Streaking. It was a fad for a while in the 1970′s, funny, harmless and certain to piss off the grown ups. At the Harvard-Yale game in 2006, a nostalgic MIT hacker reminded them which school had the best sense of humor.
This isn’t to be flippant about what follows in this post, but rather to provide context to the seriousness of the offense with which 15-year-old Sparkman High School student Christian Adamek was charged. From AL.com:
Christian Adamek, 15, hanged himself Wednesday and died this morning from his injuries, Madison County Coroner Craig Whisenant said today. Adamek’s death came less than a week after he was arrested for streaking across the Sparkman High football field during the Senators’ Sept. 27 football game against Grissom High School.
What was an immediate “legend” among his classmates on twitter turned swiftly into a nightmare.
The conversation on social media took the situation lightly in the first few days, with some students calling Adamek a “legend” and laughing off what he had done.
The school district was taking the incident much more seriously, however.
After all, schools have rules. To protect the children, you know.
“There’s the legal complications,” [Sparkman High Principal Michael] Campbell told the news station. “Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.”
Adamek’s sister indicated on Twitter that her brother was facing expulsion.
When a teenager commits suicide because he felt bullied by others who said mean things about him, there is invariably a law passed to make sure it never happens again. In the pursuit of a perfect world, no child should ever feel so badly as to do himself harm. What law will they pass for Christian Adamek?
The streak was caught on video, which remains up for now.
Horrible? Was it of sufficient moral turpitude that it cost a life? There are many things that can be said about the streak, that it was immature and stupid. No doubt someone will cry that it created a sexually hostile environment, as seems to be the cry with all things involving nudity. In response to those who call this a juvenile prank, someone will passionately explain the grave harm this does to the moral fabric of society.
So what if society survived the Harvard-Yale streak of ’06. That was a bunch of northeastern atheist sexist elitists. This was Alabama, and they don’t take kindly to such things in Alabama, where God and Country come first.
And so the Sparkman High School powers of saving grace decided to drop every bomb they had on Christian Adamek. They’ll show him. He’ll never do anything like that again. And indeed, he won’t.
There isn’t sufficient information about this young man to delve into his psyche, why he felt incapable of withstanding the punches being thrown at him. Maybe he had dedicated his life to his education, and saw this as the end of any possibility of going to Harvard or Yale. Or maybe he was more MIT material. Whatever, between expulsion and criminal charges, and whatever other influences existed in his life, he took a rope and put it around his neck. It’s a horrible image. It’s a horrible way to die. It’s always a horrible loss when any teen takes his own life.
So did you show him, Principal Campbell? Are you pleased that your rules served their purpose? When you decided that the “legend,” the laughter, the applause would destroy the decorum of your school, did you consider that the price would be one young man’s life?
It’s hard to imagine how the official rule-makers will spin this to find external blame. Maybe it will be Youtube. Maybe it will be videogames. Somehow, the internet is always involved in whatever tragedy befalls high schoolers.
It’s always some other evil that compelled a young person to take his life. Because it could never be the school rules that create the perfect environment for children to thrive and grow, and shield them from the harm of a cruel harsh world.
Scott Greenfield is an attorney who has represented clients charged with crimes or the targets of investigations in state and federal courts across the United States. This article was originally posted at the Simple Justice website, and is reposted here with his permission.