Three Sides to Every Story
It just was an ordinary day when I got called up to the office 4th period. I walked in nervous, feeling my heartbeat, as it was rare I ever got pulled out of class. They told me I wasn’t in trouble, they just wanted to talk to me about Cheerleading. My heart rate slowed down when I heard all the positive improvements about the program being mentioned. Abruptly, odd questions about my coach were being thrown at me. I was shocked. My voice shut off and I couldn’t answer what was being asked of me.
They told me I wouldn’t get in trouble. They told me to tell the truth. They lied.
I did get in trouble. I got in trouble in a sense, that I knew I was going to lose the person I looked up to the most. I was going to face the consequence of losing my coach, losing my team.
“She forced us to hug her at the beginning of practice everyday.”
“She shoved two athletes in the trunk of her car.”
“She allowed us to drive her car without her in it.”
“She genuinely hung out with us on a Saturday night.”
“She texted us for fun late at night.”
The school is the main voice, as these accusations are closest to verbatim as possible. Listening to these accusations, being asked in the form of a question, I tried to imagine how such absurd actions came about. Some of the statements weren’t entirely false, but due to the word arrangement, the truth seemed more believable.
Looking at George Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language to relate, one word can change the entire meaning of a sentence. As Orwell stated, “words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way…the person who uses them has his own private definition but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.” In this case, the italicized words mentioned in the above accusations relate directly to “words of this kind.” There were many possible word choices the accuser could have used but chose specifically to make the accusations seem worse than they actually were. If moderate words replaced those more “jargon”, as Orwell would say, the statements the victim was accused of would not need investigation.
“What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around” and because that tactic wasn’t recognized a person’s reputation and possible future could have been ruined over one person’s distorted words. The goal was to emphasize the accusations in order to make a person’s actions seem foolish, meanwhile “it’s easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Unfortunately, human are foolish in the sense that everybody dwells on the negative.
Orwell goes on to say that “[a] not justifiable assumption… leaves much to be desired.” It is a waste of breathe to do this — it would, as he says, “serve no purpose.”
“I would never do anything to hurt those girls.”
“I treat these girls like they are my family.”
“It’s because I worked for the school, but nothing accused was against the law.”
“I only have good intentions and want them to be happy.”
The victim is in place as a balance between the other two sides of the story, considering her words were not manipulated in anyway.
“The reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion…he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way.” She knew the truth, but she didn’t know the person accusing her would ever pull something like this. The accuser didn’t get her way, so she acted out on the one person who did everything for her.
She really didn’t have any other choice. She knew the truth but nothing she could’ve done would save her. Once an accusation is placed, that involves danger of students, the school is not allowed to go against it.
“Your coach chose to resign.”
“Once one accusation is placed, we have to follow through with the investigation.”
“The school wants to continue the program and move forward.”
“We already have a new coach.”
The schools acts as the political reference in situations like this. Like the jury, they make the final decision. Without listening to any of us, going against the accusations, they had a set idea already in their head.
As Orwell said, “Incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying.” When the school communicated with us, as a group, they tried to use a passive voice to help explain the situation in a calmly manor. Listening to them, acting as if this wasn’t a big deal, made me feel like they didn’t care. While they knew the truth, they said they had no other choice, just like my coach had no other choice to resign.
But there is always a choice. The school must take whatever is brought up to them and it’s their job to address it, but there is always a choice. Situations don’t have to be so easily discarded, the investigation may take some time. I believe a complete investigation must take place and not just pushed to the side because they don’t want to deal with it. As Orwell stated:
As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together…
Even before anyone could defend the accusations made, the school already had their mind set and could not think of anything significant that relates. Their minds were set because of their occupation, not because of their emotions. They didn’t have a choice but to listen to these accusations because if they were true, very bad consequences could fall back on them. Yet, even worse consequences fell onto the victim while there was no truth.
The victim did not choose to resign. She was forced to resign because her future, her whole career she’s worked for, would be taken away from her. One person’s life was close to being ruined over one person’s manipulative words and a failed attempt to investigate.
Words are dangerous. Making up words that can shape the overall meaning, results in vagueness. That vagueness can come with many results, but usually when the meaning is interpreted in a false way, the result is much more negative. This is just one example of the problems Orwell tried to address in his essay. The english language now consists of having a set meaning and finding words to form nonsense, that can somewhat make sense.
The accuser is living her life, as if nothing ever happened, thinking what they did was okay. The school has pushed past this, transitioning on to the next situation brought up. Everybody else has moved on, while the victim is still haunted by lies that make her feel as if they are true.