To the editor:
When I fill out a CV it begins: Steubenville High School, 1949. I grew up in that city. I attended Harding Junior High, where I learned a lot, including the fact that Warren G. was more interested in women than in the country. I watched Big Red play football in what I now realize was truly a league of its own, playing teams from Toledo, Columbus and the dreaded Massillon Tigers.
Then, the city I knew was corrupt with gambling and prostitution showing at all the seams. Across my many years of life I have often been asked if the stories people heard about Steubenville were true. I told them that after the murder of a 20-something in one of the whore houses, my pastor, Robert Russell, and a number of other ministers in the downtown area banded together and demanded an end to the rampant vice. Amazingly, there was some significant reform.
I had great admiration for Russell. On his last Sunday prior to moving to another congregation, he startled me with a suggestion that I should consider the ministry. As it unfolded, following college and a time in the Air Force, I did attend Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained 52 years ago.
That's my back story for this one specific memory. In my freshman year at Big Red, I was invited to attend a party. I went stag. It was there that I discovered how much I had been sheltered. There was drinking all around and sexual hookups in the bedrooms. I understood exactly what I needed to do - I went home.
The remainder of my high school time was colored by that single event. I picked friends carefully and stayed away from the popular culture. And I kept asking myself: "Where were the parents?" Reportedly, they had gone away for the weekend. "How did that much alcohol get into the hands of minors?" "Who was setting such flimsy parameters for their adolescent children?"
Steubenville has come again to national attention with another outbreak of "The Lord of the Flies" -the immense tragedy of adolescent destructive behavior followed by harsh penalties and ruined lives. Predictably, adults attempted to manage the fallout, partly because it might impact Big Red football and largely because they have failed again to set high parameters for their kids.
Certainly this sounds like a sermon, but hey, that's what I do. In place of a clear resolution of the matter is a necessary wonderment for us all: have the truest culprits yet been indicted?
The Rev. Paul D.