Posted by: inforodeo | May 27, 2009

A Lesson on Accountability and Frivilous lawsuits

Disclaimer: I am describing the following argument I had with my wife over something recently in the news NOT because I agree with the “bad guys” in the news story, and NOT because I have any ill feelings against my wife. I haven’t even read the news story, and am basing this entry solely on my wife’s interpretation of the story, and my response.  My wife, a good woman with a firey disposition, tends to lean a little toward the common on a lot of subjects, and the following is quite useful in exposing some of the logic that society has fallen into which NEEDS TO BE RE-EVALUATED:

Recently in Spanaway (WA), a mother came forward to express outrage that her daughter piper was the target of a cruel internet cartoon some friends had made of her. The cartoon was titled something like “thirteen ways to kill piper” or something like that.  The mother had contacted the school & they wouldn’t do anything about it, so she contacted the police and filed a report, as well as sent a certified letter to the police. When she contacted the police to see what the status of the case was, the detective said he was “familiar with the case, but haven’t seen the video”.  The girls eventually apologized to Piper, but the mother (i’m assuming this mean’s Piper’s mom?) said “they are sorry they got caught, not sorry for harrassing her.”

My wife is furious that the Spanaway school board wouldn’t do something about this.

My understanding of ‘these things’ is that there really isn’t anything the school board could do or should do unless the cartoon was created/uploaded with school computers.  The school is merely a meeting place for the victim and victimizers, and may not even be the only meeting place for them. Do they attend church together? Sue the church! Do they eat at the same McDonalds? Sue McDonalds! Do they use the same ISP or social networking applications?  I think you can see the fallacy in attacking the vehicle. School doesn’t hurt kids, kids hurt kids.  Church doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people.  Myspace doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people. YouTube doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people …

It may be appropriate to be angry at the Spanaway police for “not doing anything” because their job is to serve and protect, but we don’t know that they’re NOT doing anything! We’ve only heard from the angry mother that they aren’t doing anything … and her description, in her anger, is very likely to be less-than-accurate.  Another possibility is that the “internet harrassment laws’ or “bully laws’ aren’t very clear, or aren’t very developed yet, and maybe the police don’t want the public to have to pay a lot of money toward fighting a losing battle.  I wouldn’t personally agree with them if this is the point, because that’s one of the reasons “civil rights” laws take so long to make a change, but it is a common human decision made when faced with choosing between a lot of effort for “nothing” and no effort.

Yesterday the parents of a neighbor girl came over and showed us a note written by a child that said, “(their daughter’s name) i hate you! you’re a b—!”.  They were wondering if our son had left it.  Fortunately he hadn’t … he doesn’t write well enough to spell things without help, it wasn’t his handwriting, and he doesn’t know (as far as we are aware) that word.  In the light of this subject, however, I am left wondering: based on the logic used in the Spanaway case, shouldn’t the neighbor go after the school?

Why do people choose to attack “organizations”, then?  Why would the mother be angry at the school? Why would my wife be angry at the school?

Terrible Traits of Society

There are two terrible traits of modern society which set up the trend.  The first is “Lack of personal Accountability”, or “Blame”.  It is likely the parents of the “bad girls” don’t want to accept responsibility for their children’s behavior, and really, depending on their age, probably shouldn’t (at least not full responsibility).  The girls most likely made those choices on their own.  The mother of the victim, Piper, may not want to admit that she hadn’t been paying attention to her daughter enough to know she was being bullied.  Everyone wants to point a finger, and its easiest to point a finger at a group or organization rather than individuals, because the guilt of ripping someone apart is lessened when they are a stereotype or a big building or foreign country.  Thats whay genocides happen. thats why civilians of nations enthusiastically support war. That’s why you hate “big oil” and “starbucks”, “china” and “microsoft”. On a larger scale – but still the same thing – it’s why you hate “organized religion”, but not specifically “Mormons” or “catholics” or “Jews”.
The persecuted and the guilty use the same anonominity to push for acceptance.  It’s easier to sell “diversity” than it is to sell “homosexuality’, “illegal immigrants”, or “feminism”.  Not saying that is all ‘diversity’ means, but using individual terms would be a harder sell for some people than the PC blanket term.

