If the people involved in creating the Top 25 list are identified, should the Mt. Lebanon School District mete out the punishment? Or should it be handled as a criminal investigation by police? Should the students get a written warning? Be suspended? Expelled? Or punished in another manner, such as community service?
Wednesday, April 26
While the list written by the students was an incredibly insulting act, I must point out to you that it is not illegal in any way. Unless you would wish to suspend the first amendment in the times that it is needed to actually protect someone's rights, of course. And as a student at the high school, I am able to say that the school does have the right to search lockers, they refrain from doing so most of the time. And in a school district with as many lawyer parents as there are, violating students' fourth amendment rights in order to find evidence that students may have committed an unknown crime (this list was not one) just might be a bad idea, if not illegal.
For those interested parties, I have a link to the Student Handbook (click on the words "Student Handbook on the site) which contains the school's sexual harassment policy in Appendix D. I think you will not find any direct violation to any of the named rules there, only the " miscellaneous" clause thrown in there.
I know nothing of this issue other than having read the article. But what I see is this:
A list of females, created and circulated by males, ranking their attractiveness, though perhaps not in a very subtle, tasteful, or considerate way. But what is important here is, how was this list used, and what was the intent of its creators? Harassment? Stalking? Intimidation? It does not sound like that from the article, and the police could find no evidence of this. And moreover, what is the reaction of the girls who "made the list" (to their FRIENDS)? In some circles maybe some are actually flattered. I don't know, I'm just guessing, but I do work with teens in this community, and I see and hear a lot of things that lead me to think that the actions of the board are probably quite overblown, to the point of playing politics (especially the calls for the firing of the high level administration in the district). Really, when it comes down to it, I think that maybe this was a crude "beauty contest" of sorts, run by teenage males, with a crude and inconsiderate focus on those things that, well, fixate teenage males. By any adult standard this "contest" was not run in a tasteful manner, but then, it sounds like this list was not intended for public consumption. To me it seems like this was just a form of teenage boys discussing features of teenage girls amongst themselves, and that is as old as the sun. This was, after all, a list of females who these males thought were the most attractive. A list of the least attractive I think could be far more harmful. But in any case, the resources and energies of the parents, the school, and the community would be put to much better use if they could just get on with more important things. Teenage alienation, drug use, depression, very poor communication with and understanding by parents, ostracization by and isolation from the community, and assistance/accommodation of those teens with difficult home situations such as those with single parent homes, etc., are all big problems in Mt. Lebanon which this community so frequently seeks to "sweep under the rug". Let's let this one go and deal with the real problems which beset our teens!
My 14 year old son, a student at Word of God Catholic School in Swissvale, was cyberbullied by his classmate. This classmate created a MySpace.com profile pretending to be my son, and it was up and running for 5 long months. I took it down April 21, 2006. Believe me, until you read the content word for word, you cannot imagine the damage! Outraged? You bet I am. As much at my legal recourse as the action itself, so I'm directing my energy into changing the law.
If the Post Gazette was able to print the Top 25 List verbatim, some of you respondents wouldn't be taking this so lightly. Prosecute these criminal actions!
The only thing close to criminal in this story is that it made into the news.
No, I don't think any criminal action should be taken against these people.
While the guys who did this are probably your typical run-of-the-mill jocks and preps, this happens at almost every school across the country. I went to Penn-Trafford and remember hearing about such lists all the time. It's almost impossible to narrow it down to who exactly made the list anyway because so many people were involved with it I'm sure. It's a waste of time for the police to be investigating something so petty when there's more important issues that probably need attended to.
Seems like the school district would be happy that they didn't write the list on the bathroom walls, with a Sharpie, like they would have in my day (the 70's). And it would have stayed there until summer when they repainted the place, or someone wrote over it with another entry.
Seriously though, I have a daughter who is a senior in high school and this is an issue that, if left alone would have passed quickly, stayed local, with little fanfare. The emotional parents have made this a nationwide media issue, which will only embarrass their daughters much more than those who initiated it. Not to mention, that the school system may open itself up to a lawsuit, if they take action, especially if the allegations are true, which will allow this prank to live on for months in court and on the news, further damaging their daughter's reputations.
