School’s Out — of Control

22 09 2007

“Johnny’s parents don’t want his first-grade teachers packing heat.”

A Medford high school teacher is arguing she has the right to carry a concealed semiautomatic pistol to her classes to protect herself from a violent ex-husband in a case certain to set off alarm bells in schools across the state. . .

And if it’s a dad? At a school football game? Or a janitor exercising his civil rights to pack heat in the elementary school little kids are forced by law and rule to attend?

Portland Public Schools has a rule that no one can bring a concealed weapon on its property, even though the district has been forced to acknowledge state law trumps its rule. That was proven when a parent brought three guns to a Lincoln High School football game in 1999. School security officers were outraged and took him into custody. But ultimately the district conceded the law was on his side.

Silly me, I always thought the law was on the side of kids entrusted to the school for education’s sake. But the kids and their education are barely an afterthought in such stories.

The gun-seeking teacher story is well-blogged here but seems to have gotten precious little attention as an education story — maybe we’re all too busy thinking about school police tasering that mouthy UF student, for felony abuse of a campus microphone?

FDLE and Alachua County records show no history of earlier criminal cases against Meyer. Meyer is facing a third-degree felony and a second-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for the felony is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. . .
Generally, a person with no criminal history and minor offenses could be offered some form of plea deal. But the attention focused on this incident could impact chances for a plea, said UF law professor Chris Slobogin.

Was decorated veteran and former presidential candidate John Kerry more directly threatened by one college kid’s political disruption than the female victim of domestic abuse whose life was threatened?

(Hey, there’s a thought — why don’t they taser the teacher’s ex-husband, if he comes around to disrupt their school’s peace and scare the students? Who needs guns on campus? — give every teacher a classroom taser! Tasering might work as school discipline for lesser infractions too, come to think of it. No marks, just a zap to remember! Replace wooden paddles with wired cattle prods, yeah, that’s progress. )

And there’s the Jena Six protests, another school controversy that’s about everything BUT what school is supposed to be about . . .
The precipitating event for the Louisiana high school’s “Jena Six” controversy was a similar threat-without-actual-attack, also within a school community, also (mis)handled by school authorities, who seemed to underestimate both the seriousness of the threat and their own power to respond, considering what followed:

A few weeks after the nooses were discovered in September, an arsonist torched a wing of Jena High School. Race fights roiled the town for days, culminating in a schoolyard brawl that led the LaSalle Parish district attorney to charge six black teenagers with attempted murder for beating up a white teenager who suffered no life-threatening injuries.

The problem or question facing them was similar: how to respond to a macho power play of threat and intimidation (hanging nooses as a warning to a black student, a physically abusive male stalking and threatening to kill a female teacher.)

Virtually all sides now seem to agree that prompt expulsion from the school setting would have been prudent in the Jena case, when the original threat occurred. It might have prevented or at least mitigated what followed to impact so many throughout the community, and if not, it surely would have been perceived as wiser and more just. Which could only have helped.

Never mind guns and gun laws — even without means or follow through, death threats and intimidation don’t belong at school, against anyone. What would it take to make sure all such threats and intimidation, racial or domestic or otherwise, are taken seriously and effectively expelled from campus, before actual attacks are allowed to happen?

Is UF’s case really about preserving the educational environment for the benefit of its academic community, any more than the high school case in LA or the elementary school case in Oregon? Or have we lost sight of whatever education was supposed to be when we created the academic campus model?

I’m thinking that if our helpless answer is that our hands are tied by our own laws and social conventions, if students and teachers are sitting ducks in the school setting who cannot be protected by the same authorities who keep THEM there under compulsion and contract, then what needs to change may be School.

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18 responses

22 09 2007
Nance Confer

What would it take to make sure all such threats and intimidation, racial or domestic or otherwise, are taken seriously and effectively expelled from campus, before actual attacks are allowed to happen?

*********

Why wouldn’t the teacher ask to be transferred to a non-classroom setting? If she’s so afraid of her ex, why is she allowed to put the children at risk? Quit and move to another place and another job that doesn’t put kids on the front line. That would be one responsible way to act. Insisting that the kids be convenient to get caught in the crossfire is just irresponsible.

