In the weekly feature called "e-views," we invite readers to answer a question via email.
Last week's question:
Five Liberty High School football players were recently kicked off the team and may face charges following a hazing incident, which included the improper use of Icy Hot against junior varsity players at a Sacramento football camp. Some in the community are up in arms whereas others say the incident, while wrong, should not be treated as a crime. Is there such a thing as a harmless prank? When does a prank go too far?
HAZING IS NOT a harmless prank, and there are rules against it.
Why? Because hazing can cause people to get hurt, and often does. There is no excuse for the behavior displayed by some of the Liberty football players toward their younger junior varsity teammates. Yes, hazing can be considered a crime, and does deserve some type of punishment. High school students are old enough, or should be, to be aware of the consequences of violating established rules. Anyone who thinks hazing is a harmless prank would think otherwise if any of their kids were one of the hazing victims.
THAT WILL DEPEND on whether or not the prankee thought it was harmless.
This act may have caused prolonged discomfort and perhaps some mental anguish to the
For the punishment, perhaps a letter of apology and some game suspensions would get the point across. This is a new era in where small pranks like this could lead to a classroom shooting for example. In a way, this could be classified as bullying.
THIS IS PROBABLY the stupidest question I've seen posed by the newspaper. When does a prank go to far? When you try to stick something into someone's body. Duh!
THE FIVE LIBERTY High School football players who were recently kicked off the team went too far with their so called "prank."
You would have hoped they would have learned some lessons by the local Heritage High School incident (graffiti, etc.), which was only two months ago! It's too bad they couldn't have used a little common sense beforehand.
I believe charges of a misdemeanor and probation seem appropriate considering what they did to the individuals, but of course I don't have all the facts. A harmless prank/rite of passage should be something innocent like being smeared with food condiments or shaving cream and not be done in any "inappropriate areas." Hopefully, the punishment will help them to grow into responsible adults in the future.
FACE IT, YOUTH and indiscretion go together like love and marriage, horse and carriage. Kids will be kids but just as there are different degrees of infraction, there are different degrees of punishment. It takes Solomon wisdom to know where we draw the line between harmless pranks and actions of cruelty and abuse.
The Times was very generous, maybe delicate, in using the word "inappropriate." Initial accounts suggested actual bodily intrusion; others suggested at least an attempt made with Icy Hot. Now that crosses the line.
What, in fact, are the implications of this substance in terms of burns in such a sensitive bodily cavity? Put aside for a moment any threat of physical harm and consider the psychological scarring. I know how I dread my 10-year colonoscopy -- and that is done with my consent and by a physician. Dare say, such a prank would come with kicking, screaming and humiliation.
Yearly, 1.5 million kids under 18 get hazed. Ninety-two percent never report and 25 percent are under 13. This, then, is no joking matter. We need to protect potential future victims and send a message of consequences to potential perpetrators about the un-crossable line. Spell it tough love.
LIKE IT OR not, the events described make it a crime. Young people have even died from unwarranted hazing "pranks," so it is serious.
Whether or not to criminally charge the involved students, is the jurisdiction of the Sacramento County District Attorney. The five students involved need to be properly dealt with, and others contemplating doing similar acts should forgo doing so or risk severe punishment. The legal process should be allowed to settle this with input from the victims, the parents, etc.
It still doesn't do away with the potential civil implications and liabilities either. Dismissal from the football team is a good start too -- a fair decision in light of the very poor representation of the school and rest of the uninvolved team members.
Ralph A. Hernandez
This week's question:
Concerned about the noise, traffic and quality-of-life issues that a planned 17-acre Los Medanos College satellite campus could bring to surrounding neighborhoods, a group of residents is lobbying the college for a change in the newly planned location behind Trilogy in Brentwood. Some are suggesting a move to a larger site near a proposed eBART station on Laurel Road in Oakley. Do you think the new Brentwood site is adequate or should a larger campus be planned elsewhere?
Email your response to email@example.com. Please limit responses to a few sentences, and be sure to include your full name and city of residence. Not all responses will be published. Note: Please respond before Monday.