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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Decatur Daily, Letter to the Editor - Laws cannot fix a matter of will

Blogger Comments:  Alabama is the first or second most religious and is the seventh most corrupt, the first most embarrassing, and who gives a poop about ethics?  
We bet the teacher receives a lot more punishment that the corrupt leaders in Montgomery.  The punishment is well deserved if found guilty.
Decatur Daily, Editorial - Laws cannot fix a matter of will
No matter how you figure it, Alabama is the first- or second-most religious state in the union. Its only real competition is Mississippi.
In the most recent Pew survey, released in February, 77 percent of Alabamians said religion is important in their lives (first place), 51 percent said they attend worship services at least weekly (second place), 73 percent said they pray daily (second place) and 82 percent said they believe in God with absolute certainty (first place).
Given that, you wouldn’t think Alabama should have so much trouble with the basics of morality — the Ten Commandments sorts of things. Certainly, most Alabamians seem to favor posting the Ten Commandments in public places, even when the courts say doing so is unconstitutional.
Yet the state’s lawmakers think we do have trouble with the basics. Both Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, and Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, have introduced bills to require that teachers receive annual training so they’ll know it’s improper for teachers to have sexual relationships with students.
Butler, who served two terms on the Etowah County county school board, said he saw firsthand cases of teachers having sexual relationships with students, and one purpose of his bill is to remind teachers that not only should they not have romantic relations with students, they’re also obliged to report to administrators if they know of other school employees who are.
This is state politics reduced to an episode of “South Park,” with legislators in the Mr. Mackey role of telling teachers, “Sex with students is bad, m’kay?”
And yet, in the past month, the state has seen six cases of teachers, teachers aides and coaching assistants allegedly getting caught with their pants down. The count so far is one teacher in Decatur, two assistant coaches at East Limestone, an aide at Falkville High, and husband and wife teachers caught separately at a private school in Pickens County.
No one thinks these teachers, if they’re indeed guilty, thought what they were doing was OK, and few probably believe a state-mandated reminder every year will fix the problem. But government at every level is more adept at looking like it’s doing something to address an issue than actually addressing it — for example, the security theater passengers must now endure before boarding an airline.
As it is, teachers having sexual relations with students is already a serious crime in Alabama, one that can lead to any offending teacher being branded a sex offender even if the student was old enough to consent, which means being placed in a class of offenders made up of rapists and child molesters. The penalty should be deterrence enough.
Short of going down the authoritarian path of Saudi Arabia, government can’t really legislate sexual morality. It certainly can’t legislate away making bad decisions even when one knows that’s what they’re doing.
We need look no further than Gov. Robert Bentley as an example of someone knowingly making bad decisions. At a minimum, he is guilty of — as Jimmy Carter said while first running for president — lusting in his heart.
Laws are no substitute for self-discipline. Refresher seminars are no stand-in for the classical virtue of prudence. And some leaders, wary of the mote in others’ eyes, are oblivious to the beams in their own.
If there is a moral crisis in Alabama, it certainly doesn’t stem from ignorance of right and wrong.  
Stubbornness is the more likely culprit.

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