Men should show integrity, take responsibility for their actions
Published 6:32 pm Thursday, December 12, 2019
By ELAINE WILSON-REDDY
I was in the soft drink aisle of Kroger when I got the text. Attached in the text was a link to The Advocate-Messenger article in which Boyle County Magistrate Jason Cullen apologized to fellow magistrate Phil Sammons, saying he (Cullen) was sorry for what Sammons has been going through over the past few months. Cullen was alluding to Sammons’ apparent discomfort over the fallout from him sexually harassing a female professional, Jennifer Kirchner, who was giving a report to the fiscal court.
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In the article, Cullen was quoted as saying how hard it is to keep up with PC (politically correct) culture, and that it changes as often as technology.
Really? Suddenly it’s PC to NOT make sexually harassing comments to women in their professional capacity?
Cullen asked if it’s expected for the magistrates to flog Sammons because he “misspoke.” Sammons didn’t misspeak. Misspeaking is asking for a grilled chicken when you meant to ask for fried chicken. Misspeaking to saying it rained Tuesday when it actually rained Wednesday. Sammons not only meant to say what he said, he and City of Danville Mayor Mike Perros had a laugh at Kirchner’s expense. Sammons did not misspeak.
I have heard and read many comments from other men who know Sammons. They say he’s a good man and didn’t mean anything by what he said.
Last week, in the fury of a pep rally, the Boyle County Middle School principal made the statement that Johnson County students couldn’t count to 100. It was posted on social media, where many, many, many people defended him. They said he’s a nice man and didn’t mean it the way it came out.
Last spring, a Boyle County tennis coach made a comment about an opponent student, saying the headline should read “Hometown girl beats foreign exchange student.” Again, it was on social media where many, many, many people said he is a nice man and didn’t mean it the way it came out.
Just last weekend, a female television journalist in Savannah, Georgia, was reporting live from a 10K road race. A male runner slapped her on her backside while she was on air. It turns out he’s a youth minister and Boy Scout leader. His father-in-law said he (the runner) is a nice guy and didn’t mean anything bad when he physically assaulted the female journalist.
And let’s not forget our City of Danville mayor, who, by all accounts, thinks he’s a nice guy and doesn’t mean anything by the comments he’s made.
All these incidents have a couple of things in common: 1. All offenders are men; 2. All offenders have apologists who know the men, say they are good guys and didn’t mean anything by what they said or did.
It would have been amazing to have heard that the Boyle Middle School principal called a school-wide assembly first thing Monday morning to apologize to his students and to the community of Johnson County. It would have been a singular act of leadership and courage to show students how to be humble and truly sorry for saying something so appalling inappropriate and disrespectful. He should have taken a voluntary day or two suspension, without pay, to model integrity for his students.
I suspect most adults outside of Johnson County have already forgotten about the disrespectful comment. There were likely no lines to see the superintendent or concerns voiced to board members because he’s a nice guy and didn’t mean to insult an entire student body and community.
While in training for my job this morning, a video of tennis professional Andy Roddick was shown. In the 2005 Rome Masters, a line judge called a ball out-of-bounds, which would have given Roddick the match. However, Roddick pointed out on the clay court that the ball was actually in. While he ended up losing the match, he won in a much larger way by being honest and showing a level of integrity sorely lacking in our culture.
Integrity is often described as doing the right thing when no one is watching. If we are going to have high expectations of our children, we adults need to slow down and remember they are watching.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” — James Baldwin
- Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.