July 17, 1997 in City

Culture Won’t Put Up With That Behavior

By The Spokesman-Review

Paul A. Sorensen, sports broadcaster and former college football player, had a terrible life day last April. Yet, all of his troubles could have been avoided if he had obeyed parenting rule No. 1: Never leave your 2-year-old unattended in a car. Never.

Not even if you lock the doors. Not even if the weather outside is pleasant. Not even if you’ll be gone only five minutes to check your luggage at Spokane International Airport.

You don’t do it because it’s careless parenting. And because there are many protective adults roaming around who see children unattended in cars and worry. Carol Brookshire, an airport police officer, did more than worry when she saw Sorensen’s sleeping daughter in the illegally parked car.

In her report of the incident, which Sorensen disputes, Brookshire says she twice paged the owner of the red Chevrolet Blazer. She said 15 minutes passed - not five - before Sorensen returned to his vehicle and his sleeping daughter.

Brookshire cited Sorensen with a gross misdemeanor. The charges eventually were dismissed, but Sorensen couldn’t let the matter rest. In a recent interview about the incident, he called Brookshire “Broomhilda.” His attorney, John Lamp, said his client did nothing criminal, and he added about Brookshire: “I don’t know if she had a bad hair day or what.”

Sorensen might not have realized, first with leaving his child unattended and then with making the sexist remark, that our culture doesn’t put up with much anymore. Put your child in danger’s way, no matter how remote that danger might be, and other adults will interfere.

The Danish woman who left her child in a stroller outside a restaurant in New York found this out. The couple who adopted two Russian girls and then hit them on the flight home found this out. Their children were taken away from them. Leaving a sleeping child in a car for five (or 15) minutes is not nearly as ominous, but the potential for trouble exists. Especially at an airport.

Women have been called worse things than Broomhilda. And men have bad hair days, too. Still, those phrases aren’t very respectful of women (or men) who are just trying to do their jobs.

Yes, the old days are gone for good. The days when parents could leave sleeping kids in cars. The days when you could call women derogatory names just because they made you angry.

It’s a new world. Thank God. Our children and women are better off in this one.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

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