Monday, February 1, 2016

A Teachable Moment - Wasted

It was a teachable moment.
Montgomery County Courthouse

 Unfortunately, it was lost on the teens and twenty-somethings who packed the Montgomery County Courtroom last week of a 19-year-old Hatfield Township man who was acquitted of raping a North Penn High School student during a March 2015 teen drinking party at a home in Towamencin.

I can understand, during a moment of raw emotion, the jubilation - hugs and tears - that overflowed in the courtroom from the young man’s family and friends when the “not guilty” verdicts were announced by jurors at the trial at which the young man testified the sexual contact was consensual.

However, I cannot comprehend the actions of a few of the young man’s friends outside the courtroom, in the wake of the verdict.

As county Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lloyd left the courtroom, several young males, friends of the man who was acquitted, boldly uttered, "Prosecutors are sick" and "Walk of shame," just loud enough so Lloyd could hear it. Lloyd, with grace and composure, continued on her way as the young men sneered at her.

What was shameful was the conduct of the young men.  It was a shameful display. “Grow up,” I was prompted to tweet about the conduct on Twitter at that moment.

A Twitter follower responded: “Disgusting and disrespectful.”

Their disrespect only got worse once they got outside the courthouse. There, with the courthouse entrance as a backdrop, about eight young men and women posed for a photo in which they raised their arms and flashed their middle fingers, smiling proudly about their obscene gestures. That photo subsequently was posted to a social media site.


It’s okay to be pleased about a verdict but to show disrespect to others over the outcome of a verdict was just another example of the lack of civility that is all too common in society today.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a teachable moment is “an event or experience that presents a good opportunity for learning something about a particular aspect of life.”

During the trial, testimony revealed friends of the alleged victim recorded cell phone videos of the young woman in an alleged drunken state, presumably to post on social media sites as a joke.

So, this is how they use social media today?

Testimony during the trial revealed that many at the party had been drinking heavily. Instead of learning valuable lessons from a very unpleasant trial – lessons about the dangers of excessive drinking and about how not to put oneself in situations that can have potentially life-altering consequences – some of the young trial spectators, with ugly bravado, chose to lash out at prosecutors with disrespectful comments.

A teachable moment wasted, for sure.

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