The decision by a federal court judge to put Webb City junior Brad Mathewson and the R-7 School District into mediation is clearly a major story in the ongoing saga of a young man who wants to wear his gay pride t-shirts to school.
So why hasn't anyone written about it.
The order to seek mediation was issued Nov. 30...five days ago...and as of yet, it has only been mentioned in one place, The Turner Report of Dec. 1.
Why haven't the traditional media picked up on this story?
Several answers suggest themselves, beginning with the most simple one...they don't know about it. Let's face it, the Brad Mathewson case has been one in which the media have responded to calls from the American Civil Liberties Union or Mathewson. If they had to dig for their own stories, they might not know how to do it.
The follow-up story on seven Webb City High School students who were sent home from school for wearing homemade gay pride or gay support t-shirts obviously did not come as a result of investigative reporting. One of the kids who chose to go home rather than take off the t-shirt obviously called the media and the media couldn't wait to jump on the story. After all, how do you turn down a ready-made top of page one, lead off the six o'clock news story.
No one has called the media and said, "Hey, they're going to make the two sides choose a mediator and try to settle the dispute before it goes to trial." Even if someone did, people trying to use reason to settle a squabble doesn't make good television...though it does make news that people might have an interest in seeing. It also doesn't stir up trouble, which apparently keeps it off the Globe's radar.
I haven't changed my views about Brad Mathewson. I still agree with the school officials that he has no business wearing the t-shirts. No one is stopping him from proclaiming he is gay or that he is proud of being gay. All school officials have said is that he can't wear t-shirts that could cause a distraction. If school officials had been as diligent in removing t-shirts with anti-gay messages (and they should have been), they might not have found themselves in their current situation.
The area media is also missing out on an opportunity to explore other issues that have arisen as a result of the Brad Mathewson case. Will officials at some area schools decide to get away from this business of checking what is on students' clothing by going to school uniforms?
That, too, could bring a major uprising since some parents and students like things just the way they are as far as clothing is concerned. Plus, the ACLU has come out on record time after time against school uniforms.
The Globe and the area TV stations could research how and if uniforms work and they wouldn't have to go far to do it. College Heights Christian School in Joplin implemented school uniforms this year. I am unaware if the uniforms achieved the results school officials hoped for, but I would be interested in finding out, and so, I would imagine, would the viewers and readers of this area.
Effective Nov. 18, the O'Sullivan Industries Board of Directors approved a common stock option plan as an incentive for "executives and other key employees of O'Sullivan and its subsidiaries." The plan was filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
Those who qualify for the plan may buy up to 93,182 shares of Class A common stock at one cent per share.
Apparently, the plan is being used. The first person to register buying the newly issued stock was O'Sullivan's vice president of marketing, Michael Franks, Neosho. Franks bought 6,500 shares, according to SEC documents. The cost would have been $65, based on the documents.
Franks recently resigned his position on the Neosho R-5 Board of Education, citing the increased amount of travel his job will require. It appears that Franks may be one of those officials who is making the move to Atlanta as the company relocates its corporate headquarters, something that Wednesday's Lamar Democrat said would give O'Sullivan "greater opportunity for recruiting sales and marketing personnel." That statement was made in what appears to be an O'Sullivan press release with the byline of Democrat Editor Rayma Bekebrock Davis attached, since there is no indication of any interview having been conduced, no quotes from company officials, no proclamations that someone told The Lamar Democrat something...and besides it reads exactly like a press release.