Sunday, May 08, 2005

Blog Mentalities (Thug Life Online.)

By now most bloggers have probably heard of the kid in Columbus Georgia who was suspended after violating his school's policy of using cell phones during school hours, refusing to get off the phone, and being abusive towards staff. Normally this would not be a problem, but apparently schools are supposed to check with the internet community for when exceptions should be made.

For some reason many bloggers want to make it about not supporting the troups because the caller was his military mom in Iraq. Forget that there is not one scintilla of proof that this was some sort of protest against the war, and that the only person who states they (the school) knew the identity of the caller is the kid. Forget that this school actually serves a military base. Forget that if the kid had gotten off the phone, apologized for breaking the rules, and explained that he missed his military mom, that there is a good chance this would be a non-issue.

We complain about teachers, administrators, and parents not taking control of the children in their care. And yet in this story the school is in hot water for having a rule in effect and enforcing it, and for punishing the student for being abusive to the staff. Oh, and mom, who being in the military should not a thing or two about rules is not taken to task for asking her son to go against school policy. Nah, the school admin are the villains!

There is a site where much chortling is going on because all the school's email accounts is full -- now they are advising to hit the phones harder. Oh, sure, so the people whose kids follow the rules cannot contact them if there is a real emergency. Much to be proud of there. Does the expression about the punishment fitting the "crime" ring a bell at all?

It's entirely possible for a rule to be in place that you do not agree with, but the rule was made with all the right intentions. And there is a way to protest the rule politely. There is nothing, nothing here to indicate the school acted maliciously, and yet choice people are out for blood. If the school is flagrantly not supporting the troops, wouldn't this be a matter for the military families near the school? And shouldn't we, as adults, be showing children that we can disagree with someone minus the lynching?

What kids need to know is there are rules. Some of the rules are not fun, but they are right, so they will be enforced. Some of the rules are utter rubbish, and you work hard to change them, and if it is the will of the people -- and they have a longer than 5 minute attention span -- the rules will be changed. And you don't abuse people who are doing their best and trying to enforce rules that they believe are right. Instead the message seems to be: If you disagree with someone, bring them to their knees, show no mercy, and -- when they can no longer fight -- throw in another kick. Negotiating and civil discourse is for pussies!

If the kid would have received a call from his grandmother and had the same result, would the school be guilty of agism? If grannie had been calling from Israel, would the school be anti-semetic? The fact is that there is not one single bit of proof that this was an anti-military decision, and every indication that they initially did not know he was talking to his military mom. And if an exception is made for that, then doesn't an acception have to be made for every call that a student deems important? (And have you seen the list of things teens consider of vital importance?) Don't these people have enough problems with these kids without weakening what little powers society today has allowed them to retain?

If it's just about logging protest, doesn't filling their email accounts do that? Why take it to the phones -- unless this is just about twisting the screws? People seem to now be harrassing this school because they can, and because they can get a lot of their blogger friends to join in. Gee, the vicarious thrill of ganging up on people with a click of the mouse or with the mighty Verizon account. (Why do I keep imagining kids with magnifying glasses torturing ants?)

Gee, the ads for internet never mention the great fun that can be had by judging strangers and harrassing them, all without having to actually get off of one's ass, or worry about overreacting. Don't worry guys...a week from now you can harrass another school because of their lack of discipline. (Realizing the irony is completely optional.)
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