Friday, June 17, 2011

What are they teaching our kids? (Well, your kids)

Sometimes I'm not sure what to rant about. And then, I read a couple of news stories that make my head spin, and it all becomes clear.

15-year-old Sam Saurs,
of Port Orchard, Washington not only wore a pair of spiky pumps to school, but a flowy, low-cut dress and make-up. He said he felt "pretty" that day, but the dean at Sedgwick Junior High School told him he was a distraction and to go home, Q13 Fox News reported. That prompted Saurs to tell the dean he was being sexist, the station said. That led to the boy's suspension for the rest of the school year, KING 5 reported. It was later reduced to three days. The ninth grader ended up missing the school's dance and annual trip to Wild Waves.

"If anything, it makes me want to be more out there and more spontaneous and crazy," Saurs told KING 5. The station reported the boy had been suspended before for wearing makeup and hats to school. His mother said the school does have a ban on hats, but no rule against boys in dresses.

And then, I read this...

BIG BEAR LAKE, CA - The Sheriff's Department wants all copies of Big Bear High School's 2011 yearbook returned after finding a photo in it that deputies said can be construed as child pornography. Sheriff's deputies launched an investigation Tuesday after they saw the photo, which appears to show a 17-year-old boy with his hand inside the clothing of a 15-year-old girl. "A lieutenant said the photo printed in the yearbook was taken at a dance. The (couple) are in the background of the photo and are not the intended focus of the photo," said sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.

"When the photos were scanned and proofed by an adviser, they must have missed the photo," Bachman said. Most students have turned in their yearbooks so they can be edited, but some have not.

"At this time, anyone possessing the photograph should be on notice to turn in the photographs to school staff or the Sheriff's Department or risk potential criminal charges involving possession of child pornography," the Sheriff's Department wrote in a news release.

Child pornography? If that is the case, then the school system should be sued for sanctioning some sort of prostitution ring involving minors. I think the bigger problem is that adults have forgotten what it is like to be a kid. Putting your hand in a girl's skirt is a rite of passage for high school kids. In fact, a popular movie was centered around the concept, when Farmer Ted asked Samantha for her panties so that he could show his friends that he "did it" with her "without getting personal." The idea is as old as life itself.

Incidentally, the school is asking that the yearbooks be returned to the school. They would get mine over my dead body. If the school system can define pornography as two clothed children standing up, then I'd say I have a case to keep the yearbook with all the fond memories of what life in the United States was like in 2011.

It's bad enough that when I wear a pink shirt to work I get comments from my co-workers. If a kid wants to wear a dress to school, why should anyone object? We aren't asking other people to wear dresses or embrace their sexuality. Apparently, it isn't enough that we can ignore the behavior of other people. We feel the need to foist our opinions of what constitutes sexuality on others. If I based everything I believe on what other people found acceptable, I'd stay in my house every day because almost everything I say or do could offend one of these nitwits.

The so-called "officials" in the yearbook case say that no one has been arrested. No kidding. Are they going to start arresting kids for feeling-up their girlfriends? The only people left in school would be teachers and custodians. You can't start arresting kids for stuff that you only saw in a photo. If you weren't sharp enough to see it when it happened, admit that you were either ignoring it or too stupid to catch it and let it go.

From these two stories, it appears that the school systems in America are teaching our kids that they have to conform to society and stop reacting to their primal instincts. When they are adults they are allowed to succumb to advertising and its overtly sexual nature. Until then, they should behave themselves - unless there is a photograph to look back on. Merely because they sell skirts and high heels in the "woman's section" of clothing stores should not make them eligible to only be worn by women. If a kid wants (with the sanctioning of his parents) to wear a dress to school, why shouldn't he be allowed to do so?

Remember kids, you're Americans, and you have the freedom of speech and expression. And you'd better say what you're supposed to say and behave the way you are supposed to behave - or else there will be repercussions. We are only as free as we are allowed to be. Otherwise, you are going to have to be punished and fight your punishment in our expensive and time-consuming courtrooms. It's a valuable life lesson and should serve you well as you enter the corporate world where your freedoms are even more suppressed.

Better you learn it now than later, when it will cost you a job and money.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Latest "gate."

The official follow-up to this happened today, and one would imagine that it brought the ugliness to a close. Or at least one would hope it does.

