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What the hell: Megan Coulter and the hug

Written By | Nov 7, 2007
Hugging is bad. Who would of thought?

Hugging is bad. Who would of thought?

I feel the need to rant and I beg your indulgence.

There are things that just bother the complete living daylights out of me. The complete loss of intelligence amongst people is one of them.

To quote Albert Einstein, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

It all started because of Christmas. I am thinking about Christmas a lot these days because I am writing about “gifts” for the holidays – gifts for children, for adults, for mom or dad, siblings and friends.

And while I am writing about a very material aspect of the holiday, my thoughts wander to the more ethereal elements to the coming season.

One book I am reviewing is “Where Peace Lives.” I spoke to the author, Debbie Robins and started to learn abou the many wonderful grass roots Peace initiatives that there are.

I found myself dreaming of this global initiative to bring Peace to the world. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could teach children to have empathy and hope? To open their eyes, and hearts, to people even if they are different, or not necessarily nice, or we don’t understand them.

So things were kind of nice. Exciting. Hopeful. The spirit of the Season beginning to take hold.

Enter Mascoutah, Illinois.

Watching CNN, I hear that a middle school student, Megan Coulter, had been sentenced to serve detention for …. drum roll…. Hugging.

A simple joyful expression that transcends languages.

Not believing my ears, I hit the Internet and find that this offensive contact happened in Mascoutah, Illinois. Now I was born and raised in Illinois and I never heard of this particular berg. But they are listed in Google.

Mascoutah has a population of 6,737 and they have a lot of land they would like to develop. But not much else. Face it, Mascoutah is not much of a town, but they have put themselves on the map with the simple message.

Hugging is unacceptable.

Using the always-handy Internet, and jumping over to Wikipedia, a hug like the one young Megan Coulter expressed is defined as “a sign of support and comfort. A hug is the exchange of warmth, usually arising out of happiness at meeting someone. It is practiced in almost all nations, countries, religions and sects and can also be shared between members of the same gender quite normally.”

When I first heard the report I thought, “poor kids, they have to be protected from their fellow classmates.”

But this is Mascoutah and I seriously doubted that the kids in this little town are walking the hallways with knives hidden up their sleeves waiting to hug and stab their fellow students.

And being a small town and very Midwestern, I seriously doubted that the kids were getting overly affectionate inside the middle schools

Checking out the city’s Annual Public Safety Report , the most recent being for 2006, the number of sex offenses in the city for the year was two and deadly weapon offenses were three. Yes, those numbers are two and three. For the year.

So the concern is not violence. I live in the city. I recognize violence. On Halloween, three blocks from my home as my child was getting ready to go trick or treating, another mother’s child was shot at the local grocery store.

And banning middle school students from hugging each other is not going to stop unwarranted sexual content, or protect students from predators. And yes, principal Bob is correct. Hugs are public displays of affection, but they are not the People Magazine type celebrity PDA’s that small minded folks, possibly those like middle school principal Bob Stone might be offended by.

But these things come from the top and, Mayor Daughtery, may I ask, What the Hell are you people thinking?

I want you and your city council, and your school board to know is that what good ole’ principal Bob’s actions do is erode Peace. It shreds it by removing a natural expression of empathy, celebration, approval and inclusiveness that makes us, the human animal, unique.

And let me say quite clearly, if there is anything we need in this world it is all the love and the Peace that we can create. And peace will begin, and war will end, with children as long as we don’t destroy their ability express Peace.

But I guess that is not important in Mascoutah where, gosh darn it, they don’t want’ children participating in such a thing.

Hugging is bad. Who would of thought? I thought it was a rite routinely practiced in churches as a way of greeting fellow parishioners.

Actually I feel sorry for the town of Mascoutah. Obviously, if a hug is seen as an evil thing, celebrations must be few and far between.

And I assure you I would not want to be seen as “different” in Mascoutah. If a simple expression of friendship is enough to give an eight grade old girl detention, being seen as “different” from the standard mid-western fare, would probably land you in jail.

Banning hugs. What is next? Smiling, cheering, dancing?

There are many reasons I home school my child. People, like Bob Stone, who make asinine decisions like this is just one of them.

Mayor Daughtery, your little town makes me feel ashamed to say I am from the mid-west. I mean, obviously there is a small seed of cancer growing in the plains state. That hugging stuff. Gotta’ be eradicated.

Next thing you know, those school kids might be helping little old ladies across the street.


If Megan Coulter would like to write a story on the power and beauty of hugs for Donne Tempo, please contact me at I would be honored to print it.

And for the mom who doesn’t want Megan’s best friend to hang with her because of her transgression, c’mon. Donne Tempo is all about best friends, girlfriends. And we strongly support hugging.

Finally, if the students in Mascoutah stage a good old fashioned hug-in, I – and I am sure many others – would like to know. When I was in high school, back in the 70s, we staged sit-ins for peace and racial equality. The right to hug is just as important.

Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning writer and wanderer. She turns her thoughts to an eclectic mix of stories - from politics to sports. Restless by nature and anxious to experience new things, both in the real world and online, Jacquie mostly shares travel and culinary highlights, introduces readers to the chefs and creative people she meets and shares the tips, life and travel information people want to read.