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.
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.