Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last week, a thirty-six-year-old man, Cory
Petero, charged into a youth football league game. He was
a parent and a coach upset by events on the field. So he
rushed into the action and floored a thirteen-year-old who
had just received a late hit penalty for ramming Petero’s
son after the play was over.
Petero faced felony child abuse charges. Unfortunately, prosecutors
reduced the charges to a misdemeanor because Petero had no
previous record, and the boy “wasn’t badly injured.”
Petero will probably get little more than community service
and a fine, but I, for one, want to see him do some hard
time in jail.
Jim Halm, of Delta Youth Football, has stated that Petero
won’t be permitted to coach in the league anymore.
This punishment doesn’t come close to what I want to
see Petero endure.
For years, parents have lost their civility at their children’s
sports events. They have fought verbally and physically with
one another, used profanity, and generally set a horrible
example for the kids. But a physical assault on a child is
another matter altogether.
Nearly three times the age and size of the thirteen-year-old
he attacked, Petero could well have killed this boy. As a
general rule, women and children are no match for the physical
violence of men. For this reason, the former must be protected
by societal and moral law.
Emerson once wrote, “There can be no high civility
without a deep morality.” On the one hand, I would
argue that a lack of deep morality provided Petero the opportunity
to commit such a heinous crime.
On the other hand, I would apply this quote as a calling
to us to hold Petero to a “high morality” by
convicting him of felony child abuse and thus encouraging
all of us to attain high civility by showing the consequence
of physically assaulting a child and by holding one another
to a minimum standard of behavior.
Without civility, without civilization, we are little more
than Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz, existing in the heart of
darkness, chopping off heads and posting them on poles around
Prosecutors should have stuck to their felony charge, and
the judge should punish Petero with the strictest penalty