The second terrible trait of society is greed.  While Piper and her mother are likely NOT greedy, the lawyers offering their services have learned to navigate our greedy society, and they know the right targets.  They know that most people can accept hatred when it is directed at a faceless group (“the school board”), but that some persons are a little more under a conscience when individual faces (the girls and their mothers) are the opposition.  They know that a school district will probably have more access to money than a handful of unruly girls and their parents.  Regardless of how innocent Piper’s mother may be, most lawyers are probably urging her to attack the ‘easy” targets instead of the actual criminals.  It’s possible, too, that well-intentioned friends and family urged her anger to be directed at the school.  Society has been using this corrupt path long enough that it is almost second nature to immediately blame the big corporation, public department or private organization for the crime … for “allowing it to breed”, for “letting it go unchecked”, and to “teach it a lesson so this won’t happen again.”

Habitual corruption lessens our sense of right and wrong, and bypasses the analytical brain.  Catch phrases and sound bytes are the tools by which the mind is further dulled and the soul is brought into submission …
If you step back, you’ll see this everywhere.  “Guns cause crime!”, “Gay Marriage Is About Love”, “Organized Religion is for People Who Can’t Think For Themselves!” … ideas which sound great on the surface, but which hide some important realities (Gun control increases crime, legally protecting gay marriage endangers or diminishes real marriage and the right of the churches to prohibit actions contrary to their beliefs, and most adherants of religious practices do think for themselves, which is why they are so devout in the first place).  The immediate urge to blame the group, to speak out against the corporation, or to decry the institution is every bit the reflexive ignorance of these examples.

So what should we do about bullying?

It is unfortunate that in modern times we’re faced with school shootings and youth suicides which seem to be the result of bullying.  While studies have been done in an attempt to find the causes of these behaviors, the hysteria surrounding them is evident to all.  Six-year old children are being suspended from school for pointing fingers at each other and reciting “bang, bang – you’re dead!”.  Common fights between children are resulting in lawsuits.  Parents are jumping in at the defense of their children and assaulting other children themselves.

I believe that most of the punishments dealt to these children are too harsh.  It is, after all, a natural aspect of the male gender to play ‘battle’ and ‘hunting’ games, just as it is for the female gender to care for ‘baby’ dolls and groom themselves.  No amount of man-made, uninspired socially “correct” gender-blending is going to change that.  Unfortunately, in prohibiting boys from being boys, and demanding that girls become boys, violence and intimidation within young girls is going to escalate, as is violence in older men who were prohibited their safe outlet for gun-play, but who now have access to those items.

Bullying is never right, but it has existed for quite some time!  In the past, those picked on were urged to fight back or ignore.  Now, “fighting back” is discouraged – even criminalized – and children and adults are encouraged to “speak out” or “raise awareness”.

The only remaining answer, i suppose, is to require permanent suspension from the school at which the offense occured, and to break up groups of bullies.  The state should not have to pay for the transportation to the new school, nor should the school district, as it is and has been the parent’s responsibility – not the community’s – to educate their children in proper social etiquette and civic living.  If the incidents don’t occur at school, there should be specific laws that fine the parents (if under working-age) or the children (if of working-age) and require community service for the offenses.  Again, it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children to behave, or to restrict their internet access if they do not.

Parents who assault or harrass children should be jailed or fined for abuse, or for any other legal determination afforded when the victim is also an adult – as well as heavier penalties determined by the victim’s age.

I guess the point i am trying to make is that laws and legal action should always determined by the course of action that will best correct the behavior.  Fining a school because a handful of children’s parents didn’t raise their children right is not going to benefit society … it’s going to take money from an institution that needs it, and let the actual cause of the problem (the parents) and the problem itself (the girls) get away with their behavior.

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