When you hear "fondling," do you think "good touch" or "bad touch"?
I think "bad touch," as do many others, but that's not a universal reaction, I found out tonight.
There's a debate going on at the Testy Copy Editors board. It was prompted by this post from Phillip Blanchard:
Parents and investigators said Tuesday they want to know why Berwyn school officials did not tell police years ago about allegations of "inappropriate touching" against a band teacher who was charged last week with fondling girls after duct-taping them to chairs. ...Phillip argues later: "'Fondling' implies affection, which is not a factor in molestation."
[Robert] Sperlik is charged with molesting five girls under the age of 13 between 1999 and 2003. He allegedly secured some of the little girls with duct tape--on their mouths, hands and bodies--binding them to chairs and then fondling them, according to court documents. (Chicago Sun-Times)
***This has bothered me for years. "Fondling" isn't what we want here.***
Fondling and molestation are nearly synonymous to me, so it was eye-opening to read this debate. So far, I've left it this way: "Molestation" might be a better word choice in such situations, but "fondling" certainly isn't wrong.