And now that the media has gotten a hold of this story, everyone wants to know who the girls are and what their ratings and comments were ... and I am sure the list will be on the "net" soon, if it's not already ... Floating in cyberspace in eternity ... to boomerang back on these poor girls forever.
Ray Steffens, Norfolk Va.
PS: I would be upset if my daughter were on this list too, but making this a media event is not something I would want my daughter to endure ...
As a 2005 graduate of Mt. Lebanon, I can attest to the fact that this is not the first time that a list like this has been made. I lived through many similar situations in my four years at Mt. Lebanon High School, many of the instances being much more severe than the current case. The fact is that Mt. Lebanon boys have completely stepped over the line on numerous occasions. Not a day went by while I attended the school that I did not hear some sort of derogatory remark said, chanted, or even printed on flyers and thrown down the stairwells. Most of the remarks were undeserved and sometimes not even truthful. These are obvious results of boys seeking attention. It has gone so far that it is now out of the hands of the authority at the school. It has now become an issue of how boys see it appropriate to treat girls. The administration has punished these boys numerous times, but it obviously hasn't been very effective. The punishment that I think these boys truly deserve, and the only one that will be effective, is one that must be derived from the girls themselves. I urge these girls to not associate with these pathetic boys. They should not even talk to them or even look at them. The only way that the boys will realize how they are supposed to treat girls is if the girls set a standard that does not tolerate this kind of behavior. If they don't stop being passive and continue to give these boys attention, they will never gain respect, and no change will be made.
Those implicated should be suspended for 2-3 months (the remaining school year), be made to answer to criminal court and civil court and if the school administration can not call this sexual harassment but want to study it further, then those implicated should be made to empty out the desks of those administrators and to carry those contents to the cars of said administrators.
This should have been dealt with as soon as it was made known. The principal should have called all to an assembly and read the 'riot act' to both students and teachers/administrators that this 'stuff' will end now, and to direct everyone to that purpose. And to inform them that criminal, civil and administrative investigations have begun. Thank you for allowing me to comment.
This is a shameful way for high school students to act, but I think there should be an investigation to see if the facts within the e-mail are true. If the information is true and factual, the matter should be dropped. We see top government officials, who are sworn to secrecy, leaking information and are applauded because it's true; never mind it puts thousands thousands of Americans in harm's way. Why have double standards. That's what the kids would ask!
I am a 1997 graduate of Mount Lebanon High School. Although this issue is very disappointing, it is nothing new. In fact, this is quite benign compared to things that occurred during my tenure and quite frankly, very innocent to the events that took place at the high school five to ten years before I was a student there. The actions of the individuals involved are extremely distasteful. However, let's keep our eye on the big picture, folks. If Mt. Lebanon High School's biggest problem is a "Top 25 Hot Girls List", then I would venture to say congratulations to the parents, teachers, administrators and students on maintaining a fairly normal educational institution. Don't lose sight of what the kids are trying to accomplish, which is becoming well rounded, well adjusted contributors to society. Everyone makes mistakes, some worse than others. But the good news is they can learn from this. Let kids be kids and stop getting caught up in something as benign as the opinions of a bunch of hormonally raging teenage boys! Relax a bit!
San Diego, Ca.
Is the list inappropriate? Yes. Is it criminal? I don't think so. None of us got through high school without doing something inappropriate and hopefully this behavior had consequences and we learned from it.
Adolescence is a time to learn and high school is a place to learn. School officials should take advantage of this as an opportunity to teach students appropriate behavior.
It was a long time ago, but I was involved in the production of something like that in my high school. What I did deeply hurt some people, and I regret it to this day. At the time, it only seemed like fun and games, but now that I am thinking of having children of my own, I would not wish this on anybody.
The people who were involved in that publication should be punished by the school because the school is the target audience for which it was made. It really does not matter what acts the girls on the list had in fact committed. There is no reason to publicize people's private, legal acts.
As bad as the Top 25 list is, I'm seeing something worse -- the sexist responses it is generating. I am absolutely shocked and appalled by some of the responses in the reader forum. I am so angry that people are actually blaming the girls for this.
