Monday, May 16, 2005


For most of you adults, this has a technological meaning. For those of you with middle or high school aged children, it may mean something else. Most schools across the country have a policy regarding Public Displays of Affection. A PDA is usually defined as any action that symbolizes a more than platonic relationship. In practice, it usually regards hands holding, hugging, and in occasional extreme instances, kissing. It is in the news again with this story, regarding the detention of a middle-schooler for hugging her boyfriend between classes.

Now, normally I'm very adamant about decrying the stupidity of zero-tolerance rules in schools. But this isn't a zero-tolerance case. As the article states, Cazz Altomare (who names their kid Cazz?) was given numerous warnings about her disobedience, but continued to engage in "lingering hugging" (read: they hung all over each other in the middle of the hallway). As such, she was given a detention. Not an expulsion, or even a suspension. Detention. EVERYONE gets a detention. If you don't at least come close to getting a detention, you aren't living a fun enough life. Even myself, Mr. Straight A 4.0 GPA High Honor Roll got a detention in junior high for pulling out a chair from someone during a spelling bee (the little bastard got what was coming to him). Anyway, the point is that getting a detention is not the end of the world like Cazz's mom thinks it is.

Now, the larger question: is the policy valid? I think so. Middle Schoolers need to be taught limits. Remember, these are 12-15 year olds we're talking about here; they are not mature by any measuring stick. As far as they are concerned, as long as its not "bad" (clothes being removed), its acceptable to do, wherever, whenever. And the spokeswoman for the school district hits the nail on the head: you make people uncomfortable by your behavior. I know I was always rather disgusted whenever I'd see some frosh couple walk down the hallway holding hands or spending 10 minutes hugging each other good-bye before every single stinking class. You don't see this kind of behavior in the workplace; there's no room for it in a school.

On an aside, there was an interesting, libertarian themed statement by the mom in regards to the so-called "hugging ban." The mom said that "people should not just accept these fundamental rights being taken away from them." Okay, Ms. Patrick Henry!! Since when has "hugging" (also known as hanging all over each other for the whole world to see) been an accepted fundamental right? Even if it was, its also considered a fundamental human right to get married, or to own a gun. Does Ms. Altomare think Cazz should be allowed to get married or own a handgun at 13? Maybe instead of concerning herself with her daughter's right to distract and disgust her classmates, Ms. Altomare should concern herself with real issues...things like the REAL ID Act, or our smothering gun control regulation. Issues that truly do affect our liberty.

Nah, that's too much to expect from a country where Wacko Jacko is front-page news, but a new offensive in Iraq is completely ignored.