Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Naked on a Bearskin Rug?

Let’s go back to yesterday—waaaay back for some of us—when our kids were small. Think of all the pics we took—imagine the family album. Have any in there of them butt-naked running through the lawn sprinkler on a hot summer day? Splashing each other in the bathtub with soap in their hair and on the walls—and the floor—and you? Maybe even an honest-to-gosh naked-baby-on-the-bearskin-rug one?

I can close my eyes and see some of those images, but the one I see the clearest is older than those. It is of me at 4 ½, my sister at 2 ½, and our brother at 6 or 7 months. We were standing and sitting in a huge old galvanized washtub, the same one Grandmother did wash in on washday, out in the yard. We were splashing each other and screaming with joy—and we were all as bare as a peeled apple.

My children have the same sorts of pics of their children—although I caution them not to email or text them to anyone. Not to ANYONE. They laughed the first time I gave them that caution, but they weren’t laughing after I emailed them links to a few horror stories that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.

Stories like this one from Minnesota: It is about a former Minnesota State University, Mankato football coach. He is a former coach because he was fired from the position he had held since 2008. He was suspended and then fired after he was arrested for video images found on his cell phone, images of his young children dancing around and playing after getting out of the bathtub.

Although the charges were eventually dropped—a judge ruled that the videos showed only the innocent play of children—his career is in shambles and his life and those of his entire family have been seriously disrupted, or, using the word used by his wife in an interview, a nightmare.

In a statement to the press, she spoke of the responsibility of the police and the district attorney to do a more thorough investigation; she spoke of the abuse of power and the lack of accountability. She said, “…their job is to protect the public, not destroy families.”

Even though his career is over, at least for now, and his reputation will always be questionable in the eyes of some, this story has a happy ending, but there are so many “what-ifs?” What if he had been terrified, as many have been, of the possibility of a prison sentence quite possibly longer than if he had confessed to having sex with a child, so terrified that he took a plea deal? What if he had not had the financial resources to obtain a good attorney? What if his wife had not stood by him, determined to fight? What if he had despaired, again, as many have, over ever being exonerated and had taken his life? What if?

Think about this when you are taking pictures or filming your innocent children at innocent play. There are those who feel that innocence and families and truth are nothing more than collateral damage, expendable and unimportant.

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