Open Letter to KOGO

So bullying a child is OK now?

Dear KOGO:

I understand that your station often seeks to get a rise out of people by the rude and shocking way some news items are covered. I get it, and I listen sometimes.

But you crossed the line on June 27 with guest host Casey Bartholomew.

I’m not the type of person who writes letters and goes around calling people names just because I disagree with them. I do, however, stick up for people when I feel they are being bullied… and I call a punk a punk when I see one, especially when it is a grown man bullying a young student in public.

Your station ran nothing short of a bullying session against a child whose “crime” was to follow his conscience and respectfully engage with his community and school board.

During the June 27 segment on the Poway Unified School District’s decision to revisit its field trip policies based on concerns over Sea World, Mr. Bartholomew described how “some high school student got his panties in a wad” urging the District board to sever ties with Sea World.

Zach Affolter is that student. Zach did not choose violence as a route to express his concern. He didn’t vandalize anything. He collected over 2,000 petition signatures and addressed his local school board. He did it the right way… and is called a “punk kid” on your station.

Mr. Bartholomew went on to say, “I guarantee that standing behind him [are] hippy parents… laying around on the side of the road smoking pot and dropping acid and having sex in the street… I bet they’re sitting back there saying ‘yeth do it, my boy ith going to have an impact.’” <<See Update Below.>>

I don’t know what was intended by the lispy voice mimicking “wus” parents or the repeated “panties in a bunch” lines. The “sissy” voice whenever Bartholomew pretended to be someone making an argument against him is offensive to women or gay or sensitive men… or whoever the hell he thought he was portraying. This is something that even my 7-year old doesn’t do.

I understand that your station will vigorously defend major advertisers like Sea World. You also may try to find a way to justify this bullying, perhaps drawing on the “wusification” of America or the old-standby of how you must defend against “lefties” ramming political-correctness down everyone’s throats.

Instead, you should be embarrassed and apologize to Zach on behalf of your station and advertisers who I know value family and basic decency.

Until then you are condoning the punk behavior of a grown man using your airwaves to publicly bully a child.

For the record, I am the one that asked this issue to be put on the June PUSD agenda via a letter that is public record. Our son Evan’s entire second grade class had a scheduled Sea World trip, he refused to go based on moral grounds, my wife and I supported him for standing up for what he believes in, and I felt like the District could benefit by clarifying its field trip policies for situations such as this. Many other parents and teachers agreed.

I hope that I am wrong about Mr. Bartholomew and that he does feel some level of shame for how he portrayed Zach and his parents. As a leading news station, you have an avenue for much-needed honest discussion about important issues affecting our city. It is painful as a listener to hear this opportunity squandered in favor of sinking to the point of publicly bullying a decent kid.

Steve Dow, P.E.
San Diego, CA

7/3/2014, 3:40 pm — Update: Please reference the link below.

This article corrects a misquote as follows: “I guarantee you, standing behind him, he has hippy parents who still cling to the myth that, you know, laying around on the side of the road smoking pot, dropping acid and having sex in the street is what ended the Vietnam War. It’s not. But we’ve created this myth that everybody buys into, and I bet they’re sitting back there going, ‘yes, do it, my boy is going to impact the release, the freedom of the fin people.’”

First, I do apologize to Casey Bartholomew regarding the truncation of his quote. I used ellipses (the …’s) after the “hippy parents” statement wanting to keep the letter short while showing that the parents were also insulted with implications of drug use. I see now that there is a technical difference in meaning between my truncated quote and the full quote, and I that is why I am posting this update now.

That said, I would like to believe that most people who objectively listen to the entire segment (and are honest with themselves) would agree that the tone used throughout, toward Zach and his family, was inappropriate to say the least. Mr. Bartholomew did call him a “punk kid,” did say “some high school student (Zach) got his panties in a wad” and he several times used a “sissy” voice to demean Zach and his parents. Using the public forum that KOGO provided him, Mr. Bartholomew from my point of view, acted as “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” This is the definition of a bully (

Based on feedback to my letter, I am now learning that there may be specific laws about adults bullying children. It was not my intent to get Mr. Bartholomew in legal trouble. My intent was simply to point out that there is an obvious loss of common decency among many folks in our society… and it doesn’t help when radio personalities lead the way.

Lastly, I want to reiterate a key point in my letter: Zach did not shoot anybody and he did not light any SUVs on fire. He followed a peaceful process and has been very respectful of authority in that process. He is following his conscience and is worthy of everyone’s respect.

— Steve