TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Is This Country Becoming Morally Bankrupt?

Watching the Academy Awards Sunday, I wondered why Vice President Joe Biden would be making an appearance. He introduced Lady Gaga, and I thought that was odd, too — until he spoke and she sang, with a group of college-aged men and women in the background.

Then Biden spoke of the sexual assaults taking place on college campuses. Lady Gaga sang a beautiful song from her personal experience as a victim. The young men and women in the background displayed writings on their arms revealing they were victims of sexual assault — men AND women!

I’ve heard the statistics before, but this time it really sank in. As Biden said, no one should stand by while an assault takes place. No one! Everyone should step forward and say, “Not now, not ever!” And, by God, they should mean it.

Our anything-goes attitude has come back to bite us in the butt. When our children go off to college, it is for an education, not to be maimed. What’s overlooked, however, is that many of the perverts were active in their high schools, too. There, youth have for far too long been shielded from the public eye, regardless of the offense, because of their age.

I have a bulletin for our legislators: Our youth are capable of the same sexual assaults as those who are of legal age, and they have been protected far too long. Few things can ruin a life more than being a victim of sexual assault. The crime remains with the victim for life. It’s time to address the issue directly.

One day after the Academy Awards, three Minnesota Gopher basketball players were suspended, but no reason was announced. Some good reporting uncovered the fact that two men and a woman were engaging in sex acts … and then the low-life trash filmed it and posted it on Twitter.

Why the coach didn’t identify the reason for suspension is part of the problem. It’s the attitude that “we must protect our athletes at all costs” (not!). That’s a national attitude. It happens in high school, too, where coaches and parents stand on their heads to protect students from the results of their brutal activities (including alcohol and sexual assault).

To be sure, most parents are concerned about bad behavior; but that concern is not shared by a good many jock parents. Too many parents want to be the best friend of their children, rather than a parental figure. Most of us expect the best from and get the same from our kids. But there is a group of those who don’t care about anything but the “win,” and it’s far too large.

If in high school, parents would ground their own children for bad behavior … if athletes were grounded and prevented from competition by their own parents for bad behavior … if the system didn’t protect minors for bad behavior … wouldn’t, couldn’t that cause the young to think before they act now as well as before they ever reach college?

Everyone howls and yowls about underaged drinking. But in Fargo and the state of North Dakota, we’re No. l in that category. In this area, I don’t have to wonder how that could possibly be true. Parents will rent a bus to take kids to the lake for drinking because it’s a controlled environment and will keep them from driving! Many knowingly permit their kids to go along; others don’t seem to know it’s happening. Is there a cure for “uninformed”? It’s paying more attention to what’s going on.

Police often break up large drinking parties without making arrests because, they say, they “lack resources.” Is that a good excuse? Should there be more officers on the streets? You bet there should be! But tell that to those who draw up the budget, because that’s where the problem is.

Courts and prosecutors are also part of the problem. If one wants to address crime, you must treat it as such. A minor in possession (MIP) is nothing to ignore. Yet if you read the newspaper’s report of charges against those between ages 18 and 21, you’ll see in North Dakota a pattern of deferred imposition of sentence. After a short period of time, the charge is dismissed. The reason given for dismissal many times is that a “minor” on their records can prevent these young offenders from getting into some schools. If a minor were truly so insignificant, it would not be a reason to prevent admission to the school: Change the school rule, then, not the court proceedings. Then many scofflaws and their parents might pay more attention.

The same holds true for those younger than 18, who are now protected. Bad habits and criminal behavior are ingrained long before college. That’s simply where they receive the public exposure. We have this system backward. Stop crime and publicize it when young — and the children and those parents who actually care will become much more vigilant.

I know I started with the sexual assault issue and dropped quickly to the issues in the criminal justice system. Kids now know they get one free ride for a charge of “minor in possession.” But if that alcohol leads to a sexual assault, what once seemed innocent enough suddenly becomes important.

Everyone should take the pledge to intervene and try to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. They should also take the pledge to become genuine parents, not just old friends, to their children. Amen.

One thought on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Is This Country Becoming Morally Bankrupt?”

  • Therese March 3, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    When it comes to binge drinking, kids have to look no further than parents on out of town sports events. Parents have been the ones in the hotel halls, drunk and obnoxious at 2:00, not the athletes.


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