I do think that teenage girls show more skin than they should. But that does not mean that they deserve to be "ranked," with various body parts given a grade. How they dress is a societal problem that, I believe, results in part because of incidents just like this one. Saying they should "keep their legs shut" is so obscenely offensive.
Secondly, has anyone thought about the girls who didn't make the list? Because when you're 15 and the boys aren't giving you attention, you tend to think it's your fault, or you're ugly, etc. I guarantee that some of those girls are going to go out now and buy skimpier clothes, or stop eating, or do whatever it is they think the "Top 25" did to make it onto that list.
Finally, the argument that "boys will be boys" and "this is something that everyone did" is ridiculous and no excuse whatsoever. If we followed that rule, think about all of the bad behaviors that would never change because it's something "we all did." I'm tired of men getting a free pass for sexist behavior simply because their fathers, uncles and grandfathers did the same thing at their age. It's 2006, guys, and times have changed.
Real men should be offended that they're expected to conform to a sexist, demeaning and stupid activity. And real men would teach that to their sons.
These girls' parents should be outraged. And these boys' parents should be ashamed.
Harrisburg (Pittsburgh native)
It's slander, and and people sue for lesser things. There is an enormous amount of bullying via e-mail these days, even by younger children in the elementary grades. I believe that children and adolescents should learn that bullying and slander, whether it be face-to-face or via the Internet and letters, are behaviors that are wrong and punishable. Public apologies, community service, and counseling are all appropriate responses to kids who think that humiliating and intimidating another person is funny. There needs to be a clear message that this behavior is not nice, not good and will not be tolerated. Counseling for the girls on the list is also warranted. Their status on the list will either falsely boost their self-esteem, in which case they need to understand that they will need more than physical attributes to make it in the world as they age. Or, it will embarrass and anger them because of the invasion of their privacy.
Mt. Lebanon, Pa.
Ridiculous. Everyone reading this, turn on the E! channel at any point during the day and you will see a "Top 100" something (Top 100 Hottest Celebrities, etc.). It's the world we live in. People need to get over it. Every guy ranks the hot girls in High School...it's called being a teenager. Plus, girls are also guilty of the same thing. These students may have been dense for putting it blatantly in writing but the point still stands. Was anyone physically hurt? No. Has this gone on since the dawn of time with pubescent teenagers? Absolutely.
Ranking is a fact of life. You get ranked in order to get accepted to a good college. You get ranked in job interviews. You get ranked for promotions. You get ranked in order to decide who gets laid off when a company makes cuts. You get ranked by members of the opposite sex at any given bar on any given night. It's called LIFE!
Dearborn Heights, Mich., (formerly Moon Township)
As a graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, I'm not shocked at all. While it is a horrible list, I can't believe it actually made the front page of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Web site. In typical Mt. Lebo fashion the parents will complain to everyone and anyone willing to listen. Complaining to administration always worked when I went there and I'm sure its still a very effective tool. I would say probably just sit back and wait for the lawsuit now.
Mt. Lebanon alumnus
This may have been a "prank" but I think these boys need to learn how to respect girls/women. This is not criminal but they should be punished. Let these young men do community service and hopefully get some insight as to how to treat a woman. They obviously never considered or just did not care they were hurting these girls. I believe the girls all deserve a heartfelt apology and the boys hopefully will learn a lesson as they "grow up".
I graduated from high school in 2004, and to be perfectly honest, either the parents of these girls are complete morons (unlikely in a well-to-do community such as Mt. Lebanon) or just refuse to see what's right in front of them.
Have they looked recently at how their daughters have been dressing? have you watched TV or looked in magazine to see what the current style in women's wear is these days? To begin with, there is nothing criminal about this. Is it in bad taste? Absolutely. But it's nothing that should involve the police.
In general, it is completely foolish to believe all of the girls on this list are innocent victims. Not to call out anybody's daughter, but it's high school and this is 2006. Kids fool around and I refuse to believe that the guys who are responsible for the list made everything up about the girls. If someone's daughter is on the list, chances are there's a reason for it.
