What Mrs. Otte did Not

8th Grader Victoria Granado wrote in to the Anchorage Daily News with her policy advice about addressing sexual assault and asking for “support” (see,  http://bit.ly/azWGuK)  I offer the comment below.  I would have expected that Mrs. Otte already explored most of what I am about to say to you, Victoria,  (that would be her obligation) so if you have already addressed the points below, my apologies for covering the same ground again.

First off, it is very difficult to get any sense of what you are actually proposing.  As 8th Graders I am sure your class had something more to vote on then the simplistic argument that we will defeat sexual assault via sting operations.  In as much as your teacher is aware that she could have used ASD’s Google Apps  Domain to facilitate your creation of a variety of web pages on this issue to which you could refer the public it is most unfortunate that you did not take the opportunity to actually present some sense of your policy deliberations as well as the width and breadth of the debate that led to your resolution.

Had you published a bit about your efforts, I am sure I would have noted your acknowledgment of the relative frequency of sexual assault within the family or among close friends and would have addressed how you would interpose a sting into such circumstances.  Likewise, I am sure we would have been able to view how you addressed the impact of non-physical aggression,  which is the overwhelming domain of women in our society according to most recent research, and the possible trigger such assaultive behavior  may become.

In light of our local political scene, I am sure you must also have explored the economic issues presented by your proposed policy.  Who will pay for your program? How much will it cost? Will your parents vote to lift the tax cap to fund more municipal services? Will your class be opposing local candidates claiming they support property tax relief and more services since your class would clearly understand that such a stance is utter nonsense?

And while it’s not PC to ask, you undoubtedly also explored the whole concept now promoted by teabaggers that one must be responsible for oneself and that typically people get what they “deserve” at the hands of a personal and interceding God. Are you suggesting that persons the victim of sexual assault didn’t deserve to be assaulted? Does alcohol and drug abuse contribute to an environment which might condone such behavior? And what about the current practice of spitting on Congressmen and throwing bricks through windows? In a society where a major political party is slow to condemn such violence, wouldn’t one be led to believe that violence IS an appropriate form of “speech”?

I could go on, Victoria, but I hope I have made my point that your presentation in the newspaper was shallow and that was unfortunate in that I am sure your efforts in school were not. This reflects on Mrs. Otte, however, not on you, as she is the person who was responsible for your project, and I am sure, for promoting your letter to the editor.  Wanting to be the best citizen you can be is a wonderful aspiration, but as we have seen over the past months with respect to the health care reform debate, being a good citizen involves more than sounding off; it involves rational and critical thought, civil discourse and respect for one’s peers. Best of luck next year in high school.

One comment on “What Mrs. Otte did Not

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