Nance

22 09 2007
JJ

Exactly what I thought, my very first thought! And it’s not just to protect kids from seeing blood and being upset, or being hit by a stray bullet. Wackos like that use their own children against a woman who spurns them, why would they hesitate to use kids they don’t even know? A desperate, self-destructive man by definition won’t stop at destroying others along the way. Let’s say she’s a great teacher and loves her pupils, and her ex knows that in the creepy way abusers always know how to hurt the ones they love. It’s not unreasonable to be concerned that he might he grab one or two to threaten, use as a human shield, maybe barricade himself in her classroom or cafeteria with a bunch of kids.

I could never be a school principal today. It was overwhelming enough in the 80s!

22 09 2007
JJ

So I just made this my first official post at Blogher. It looks good. 🙂

And maybe some people who wouldn’t see it here, will see it there.

22 09 2007
JJ

OK, how about this local story (first UF and now FSU is tasering students to keep ’em in line or out of the way?) —

Officers were on duty outside Potbelly’s Bar looking for underage drinkers when they noticed a man later identified as Hayes screaming profanities and waving his arms, a police report said. When officers tried to talk to him, Hayes became aggressive, police said.

Hayes was pulled away by his friends, but he resisted when officers then tried to handcuff him, leading an officer to stun him with his Taser, police said.

Police said Surratt was standing nearby and officers felt he was interfering with the arrest. An officer pushed Surratt away, and he responded by striking the officer, police said.

As reported ONLY — just from published accounts in MSM — in neither the UF or FSU students’ case, was there serious threat or attempted intimidation to anyone (much less innocents needing protection) not even any threat to or interference with the officers themselves, until cops initiated the contact absent cause, and then escalated by way overstepping to violence and felony charges. (Yes, I’m saying they started it!)

Granted, I’m still pissed that when I was attacked and had a bone broken, the cops wouldn’t even politely detain my attackers, and then wanted to arrest ME for being outraged they just let the young hulk drive off drunk into a crowd– so I’m not inclined to believe any cop claim now, that ganging up on an annoying but law-abiding citizen for arrest and/or tasering, is justified when a young male student is merely loud in a crowd, yet no threat — much less violence and injury of innocents — has occurred.

In both cases it sounds for all the world as if the cops are charging young males with felony resist of arrest, and tasering them, following LEGAL behavior (obnoxious, but legal) with no underlying cause to subdue or arrest them! Tell me what I’m missing, please, but otherwise, geez, no wonder people are outraged all around. Something’s sure gotta give —

23 09 2007
JJ

I was reading newpaper blog comments to the Gainesville Sun’s taser stories and getting more and more alarmed by the Unthinking Citizens, when I came to a comment I could have written myself, whew!:

The real problem is evident in the comments on this page.

No kidding! Very scary confusions and convolutions —

People who think they live in a sort of ‘pinnacle of freedom’ are rallying behind the police and thanking them for their suppression of this kid’s emotional questions because it’s for our own good; the good of a calm, quiet, orderly state. It’s very Orwellian – and to me it seems like the result of a very passive and very effective method of brainwashing.

YES! These justifications after the fact are what disturb me so profoundly. Like the homeschool wording debate, about which I was indifferent either way until we started seeing the public rationale of how greedy and lazy and stupid and carelessly harmful to freedom other moms were, and how all the schooled kids deserve to suffer, that they’re just asking for it by having anything to do with “school.” Take a nickel of public money and you’ve sold your family’s soul, burn in hell or repent and become one of us, before it’s too late!

This is why public education does matter. (Not school, real education.) If citizens aren’t educated to think better than those homeschooling defenders and these police state defenders, we’re all lost as a free society.

If police can justifiably taser this kid and drag him out of a political rally for felony baiting and attention-getting with a camera, at the direction of the event’s media controller, can’t they just taser the macaca-provocateur with a camera at the direction of George Allen’s media controller? That sure would’ve been a different story for everyone involved! The kid might be in jail now, Allen in the Senate and Webb not.
And angry anti-war protesters (like John Kerry himself was in his day) and self-righteous civil rights protesters who embarrass the powers-that-be on TV, including the ones disrupting Jena LA this week.
Favorite Daughter just blogged that btw — hope she’s not in for a good tasering!

