John Leo
Once again, the United States is the undisputed world champion in the creation of social victims. Here are the winners of this column's Victims of the Year competition:

NON-HUGGERS VICTIMIZED BY HUGGERS. Two eighth-grade girls were punished at a Dallas junior high school after engaging in a hallway hug. They said the hug was friendly, not sexual, but the school's principal said hugging could lead to other things and create peer pressure for students who may not want that type of contact.

FOOTBALL PLAYERS VICTIMIZED BY BOOING. After Penn State's usually powerful football team lost five of its first eight games, the university faculty senate knew exactly how to cope: It passed a resolution denouncing "negative cheering," to be read to crowds at all Penn State home games. Possible future resolution: mandatory cheering after bad plays.

CHILDREN VICTIMIZED BY READING. A feminist professor says reading aloud to one's children is an act of violence that represses the young, forcing then into the jail of patriarchy and cultural structure. Children are unaware of this, said Peggy Kamuf of the University of Southern California, because the psychic pain causes repression of the memory.

VOLPE A VICTIM IN ABNER LOUIMA CASE. New York policeman Justin Volpe, pleading for leniency after his conviction in the horrific brutalizing of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, told a defense psychologist, "I was the victim." The psycholgist said that when Volpe was punched during the brawl that preceded Louima's arrest, he was overcome by "fear, anxiety, physical pain and momentary disorientation," leading to a sense of powerlessness that caused him to torture Louima.

CANADIAN PSYCHES DAMAGED BY 'SOUTH PARK.' A Canadian woman says her son Kenny is victimized by the TV cartoon show "South Park," in which the Kenny character is killed each week. She said the show should be banned, or that the Kenny character shoud be named Dweebie or Doofus "or any name that has no potential of deeply hurting the psyche of any Canadian."

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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