Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hold the Applause! Or Else!

Hold the applause, please. Seriously. Hold the applause. Don’t clap. Don’t cheer. Don’t yell. Don’t celebrate. Don’t whoop.

Did you hear the news that came out of Columbia, South Carolina, last weekend? Local police arrested seven people after they were accused of loud cheering during high school graduation ceremonies. Six people at Fort Mill High School’s graduation were charged Saturday and a seventh at the graduation for York Comprehensive High School was charged Friday with disorderly conduct. Police said the seven yelled after students’ names were called.

“I just thought they were going to escort me out,” Jonathan Orr told The Herald of Rock Hill. “I had no idea they were going to put handcuffs on me and take me to jail.” Orr, 21, spent two hours in jail after he was arrested when he yelled for his cousin at York’s commencement at the Winthrop University Coliseum.

Rock Hill police began patrolling commencements several years ago at the request of school districts who complained of increasing disruption. Those attending graduations are told they can be prosecuted for bad behavior and letters are sent home with students, said Rock Hill police spokesman Lt. Jerry Waldrop.

Orr was convinced that people should be allowed to cheer at these ceremonies. Here’s his reasoning: “For some people, it might be the only member of their family to graduate high school, and it was like a funeral in there.”

William Massey, 19, was arrested but said he plans to fight the charge. He said he simply “clapped and gave a little whoop” when his fiancee’s name was called. Massey said there were warnings before the ceremony but none that said he could be arrested.

What do you think?

I know how people can get out of control. I’ve seen it in such settings. And, I know that every name is important to hear. I suppose my fear at graduation was always that the person in front of me would have hundreds of people there, cheering him or her on, then my name would be called and you would hear the crickets chirping—hopefully, not too loudly or else they would be arrested in South Carolina.

But, isn’t a graduation ceremony a time to celebrate and rejoice? Mr. Orr was probably correct, unfortunately. Some graduates will be the only one in their family to graduate. Shouldn’t they have time to celebrate this special event? Shouldn’t they have time to cheer them on? Shouldn’t they have the freedom to whoop, if they want to?

Have we gotten to the point in our country where having fun is inappropriate? Just how serious should these times be treated?

Give me your thoughts.


  1. Bet ya next year there will still be some hooping and a hollering (ain't that where some live?) I have mixed emotions about the cheering but arresting people? how idiotic! Let 'em have their day in the sun for crying out loud! I am just glad I gradjiated, I mean grajnuated, I mean go out of there.

  2. You know, your almamada must be good an proud!

  3. Watch out that will happen in some churches. Don't clap or raise your hand!

  4. Kevin, I'm sure you and I both have been in those churches where the church police raised more issues than hands! I suppose that's one reason I'm not actively involved in church leadership now--I grew tired of the hyprocisy of church leaders who knew better and who professed to live differently, but in truth, I often saw no differences in their walk.

  5. You actually had a church like that Steve? I thought all church leaders were pillars of example for all other attenders. I am disappointed in that. Many of mine were pillars of example...the wrong kind. Thankfully I never had to worry about the hand police. I never preached at a church that did it! (tongue in cheek) :)

  6. I was talking with a friend this morning about a former church of hers. It seems countless things were going on in that church, of the sinful nature, that were simply overlooked by the rest of the church family. However, if the pastor or staff ever did anything wrong, oh boy! The grief that had to be paid.

    Unfortunately, we often have a double standard inside the church! I think that's why I often enjoyed working with the lost in the community more than I did with my own members! Now, who's the heretic?


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can't wait to read what you have written.