I live on movie quotes. Essentially, I can look back on nearly any event of my life and aptly apply a quote from a film or television show; when I write my memoirs, there will be movie quotes aplenty. My dad and I even have an on-going gimmick where we’ll just out-of-the-blue say, “What movie?” It is then incumbent upon the other to guess the film from which the subsequent quote was taken. For example, I’ll say, “Hey Dad, what movie: ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat,'” and he will reply, “Jaws.” It’s as though I have a nearly-encyclopedic memory of random movie quotes. I suppose it’s just one of my quirks.
But movie quotes from great movies are – to me – very meaningful. And there’s one film in particular that is unexpectedly very quotable: The Dark Knight.
I’ve gotten quite a few questions recently about why I’ve decided to take my life in the direction I’m taking it, and there is no better way for me to answer those questions than with movie quotes – in this case, The Dark Knight.
So here are the Top Ten Dark Knight Quotes – the quotes that help me best describe why I’ve decided to write a book, become a voice, and and essentially become a target for ridicule. These ten quotes help convey the reason why I have decided to take a public stand against the untreated epidemic of inappropriate teacher-student relationships.
“It’s not about money; it’s about sending a message.”
In the past, I have been accused of trying to make money off of my crime. And as certain as the day is long, I will be accused of this in the future. I addressed this issue in “Fueled by Hate,” but I feel this point is worth reiterating: I don’t care about money. My personal financial situation is very secure and I have no need to exploit my past to “turn a profit.” Those who think I am seeking monetary benefit from anything I do in this realm would be sorely mistaken. Yes, this will benefit me, but that benefit has nothing to do with money. The benefit I seek is this: I need to find it within myself to go into the realm in which I committed so much wrong, and do my best to do as much right as I can. I understand how much I hurt the people around me, but I also understand how much damage I’ve done to the education profession as well. And while I seek daily to make amends with those individuals I hurt, I also want the opportunity to balance the damage I’ve done to the teaching profession by pushing solutions to a problem. Money doesn’t matter to me. If my book is published, it won’t make money – an author’s first book, as a general rule, never makes any money. And I want to speak, publicly, to teachers and administrators; I want to stand in front of them and give them the reality – and I do not want to be paid for this. This isn’t me trying to make money; this is me trying to make a difference.
“Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more.”
The truth of the situation is this: It should be common sense and common practice for teachers to not have inappropriate relationships with their students. Yet, this simply is not the case; the simple truth is not good enough – the educational community deserves more. They deserve an example: an example of what a ruined career – a ruined life – looks like. Of course, I can speak endlessly about how the student with whom the teacher has a relationship will be forever harmed as well – struggling with personal relationships or intimacy or trust – but there comes a point when the strongest emphasis that can be made must be made on a personal level. “Look at me,” I’ll say. “I didn’t fade into obscurity after my face disappeared from the news stories. I had to pick up the pieces and try to live the rest of my life.” Sometimes, a deeper truth is needed; sometimes, a real example is needed. I can be that example.
“It’s a funny world we live in.”
Indeed it is, and let me explain why. I will write and speak some very important, very valid, and very accurate points. But there will be people who will dismiss anything I say, not because of what I’m saying, but because of who I am. For reasons beyond reason, it won’t matter how much truth I speak because shallow-minded individuals won’t be able to get beyond the fact that it’s me speaking, unable to hear the message over the static from their own personal judgement of the messenger. This makes no logical sense. It would stand to reason that I would know more than nearly anyone about the causes and results of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, but because I am who I am, many will simply dismiss anything I say, staring down their noses and refusing to listen, because I’m not the pristine human they think they are – funny, but not comical. However, people of true intellect will grasp the message, regardless of the messenger, and those are the people to whom I speak.
“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos.”
