Mesa High-School Boys Forced to Hold Hands as Other Students Jeered; Poll: Was Punishment Appropriate?

Politically incorrect, yes. But there's nothing worse for some teenage boys than to be called "gay" by their peers.

Tim Richards, the principal of Westwood High School must have known that when he had a couple of students who were caught fighting to join hands publicly on campus this week while their classmates jeered.

"Kids were laughing at them and calling them names asking, 'Are you gay?'" student Brittney Smyers told ABC 15 (KNXV-TV).

Richards had given them a choice of the amateur public stockade or suspension, so he didn't actually forced them to hold hands and appear, for a moment, to be a couple. But the students chose the brief humiliation over the suspension. Now, in part due to photographs taken of the boys with their heads hung low in shame as they clutch hands, the story of the principal's punishment has become a nationwide news story.

Seems to us like this isn't a good precedent for student punishment. And it might even be offensive to gay people. We're sensitive to things like that, sometimes.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio enjoys inflicting similar humiliation on people, forcing them to wear pink underwear, slippers and handcuffs. New Times published a story in 2010 about a mentally ill inmate who, when told he'd be forcibly dressed in pink underwear whether he liked it or not, figured the guards wanted to dress him in women's clothing because they were about to rape him.

This is one of those water-cooler-type stories on which anyone can be expected to have opinion. So what do you think? Take our poll: