If you’ve seen a tabloid lately, you’ve heard of the two recently fired teachers at Madison accused of engaging in sexual congress on school grounds. A janitor says he found the women entangled in cunnilingus; the teachers say it’s all a big misunderstanding, that actually the Spanish teacher is a diabetic, and her blood sugar was low, and her friend the French teacher was actually helping her to administer an insulin shot. Why was the Spanish teacher’s shirt off? To use as a pillow!
As a diabetic, I know that life is hard for people with the disease, especially in a city in which police routinely deny them their life-saving medicine. And low blood sugar can be a terrifying ordeal, like a slow slide into warm death. I’m sympathetic to the woman. (We even share an aversion to overhead lighting!) But it also sounds like she’s full of shit—and, worst of all, exploiting the public’s general ignorance of the disease, spreading misinformation to save her ass.
Diabetes is a complex affliction that many reporters don’t take the time to understand; news stories about it and those afflicted with it routinely make basic factual errors or erroneous implications. For one example, consider this July Times story by Corey Kilgannon, about diabetic baseball players for the Brooklyn Cyclones:
[Shortstop Rylan Sandoval] must give himself frequent insulin injections, sometimes between innings.
“There are times you’re out in the field and you can feel your blood sugar dropping,” Mr. Sandoval said. “You start to get woozy and you just hope the inning is over quick.”
The implication made by placing that quote after that statement is that insulin raises blood sugar—that when it gets too low, a shot of insulin makes things right again. But in fact, the opposite is true: insulin gives the diabetic the ability to metabolize carbohydrates that it otherwise lacks. Taking a shot of insulin when blood sugar is low would be like cutting open a mortal wound so it would bleed faster.
Which brings us back to our lesbian teachers, and the fact that taking an insulin shot to solve a low-blood-sugar problem makes no sense, though for days the tabloids have been reporting it as “the other side of the story,” leaving the reader to decide. Finally, today, the Post sets things right:
“If [the Spanish teacher] had low blood sugar, insulin would have harmed her,” [the case’s arbitrator] wrote. “Yet, her excuse was that she needed insulin because her sugar level was low. [The French teacher] is a liar.”
Hear, hear. And the newspapers are just dumb.