Category Archives: Unclear on the Concept

Entire Brodhead High School Administration Eaten By Alligators

Here’s a stupid idea that just keeps popping back up, this time at Brodhead High School in Brodhead, Wisconsin:

A small Wisconsin community is dealing with controversy over a lesson to teach students about the dangers of distracted driving.

During Monday morning announcements, the school told students four of their classmates had been killed in a crash involving texting and driving.

However, the students were not dead and an announcement about 10 minutes later explained the lesson.

I’m pretty sure students didn’t need an explanation to understand the actual lesson of this exercise: Your school administrators are stupid assholes whom you should never trust again.

Yeah, the students get it:

“It wasn’t really effective. They were trying to teach using scare tactics which doesn’t teach, it just makes you not trust the teachers and any of the announcements you’re going to get,” Sam Bolen, another student, said.

I mean, just imagine what would happen if, a year from now, one of the students really was killed in a car accident. The school administrators would make the announcement, and half the student body would think it was another lie. For those close to the deceased, it would create false hopes that would eventually be crushed. And at a time when they should be dealing with their grief, they’d all be arguing over whether it was real. It would be pretty ugly.

“A lot of our friends and fellow students actually started crying because they actually thought these people were dead, and so I think a lot of them actually called their parents in school too,” Madison Trombley, a student at Brodhead High School, said.

It should be obvious that this is a terrible idea, shouldn’t it? You’ve got to know it’s going to cause a lot of emotional distress. And emotional well being is important at Brodhead High School, as we can learn by examining their student handbook, in the section on “Bullying and Harassing Behavior,” which runs to two full pages:

The School District of Brodhead is committed to providing a safe, secure, and respectful learning environment for all of its students. We encourage positive interpersonal relations between all members of the school community.

Such as lying to them that their friends are dead?

Bullying has harmful social, physical, psychological, and academic impacts on the victim, the bully, and the bystanders, and creates a disruption to the learning environment.

You know what else does all that? Lying to students that their friends are dead

Bullying is intentional, unprovoked, deliberate, and hostile behavior without legitimate purpose that is intended to inflict physical, emotional, or mental distress or suffering on another individual or group of individuals.

Mental distress…like making them think their friends are dead?

Bullying takes many forms, but may be represented by (but not limited to) the following examples:

[…]

–       indirect actions like spreading rumors, intimidation through gestures, glaring or threatening facial expressions, extortion, or coercion.

You know, for a bunch of people that care so much about every aspect of student emotional health when it comes to bullying, they sure are a bunch of clueless fuckwits when it comes to the harm inflicted by their own ill-conceived attempts to Teach Students An Important Lesson.

I blogged about something similar that happened in 2008 in California, and I think that some of the suggestions I had for concerned parents might turn out to be applicable now:

Or maybe the parents of one of the students could keep him home the next day, and when the school calls, they could say that he hung himself in the garage last night, and that they don’t understand why because his therapy was going so well, so could anybody at the school think of something that might have upset him? The next day, he could return to school and explain that it was just a way to teach them an important lesson about honesty.

Or maybe a bunch of the families could get together to send the school a lot of official-looking paperwork claiming they were suing for $10 million dollars for intentional inflection of emotional distress. Then the next day they could explain it was all a hoax to teach them an important lesson about thinking before they do things like this.

Then the day after that, they could sue the school for $10 million dollars for intentional inflection of emotional distress. That would teach them a lesson.

I guess I’m less optimistic now, because I doubt they’d learn a thing.

Hat tip: Robby Soave at Reason.

A Brief and Admittedly Petulant Note to IFC Films and [redacted]

[Update: This caught me in a bad mood, and it was showing up as a top search result for the person who sent it, so at their request I have removed their name because, really, it’s not that big a deal.]

I just got an email that has begins with the following text in large centered print (only the last few lines matter for this post):

IFC Films

and The Fortune Academy

Invite you to Join Former Inmates at a Special Halfway House Screening of

The Standford Prison Experiment

Post-Film Q&A will focus on the current state of the American Prison System and the psychological dynamic of power
with Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez

When:
Tuesday, July 14th @6PM

Where:
The Fortune Academy
630 Riverside Drive (at 140th Street)

Note what’s missing from the location: The city and state. I get something like this in my email every few months — a marketing communication about some event for which the marketer just assumes I know what city they’re in. It would be one thing if this was from some sort of city-specific mailing list, but quite often it’s just some generic marketing outlet. This time it was from [redacted employee] at [redacted promoter].

Still, even before Googling it, I’m pretty sure the location is probably in New York City, with Washington D.C. a good second guess, since only people from those two cities are the kinds of arrogant fucktards who assume theirs is the only city that matters.

