Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fuck the Children

I have no links to what I'm about to post; I'm just going on what I heard were the audible "headlines" for one of the nightly local newscasts.  The first two really irked me in a great way, and are both related to a trend that has irked me for the longest time, that I have not talked enough about.  It probably won't be at length, since this is totally off the cuff, I wasn't planning to post today, but couldn't help myself. 

The first headline was of a teenager being "bullied to death", and that charges were being filed in said case.  I'm assuming that the charges are against the supposed perpetrator of the deed.  This is not the first instance in which a kid took his or her own life due to being bullied.  Offhand, I could think of a girl who was a track star and pretty popular that I read about awhile ago (she supposedly offed herself because someone taunted her via Facebook, what a stupid way to go), a gay teen who killed himself (I remember this because the celebrity Lady Gaga eulogized the boy in concert and said there should be laws passed; ooh boy), and the Tyler Clemente case (which many considered to fall within the "bullying" realm, but which I did not, I think it was just a prank gone awry, and I'm glad they didn't hang the kid who did it totally out to dry; he got 30 days, I know people were outraged by that sentence, but I feel that he will have to live with the guilt for the rest of his life, that is satisfactory enough for me at least).  I know that I have said this before on the blog, but I will say it again, the hysteria surrounding "bullying" needs to die a quick, quiet death.  It is overblown, and is a byproduct of the need for many in the hierarchy of education (and a lot of parents out there are culpable, as well) to make kids feel good about themselves. 

This reminds me of a good documentary that I saw about the U.S. school system, called "Waiting for Superman".  One of the many points it raised is the fact that American children are, at best, in the middle of the pack amongst developed nations when it comes to mathematical and literary skills; you name it, we are mediocre at it.  But the one category that our kids excel at, that they finish first in, is "self-esteem".  Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with people feeling good about themselves; it's just that the world at large would expect you to do something, achieve something, in order for you to feel that way.  Wanting people to feel good about themselves, just for being, is empty-minded and can lead to some unforeseen consequences.  I think "bullying" is one of those consequences.  Some of our children feel so good about themselves, that they just cannot believe that there are others who just aren't that into them, and upon taking this detour to the school of hard knocks, it gets to be too much for them and they do stupid shit, like kill themselves or try to kill themselves.  I think a potential solution for this, is rather than pursue initiatives related to stopping "bullying", simply teach those kids most at risk of being picked on, the art of resilience.  Teach them to be tough.  If I were a parent, I would go one further and possibly tell my child to punch any aggressor in the nose. 

The second story that bothered me, and probably bothered me even more than the prior issue, is that an increasing number of schools in Long Island are having students take breath tests for signs of alcohol use before being admitted to their proms.  Again, this has to do with underaged kids, and I feel it's even more of a civil rights issue than the criminalization of "bullying" (AKA "kids being kids").  The reason I feel this way is because I feel these initiatives (along with this new law, you also have a law in Suffolk County that can hold parents criminally liable if they serve alcohol to their kids, in their own home, and of course, you have the ID requirements for buying alcohol and tobacco) are not just about keeping underaged kids from these forbidden pleasures, but also to craft them into obedient adults.  As a society, our civil liberties are eroding at a frightening rate, and we are turning into a "show me your papers, please" society, but without the "please".  Between the proposed criminalization of bullying, metal detectors and security guards in the schools, breathalyzers for going to the prom and all the rest of it, we are taking and punishing any signs of rebellion and questioning out of our youth, and are teaching them, at an earlier age, to respect and to not question authority. 

* I don't literally mean what I say in the headline, it's just a funny routine that was performed by George Carlin in his classic comedy special, "You are All Diseased". 

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