SCHOOL BELLS OR BULLETS?
What happened at Badger High School and what is happening about the intensely emotional letter that was written by a student’s worried and outraged mother?
The letter was not about some light disciplinary, educational or even relationship problem. It was about the potential of a school being shot up by unknown alleged students with ‘military grade weaponry.’ That military grade weaponry language was what caused the Geneva Shore Report to publish the letter on its online version of the paper (both website and Facebook site). That wording is not common to the language normally expressed by high school students in their daily discourse or even in extraordinary conversation. It might be something that the youth of today would pick up from all the violent gaming out there or even from television shows or movies…but still. This was wording an adolescent female student told her mother an adolescent student boy had used with her.
The letter the mother wrote about the situation on her Facebook page was a letter of frustration because it seemed to her like the school and the police were punishing her daughter instead of being serious in their investigation of the boy. The letter written from the bottom of Ms. Katie Millar Bucholtz’s heart is published in its entirety in this hard copy version of the Geneva Shore Report. It is also available online at both the GSR website and the GSR Facebook site. In the boy’s story to the female student he indicated that there would be shooting during the “last day of school,” and this was originally misinterpreted to mean graduation day. Graduation day, however, is held on Sunday following the last Friday of school so the GSR was technically wrong.
Was the Geneva Shore Report wrong about the rest of the story? It is unlikely that anyone will ever know, simply because, by the mere act of making the story public, the GSR might have caused any parties intending to shoot up the school to rethink such an idiotic and insane act. It remains the place of unrestricted media to attempt to report what occurs in fact, is interpreted to have incurred by other humans, or is said in society and is believed to have some truth in reality. That means that unrestricted media will be wrong many times, particularly when attempting to deliver timely news and breaking stories. It is the place of the reading public to try to make sense of, and gauge the believability of, what is reported in that media.
What happened at the school that allowed such a mean-spirited hoax to be presented to school officials, the young lady and even her mother? In the final analysis, a threat was made and delivered verbally to an unsuspecting innocent young lady, and that threat affected her feelings and life to the point where she stopped going to school and her mother was driven in frustration and anger to writing a long letter and putting it up on Facebook. That is news, human interest, and worthy of any newspaper worth its salt publishing, commenting upon, and working to follow and resolve, even if it is not fully explained or understood. Charlie Hebdo is the name of a satirical magazine in France that published cartoons ridiculing the prophet of Islam. The staffers of that paper were violently assassinated. The newspapers in Paris all said they would fight the terrorist act by publishing the cartoons themselves. However, the newspapers did not publish out of fear of reprisal. At what point does the media have to step in and publish? The school news reported on in this story does not measure up to what Charlie Hebdo was publishing, but the point is the same. Many people did not want this story published and those feelings were given weight. But the primary weight was given to the public’s need to know, think and respond.
The woman who wrote her letter on Facebook, in the end, is one of the people who did not want this story to appear in the Geneva Shore Report. You will also read her bitter letter to the editor published at the end of this issue. She’s entitled. As the GSR is entitled.