The Threat of Peace

Empathy

Stewart sees the kid is just being stubborn now. This eighteen-year-old, whose plump body smells like soured mayonnaise, is the valedictorian type, with a remarkable academic record but few discernible social skills. He’s likely an officer in his chapter of the Harry Potter fan club and an aficionado of complicated Internet games involving aptitude in calculus. In other words, he is nothing at all like the teenage daughters of Stewart’s girlfriend, Guadalupe. To his knowledge, her two girls use the home computer only to post suggestive photographs of their pert little bodies on notorious teen sites and to “chat” with people named “Lude,” “Octane,” and “Smash.” They wouldn’t give a boring marshmallow like this a second glance. Yet the kid had the spunk to violate his prep school’s honor code when he used the Internet to access SAT practice problems his teacher was using for a two-day exam.

“I can’t understand,” the boy says now during mediation with school officials, his voice nasal and his tone prematurely pedantic, “why I can’t continue on the honor council. I mean, they’re expunging this so-called infraction from my academic record. So it’s like it never happened, right? If it never happened, I deserve to be reinstated.”

“It did happen, though.” Stewart has said this at least five times since going into private caucus with the student, after introducing himself to both parties, eliciting agreements of confidentiality, and explaining how the process works. “They are removing the offense from your record as a compromise, so it won’t appear on your transcript.” But Guadalupe, who is avid to hear about Stewart’s cases and who works in admissions at the University of Georgia, has told him there is no way this would appear on a transcript regardless. Stewart doesn’t go into this, though, with either party.

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