After I posted the piece on Preston and his visit with the Principal today I received many notes in defense of the kid. People came out of the woodwork to proclaim that indeed Preston is innocent. The reasons were unique and varied and in the end, I think we all just love that all-American Norman Rockwell kid.
I wanted to post a most eloquently stated (and surely unbiased) op-ed piece from his grandfather Richard Woolsey, sent via email earlier this afternoon.
Before we try Preston in the court of public opinion . . . I want to offer a reasoned voice in defense of this seemingly intractable situation and to argue on his behalf — “Preston vs. The Establishment.”
As Preston’s grandfather, I am objective when I say “he is not guilty” — rather, Preston is a victim of circumstances i.e. “growing up; exploring and pushing the boundaries” of learning; to see what’s on the other side. One could reasonably argue there are worse grievances than “cutting-up” in class from time to time. Has anyone heard of the First Amendment – Freedom of Speech?
The question arises; did this infraction warrant a trip to the principal’s office? Hardly! Was the public humiliation in front of his peer’s sufficient punishment? Certainly! Was it necessary to Rat him out by sending a note from the principal to Preston’s parents? The worst kind of punishment! What happened was simply a “mis-interpretation” and should not have been elevated to this point.
Now, I understand that some folks might cry out “Give me a Break!” But before rushing to judgment, hear me out. Answer these questions: what influenced Preston’s behavior? Where did these seeds come from? Well folks, as they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree. To Wit, Preston’s father (Chris) and his ad-nauseam run ins with his teachers and the principal, ranging from grades “K” and on up the line. His legacy, of sorts, is a run unmatched in the annuals of our public schools here in Thousand Oaks. I can attest to this for we were frequently summoned to school to listen to the charges – what he did or didn’t do, post bail and plea bargain that this would never happen again. By and large, we defended Chris’s actions under the pretense of being “curious and wanting to learn the truth” and he did this by engaging his teachers in round after round of robust debate. As the years wore on, Chris often found himself sitting in the hot seat, each altercation, well conceived, seemingly besting the previous one. No, I think it is fair to say that Preston could not have a better figure to emulate.
And as for Sherri and me . . . we knew Chris was traveling two roads, never knowing which he would choose, until he met Megan . . . a life of crime or scholarly achievement. Fortunately for us, he took the higher, less traveled road and I, I am glad he did.
In summation, our grandson is a product of his environment and upbringing. I ask that you “cut him some slack,” I think he’s doing just fine.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.