While we're nominating people for everything from the Golden Globes to the death penalty, I'd like to put Carmen Dixon up for Ear of the Year. Dixon is the Friday Harbor woman...
While we’re nominating people for everything from the Golden Globes to the death penalty, I’d like to put Carmen Dixon up for Ear of the Year.
Dixon is the Friday Harbor woman found in violation of the state’s privacy act for eavesdropping on her daughter’s phone conversation.
She’s also the former Friday Harbor postmaster who will be sentenced April 1 for misappropriating $129,000 from the Postal Service.
I can’t admire Dixon for the latter. But I can for the former, and the resulting brush with the state high court.
It ruled last week that Dixon’s testimony against her daughter’s friend was inadmissible because it was based on an intercepted conversation.
The justices ordered a new trial for the friend, Oliver Christensen, who had been convicted of robbery, in part because of Dixon’s testimony.
The alleged crime was an October 2000 purse-snatching in which an elderly woman was knocked to the ground.
Once Christensen, then 17, became a suspect, the San Juan County sheriff knowing the daughter and Christensen were friends asked Dixon to keep an ear out.
So Dixon’s snooping wasn’t completely pure of heart. The sheriff was applying pressure, and there was a reward if she learned anything.
But Dixon was doing what most parents would especially if their daughter befriends the kind of kid who would knock over an old lady.
“It’s ridiculous!” Dixon told The Associated Press after last week’s ruling. “Kids have more rights than parents these days. My daughter was out of control, and that was the only way I could … keep track of her. I did it all the time.”
Amen, sister. I do the same darn thing on a smaller, sixth-grade scale.
My antennas go up whenever there’s another kid in the house, whenever my son picks up the phone. If I hear plans being hatched, I’m in on them.
Is that violating a child’s privacy? No. It’s being a parent.
For too long, we’ve been reading about parents who didn’t know, or didn’t care.
One word: Columbine.
Friends Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold planned the 1999 Colorado high-school massacre in the homes they shared with their parents. They experimented with pipe bombs and posted their results on Harris’ Web site. They brought home guns. A journal in Harris’ room detailed their plans.
Their parents knew nothing.
So who can possibly fault Dixon for listening in?
Cellphones and e-mail may give us more access to our kids, but those same technologies put us in the dark by allowing them private contact with those we don’t know or see.
Still, no microchip can rival parental intuition; that gut feeling that there’s something going on.
The job of parents is to know our kids better than they know themselves, to see where they’re headed before they do.
And if that lands us in court, well, that’s better than a lot of places we’ve seen or, worse, imagined.
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She said no cellphone yet.