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Middle School Behavior – Bad Choices & the Adults Who Support Them

So far not much information has been revealed about the middle school boy who confessed to throwing an object at the presidential motorcade. What information has been provided is that he implicated four others (when I was a kid the terminology would have been “squealed on”). The thrown object being described as a “block of wood”, a “wooden block” and a “2×4”. One had me picturing a scrap from a project, another made me think of the abc/123 wooden cubes my kids had and the final description has me visualizing an entire board. I’ve attached a photograph of the evidence to clarify.

While I’ve only read about the incident via multiple online news and social media sources, I have to say that I am fascinated by how some adults are reacting to the incident. Who are these people who affirm this sort of behavior and what would their knee-jerk reaction be to a middle school kid who was shot by a Secret Service agent as he raised his arm to throw an unknown object? Yet there in my Twitter Feed were responses such as; “too bad the car didn’t flip.”, “For once spare the rod, spoil the child.” and “then a hero comes along.”. It’s as though people don’t realize that around the world children are used to execute the plans of adults. Or perhaps they do realize that and are okay with children being used in this way, as long it supports their political views. I feel like these people may be among the same group who badmouth law enforcement and graphically describe what they would do if confronted by an officer and live to regret it when their own children are in that situation and react as their adult role models taught them to. Those situations don’t typically end well. It’s quite possible the children involved in the motorcade incident were only acting upon what they thought would please their parents. While political conversations and current issues were frequent discussion topics in my home growing up, I can think of no situation where my parents would have condoned any sort of verbal or physical attack to either express ourselves or advance our agenda. I’ve never felt hampered by being taught to be respectful of everyone, despite having differences of opinion.

I am curious if this fella will receive the same notoriety as Ahmed Mohamed, the boy whose teacher alerted the principal when the clock he had built in a pencil case beeped during class. Despite signs along our highways encouraging citizens to be vigilant if they see something they find suspicious, the English teacher and principal whose jobs involve educating and protecting students, were vilified for their caution. While the clock ultimately was innocuous, were it to have actually been an object that posed a threat they likely would have been heroes for acting or perceived co-conspirators for allowing it to be present. We live in a strange age, where it’s popular to attack authority for doing what is in their job description and  throw caution to the wind and embrace the stranger whose intentions are unknown. Ultimately Ahmed received an educational scholarship, a tweet from the POTUS and visit to the White House. At one time he had a 15-million dollar lawsuit going. The sort of lawsuit that might make future school administrators less cautious and put lives at risk. My guess is this current motorcade incident garners an eventual POTUS Tweet but no White House visit during this administration.

I’m wondering if Dr. Phil is trying to get these kids and their parents booked and if they are competing with late night talk shows doing the same. We have embraced and rewarded bad behavior and made celebrities out of people simply for being rude or contrary, while at the same time we’ve challenged and demonized  others for simply asking questions. I am stupefied by how the basic standard of what being an adult is has changed and I’m concerned for what that means not only for these children but all of the other kids witnessing this decline in basic decorum.

It’s likely attorneys will line up for exposure and perhaps try to spin the impulsive actions of a middle-schooler into some sort of political commentary. Was the boy an environmentalist making a statement about the logging industry or a politically active kid making a donation to be used in the construction of a border wall? Perhaps we will find out the source of the wood was 84 Lumber, a business nobody in the Midwest knew about until they took out a Superbowl ad, which was movie-quality but told nothing about the company or the products they sell. Maybe the whole thing is some marketing scam.

Call me cynical but I tend to question the motivation behind what everyone does and on whose behalf they are actually doing it. Was this just a kid acting on a dare or impulse or is he a patsy being used to see how the Secret Service would respond to an unruly group of children? Simply a test run with a sinister motive for a future attack is a possibility that will be examined. Some might assume I’m paranoid but security can’t be too cautious in a week when Kim Jong-nam, the exiled half brother of the leader of North Korea died in a Malaysian airport attack. The scenario sounds like something out of an American crime drama series that has proverbially “jumped the shark”. The plot twist being an innocent vacationer from Vietnam being duped by thinking she was participating in a prank with his buddies when she sprayed him with a poison mist.

For those finding this wood tossing behavior acceptable, what if it were a kid throwing an object at their vehicle as they drove by? Would they be okay with a child doing the same thing to a police squad, a firetruck or an ambulance? What if it were someone throwing something at their elderly parent’s car or their own child’s school bus? If there is some new rule book about when antisocial behavior is acceptable or even endorsed I am totally out of the loop on that. Are the people in favor of self expression through violence willing to accept it when it’s directed towards themselves?

