1968 vs. 2008: Where Have We Gone Wrong?

Ah, what a difference 40 short years makes...and people wonder why our country is so screwed up.


Scenario 1: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1968 - Vice principal comes over to look at Jack's shotgun. He goes to his own car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2008 - School goes into lock-down, and FBI is called. Jack is hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1968 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best riends.

2008 - Police called. SWAT team arrives. Johnny and Mark are arrested and charged with assault. Both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3 : Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1968 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He returns to class, sits still, and does not disrupt class again.

2008 - Jeffrey is diagnosed with A. D. D. and given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from State because Jeffrey has a learning disability.

Scenario 4: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1968 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2008 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is placed in foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist convinces Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself, and their dad goes to prison. Billy's Mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario 5: Mark has a headache and brings some aspirin to school.

1968 - Mark takes aspirin in lunchroom and headache goes away.

2008 - Police called. Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. Car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6: Pedro fails English in high school.

1968 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2008 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given a diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a fire ant hill.

1968 - Ants die.

2008 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security, and FBI called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates parents; siblings are removed from home; computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad goes on Terror Watch List and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher who hugs him to comfort him.

1968 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2008 - Teacher is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in state prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.


While the above scenarios came to me in one of those famous email forwards meant to make me laugh, I think that there are important lessons to be learned here. As a society I really believe we have become overly paternalistic, overly fearful, and highly over-reactive. Some things are just part of growing up. Sometimes all there is to an incident is just what's on face with no darker meaning underneath. Sometimes a spade is just a spade.

While these changes over the last 40 years have taken place rather slowly over time, I think what this forwarded email dramatically points out is how far overboard we have gone without even recognizing it. Like the images in this post illustrate: back in 1968 Americans felt empowered to take action and speak up; in 2008, Americans need assistance in just figuring out how to vote. My how far we have fallen.

I'd really be interested in what every one else thinks on this topic.

UPDATE 7/1/08
Thanks for all your comments everyone. It really seems like we're all feeling pretty much the same way. I'd like to refer you to the following post: Sniffer Dogs Offend UK Muslims by my friend Jan Williams at the Poodle and Dog Blog, where after reading this latest absurdity, I responded:
OK, it's time for society to lay down the law. This is where it all has to stop. It's time to return to a culture of personal responsibility instead of finger pointing (do you hear me the jack*ss who spilled hot coffee on yourself and then sued McDonald's?), a culture where police are allowed to do their jobs without someone yelling brutality or throwing the constitution at them, where doctors can practice medicine without having to do 5 million tests to protect them from Malpractice and then patients going to seek their fifth opinion, and most importantly, a culture where teachers and adults and camp counselors and clergy can put an arm around a crying kid's shoulder and not have to fear being labeled a sexual predator and child molestor.

It's all about balance and moderation and warmth and personal responsibility and what's important in living a safe and secure and happy life.

Yes, everyone has rights and freedoms and privileges. But those rights and freedoms and privileges have to be balanced with societal needs and doing the right thing.

By all means, prosecute the bullies disguised as police officers. Incarcerate the sexual predators. Sue the pants off doctors that are incompetent. But come on people, stop the insanity!

For a religious group to say they're not going to let dogs sniff them in the course of a search to keep a plane or a building from being blown up by a terroist, all I have to say is: it's the world you helped create, so you can accept the consequences of a search.

Have a great day, Jan!

Now, if we're all in agreement that we've gone off course somewhat, what do we have to do to turn things around?

Thanks for reading.

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JLPRO said...

'scuse the language but that ain't no shit! Good read!

June 30, 2008 3:07 PM
Mrs. Mecomber said...

Wanna know something? Those kids who had so much freedom in 1968 grew up, and THEY are the ones now killing freedom in 2008.


June 30, 2008 3:49 PM
baker said...

The tail is wagging the dog...and the horse has left the barn...

June 30, 2008 4:51 PM
jan said...

I'm in total agreement with you and your comments on my blog. what is strange to me is that i think most people feel this way, but the whiney-ass minority keeps winning battle after battle against common sense and human understanding.

June 30, 2008 6:10 PM
Ireland5 said...

I grew up in the 1960s, but never saw a hippie except on TV. I was expected to behave in school, make good grades, and graduate from college. I did all those things because the expectations from my parents were important. I knew about the 'fringe' groups, but they all seemed to live in California or somewhere else. My father served in Vietnam (as well as WWII & Korea). My memories of the 60's are more similar to 'Happy Days' or 'Pleasantville'. I didn't have the freedom Mrs. Mecomber speaks about - neither did many of the 60's kids. I am now a teacher and see first hand the changes that have come about in the last 40 years.

I agree with the post - changes have not been for the better. Expectations have been lowered - in schools, at home, on TV. I have not endorsed or voted for these changes. I struggle to teach my children, grandkids, and students the same ideas, discipline, and responsibility I learned from my parents. Let's not blame the entire generation. Let's work to bring back personal responsibility!

July 01, 2008 12:45 AM
hparis said...

