Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

ATTORNEY SAMS TAKE ON BULLYING, ASSAULT AND BATTERY, OUR LEADERS…AND CHILDREN

We take a break now from stories where those on the fringe of society commit atrocious crimes like assault and battery, rape and murder. Let’s leave the realm of the guilty and look at a scene of innocence. And what could be more innocent than children? In fact, in so many cases, I have had prosecutors and DCF workers tell me that a child’s accusations must be true because kids do not lie.

They just soak in the truths they see.

The scene is the local Junior High School. For the past month, there have been campaigns for the office of Student Representatives. By now, though, many candidates have dropped out. Now, it is down to the last two contenders…clearly the most gifted of the bunch.

It is time for the final debate. Donny Monk and Hilly Uptown stand before the school in their last opportunity to convince the student body to vote their way.

The first question goes to Donny. It is from Quentin Questioner, the Social Sciences teacher. He asks Donny, “All of the other candidates, the ones who are no longer on that stage with you as well as Ms. Uptown, seem to disagree with the solutions you propose. Can they all be wrong? How do you account for that?”

“I don’t have to account for it”, Donny explains. “They’re all losers. They really should be in some other type of school. They’re slow. That’s why they are not up here in the first place. Hilly is up here…I don’t know. I guess they had to have someone up here with Monk and she’s ok looking. It’s a waste of time, really. The students want Monk. The students will get Monk. Hilly is an idiot.”

The students start shouting “Monk! Monk! Monk!” until they finally settle down.

Donny continues, “You mentioned…or you should have mentioned…how I am going to improve things here at the school. Well, I will tell you.” He moves in closer to the microphone and almost croons, “This school is going to be so great when I am I represent the student body. You won’t believe how great it’s going to be.”

Next question goes to Hilly, who is asked why she feels she is equipped to represent the student body.

“I don’t ‘feel’ it”, she proclaims and then shouts, “I know it! The students know it! I’ve been at this school longer than Mr. Monk and I know how it works and how it should work!”

“But, Hilly, haven’t you been here longer because you got suspended so many times for getting the answers to tests before they were given and selling them to other students?”

“That’s nonsense. I would have been expelled if I had done that so many times.”

“In fact, Hilly, most students are expelled if they do that even once in this school. Do you think that the rules apply to you…”

“Look, I do not have to answer to you about the rules. I do not make the rules. If I have not been expelled, then I have not been expelled. That’s all you have to know about it. You are throwing up a smokescreen to get us away from the real issues. And Why are you suddenly calling me ‘Hilly’ when you call him ‘Mr. Monk”? Am I less qualified because I am a girl?”

While sections of the crowd stomp their feet and clap their hands, Donny Monk shakes his head and says,” Disgraceful. Disgraceful. You should really be ashamed of yourself, Hilly. You really should. Actually, you should be in jail. But. I’m not going to mention that. I don’t know what your hang up is with your name. I am not ashamed by my name. Nor my sex. Maybe the problem is you have not met a boy who knows how to handle you. I’d have no problem, believe me. Believe me! Monk could handle you fine. That’s because Monk is incredibly competent and you…well, you’re stupid. Frankly, I would just sit down and shut up if I were you.”

A Hilly supporter stands up and yells obscenities at Monk. Monk points at her and two girls next to her punch her and drag her out of the room.

“That’s it”, nods Monk. “We don’t need her kind here. And don’t let her take her sweater. That’s it. No sweater. Get outa here!”

And so it went.

“Sam, that’s a ridiculous story.”

Is it?

Yesterday morning, as I was driving to court, I heard a story on WGBH, an NPR station. It featured interviews with parents who have decided that they did not want their children to have free access to the ongoing political debates because of the language, sexual references and bullying tone.

Then I remembered back to the moments I had seen or heard from the various debates, interviews and rallies.

It got me thinking. We have discussed bullying and other anti-social behavior here before. We have examined how many of our kids learn such attitudes and behaviors from us, their role models.

And here we have our “finest”…the folks among which we will choose to lead this country on television coming close to performing similar “Three Stooges” routines.

Aren’t these supposed to be our role models? Aren’t our kids supposed to grow up with dreams to be another Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? You may or may not agree with them, but you must admit that they are symbols of success in their chosen fields. Difficult fields!

So, I went home and went to the NPR website.

I read about the latest videos bouncing around on social media in which a protester at a Donald Trump rally was punched in the face by an audience member as he was being led out of a rally Wednesday in Fayetteville, N.C. I was reminded of other videos where I have seen both women and men “roughed up” at various rallies. Usually while Mr. Trump looks on approving and encouraging their assaults. Sometimes, he would release statements actually saying things like “Maybe he should have been roughed up”, “I’d like to punch him in the face,” and that he would defend in court anyone who hurt a protester at a rally.

Things seem to go to this extent of incivility and illegal behavior at Trump rallies more than others. Rather than being embarrassed by the activity, he actually seems publically proud of it.

“Well, maybe he is tired of being heckled at his rallies.”

I’m sure he is. But that does not mean that he should encourage illegal violence. This is the arena he voluntarily entered and in which he has chosen to remain. If he cannot handle a heckler, how is he going to deal with a foreign dignitary or leader who does not think he is the greatest thing since Abe Lincoln?

What does he do when there is an actual threat made against another country official in his name? What if some foreign leader is killed to please our president? Will he cheer then, indicating he wishes he could have pressed the trigger?”

Is this not what he is telling us by his words and actions?

After all, protesters and hecklers at presidential rallies aren’t a new phenomenon. They followed former President George W. Bush and still follow President Obama. There have always been hecklers and part of the job of politicians is to rise above the situation. After all, the right to heckle and disagree is actually part of what this country was founded on.

I’m referring to that incidental collection of papers called “The Constitution Of The United States Of America”. That thing each president swears to uphold.

“Ok, well this is not supposed to be a political blog. What does this have to do with our kids and crime?”

It’s very simple. Kids learn from their role models. They particularly learn from our role models. They see this behavior and see that we think it is fine. These are our chosen leaders, after all.

What do you think they are learning?

While you ponder that, try to have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

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