The worst part is that I'm sure there are girls right now wishing that they were on that list. Only a few weeks ago parents in the South Hills were up in arms over a 10 year old girl fighting to wear her short miniskirt to school, and we're supposed act surprised about a sexually explicit list written by 17 and 18 year olds? Get serious.
Instead of focusing solely on how the boys are in the wrong (which in this case I completely agree, they are) parents should take a step back and look at how their daughters dress and act as well as the entire culture of explicit sexuality that exists today.
If you were a guy in high school, at one point or another you made this same exact list. Maybe not as detailed, or not even actually on paper, but this list was generated by you and your group of friends. The whole ordeal is being blown out of proportion. This is just highschool boys being high school boys. I'm not sure how this was leaked to the media, but this has been going on for decades, and now that the media is making a BIGGER deal about it, it's going to be even more prevalent in schools.
Please tell me where I can send my donation check to the publisher of the "Top 25 in 2006" (yes I will actually send money). This is the most hilarious thing I've heard all year. Tell everyone involved to lighten up.
Mt. Lebanon Alumni, Class of '65
Grass Valley, Ca.
I just want to say that I completely agree with Adam, from Edinboro, in that no one was on the list by accident. Those girls were on there for a reason, maybe this will help keep their legs closed for awhile. Some high school girls do dress very inappropriate. My mother is a high school teacher and I have been in the classroom and was amazed at how young girls dress - anything to get attention. Most parents probably do not realize what actually goes on in high schools today. Maybe the moms and dads need to play parent for a few minutes and take some responsibility and talk to their sons and daughters about sex.
Lists like that existed 10 tens ago when I was in school. This is nothing new.
Absolutely no one in today's world is ever going to sell me a line of BS that today's high school girls are diminutive, innocent victims. Those endearing qualities went out decades ago. It's ironic how our Governor has to write out a check to the privileged in Upper Saint Claire for a privileged academic program and now the privileged in Mt. Lebanon are either jealous of losing the spotlight to their neighbors or just want someone else to do the parenting at everyone else's expense.
It was a prank, pure and simple. If girls can be the victims then boys can be boys, but I'll bet anything that a large number of girls filled out the ballot sheets and passed judgment on their peers. There is nothing more cruel or class conscious as a high school aged girl, especially to another girl.
Just act like adults. Maintain contact with the principle and let it be what it was meant to bea prank. Perhaps cruel by past standards but fairly benign by today's.
Perhaps fewer parents who are practicing attorneys would make a kinder gentler Mt. Lebanon.
I'm a parent of a two public high school students in Charlotte, NC. Let's see, two questions, how should the school and/or the police handle this. Since it's basically an offensive and tasteless list -- nothing criminal, except for consensual sexual activity is documented or threatened, right? -- it comes down to community and private organizational standards, right? And if that's the case, at least where the law is concerned, only laws related to obscenity, slander, and libel involving individual minors would apply, right? I don't think that anything more than the rights of the minors is involved -- maybe the parents if the girls alleged to be sexually active by association are POSSIBLY affected -- but not the school itself, no one alleges the school is somehow being damaged by this flyer, right? If this tasteless flyer brings down the weight of the courts on the wayward kids who did the flyer, then they're going to have to crack down on kids' zines and myspace pages too, if there is verbal content that says "sally is a ho" or "billy is a playa".
In other words, exactly what rules and/or laws are we working with, and exactly what harm is being alleged or caused by this flyer? Could someone maybe delete a name and give an example of what the flyer contains?
I really don't know if the Mt. Lebanon School District should punish the kids -- and who, just the guys? Are you SURE that it was ONLY guys involved in writing and distributing and -- what -- laughing, mostly likely, at the list? I think that girls in general verbalize stuff like this as much or more than the guys do. (I'm a father.) If the school is a public one, if the list was compiled and distributed off campus, I don't know if the school can or even should take disciplinary action. And if that's the case, how can the police do anything about it?
Suppose the kids made up a list of teachers who they said smelled bad. Say they said Ms. Smith smells like bathroom air freshener, Mr. Jones smells like stale cheese, and Coach Kelly smells like dirty gym socks. I realize that sexual innuendo is likely to be considered more offensive than allegations of bad smells, but if no crime occurs or is threatened, it's not a crime, right? It's at most a civil matter related to the three issues I mentioned in the first paragraph -- obscenity, slander, and libel -- and if the kids who created the flyer didn't increase the liklibood of physical harm or material loss to the girls involved, they can probably claim some sort of first amendment protection to do what they did.
