions. Everyone is entitled to that. I guess what I fear is a world in which only the "loudest voices" get to make all the decisions. That's a big can of worms. And once they're out, those worms are never going back in.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for standing up for what you believe. I support expressing your opinion. It's a right -- even a responsibility. And I think companies owe it to their customers, like politicians owe it to their constituents, to acknowledge and address concerns and explain decisions. There must be checks and balances. But sometimes it goes so far, it further erodes any remaining respect for authority. Sometimes people in power must make difficult, unpopular decisions and we don't -- even can't -- know all the reasons behind those decisions. As they say, that's why they get paid the big bucks.
Maybe I'm just uneasy because, as a parent, sometimes I have to make tough decisions my kids don't like. I don't want them to think that if they complain loudly enough, I'll change my mind. It doesn't always work that way. It can't.
Today's title: The Beastie Boys anthem