The (Not So) Latest
1/12/04: Principal Resigns
In another triumph for youth, George McCrackin has resigned. McCrakin was the principal who invited police to terrorize his students. Luckily, many of the victims were black, so civil rights activists raged and McCrackin was forced to step down. It would be nice if young victims of all races could inspire this much concern, but we'll take a victory wherever we can.
1/8/04: Dude! What's Up with this Book?
Michael Moore's book Dude, Where's My Country? is a major disappointment.
Moore criticizes the infamous USA PATRIOT Act by pointing out, "[O]nce you allow your rulers to snoop into your life and violate your 'space,' the notion of living in a free society is out the window." (pg. 107) He has a point. Yet later, he admonishes his readers, "Your children do not have a right to privacy and you better pay attention to what they are up to." (pg. 191)
So I guess what Mike is saying is that anyone with a parent still alive has no right to live in a free society. Hey, thanks, Mike. It wasn't bad enough to read 100+ pages of pointless America-bashing before the book offers anything remotely interesting. I also had to see you yell at parents to betray their children the same way Ashcroft betrays America.
The book is also disappointing just because it is a crappy book. Moore's first book, Downsize This!, was funny and insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Dude, Where's My Country? is none of the above. It reads like a first daft given no feedback nor even a second reading by its author. The book offers a large collection of facts that do not add up to a clear point. (Most of the facts will not even be informative for those who follow the news.) It offers goofy asides that do not add up to a laugh. It offers opinions that do not add up to an argument.
The book reads like an adequate blog. But while blogs are free and timely, Moore's book was written months ago and runs at $24.95 plus tax. Or you can wait for an available copy at your library. The benefit here is that you can write in the book and offer your criticisms for the next several readers.
Al Franken's current book (Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them) is sharp, witty, and informative (and occasionally repulsive). Moore's book tries to steal some of Franken's jokes, but falls flat. Dude, Where's My Country? is simply not worth reading.
12/25/03: They're Punishing Whom?!
A high school teacher in Fulton, Georgia stole a student's private journal. The teacher then read it. And who did the school kick out? That's right: the student.
The journal contained a collection of short stories the student was working on. One story described a student dreaming about shooting a teacher, then being shot by a security guard.
The teacher who stole and violated privacy was left unpunished. The student was expelled. It's easy to see why a student at this school might use her imagination to create a world where people can at least dream of seeing teachers punished.
12/14/03: Teacher in Trouble for Teaching
Here's a perfect example of how much some adults value children's education. Some parents (and the media) in Florida are angry at a grade school teacher for informing students Santa Claus does not exist. In other words, she gave them accurate information relevant to their lives, the very definition of "teaching."
Deceived students were unhappy to learn their parents had lied to them. But rather than blame the parents for this unhappiness, the media are blaming the teacher. Newspapers quote parents accusing her of 'destroying children.' They give no voice to the other side.
Parents who lie to their children should at least take responsibility for the pain they cause their children. They should not blame an honest educator. And the media we trust to inform us objectively should never show such blatant bias in favor of ignorance.
11/26/03: And they Wonder why People Drop out of School
In South Carolina, police charged into a high school with guns drawn. Did they go in to catch some crazy person shooting up the school? No. Did they go in to bust a teacher for sexually harassing students? No. They went in to check for drugs.
They held students at gunpoint on the floor. They turned loose drug-sniffing dogs. They searched students' personal belongings. They found no drugs.
More details here.
10/16/03: Good Point from John Leo
In the Oct. 20, 2003 U.S. News & World Report, columnist John Leo observes the following:
Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, then fled the country before sentencing. This year Academy Award voters had no compunctions about giving him the Oscar for best director. In comparison, baseball's Hall of Fame refuses to honor two great but tainted players: Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson. Is raping a child less serious than betting on baseball or throwing a World Series?
8/12/03: Lowering Standards for Presidents
Senator Orrin Hatch is proposing an Amendment to our Constitution to allow more people to run. Currently, the U.S. Constitution only qualifies a person to run for the presidency if he/she is 35-years-old or older, was born in the United States, and has lived in the country for the past 14 years. Hatch believes this is too restricting, so he wants to change the Constitution allowing those born outside the United States to run.
He has no plans, however, to change the age qualification.
Some believe Hatch is doing this for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The body-building actor has raised money for Hatch and has political ambitions of his own. (Schwarzenegger is currently running for Governor of California.) Hatch denies he is doing this as a favor to Schwarzenegger. Hatch insists it is simply unfair to bar immigrants from seeking the presidency. So why doesn't Hatch see the unfairness of barring 34-year-olds from seeking the office?
8/9/03: Adult Kills, Teens Punished
A city in South Carolina is now considering a curfew law in response to a murder committed by a 37-year-old. The curfew, however, will not apply to 37-year-olds. It will instead apply to those younger than 18! Supporters of this new curfew law say it will give police an excuse to approach suspicious people, at least long enough to establish their age. If the problem is 37-year-olds, why not make a curfew that applies to 37-year-olds? That would give police an even better excuse to approach suspicious middle-agers and even lock them away before they kill.
But of course we would never do that to ourselves.
Read the story at http://www.theitem.com/
When America witnessed adult Rodney King beaten by police and then saw the cops go free, there was outrage. From coast to coast, Americans showed their anger through vandalism and through peaceful protests.
This week, after America witnessed the police beating 16-year-old Donavan Jackson, we again witnessed the police going free. Where is the anger? This trial ended in a hung jury for one defendant (Jeremy Morse), which means prosecutors can prosecute that one cop again if they choose to. There is, however, no pressure on the court system to do the right thing and try Morse again. There were only a few modest protests and no riots.
I can't say I am surprised by any of this. I predicted here that none of the police involved would be punished. And I did not expect a 16-year-old (even one with a totally clean record) to get the same sympathy given to an adult (even one with a history of lawlessness). Vindication, however, is a small consolation prize for a man who must live with injustice.
On Wednesday, July 23, 2003, unsuccessful politician Othniel Askew walked into New York City Hall and killed his political rival, Councilman James Davis. This is not the first time a politician has gunned down someone. In San Francisco, for example, after Dan White lost his race for Supervisor, he shot opponent Harvey Milk and also Mayor George Moscone.
When teenagers kill, politicians respond with sweeping, draconian restrictions on youth. When their own kill, will they have the decency to respond the same way? Will our leaders now pass laws restricting politicians' access to violent movies and video games that encourage people to solve their differences with weapons instead of words? Will law-makers now impose curfew laws to keep politicians off the streets during those hours when politicians are most likely to kill? Will they require politicians to wear uniforms or to carry their belongings in transparent briefcases as some schools now do to students?
Will they at least pass gun-control laws to keep guns out the hands of politicians?
I have a hunch they won't. Call me a cynic.