|That's Character, Gentlemen|
That's Character, Gentlemen
Aug. 15th, 2005 @ 11:05 pm
When I was a freshman at our parochial high school (lo those many years ago) one of the seniors suffered a head injury in the last football game of the season. They rushed him to the hospital and lucky for him it was just a minor concussion. Unlucky for him, as it happens, his blood alcohol count was higher than .00.|
Before the game even ended, the administration discovered the booze on the team bus.
Ah, those were the days. A school-wide assembly was called. We stood in the crowded auditorium and listened intently as four perpetrators were identified by name. Each received a suspension from school, each banned from all athletic activities for the remainder of the school year. For the seniors, that meant no chance at all to play on the championship basketball and baseball teams. It was the ultimate disgrace, akin to Chuck Conners having the buttons ripped off his shirt before being kicked out of the fort in the old Branded television show.
And then an amazing thing happened. When the assembly ended, a student emerged from the crowd and approached the principal.
"Father, when they were passing the bottle around, I took a swig, too."
He took the same punishment, and to this day I still look at him with awe.
Three years later and now we were seniors at the new high school. A bunch of us were hanging around the guidance office one day with Father Gustas, and somebody wondered out loud about how a Catholic school managed to grab this obviously brilliant and over-qualified biology and human physiology teacher.
"I'll tell you how," said Father Gustas. "He was doing biological research at one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the country, making three or four times what we're paying him. Then one day they assigned him to work on a team developing a 'morning after' birth control pill. They were only working on animals, not humans, but he knew where it was going. He quit. And came here."
He paused and looked us over.
"That's character, gentlemen."
I thought of that today, reading an article on the Web from the Lincoln, Nebraska Journal-Star about the death of Judge Joseph W. Moylan who served over twenty years as Douglas County Judge.
Back in 1993 Nebraska had a parental notification provision for minors seeking an abortion. Under certain circumstances that notification could be waived by a judge. Such a case came before Judge Moylan. He reviewed the case carefully and determined that under the law he was required to grant the relief requested.
And so he resigned.
At the height of his fame, in the prime of life.
Said Moylan at the time: "My personal belief is that someday we'll all meet at the final judgment and give an accounting of our lives. I've got a lot of things I wish I didn't have to account for, and I don't care to add something like this to the list."
I've always been in favor of parental notification, but when I became a Family Court Judge and there was some talk about a similar law in New York, it dawned on me that I might find myself in the same situation. I wrote about the struggle judges sometimes face here, afterwards, when talk is cheap.
Judge Moylan made his decision when his career, his reputation, and his family's future were on the line.
That's character, gentlemen.
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