If this motorcade situation had happened when I was in middle school, chances are it would have been a group of four socially confident boys goading a socially awkward outsider into doing something stupid for their amusement. The boy acting out would do whatever the kids he admired wanted because of the naive anticipation of some implied acceptance. I’m not suggesting the child should not be held accountable, simply pointing out that it’s possible he’s more of a victim here than some mastermind architect of an attack on the president of the United States. My husband, a greater cynic than myself thinks perhaps it is simpler than that “It could be just a little asshole looking to get fame.”.

I long for the good old days when poison mist was found only in James Bond films, most adults didn’t endorse the actions of “little assholes” and kids seeking attention tried out for the school talent show. I wonder if we’ll ever know if his parents are horrified by his action or proud of him.

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Guilt, Finger Pointing and Feigned Outrage – The Stuff of Non-Issues

Ralphie

I’ll just admit it up front, I like the movie A Christmas Story. My adult siblings and their families like it too, as do my two college-aged children, even my husband likes it. When my kids were little, I made their father pull the car over at an isolated intersection between our home and a neighboring community. I hopped out, ran to the center of the crossroads and retrieved an unscathed Red Ryder BB gun. Despite it being a lower model devoid of “a thing that tells time” it was an amazing find, practically heaven-sent. A number of years ago when A Christmas Story – The Musical hit the stage, my brothers, their wives and I were there. Our own tree features a leg lamp in a shipping crate ornament. Ralphie Parker and his vivid imagination have become part of our own family traditions. It wasn’t until this morning when I read a tweet that explained that it was a racist white people movie full of “white privilege” that I took pause. One person’s Twitter rant certainly isn’t enough to sway my thinking, it was the overly apologetic people who removed images of Ralphie from their Facebook profiles and commented with posts indicating their well-tuned propensity to feel guilty and beat themselves up for their lack of sensitivity had even missed the very clear and overt racism. The message was that Ralphie could have that dream because he is white and won’t get shot by police or others for having a BB gun. It left me shaking my head in sadness that people are so easily manipulated and so anxious to impose guilt upon themselves and point fingers at others for not grasping that they are the problem in the world. Really? I’m waiting for her next essay on how Anne Frank was shallow for covering her walls with pictures of movie stars when she could have been doing something more worthwhile.

“Liberal essayist Parker Molloy” has garnered nearly as much attention as a recent photograph of a greased ass, displaying her bare butt. Parker Molloy posting about Ralphie Parker, perhaps her parents loved the movie that came out before she was born and she hates Ralphie because she was named after him. It seems like a stretch to look at a thirty year old fictional movie that intends to depict childhood some seventy years ago and apply issues in terms of today to generate more unproductive guilt. Can we not simply be allowed to enjoy a movie without conjuring up the need to move Ralphie to foster care after the abusive soap in the mouth scene or being urged to find compassion for the bully Scut Farcus and wonder why we didn’t see more of his home life to try to determine what the root of his bullying was caused by?

Clearly Ralphie’s mind wandered, he fantasized, got distracted, daydreamed and likely would be medicated today but I really don’t think that the belching furnace, old car with bad tires and clear concern over monetary issues (hide the broken glasses) show much demonstration of “privilege” at all.  The content of this film is not that which should provoke guilt among the masses. If I’m not going to let North Korea dictate what movies I watch, I am certainly not going to permit Parker Molloy to define me based on my desire to watch a family classic.

I acknowledge her tweet exists but refuse to link it to my rebuttal for fear of encouraging more people to embrace the madness. My hope for 2015 is that people lighten up. That all people can relax more and not look for trouble where none exists. Perhaps everyone can use a little more humor and not feel challenged and offended by people simply because they don’t look-alike, speak differently or choose different occupations. I wish that people would stop thinking that pointing their fingers at others (or at themselves) is somehow beneficial. There are a lot of real issues and situations, things in the world that are upsetting, wrong and truly require attention. Enough of those sorts of things that we don’t need to create issues where they actually do not exist. Sadly I think people address these non-issues because they are too afraid to tackle the real problems that exist. This movie reflected the optimism of youth during tough times and was produced while we were still in the midst of the Cold War. Deep mistrust of others in countries far away. It later seemed somewhat naive. Perhaps the era we are currently experiencing in our own country will seem that way someday. Now that I’ve got that off of my chest I’m contacting a city council in Indiana, those sonsabitches Bumpuses have too many dogs and I thought that one looked like it might have a little pit bull in it. Stay vigilant and Happy Holidays!

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