In boxing, the "tale of the tape" is all about measurements. It refers to a boxer's height, weight and reach. In life, however, the tale of the tape is often a home video that provides evidence of a crime.

So it was with the Rodney King beating in California and also the 9/11 disaster.

And so it was when female high school students in Illinois were caught on film hazing younger girls after a powder-puff football game. On tape, it looked more like powder-keg football than powder-puff. At last count, 31 students had been suspended. More consequences will follow.

Some argue the punishment was too harsh. Others argue the abusive girls got off with a slap. But without the "video evidence," they likely would have gotten away scot-free.

Videotape — once a luxury of news organizations — is now as ubiquitous as Scotch Tape.

When the shuttle Columbia exploded, dozens of people rushed from the sidelines with documentary footage. Once details of the Elizabeth Smart abduction surfaced, so did meters of video picturing the alleged perpetrators. At businesses, schools and government installations, acres of security videos are shot each day. Even more videotape is being churned out by amateur sleuths looking to make a buck.

One can only imagine the "evidence" that would be available if John Kennedy were shot today. Instead of the famous Zapruder film, there would be video from Alvarez to Zapruder.

As an organization that prizes information, we say the more information the better, so long as the amateur film buffs stay within the law. The more documentation the better. Letters, telegrams — even photographic negatives — are becoming a thing of the past. Physical evidence and "first source" material are wiped out daily with the click of a mouse. If amateur videomakers can fill that void and provide hard evidence, all the better.

One has to wonder what possessed the kids in Illinois to even tape such a heinous affair. One wonders why the girls involved would allow themselves to be taped as they kicked, slapped and poured paint on their hapless victims.

Whatever they were thinking, we're glad they recorded what happened.

At a time when separating fact and fiction is growing more difficult, there's nothing like documentary evidence to focus the mind.