Please understand I'm not saying what the kids did was right -- and it's as likely boys and some girls that were involved, in my experience and memory of this sort of thing -- but given the very tenuous association that might be made between this sort of activity and any real harm, given the very real level of violence and abuse that's occuring out there, probably in this school and community as well, cracking down on this with legal force -- maybe even school codes, if the flyer was distributed only off school grounds -- is a misuse of resources, at best, in my opinion.
Charlotte, North Carolina
I think anyone who believes this is a criminal matter is crazy. I'm sure this is done in pretty much every high school. There is no question this incident certainly hurt a lot of girls at the school, but not the 25 on the list. I guarantee there are a bunch of girls at Mt. Lebanon HS who wish they were on this list. It's a sad commentary but I believe it to be true. Are they going punish these kids simply because they had better technology than other generations? If students of past generations had access to e-mail, digital photos, and mass printing capabilities this would have happened decades ago.
When I read this story, my reaction was, "Inevitable."
Of course the list is tasteless, reprehensible, and every other negative adjective in Webster's. It's also no surprise.
We live in a world of lists, from the simple lists on "Family Feud" to David Letterman's Top 10 Whatevers to NFL draft projections to Mr. Blackwell's Best Dressed Celebrities to lists of search engine top site hits.
One cable channel -- I forget which one, maybe VH-1 or MTV or Spike -- features a program ranking Top 100 Celebrity Hotties. Who do you think is watching and taking notes?
Parents, particularly those of daughters, need to get a clue. Teenage boys have been ranking their female peers according to their assets and "aptitudes" probably for as long as there have been teenage boys and girls. And I bet girls have kept their own lists on the guys as well. Another thing, Soccer Mom and Daddy-O ... if you let your little virgin princess go to the mall baring cleavage, navel ring and two inches of her thong gutchies, you are guilty of aiding and abetting adolescent male "research."
The issue surfaced because, in this multimedia age, it's tough to keep anything quiet. Used to be, you passed a paper note from desk to desk ... now you e-mail it all over the school district.
In my opinion, this article has gotten it all wrong. The girls are being treated way too much like victims in this case. Perhaps, these girls give the boys something to write about. Any high-schooler will tell you: There are girls who would love to have their names placed on that list.
I graduated from Brashear High School last year and, even though nothing like this ever happened, I can see how it did. When girls, as early as high school, are having sex with multiple partners, there needs to be something done.
Instead, the parents are placing the blame entirely on the boys of this school. They are too naive to see what is truely going on. I cannot believe that these rich Mt. Lebanon parents are blaming everything on the boys. Frankly, it is their own daughters that they have to blame.
Chances are, the comments about the oral sex contained in that list are not false. If their daughters weren't busy trying to impress boys through, in my opinion, umannerly behavior, they wouldn't be on that list. Mt. Lebanon needs to scold their own daughters and make them put some clothes on.
Boys will be boys. It was wrong for them to publish a list like that, however, I can only suppose that no one was placed on that list by accident. Perhaps Mt. Lebanon teenagers are economically prosperous via their parents that they can waste time publishing a list like this at their school. They know that their parents are going to pay for the post-high school schooling.
Why waste time in high school actually studying when you can be concentrating on getting to the No. 1 spot on that list?
I don't see where any crime has been committed but I think in order to be fair and equitable, the 25 girls on the list should put together their own assessment of the top 25 boys at the school, including the ones they probably know that created the original list. When these guys see their genitals critiqued, etc., then they will learn how it feels to be treated like a piece of discarded meat and humiliated within their peer group.
They should be punished but not criminally. I believe some kind of community service that allows them to see the result of sexual harassment's affect on other people and how this behavior, if not addresses, could lead to more destructive behavior down the road.
