The Corner

Being a Nine-Year-Old Boy Is Now Sexual Harassment

A North Carolina principal who suspended a nine-year-old boy for “sexual harassment” after he allegedly called a teacher “cute” has been relieved of duty:

Jerry Bostic told The Gaston Gazette he could understand being written up for the suspension and having someone follow up during the school year, but he added that he was disappointed because this is how his 44 years in education ended.

“To me it’s a really sad final note to a career that I have found very satisfying and enjoy working with kids,” Bostic said. “I really don’t believe I was treated fairly.”

Was Mr. Bostic’s decision here eminently dumb? It was. And it’s good, one supposes, that the school board has tried to mitigate its dumbness by letting Bostic go and apologizing to the kid’s family. But I also feel sorry for the principal. His decision in this case may have shown a terminally negligent lack of discretion, proportion, and common sense, but it also showed a man whose actions were all but determined by the litigious and mechanistic norms of the post-PC cultural wasteland in which we’re all living. This is ground Steyn has recently covered, and I think he’s dead-on:

Among much of America’s hideous educrat monopoly, the Golden Rule is that regulatory compliance is always the right thing to do, no matter how stupid and wicked it is. This news item — “First Grader Accused Of Sexual Harassmen” — came to my attention with the important qualifier “if we are to take this Boston Globe story at face value.” But, if the facts are as the Globe reported them, then a seven-year-old boy is about to have his life destroyed for kicking a schoolmate in the groin — as boys have done to each other throughout human history. One can understand that a school board might wish to discourage such activity, but not that it is so irredeemably, obtusely perverse as to categorize such an act as “sexual harassment.”

The term “sexual harassment” was supposed to cover unwanted sexual behavior, short of assault, that relied on fear, intimidation, abuse of power, and the like. But if kicking a kid on the playground and having a crush on your first non-geriatric female teacher are sexual harassment, than either the condition of “being a nine-year-old boy” is itself sexually predatory or that term has no meaning. Indeed, in a world where the first, last, safest, and best practice is regulatory compliance, at all costs — a world in which the institution of boyhood is trumped by a bit of late-20th-century legalese –  it isn’t about what the rules mean. Their power to bind you, to goad you, to refashion you in their image — that is what they mean.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster has been news editor of National Review Online since 2009, and was a web site editor until 2012. His work has appeared in The American Spectator, The American ...

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