All of New Zealand's been enjoying a little moral panic over James Webster, the Kings College student who died after drinking a bottle of vodka last weekend. (I bet if he'd been from Onehunga he wouldn't have been talked about in this reverential way.) The news and talkback have been full of self proclaimed experts telling us what's wrong with our culture, that a nice white kid like this could die from being dorky. Apparently New Zealand society is sick at the core, or something.
Then I read the story of Matt James, a US high school student who died by falling off a balcony after drinking, at about the same time, allowing for time differences. Oh well, said Notre Dame, the university that was about to offer Matt a football scholarship, boys will be boys. The recently retired coach said "These are college kids. College kids do what college kids do. I just don't understand why they're even issues."
Just like New Zealand, really. Then something happened that probably wouldn't happen in EnZed.
The Notre Dame campus cops caught another football player, Mike Ragone - well actually, they caught his girlfriend - with some marijuana in her handbag. Girls will be girls, right? And girls' boyfriends are just young and dorky, right? Nope. Here's the regulation:
Students who possess, use or misuse such substances shall be subject to disciplinary suspension or permanent dismissal.
That's "Shall", not "Might, after a hearing", or "Won't, he'll just get a telling off". So his college career is over. But the deceased drunk is just a nice kid who had some bad luck.
Just like New Zealand? I doubt we'd be quite that extreme.
(My original stories come from Huffington Post, which doesn't permit deep linking. A quick Google on the names will get you the originals, though.)