I'm absolutely sick of this! You wonder why you're reading about women being dragged out of churches and shot or any other kind of relationship abuse?? This is why. When you think of women as only meat you treat them like meat. Why is it the only one item-the ethnic comment-is the only one where charges can be filed??? It's not OK to make religious comments or ethnic comments but it is OK to degrade women??? There SHOULD be charges filed just like in any other hate crime. Because thats exactly WHAT it is. And for all you parents who are patting your boy on the back because he's a "man"-remember that the literature targeted your nieces and daughters. It degrades all of us.
The "outrage" is ridiculous. Yes, it was done in bad taste, but get over it, it's high school and things happen. Furthermore, the one father who said it was 'the equivalent of a written rape on our daughter" does a disservice to any girl out there who who was really raped.
Regardless of where the "Top 25" list was created -- on school grounds or not -- its subsequent distribution to the school community marks it clearly as an issue for school discipline.
The fathers mentioned in your article are right to be outraged that the Mt. Lebanon High School administration hasn't been more aggressive in finding and punishing the leering would-be lotharios who authored the document. The authorities have known about the situation for some weeks now, yet have taken no corrective action one can discern -- beyond, it would seem, passing the buck to the Mt. Lebanon Police.
If the Top 25 List doesn't constitute "verbal abuse" with "demeaning implications" and a display of "sexually explicit materials" in the "educational environment" (per the language of the district's sexual harassment policy), it would be hard to imagine what would. That Principal Jansante, moreover, would still be wringing his hands over the applicability of the policy at this late hour calls into question his fitness to administer discipline at the school.
I don't want to sound like I condone what was done, as it was terrible, but I think the idea of punishing the kids who put together the list is pointless. Perhaps I am alone in this, I'd be surprised if I was, but I remember this kind of thing happening all the time in high school (only 5 years ago). The only difference then was that it was vocal. It seems odd that it only sparks outrage when it's available in hard copy.
Gossip of this type is rampant throughout kids this age and unfortunately, it's on both sides (I'm not qualified to speculate or argue why).What I do know is that while everyone is calling out for the blood of whomever put this paper out, they forget that this (most likely, and somewhat verified in the article) was done by ballot. Meaning a lot of people are "responsible" for this list. So punishing the kid or kids that actually collected the data only punishes those specific individuals.
This list probably has gone on for a while, and will go on, regardless if these particular authors face any repercussions for the group's action; the only thing that might change is the format the list comes out in. If parents really want to see this list disappear forever, they're going to have to find a way to fight the source- the desire to compile the list to begin with, and that's a much larger issue that's not quite as easy as expelling a couple students.
As deplorable an act as it is, I believe that there should be no criminal investigation into the "top 25 in 2006" list. It's the foolish act of high school boys, but it is still protected as free speech under the 1st amendment. I also don't believe that the school district should take any action unless they can verify that part of the action had taken place on school grounds. Since when do schools have purveyance over every action their students take, whether it's in school or in their private lives? This is a problem that needs dealt with immediately, even more so than this list.
I do believe that the individuals should be identified, and if anything happened on school grounds they should be suspended or given community service activities. If all of this occurred outside of school then discipline should be left up to the discretion of their parents, whom I'm sure would not go so lightly on them as the school board would.
I think this list is disgusting, but we as a society have taught our children well. The minds of Americans are so sex oriented one would think the world would end if people stopped having sex. Young girls are on television crying for their right to wear mini skirts; they look like young prostitutes going to school. They are promoting themselves sexually; parents permit it and then complain when the girls get the attention they seek.
Sex is in our commercials, newspapers, television shows and everywhere you go. We must stop behaving like sexually starved animals and start teaching our children to take pride in themselves and display some self-respect. Sex is not the "be all to end all"!
My question is: How long has it been since everyone that is "outraged" by this has been a teenaged boy? I probably could not name a single teen guy that I went to high school with that did not at some point in time list their top five or ten girls either in their class or in the school based on some kind of crude, derogatory, and definitely sexist point scale.
I am not condoning this activity and of course the parents and the girls on the list have a right to be offended, but to demand criminal charges, firing of school officials, or expulsion of the authors would be completely out of line. The only way some kind of punishment should be handed done would be if the list was posted at school, sent to the girls, or was intentionally overlooked by faculty in its creation, and it appears that none of these are the case.
