You know it’s been a slow week; bright warm weather, relatively low stress at the day job (if you’re curious, I am a bovine insemination technician), the prospect of an uneventful and relaxing weekend… Obviously I couldn’t have that so I decided to page through some news stories in search of something to carry on about.
“Teen Girl Arrested for Science Project Gone Bad.”
Yes… Yes, that should do nicely.
On April 22nd, 16 year old Kiera Wilmot detonated a small explosion on the grounds of her high school. No one was hurt and no property was damaged, but school officials detained her and called police, who, since she made the entirely unwise decision to be born black in a county that’s 80% white, promptly arrested her on charges of possession and discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She’s been expelled from school and will have to finish at a continuation school. As near as I can tell if they decide to prosecute she faces five years on each of the counts against her.
A few more background points. She had no intention to hurt anyone or destroy anything according to the police report of the incident. Her principal and others at the school have described her as a model student. The lie cooked up by her friends that it was a “science experiment” is almost charming in it’s childlike disregard for common sense. “No it was… uh… a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, that’s it!” Some news outlets are reporting it was a works bomb, which is Works drain cleaner and aluminum foil in some kind of airtight container, (aluminum reacts with hydrochloric acid in the drain cleaner, you get heat and hydrogen gas in a sealed environment, boom, giggle, do it again) it’s dangerous and ill advised, which is why you can find roughly 10,000 videos on Youtube of teenagers gleefully doing it. It’s not the kind of thing you could do by accident.
Got that? So a promising young girl’s life has been put on hold and most likely permanently damaged because she did a dumb teenager thing and the dour, joyless, probably racist school administrators and police of her town want to nail her to the wall for no reason at all. How does that make you feel? Your blood boiling yet?
Of course it is. That is precisely what they want.
The trick to these kinds of stories is to set out get everyone outraged over what an obvious miscarriage of justice this is and therefore how obviously incorrect those idiotic authority figures must have been to misinterpret the intent of the rules this way. And that is the trick. They have not misinterpreted the intent of the rules in any way. They have executed them to their intended purpose perfectly. Read the statement from Polk County Schools:
Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff. (My emphasis)
I don’t know whether it’s hilarious or depressing that the people who run PR at Polk County Schools expect their audience to be so brainwashed by the system that they think nothing of putting the phrase “actions have consequences” into a release regarding an incident which by all accounts HAD NO CONSEQUENCES.
Do you see? The consequences were not real life consequences. No one was hurt. Nothing was damaged. The consequences were entirely arbitrary and based on the school rules. She (and the other students) are learning absolutely nothing about the real life consequences of actions. What they are learning is that non-conforming behavior will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
“Well someone really could have been hurt!” Pardon me, but this girl is 16, from a poor county, and a minority. That means that in less than two years army recruiters will be enthusiastically facebooking her about the great opportunity she has to go get her tits blown off by an IED in Afghanistan or Syria or North Korea or wherever the hell it is that month. I can assure you that the system’s concern for her personal safety and that of her classmates is nonexistent.
Even if I granted that they cared about her safety my whole point is that this is not what it looks like when you try to teach a young person that some things are dangerous after they’ve had a close call - but it is EXACTLY what it looks like when someone is being made an example of in order to impress upon the other young people what comes from actions that the system does not approve of.
Well how do you know it’s not just stupid racist assholes screwing this poor girl over?
Because this happens all the time. The stories are never ending, they suspended 33 mostly white girls from a high school in San Diego for putting a video on youtube of themselves twerking on school grounds. (in case you’re old enough to buy yourself a beer, twerking is a dance move young ladies are doing now that basically looks like they’re practicing to be really popular with the football team). How about the ten stories a year of kids suspended because they wore baggy clothes, or too tight clothes, or prayed in school, or refused to pray in a Christian school, or said the word gun, or drew a weird picture, or whatever?
You read it and think, “God, what a bunch of ignorant twits at that school, I hope they all get fired.” And then you think “I’d better remind little Aidan that school isn’t a place where we talk about guns.” Be as outraged as you like, you are learning the lesson nonetheless, and the more your child gets online and reads the stories they are directed to, the more you don’t even have to learn the lesson, they learn it themselves.
Notice that none of these stories ever end with “Local people then tarred and feathered these sanctimonious imbeciles and ran them out of town on a rail, and everyone went back to acting normally again.” No matter how wrong they might be, they are the system, and they make the rules, and you may feel absolutely free to be as furious and disbelieving as you like with it, provided you comply and teach your children to do the same.
Remember you always have a choice, you can comply willingly, or you can comply begrudgingly, choose carefully, it really makes a big difference.