I'd hate to say it, but it's no coincidence that the rise in social welfare - "you're a victim, let the government pay your way," the rise in divorce - "you're your own woman, you don't need a man to support you," and the rise in the sexual revolution - "STD's are cool and hip, abstinence is soooooo 1950" is to blame. This so-called FREEDOM and LIBERTY is a Matrix-like illusion.

Nobody wants to hear "get a freakin' job," "for better for worse, for richer or poorer," or "keep your johnson in your pants!"

Heaven forbid should common sense and healthy boundaries trample all over someone's "self-esteem."

July 01, 2008 3:04 AM
Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

Just had time to read through this excellent post...great to be on your EntreCard today!


July 01, 2008 8:36 AM
SizzlingPopcorn.com Admin said...

I agree with all this.

Up here in Canada, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (signed in 1982) is probably the worst thing this country has ever done! Everybody has to be so sensitive to the people around them, if not, you could be sent to jail for hate speech. Prisoners, who shouldn't have any rights, are giving so many rights, including the right to vote. Section 3 of the Charter states, "3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."

Section 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Affirmative action programs
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Because of Section 15, employers cannot refuse to give employment on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability or sexual orientation. The thing about this section is that the Canadian government will hire people of visible minority, females, and homosexuals first. What happens to the caucasian male? They're put at the bottom of the list, but isn't that also discrimination? According to subsection (2), it's not.

July 01, 2008 10:59 AM


Thank you for being one of my TOP Droppers for the month of June!

Hope to hear from you more as time goes by. :-)
Shelly M.
The Mom With Brownies and
Serious Blogger

July 01, 2008 1:39 PM
Shelia said...

Fabulous post Matt!

I love laughing at our society in instances like these. Extreme everything is the way we've gone and it's ridiculous!

And we wonder why we have to bring in people from other countries to run our R&D Departments. *smh*

This was great :)

July 01, 2008 7:15 PM
threecollie said...

Good post...guess you can tell I graduated in 1970

July 02, 2008 11:11 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

All, it's Sunday and I'm catching up on comments for the week. This is in response to your comment on my post: 1968 vs. 2008: Where Have We gone Wrong?

jlpro--Sometimes the only language that is appropriate are words like "no shit." I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

Mrs. Mecomber--I know, and isn't it sad that those of us who were kids in the sixties with all this freedom haven't learned any measure of restraint?

Jan--so what do we do about the whiny ass minority?

ireland5--great comments...I suppose the hard part is to figure out HOW to bring back personal responsibility, eh? And you're right, it's not the whole generation, just like what Jan says--the whiny ass minority.

hparis--I agree, the rise in social welfare is bad, however, it began during the depression and according to Tom Brokaw, "The Greatest Generation" turned out all right with social welfare. The thing is, social welfare, including social security has been institutionalized. How do we break away from it and stop this cycle of entitlement and taxation?

Roxy, thank you as always for your kind words. Do chime in on the debate if you get a moment.

sizzlingpopcorn--Your rant is indicative of the frustration that I think most of us feel.

Shelia--I really appreciate your awesome blog, but even more that that I appreciate your sharp mind. I think we think along the same lines on many subjects, it would be great to collaborate on some posts in the future, and if you had the time, it would be great if you could start an opinion-oriented blog.

threecollie--how could I possibly tell you graduated in 1970 just because you think this post is a good one?


July 06, 2008 5:56 PM
hparis said...

Hi Matt - in response to your response to my comment. Back when welfare came about, people were ashamed to take a handout. It was a sign of failure, and a last ditch desperate measure. Now people are encouraged to go the handout route FIRST. This victim identity has destroyed generations within some communities. I live in one of those communities on the East Side of Buffalo, and the hopelessness and despair is almost unbearable. The sad part is that the politicians who encourage this have brainwashed these people into hating the people who've succeeded, to not take personal responsibility for their situation, or give the encouragement to get out of it. They also discourage marriage, two parent households, and property ownership. But I suppose this is how the democratic socialists maintain power. People are financially rewarded to live in ways which was frowned upon 40, 50, 60 years ago.

I have a kid living with me now whose entire family is on the system. Worse yet, all her friends and their families are on the system too. When she first came to live with me, she thought that me, my family, and friends were all from another planet because nobody was on welfare, SS, food stamps, and everybody had at the very least graduated from high school. There's an entire culture of people out there who don't know that most people are somewhat educated and work for a living. It's almost scary.

I don't see anything changing anytime soon with our two party monopoly government. The Dems want to expand the taxation and entitlement programs, and the Reps want to pad the pockets of their corporate buddies at our expense. We need to get the Libertarians in office.

July 06, 2008 8:21 PM
wendy said...

The internets freak me out.

A profoundly sleepless google search of no more than four words brought me right to your '68 v. '08post.

Fear is a complicated monster, isn't it? It's the root of every insecurity imaginable, from play ground bullying to war to why I prefer coke to pepsi. I could go on about the cycle of violence, but, eh. It's late.

Also, you should see the bruise on my back. The fall was worth it.


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