I guarantee that if you were to go to any school in the country and ask a random boy he could tell who the hottest girl in the school is. There are internet sites that promote this very same thing such as "hotornot.com."
And I would hate to see the look on the face of one of these outraged parents if the stood to close to the boys' locker room door. An evolving interest in girls is part of a boy's path to adulthood. It starts with purely physical characteristics and eventually all boys see deeper and find attraction in other things as well, such as personality, a sense of humor and intelligence.
I think this issue being newsworthy is evidence of our society's off-base focus on making our children grow up too quickly and not experience their youth. If you punish these boys, it won't be too long before parents are asking the school to punish a boy for looking at their daughter, telling a dirty joke, or even awkwardly asking out a girl to the prom. Lets not take away one of the best things about being a teenage boy, and that's their adoration of anything female. As they say "boys will be boys."
Whoever wrote the list is protected under the constitution. The girls can come up with their own list with respect to the other school boys. The more attention this list is given the more important the list becomes. It's petty and should be forgotten about. Focus on real news, like how public officials schedule key decisions to be made and released after elections are held. How about investigating an elected official inadvertently receiving money to push a certain company's selection for a gambling license. Why are gas prices so high? No, I mean really. Why are they so high -- Katrina? Refinery processing? Mad Cow Disease? Give me a break!
I can't believe that the police can't find anything criminal about this. From the description that I read it sounds pornographic to me. I a woman and born Pittsburgher, I'm appalled that it took a parents investigation to get the school start their own. The police need to be looking at hate crimes and pornography statutes to see if something can't be done criminally.
This list is sad, but it is not surprising. We all end up ranking ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people. As a youth minister in Mt. Lebanon, I am doing my best to share with the kids at my church that Jesus began a world (or, to use his words, "a kingdom") where people are not valued because of either their behavior or their beauty, but are loved simply because they are God's creation.
This problem will, sadly, re-surface again and again for these students. They are now not only being ranked based on their bodies, but also their friends, their grades, their clothes, their possessions, and their athletic prowess. Some students even compete to put in the most community service! Soon, many of them will be ranked based on what college they get into. Later, they will be ranked based on the salary they take home, the car they drive, and the home in which they live. Then they will become parents and compare themselves to the other parents based on their kids' grades, athletic prowess, etc.
If we want to stop our children from making these ugly comparisons, we need to stop making these ugly comparisons ourselves. When Jesus' disciples tried to rank themselves (Matthew 18) he told them to humble themselves, and to welcome a child (a person who, in that society, had little worth at all).
I think that it is horrible that these kids created such a list, but before I criticize them, I need to note my own tendency to make lists and comparisons. This is a learned behavior, and we are reaping what we have sown.
Southminster Presbyterian Church
I don't think that any punishment should be forthcoming from the school or the police. Our constitution gives us the right of free speech and no matter how reprehensible something is, it is still a constitutional right. I don't think the school has any standing in this matter since it wasn't done on school grounds. The commonality involving the school is simply that it was created by students at a particular high school and discussed other students at the same high school. As far as the police goes, as the police officer in your story said, it doesn't appear as though any laws were broken.
I see this as being similar to the comics that were published in the Danish newspaper with depictions of the prophet Muhammed that caused riots in certain parts of the world. In both instances what was done was reprehensible and in very poor taste, but we live in a free society and I wouldn't want to live in a society that wasn't free.
This is not to say that there shouldn't be any punishment though. Each of the parents of the kids that created the list should punish there own kids in a manner that they see fit. They should also try to teach them write from wrong a little better.
Justin A. Luzar
This is a civil matter only. No different than a newspaper publishing details about Clinton's affair. Any type of criminal prosecution is a slippery slope toward the China Law Doctrine -- make everything illegal so the government has the means to prosecute at will.
Honestly, the article says it best when the police officials say that no laws have been broken. It's unfortunately but these kids are going to get into a lot of trouble, I'm sure, since it is Mount Lebanon after all and the affluent community will want to see something done.
I don't think the police should be involved since no crime has been committed. I think the students should get a written warning and possibly be required to apologize to the 25 on the list. However, suspension or expulsion is a little unnecessary.