Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eleven Simple Words

A couple of days ago, I did a post about a prostitution case going on here in Maine. A local businessman and a Zumba instructor were charged with promotion of prostitution and engaging in prostitution, respectively (along with dozens of other misdemeanor charges). Some of the alleged johns objected to having their names released to the media. My comment then was, "[...] if you don't want your name in the papers, don't break the law."

This case -- especially the refusal to release the client list -- has made this a national news story. Brian Williams spoke about it last night on the NBC Nightly News (probably the best-known prostitution case since the Secret Service yahoos down in South America).

The judge in the case originally allowed the names to be released, but no addresses, to protect the privacy of those involved (some of the charges against the alleged callgirl and... manager[?]... include invasion of privacy, for recording the encounters).

Today, the judge announced that middle initials and addresses could be released, with the concurrence of John Does 1 and 2:

Kennebunk police Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said he had been inundated with calls from people with names similar to those on the list released Monday. Police re-released the list Tuesday morning with the addition of middle initials.

It certainly makes sense, especially since we have a lot of folks here in Maine with very similar names.

One of those names, by the way, happens to belong to a former mayor of the City of South Portland, James A. Soule, now residing in Fort Myers, FL. (The position of Mayor in South Portland is largely ceremonial). Another is Donald Hill, the now-former hockey coach at Kennebunk High School. Hill joined the coaching staff in 1993. Here in Maine, high school hockey holds the same status as high school football in Texas: it's damn near a religion.

It's a shame that so many reputations are being destroyed as a result of this case: the businessman, who was a well-respected insurance agent, the Zumba instructor, the Mayor, the coach, but they all learned one simple lesson the hard way. If you don't want to see it on the front page of the newspaper, don't do whatever you were thinking of doing.

This kinda goes back to another recent post, about public employees screwing up. Maybe I'm old-fashioned (hell, I know I am; the lovely yet talented Mrs618 tells me so often enough), but it seems to me that if you are going to be a public employee, whether fire chief, cop, medic, mayor, high school coach, whatever, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard of behavior.

Public employees should be role models. We should be the ones the youth of today aspire to be tomorrow. Face it, the heroes of our generation -- Mickey Mantle, Andy Granatelli, Scooter Rizzuto, Whitey Ford -- they're all gone, replaced by useless scum like Michael Vick and Mike Tyson, who are basically athletically-gifted thugs. But what of the other heroes of our time? When I was a kid, we all wanted to be cops or firemen. Very few aspired to be President (as Dennis Smith pointed out in Report From Engine Co. 82, being President was a birthright). None wanted to be an investment banker. Hell, that profession didn't even exist!

There are still kids today who want to be cops, or firefighters, or medics, or members of the military. These are time-honored professions, and have historically been a stepping stone for social advancement over the last couple of centuries. If we want to keep these traditions alive, we must act accordingly.

Am I saying a cop cannot accept a cup of coffee, a donut, or the ubiquitous free apple? No, I see nothing wrong with a little "thank you" to those who risk their lives for us. What I do object to, however, is the current trend of civil servants (who are neither civil nor servile) taking it upon themselves to be the arbiters of what is proper and just. And by civil servants, I mean all who (at least theoretically) serve the public, whether paid or volunteer.

Cops who view free meals at luxury restaurants as their due, firefighters who raid department treasuries, mayors who patronize prostitutes, football coaches at state universities who molest their young players... these are the people we expect our children to emulate? Good God, no.

Groups like the Minutemen and the Oath Keepers should have no place in American society, yet in some parts of the country, they are a major player -- if not the major player -- in local law enforcement and the military. Should our youth grow up to be like these cretins? Hell, no.

Do I have all the solutions? Of course not, I don't claim to. Hell, I don't know if I have any of the solutions, other than one that should be blindingly, glaringly obvious to everybody: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Eleven simple words.

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