The Family Name -

The Family Name

It was 1979, but I remember it like it happened yesterday.

Buckets of rain ran down the patio door, and I stood watching the puddling water in our backyard. My mom was calm...using what my brother and I refer to as her "counselor" voice.

I was in trouble. A rare occurence for me...the straight arrow known for reading scores of books, playing a mean classical piano, and a delicate demeanor with adults and peers alike. It made this incident all the more difficult to explain.

You see, a rather crass poem had made its way through the school. It featured candy bars, but it was chocked full of crude innuendoes. The principal launched an investigation to locate the distributor, and my mom...the school counselor...was part of the search team.
As I recall, it took two days to snuff me out. A peer remembered the dirty ditty had been shared during youth choir rehearsal earlier in the week by a student from a neighboring town, and I had copied it.

Midway my mom's talk, I heard the words, "I am so disappointed in you". And so was I.
Not to mention unbelievably embarrassed. My fall from grace was confined to my parents, a few school officials, and my close circle of friends who knew I had been grounded until 1992.

That is not the case for Aimee Mokwa, daughter of Saint Louis police chief Joe Mokwa.
She is at the center of a growing investigation involving her use of impounded cars and her father's integrity. At a news conference, Chief Mokwa denied any wrongdoing but spoke of his daughter's well-documented personal struggles. Of course, this is not the first time a family's laundry rests on that fine line between their right to privacy and the public's right to know. When the specter of illegality is involved, it tends to be pretty cut-and-dried.

But even as a journalist, paid to inform the public, I do not enjoy watching any family discuss its private business. It reminds me of a 13 year-old whose error in judgment was limited, for the most part, to her parents' living room.

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