Since no actual laws were broken, we are left only with former Congressman Weiner's confession, which predictably turned into a media circus. As a matter of fact:

Weinergate became a major story in the U.S. news cycle during the past several weeks. Coverage of the saga occupied 17 percent of the news hole between June 6 and June 12, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, finishing well ahead of the ongoing unrest in the Middle East, the economy, and the 2012 presidential election.
"News hole" is an interesting (and official) term for what went on over the past month. Another fascinating thing is how the suffix gate becomes attached to every minor scandal. It's the aholic for scandal.

People who like chocolate and shopping are chocoholics and shopaholics, even though chocohol and shopohol aren't actual things, that doesn't keep the wordsmiths among us from adding aholic to almost everything to deem one an addict. The proper (dare I say) suffix for such things is merely ic. People who love chocolate are chocics and people who like to shop are shopics. But those words, while grammatically correct, are no match for the color and phrasing of their colloquialisms which are so deeply ingrained in our speech that I should just stop complaining. But I digress.

While former Congressman Weiner exhibited questionable judgment in his actions, the fact is that he didn't break a law or even attempt to lie about what had happened. It's difficult to cover-up something that occurs in our social media. Text messages (now called Sexting - which I will not dispute), Twitter comments and Facebook comments are matters of public record. Some (if not most) people have been slow to accept that. The Internet (including this particular space) can be powerful and dangerous outlets for our emotions.

If I were ever accused of a crime or merely a social screw-up, law enforcement would be all over this blog like fleas on Fluffy. I'd hope that all they would find is a somewhat cranky individual with a point of view. However, that opinion might be shifted into whatever form they would want based on the slant of my comments and the crime of which I was accused. At the very least I'd hope that they would come to appreciate my writing style and in the official court dockets it would be duly noted, so that perhaps I could find a lucrative writing career while incarcerated. But I digress.

Perhaps the biggest issue surrounding Weiner was something over which he had no control. No, not his libido. His name. Tarred with the surname that is a slang term for the penis, he was left to be the butt of double entendre headlines and jokes. He has both his ancestors and our penchant for giggling at sex to blame for that. One wonders (or at least I do) if this scandal would have been as highly publicized if he had a more reasonable surname.

What we are left with is another gate and another disgraced politician. Those are neither noteworthy nor unique in today's world. Done in by the very technology that we embrace and use for our entertainment. Some would say that Weiner got what he deserved. Others would say that we got what we deserved.

It's a fine line.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An open letter to men everywhere

There is a reason they're called "privates." Not the least of which is that most people don't want to see them, and the most of which is that nobody wants to see them. If we want to see them we know where to go and we know whom to ask, which is pretty much any guy. If you ask them, they will respond like the wind with a photo of their junk that will appear either in your e-mail inbox or on your cell phone.

The popular stories concern NFL quarterbacks and United States Congressmen sending unsolicited photos of their stuff to women in an attempt (one presumes) to woo them and/or make the women think that they are missing out on something great by not hooking up with the guys.

Almost nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the big secret guys: Women do not nor do they wish to see anything you normally keep in your pants out of view from the general public. I wish I didn't have to be the one to tell you this, but you need to hear it from somebody.

Every day I see guys in the gym doing endless biceps curls or some sort of upper body exercise that they think will entice women to approach them and ask how they got to be that way. What they fail to realize is that women (and some men) often refer to guys on the beach as "chicken legs" but almost never refer to them as "chicken arms" or chicken - other body part. That's where the disconnect starts.

Guys think that women think like they do, which is to say that they think with their privates and that some random body part affects their thinking. The thing that guys fail to realize is that women do not send photos of their privates to guys at random because women realize that they are called privates for a reason.

I'd guess that the reason guys behave like that is twofold. One - they don't know any other way to behave and Two - they think like the kid who sells lemonade for ten dollars a glass: All I have to do is sell one. If they can entice one woman who might fall for an e-mailed photo to return their call they have succeeded. Their fault lies in the millions of others who will find it offensive.

Men fail to realize that their privates are the least attractive area of their bodies. It's because they can't express their thoughts or innermost feelings. That isn't a fault of technology as much as it is a fault with the way men are made and taught to behave. I don't have time to explain that, so let's move on.

Realize (men) that the Internet and your cell phone are permanent residents of your actions. You can't take it back or recant it. The technology is more advanced than your brain and when you act on some impulse, you should know that the impulse is going to be part of your permanent record.

You should remember that warning from your days in grammar school, which sadly, many of you have yet to outgrow.