Perhaps a little chaos – a little against-the-grain thinking – is what we need in order to address a problem that no one wants to talk about. I understand how uncomfortable of a topic this is, but at what point did we decide to prioritize comfort over efficacy? There comes a point when a problem becomes so wide-spread that it becomes imperative upon those with a voice to speak-up to do exactly that. The “established order” doesn’t want to talk about this issue because it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable. Teachers don’t want to be told something that is obvious. But perhaps teachers need to be told what is obvious. I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence, that’s why I’m bringing a new and unique perspective to the issue. My aim is not to simply tell teachers not to hook-up with their students; my goal is also to enlighten teachers on how to see these behavior patterns in their colleagues – how to spot the teachers who are crossing those boundaries. But first, the educational community must be willing to consider a new kind of approach to this issue, because clearly their current approach is not working.
“I’m sorry to let you down. If you lose your faith in me, please keep your faith in people.”
The guilt I carry for violating my profession will never lighten, and I’m fine with that. I deserve to carry this guilt. I let down my colleagues, my students, my students’ parents – everyone. So one message I hope to convey is that I know – for a fact – that not all teachers are “bad apples” like I was, so the goal of my endeavors is to not simply stop teachers from crossing the lines of propriety with their students, but to make other teachers – the good teachers – aware of the issue in much greater detail, equipping them with the tools of awareness when (not if) the situation arises in their school. I owe it to the teachers who are genuinely good teachers to give back to the profession by giving them one more arrow in their quiver to protect their students.
“Things were always going to get worse before they got better.”
It is truly tragic that the situation of inappropriate teacher-student relationships has deteriorated as far as it has, and I know I am irrefutably guilty for contributing to the wide-spread problem against which I now speak-out. But the fact is, as long as school districts continued to ignore and cover-up this problem, the worse and worse it was going to become. As it became known among teachers that more and more of them were getting away with having these relationships, the attitude about it became more and more permissive. I should know – I remember my own thought process. One of the women I taught with (and was sleeping with) had, in the past, had sex with one of her male students. And she got a way with it – completely. And I remember thinking, in the moments leading up to my first inappropriate encounter with my former student, “Well, [NAME OMITTED] got away with it, so I probably will too.” Of course, I do not blame her for my actions – my choices were my choices – but there was an established culture there which continues to perpetuate itself. And if that culture continues, these relationships won’t stop.
“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”
Something can be done to stop this cycle – there is hope. Right now, this problem is as bad as it has ever been. Texas recently set a record for teachers prosecuted for inappropriate relationships with students – nearly 900 cases in just five years! That is staggering! And yet, it is even more proof that more must be done to address this issue. So as bad as things have become, the point is now clear that further steps must be taken to curb this epidemic. The current efforts are not enough. More must be done.
“But I know the truth: there’s no going back. You’ve changed things – forever.”
I know I’ll never be a positive person in the eyes of the educational community again. And frankly, I don’t deserve to be. Anything I’m doing now is not an effort to regain any “good graces” with the profession. I’m not trying to be seen as a “good guy” or anything of the sort. I am simply trying to do the right thing – to go above and beyond what is expected – for the greater good. I’ll never be seen as the “good guy,” and I’m okay with that. How I’m “seen” means far less to me than the impact I want to have on teachers and administrators. I want to open their eyes to the issue – I couldn’t care less about their opinions of me as a person. There is a much bigger issue here than simply me. I am not the focal point. The issue is the focal point. I am only bringing a unique perspective. It’s not about me; it’s about them.
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain.”
-Harvey Dent & Batman
Sometimes I grow tired of being the villain, but I understand why it is the role I must fill. I understand that people need villains in the world to which they may compare themselves and say, “At least that’s not me.” So if that is my label – if that is my purpose – then fine. But my hope is simple: Do not let my past actions take away from my current message, because essentially, my past actions make my current message even more relevant. In a way, I’m like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character at the end of Catch Me If You Can; I’m here to help the good guys catch the bad guys – the bad guys like I used to be. This is my role now, and it’s a role I will embrace and pursue to the best of my abilities.
“Why so serious?”
Why so serious? Because no one else is – no one in the educational community seems to be contributing any serious effort toward even addressing the issue of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, let alone solving the problem. And since it is a problem to which I contributed, then I feel compelled to be part of the solution. That’s why I’m serious about it, and I will continue to be serious about it – even when the skeptics call me a hypocrite and tell me to shut up. And since no one in the educational community wants to take the issue seriously, then someone outside of the educational community needs to step-up, step-in, and speak-out.