Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Perplexing Punishment Poll

For the past w
eek the Newport-Mesa has been abuzz with comments about the arrest of two Newport Harbor Freshman girls for beating a younger student from Ensign Middle School - an event that was video recorded by another onlooker and posted on YouTube and advertised on MySpace. Several articles were published in all the local newspapers and coverage provided by local television stations. You can refresh your memory on those articles HERE, HERE and HERE.


Opinions of residents as represented by postings on the Daily Pilot blog were scathing - criticizing not only the girls, but their parents, too. Speculation about the ethnicity of the girls added to the intensity of the situation. Some folks assumed they were Latinas and posted vicious comments accordingly. Others assumed, because of the school and the location - Pinkley Park in Costa Mesa - that the perpetrators were "white rich kids". One pro-Aryan blog operator took umbrage, HERE at that assertion and attempted to deflect that criticism back on the brown-skinned residents of our community. In his mind, apparently, it was a foregone conclusion that only Latinos would do such a thing.

One distressing by-product of this whole issue is a little poll the Daily Pi
lot has been running for a few days. The question they asked was, "Should the two Newport Harbor High girls who allegedly beat another girl - a beating aired on YouTube and a MySpace account - be prosecuted as adults?" I've been taking a peek at the results a few times a day and, as of the very wee hours of the morning Wednesday as I type these words, the results so far are shown below. These percentages have remained fairly constant for the past couple days, bouncing between 68% and 70% - Yes. By the time you read this and visit the page, HERE, the numbers will have changed but I doubt the percentages will shift much.


Now, I admit to participating in this survey early-on - I read it and, in a knee-jerk reaction, hit that "Yes" button without giving it too much thought. I wouldn't be too surprised if many of the other 244 voters who voted "Yes" reacted similarly. This is a very emotional issue and was even more so in the beginning when the news media reported - inaccurately - that the victim was developmentally disabled. That report, provided by the Newport Beach Police, was false, but spread like wildfire throughout our communities before it was corrected.


With the value of a little hindsight and the passage of several days, I find myself wanting to recant my vote - not possible, since the Pilot permits only one vote per computer. As I think about it today I'm trying to imagine a circumstance that would justify prosecuting these girls as adults. No, this was not just a case of teenage taunting - the girls apparently beat the stuffing out of their victim. Yes, the victim will likely suffer the emotional scars of this attack for a long time - perhaps forever. Yes, the perpetrators should be punished severely for their act. The girl who photographed and posted it on YouTube and the other who just stood and watched should also be punished for being willing accomplices. I just don't think this crime - while vicious and thoughtless - reaches the standard of a crime to be punished as an adult.


I can hear some of you now, yelling at me for taking such a mild stance on this issue. You may be right. I suspect that, if I were a parent of the victim, I'd be looking for the harshest penalty available for the perpetrators. I just keep coming back to the fact that these were 14 year old girls, many of whom can be scatter-brained, loud, rude, thoughtless, self-centered, insecure, emotional basket cases. I hope the investigation reveals that this was just a spontaneous, thoughtless act and not some gang initiation (as has been speculated by some) or part of a pattern of behavior by these two girls.


I hope this issue will be resolved soon, and that the community will be fully apprised of the resolution. These girls, as minors, have special rights that must be respected. The community, however, has rights, too. We should expect to be told of the resolution so we can put this terrible event behind us.

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Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

I have to admit the poll struck me as odd also. The determination of how to try a juvenile seems a more complex issue than a Yes/No poll could possibly explore.

BTW, I see you have joined the pilot in requiring authentication. It will be interesting to see how all of this works out. Millard seems less than impressed. That was predictable though.

1/23/2008 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, I've changed nothing on my blog - the host, Blogger, tinkered with some stuff recently. Your observation about Mr. U. Know Who (his name for himself) is right on the money. Based on his post this morning, I guess he's not happy that the Daily Pilot registration requirement puts a crimp in his game plan and makes it harder for him to flood the blog with anonymous rants using multiple names. Boo Hoo! Poor Baby! He needs to get over it. He's a smart fella and may occasionally have something substantive to contribute to the debate. He just needs to pick a name and get on with it. Besides, we all knew what he was doing - this only verifies it.

1/23/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in fights in junior high. I We would arrange to meet in a park and then clumsily "duke it out" with the end result being damaged pride and maybe a bloody nose. There were times when a group of kids would gang up on another kid, resulting in suspensions - never criminal charges. Adolescence can be ugly.

I think that, until the FULL details emerge (actual hate crime, etc.), the community should withhold judgement. Kids fight. It isn't right, but trying them as adults? Not unless that is actually warranted.

1/23/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geoff, this is your lucky day, as I'm sure Sam Zell really has the time and inclination to get involved so the RtR's can't take over Daily Pilot blogs. I can already imagine ad buys dropping in the Pilot because the anonymous cowards and multi-name posters are getting frozen out. I'm sure he has CM Press listed under his 'favorites' tab so he can keep track of our little peccadilloes down here in Newport Mesa.

And Rob, I remember those junior high days at TeWinkle - the group (usually all boys back then) in a big circle while the combatants cheered them on. Good times, indeed. If only Al Gore had invented the internet by then, we could have filmed and posted it too. The times they are a changin'. We might as well just string those two girls up now and sort through all the details later.

1/23/2008 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, I understand your point. Kids do stupid things - I suspect most of us did. After school fights are nothing new except now, in the neighborhood where I grew up, it's usually some kid getting "jumped in" to a gang! I agree that the "community should withhold judgment", but it doesn't appear that they are. As of this moment the counter on the Daily Pilot Poll is still ticking away, with 434 people voting and 68% saying "Yes, the girls should be tried as adults".

Incidentally, Mr. U. Know-Who is still pouting over there in his corner - ticked off that he can't control this little game any longer. What a waste of an intellect!

1/23/2008 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Subtle, who bitches about registration while not allowing comments on his own blog, just can't believe that the Pilot didn't bow to his intimidation tactics! Is he really that afraid to own his own opinions?

Mike - those fights were in broad daylight, and the cops never came, and the newspapers never picked up the story. Times have changed!

I hadn't thought about the gender aspect. You're right, I don't recall any girl fights in my time at Lincoln.

Honestly, I am surprised at the huge reaction to this incident, but I also did not see the video and have no idea how violent the "attack" was.

1/24/2008 10:49:00 AM  

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