Monday, July 28, 2008

I Want to Know What You Think

"I was raised the old-fashioned way, with a stern set of moral principles: Never lie, cheat, steal or knowingly spread a venereal disease. Never speed up to hit a pedestrian or, or course, stop to kick a pedestrian who has already been hit. From which it followed, of course, that one would never ever -- on pain of deletion from dozens of Christmas card lists across the country -- vote Republican." ~Barbara Ehrenreich

OK, I know it's Monday, and I know that means perhaps your brain isn't fully functional yet, but I have to know what you think about these two stories:

(I was going to say this post was non-writing related, but I think there's a kernel of story possibility in almost everything that happens in the world, so...)

#1. Last winter, two teenagers (18 and 16) in a town close by were out after midnight and climbed onto the roof of the local elementary school. Guy and girl, hanging out, flirting (no alcohol involved, according to sources). They were sitting on a skylight over the school's gymnasium and fell through. The girl (16) died from her injuries. Now her parents are suing the school, saying the school should be held responsible because custodians had stacked milk crates near the roof, and that's how the 2 climbed up in the first place.

My question: do you think this lawsuit is justified? Also, the parents have not specified a dollar amount; they want the courts to make a decision. What do you think would be an appropriate amount to award the parents, if they won the suit?

#2. You might have seen this one on the national news recently. A 2008 graduate of West Point was recruited by the Detroit Lions, and in the spring the Army released him from his military obligations to repay the Academy through traditional military service. They felt that he was serving his country in a different way by bringing positive attention to sports at West Point and the NFL if he played football instead. Last week, the Army reversed its decision and said he must serve military duty after all (this came in part by pressure from the Air Force and Naval academies, who do not allow any kind of similar waiver for their athletes).

My question: do you think this grad should be released from his military service obligations and allowed to play pro football as an alternate way of repaying his education?

I'm reserving my opinions 'til tomorrow, and I've tried to be as objective as possible in presenting the stories...but I really want to know what other people think, because I had strong reactions to both of them.

So...tell me what you think!


Mom said...

I'm a "dinosaur parent," and really don't understand today's society in many ways. Tragic as the death of that teenager is, I cannot imagine suing a school district, when, in fact is, the victim was at fault. The name of the game today is "blame the other guy."
The story about the football player makes my blood curdle. Why is a career in profssional football valued over services in the fields of health care, education, social services, etc.? I guess because we live in the USA!

Devon Gray said...

I believe the lawsuit is unfounded. It is the fault of the teens, not the custodian (or the school that employs him/her). As far as the military goes, I don't think it's fair to release someone from the commitment they made because they have the ability to play a sport professionally.

MaryF said...

Absolutely, the lawsuit is unfounded!

And as for the NFL guy....David Robinson came to the Spurs AFTER fulfilling his duty to the Navy, and he played for a good long career, so the player should serve.

mldeitrich said...

As far as the lawsuit against the school, it is totally unfounded. I understand the parents feel a need to blame someone for their daughter's death; however, as sad as it is, the blame is on their daughter and her friends NOT the school district or anyone else.

I have always believed that in this country, we value our sports and entertainment personnel way too highly. It is absurd that a person who plays a sport or stars in a movie is paid obscenely high salaries compared to those who work hard every day. Many people are performing tasks that benefit society in someway on a daily basis and are so meagerly paid.

OK off my soapbox for the day, time to go out and enjoy this weather.

Dru said...

In case #1 - they were trepassing, so there should be no lawsuit being pursued by the parents.

Case #2: Didn't he sign a contract to serve his country? West Point should not have released him from his contract.

BethRe said...

No I don't think the parents should be able to sue the school. The kids shouldn't have climbed up and no amount of money is going to bring their daughter back. I'm sick of the sue happy society where everyone sues for everything w

BethRe said...

And no I don't think that the football player should be released from his military obilgation.

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

On the first story, I will echo everyone else's opinion. What the parents should be asking themselves is why they allowed their 16-year-old daughter out after midnight in the first place. She was their responsibility, not the school's.

As for the second story, the player knew exactly what his commitment was before he signed on to go to West Point. However, what the story doesn't mention is if it was the player's idea to be released or was it the Army's. If it was the Army that told him he was going to be released for their own PR reasons, than shame on them for then reversing their decision after the fact. If it was the player's decision, then shame on him for trying to get out of his obligation AND shame on the Army for waffling back and forth.

Finally, as for athletes and entertainers making huge amounts of money I ask this question: if somebody walked into your workplace and offered you that kind of money to do your job, would you (a) say no or (b) listen to anybody tell you that you were not worth it? I doubt it. People make what somebody is willing to pay them. I really doubt that any of the writers amoung us is going to say 'no' to that multi-million dollar book deal if it comes along, right?

Anonymous said...

The parents should not get anything.

The service should be postponed until his NFL career is over - even if its ten years from now


Liza said...

The teens climbed onto the roof. They would have done the same thing if there were no milk cartons. Why would anyone sit on a skylight anyway?

As for the football player, he signed with the Army first. Suck it up and serve your country as you agreed when they paid over $100k for your education at West Point.

The Blonde Duck said...

1) It's not the school's fault the kid was dumb enough to climb on a roof and sit on a skylight. It's a glass plate. 100 pounds on cracked aged glass = fall. Plus, why doesn't the school sue the parents for not managing their child? As she is their ward, they should have known where she was at all times and taught her better than to trespass on private property.

2) When did the Army decide to play football?

J.K. Coi said...

Not that I'm taking a side at all, but coming from a legal background I'll just say this when it comes to the skylight incident--that the parents (or their lawyer) may be looking at this as an accident which holds the school board to strict liability. It's like when you have a swimming pool and no matter if the person who drowns in it was trespassing, you will be held liable for any injury that occurs if you don't have it marked and fenced off to ensure that accidents cannot occur. The same might go for piling crates high enough against the wall of a building which could allow children to get to the roof and hurt themselves.