This is such an interesting subject; couldn’t resist taking my column back for a one-week hiatus of the “Running of the Bulls” story (Part 4 next week).

Stupid is a rite of passage for a teenager.

When adults expect that kids can’t make mistakes and then shame them when they do, the path forward is dangerous and filled with hypocrisy, self-righteousness, intolerance, and perhaps a dash of ignorance.

Did the committee think this out? Did they realize the potential damage to themselves for their perceived arrogance? Most importantly did any of them have skills related to children and teens; if not, did they consult teachers, principals, counselors or others who might have explained that public shaming and bullying (making her resign was not a choice) is damaging.

Was this a knee-jerk decision or was it vetted (did the committee check the social media history of the “Crown Princess” who will now assume the duties of the Sea Goddess)?

It is easy to be a “Monday morning quarterback”; if on the committee, I could have been swayed by convincing arguments that the Sea Goddess image was important and needed to be upheld. I hope, but am not sure, I would have understood that stripping her crown is big-time; humiliation of a teenager is a punishment that does not fit the “crime.”

This was a teaching moment ― nothing more, nothing less; a time to sit down with the Sea Goddess and talk. Showing her a path of redemption, helping her understand social media posting is not innocuous and does speak to character, her code, and what she stands for; that’s the goal.

Shouldn’t it be about lessons rather than punishment? Where does learning come from?

I could tell stories about all the indiscretions that occurred when I was young and how they shaped me; here’s one.

As a teenager, my friends hung out at the “big rock” smoking cigarettes and drinking “jungle-juice” (an inch or so of liquor, so it wouldn’t be noticed, from each bottle of booze in our parents’ bar, added together in peanut butter jars and shared amongst friends).

We spray-painted the big rock with aerosol cans taken without permission (stolen) from the local hardware store and smoked cigarettes pocketed without purchase from the local supermarkets. I never thought about “right and wrong” until “upping my game” and almost getting caught shoplifting a transistor radio. I had the radio in my pants with the store detective trailing. I rushed down one aisle, dashed into the next, taking the radio from my pants, and depositing it on a random shelf.

My heart beating fast, I left the store. The feeling I had was self-shame; I knew it was wrong before this incident but this overwhelming wave hit like the proverbial “ton-of-bricks”; I never wanted to feel this way again, ever.

I was lucky to come up with this on my own; rather than have some unkind person tell the world that I was a no-good common thief because in reality, I wasn’t ― I was a mixed-up kid, trying to fit in with friends, trying to figure out my moral code.

This “aha” moment was beneficial because it allowed me to see stealing for what it is; morally unacceptable behavior.

I was accountable to myself because of how it unfolded; when that is not possible, we need adults to gently guide us through the process ― not rip away something under the guises of teaching us a lesson.

Lessons are different than accountability; one of the interesting aspects to explore in this saga. The comments on Village Soup and Facebook are, for the most part, sympathetic to the Sea Goddess and mean-spirited and nasty to the Festival Committee.

In her statement, the Sea Goddess is articulate and shares some thoughts. However, there is no accountability, nothing learned or taken away from this episode. Perhaps it is too raw, too soon, and too much attention on her to reflect on her part in all this.

Putting pictures like this, of your teenage self, on social media for others to see is not a smart thing. Being accountable for that would be nice; that’s how we use experiences to shape us and teach us right from wrong. The Sea Goddess is a public figure and will be held to standards. Unfortunately, there was no rule that talked about morals or postings on social media, which falls directly on why this decision is being criticized.

In the end, will this be a blemish that stains the festival, or will this be a learning experience for the committee and organizers, rather than a “cover your ass” moment?

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

― Will Rogers; American humorist and entertainer (1879-1935)


Onward! … Turn the page …  Read, write, and respond!


Bring the discussion to Village Soup online.

Reade Brower can be reached at:

Disclosure: Reade Brower is owner of these newspapers. The opinions expressed in his columns are his own, and do not represent the newspapers, or their editorial board.