Not to mention nonpoliticial college kids having one drink too many and getting loud outside a late-night college bar, disturbing no one but other raucous college students.

Why isn’t it clear that these are connected?
Is that so hard to understand and think through, to apply the larger principles involved, instead of tossing out the first idiot snappy comeback that pops into your uneducated lizard brain?

Maybe it says something about the drastic decline in quality education in this country, but its very dangerous for democracy – and very disconcerting.

What he said —

23 09 2007
JJ

And what’s up with “arm waving” as a crime???
The UF police report says the kid was “flailing his arms” and the FSU police report says the football player was “waving his arms” — is this code for some kind of illegally dire threat to public safety that I am not familiar with?

23 09 2007
Nance Confer

Well, DH was telling me about a story in the news recently of a woman who was handcuffed and still tasered by the police.

How much of a threat was she? Or was she just mouthy?

One of the many talking heads recently explained that giving the police this new weapon and assuring them that they will not be punished for using it as they might be if they shot someone, setting tasering as the new standard for restraining citizens, ensures that that’s what many officers will default to.

Previous to this, how many citizens were handcuffed or arrested or detained for the same non-crimes, expressing an opinion forcefully while waving their arms?

We don’t know because it wasn’t new and sexy.

Nance

23 09 2007
JJ

Good point.

Also there are commonly female police officers everywhere now. The officer who tasered the UF kid was female (and little too, according to the photo I saw.) I hope this taser-happy trend to repress all impolite and impolitic behavior — and public arm-waving — isn’t one of the unintended negative consequences of that feminist victory?

23 09 2007
JJ

Come to think of it, the female officer who nearly arrested me for being angry was really short and I am almost six feet tall. I wonder if I was waving my arms as I pointed out my attacker’s car getting away? 😉

I think I’m lucky the football crowd control plan 15 years ago didn’t involve tasers! (Does it now, I wonder? Better be careful out there, folks, even if you’re female! Unless you have no emotions and no arms . . .)

23 09 2007
Nance Confer

I really didn’t notice that the tasering officer was female. All I saw were the big bruiser cops surrounding the outspoken young man. It seemed to me they had more than enough sheer weight to control him.

Nance

23 09 2007
Banned Books Week 2007 Needs More Than Celebration This Year « Cocking A Snook!

[…] what’s afoot in the real world as this year’s Banned Books Week approaches, for 2008 maybe we should worry about all public […]

23 09 2007
JJ

Definitely, there was plenty of uniformed muscle to do the job anyway. She is probably being obscured by their collective bulk?

😉

3 10 2007
Jena Six: Ed Week Calls It Case Study in School Racial Tension « Cocking A Snook!

[…] seems to me that school leaders in Jena lost several opportunities to address these incidents before things became physically […]

5 10 2007
JJ

Aha! So I’m not the only one who connects teacher control freaks with law enforcement control freaks. Here’s a blog comment defending schoolteachers who (like student-tasering cops) go so far that they infringe and intrude upon the very civil liberties they were employed to foster:

“It is not the place for public employees to demand that private citizens do something.”

Can’t wait for the next You Tube Tazer video with you as the star when you refuse the demand of a police officer or a fireman, or any other number of public employees. . .

Witless writes:
Where does a person get off telling people what they must do on their free time?

Oh I dunno, I think there are a few things I can think of that you can and cannot do on your free time, like drink and drive drunk, obey traffic laws. Get a grip.

7 10 2007
Looks Like Gators Are Gone Gone Gone, Too « Cocking A Snook!

[…] least the UF students didn’t earn a good tasering from school officials for falling short of perfect performance, and at least you can’t blame the homeschooled kid […]

11 10 2007
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[…] “School’s Out — Of Control!” and maybe so is everything else. […]

14 11 2007
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[…] having UF connections, was on the cutting, um tasing, edge of this one!] There are several more listed on Oxford’s blog. And if your appetite for new words and word uses […]

16 07 2008
Like School, College Can’t Be Trusted Academic Environment Anymore « Cocking A Snook!

[…] School, College Can’t Be Trusted Academic Environment Anymore 16 07 2008 School IS Out of Control! No, this isn’t about the shocking stuff that happens in public elementary, middle and high […]

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