Carnes: Did you do some stupid things in high school? Me too (column)
I did a lot of stupid things in high school.
So many, in fact, that although I am not a lawyer, I believe there is a very good chance I would never be appointed to a lifetime position on the U.S. Supreme Court.
At 15, I was riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle, and he thought it would be cool to run a red light.
I don’t recall disagreeing.
Almost immediately, we heard the heart-stopping sound of a siren from behind, and we quickly turned down a North Dallas alleyway in hopes of evading the cops. Stopping for a brief moment to look back and see if we were spotted, the front end of a very recognizable University Park Police cruiser turned our direction.
Without a second thought, my friend popped the clutch in an attempt to speed down the alley and find another getaway turn.
But as opposed to the movies, where we’d speed away with a death-defying jump over a parked car and a well-placed trash dumpster, I fell off the back as he popped an unnecessary wheelie at the same time as the chain came flying off the back wheel.
Like I said, stupid.
I wasn’t the driver, but I also didn’t shout, “Stop!” and thus was guilty by association to my friends’ actions.
In court a few weeks later, with my mom behind and a judge in front, my wrist was metaphorically slapped, but no fine was levied, and I wasn’t allowed to ride my own motorcycle for a month.
Texas justice, circa 1974.
I experimented with weed, drank my share of cheap beer, “borrowed” parents’ cars late at night and attended plenty of parties where couples would disappear behind closed doors.
With the exception of testosterone-filled boasting the following week, what actually happened behind those doors usually remained private, but I have absolutely no doubt that on more than one occasion a female was put in a compromising position due to alcohol or outright fear.
We were blissfully unaware of the term “sexual assault,” but if such an act occurred, chances are extremely high that we never would have heard about it, as these things tended to be defined by the phrase, “Push it under the rug.”
Had the MeToo movement existed back then, we would be living in a much different world today. But it did not, and thousands of women have lived decades with the memories of acts perpetrated against them about which the society of the day forced them to remain silent.
So here we are in 2018, both genders painfully aware of how youthful indiscretions can return to haunt current situations.
While running from the cops as a 15-year-old punk just to see if we would get away with it could be forgiven, the passage of time carries no weight over the guilt or innocence of sexual assault, whether the accused is going for a lifetime position on the U.S. Supreme Court or a Catholic priest.
Brett Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence of something that might have occurred 37 years ago is irrelevant to the fact that allegations can no longer simply be pushed under the rug.
This issue deserves to be played out in a fair and responsible fashion, no matter how long it takes.
Times have changed.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.