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Last Friday, I wrote about the importance of responsible chaperoning, which included basic rules to ensure safety on school trips.

The article used what happened to students from Covington Catholic High School after the 2019 March for Life on Friday, January 18, 2019.

I quoted sensible advice from this young journalist who writes for the Libertarian publication Reason:

Soave’s message to faculty — and, indirectly, chaperones — is this (emphases mine below):

Unless other information emerges, the school’s best move would be to have a conversation with the boys about the incident, perhaps discuss some strategies for remaining on perfect behavior at highly charged political rallieswhere everybody is recording everything on a cell phone—and let that be the end of it.

My post also quoted student Nick Sandmann’s detailed statement and discussed the media furore which took place on Saturday, January 19.

The following day, some media pundits apologised for criticising the students based on the short video clips they had seen. They had voiced an opinion before the longer video clips began surfacing. The Washington Examiner has a good report which includes these two tweets:

Some Twitter account holders tweeted some highly unpleasant things that they would like to do to the boys. Twitter did not find that objectionable, as The Daily Caller reported on Monday, January 21:

Twitter said Monday that former CNN contributor Reza Aslan did not violate the platform’s policies when he posted a tweet Saturday suggesting one of the boys involved in a dust-up during the March for Life rally had a “punchable face.”

“We have investigated the reported content and could not identify any violations of the Twitter Rules or applicable law,” Twitter wrote in a letter Aslan included in a tweet. “Accordingly,” the letter adds, “we have not taken any action at this time.”

The article explained that Aslan lost his job at CNN in 2017 for referring to President Trump in a derogatory manner (see quote in the article, language alert).

The article also included retractions — not necessarily apologies — from two other nationally-known journalists, the New York Times‘s Maggie Haberman and National Review‘s Rich Lowry.

Fortunately, not everyone was verbally beating up the students.

The Federalist‘s Cheryl Magness put blame where it belonged — on the adults. Her boss tweeted her article:

In ‘All The Adults Involved Failed The Covington Catholic School Boys, And Should Be Ashamed’, she provides a summary of what happened, then points out the students’ bemusement:

A few of the boys can be heard asking, “What’s going on?” It seems they were a bit confused by it all. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe, without a playbook or previous experience dealing with a situation like this, you wouldn’t respond in the most elegant way either.

She adds:

I have not been more ashamed to be a grown-up in a long, long time. What I have observed in the last three days is not how grown-ups are supposed to act. The Covington Catholic boys may not have behaved with perfect decorum. But they’re teenagers. I’m not sure I would have known what to do had I found myself in the situation they did.

Actually, I do know what I would have done. I would have walked away. Unfortunately, these boys couldn’t do that. They were following instructions to wait for their bus in a designated location. They didn’t have the option of walking away. So they engaged in school cheers and general teenaged goofiness while they passed the time, never anticipating that they were going to be called on to provide the world a model of what to do when you find yourselves verbally attacked by protestors on a Washington D.C. street corner.

She rightly takes issue with the protestors — the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) and Nathan Phillips:

Free speech does not consist of hurling obscenities and insults at the perceived opponent, nor does it consist of wordlessly inserting oneself into an already charged situation, as Phillips did, then lying about it afterward.

What adult picks on a minor, anyway? That’s cowardice.

That said, Magness levelled the most pointed — and justified — criticism at the adults from Covington Catholic and the Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky:

No sooner had the boys gotten on their bus than they were thrown under it by their school and the Covington diocese, who issued a joint statement condemning the students’ actions and saying the matter was under investigation that appropriate action would be taken. Um, if the matter is under investigation, doesn’t that suggest it might be good to wait before condemning the behavior? Could it be that there’s more to the story than a short, viral video?

The school and the diocese owed these boys a full hearing before coming to any conclusion. They now owe them an apology.

That apology took nearly another week to come in writing. I’ll have more on that in another post.

Magness was quite generous about the adults accompanying the boys:

Speaking of adults, some are starting to ask where the Covington boys’ chaperones were. My guess is that they were there, doing their best, along with the boys, in a challenging situation. I’ve been a chaperone on a youth trip. It’s hard. There are more kids than adults. You manage them as best you can. You try to keep them corralled while giving them a little space.

I am not sure what I would have done had I found myself in charge of a group under the circumstances that played out Friday. My guess is that the Covington Catholic chaperones, like the boys, perhaps didn’t manage the situation perfectly, but did the best they could.

I went to the article at the link in the preceding quote, because Magness was much more gracious in her assessment than I have been. The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Scott Wartman asked ‘Where were the chaperones? The question lingers amid outrage at Covington Catholic Students’. Excerpts follow:

The Enquirer has also tried to find and connect with chaperones.

The Diocese of Covington, the organizers of the trip and officials with Covington Catholic have not returned messages from The Enquirer asking that question …

Many noticed a lack of adults with the students.

“Cov Cath chaperones, where were you?” tweeted Amy Baskin.

Even an official with the Vatican is asking that question.

“Second, where were the chaperones?” wrote Father James Martin, consultant to the Vatican’s secretariat of communications. “The idea that a group of Catholic high school students were placed, either wittingly or unwittingly, in such an incendiary situation, seems to indicate a lack of oversight.”

I could not agree more with Father Martin.

However, the diocese did not view the matter in quite the same way:

The fallout from the controversy remains to be seen. The diocese in a statement said they were investigating and that they “will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

For those who have not followed it, this story was far from over.

More tomorrow.

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