Google tells me that the Fortune Academy is indeed in New York, NY. (The closest the email comes to telling me this is a block of text on the history of the Fortune Academy that mentions it’s in West Harlem.) If you live around there, this might be an interesting event for you to attend, although general pissedness makes me want to point out that some people are skeptical about the lessons of the Standford Prison Experiment.

This isn’t rocket science: If you’re going to send out event announcements to people who live 800 miles away, at least have the courtesy to tell them what city the event is in.

Protests Are Not For the Police

It seems I’ve been taking a lot of shots lately at muddled thinking on the left, so I thought I’d try to balance things out. I often grab my craziest liberal nonsense from Addicting Info, and now I needed to find a similarly addled site for right-wing content. Fortunately, there’s the Conservative Tribune.

The site is mostly clickbait nonsense, but this article displays an attitude I’ve encountered before — it’s a why-aren’t-people-outraged piece — and I wanted to try to come up with a response.

Our nation’s police officers are under attack. Between last week and this week, three police officers have been gunned down in cold blood. Yet there are no protests. No buildings are being looted. The president isn’t saying that one of those officers could be his son.

What exactly would people be protesting? More to the point, who would they be addressing their protests to?

Officer Gregg Benner, a Rio Rancho, N.M., police officer, was shot on Monday night. The 49-year-old Air Force veteran had been with the police department almost four years. He was survived by his wife and five adult children. His killer has been brought to justice.

The protests in Ferguson and Baltimore broke out because people felt they weren’t getting the justice they deserved. What exactly should people be protesting here? The shooter, Andrew Romero, has been arrested, he’s been charged with murder, and he’s is being held on a $5 million bond. The FBI is also taking an interest. The system is working. There’s no one to protest against.

Instead, Rio Rancho residents have been showing support for the Benner’s family and the police department. The memorial at the site where he was shot is covered in flowers and flags.

Officer Kerrie Orozco was murdered in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday by Marcus D. Wheeler, a 26 year-old black male. Wheeler was killed during the shootout with Orozco.

Again, why should there be protests? The person who murdered Officer Orozco is dead. You can’t get much more justice than that. What would protesters be protesting for?

Rather than protest, people gathered to mourn the loss. Hundreds of people attended Kerrie Orozco’s funeral, and thousands lined the streets along the route.

And on Sunday, Officer James Bennett Jr. was shot and killed in his patrol car in New Orleans. A manhunt is underway for his killer (H/T The Gateway Pundit).

Three unnecessary deaths all within a week of one another. Three lives cut short, yet no one from our government seems to care. This is disgusting.

One killer arrested, one shot dead by police, and one the subject of a massive police manhunt. I’d say people from the government care rather a lot. The criminal justice system comes down very hard on cop killers. You don’t need fiery speeches from politicians and protesters when the system is working.

All across the country, police officers are under attack by the very criminals they are trying to protect us from. Killing a cop used to be a line that almost no one would cross. Now, it seems like every other day we read about another officer down.

Actually, the number of police officer killings has been fairly steady lately, and it’s down quite a bit since the high point of police killings in the 1970’s.

President Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, and the rest of their race-baiting ilk are directly responsible for these atrocities. Through their efforts to criminalize the police force, they have created an open season on police officers.

It would be nice to offer some evidence for a claim like that. The three examples in this article certainly don’t appear to have been the result of a generalized anti-police sentiment. We don’t yet know why Officer Bennett was shot, but both of the other officers were shot by people with long criminal records. Wheeler shot at cops trying to arrest him, and Romero was trying to avoid arrest.

Police officers are out there every day trying to keep us safe. They aren’t perfect. None of us are. However, they represent law and order in this country, and when you attack them, you are attacking everything this country is built upon.

Uhm…actually…this country was kinda founded on fighting against British law and order…so maybe that’s not the best argument…

Yet there have been no mass protests. There have been no riots demanding justice for these slain officers.

You know what kind of people have protests and riots? People who feel they have no other way of being heard, no other way of attracting attention to their needs, no other way of getting justice.

The police don’t have that problem. One of the perpetrators has already been arrested, and another is dead. The third is still at large, but it’s not because nobody cares about the officer he killed. Nobody’s protesting over murdered police officers because the police don’t need protests to get justice.

Kirsten Gillibrand Put a Kitten In A Blender

I have decided I can no longer remain silent, and it’s time to come forward with my story:

Last summer, on June 28th, I saw Arizona Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand place an 8-week old calico kitten in a DeWalt 5-quart blender and press the start button, killing it instantly. She then feasted hungrily on the bloody remains, consuming the poor creature, scales and all. It is the single most vile act of animal cruelty I have ever witnessed, and by coming forward now, I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of animal cruelty.

Update: It has come to my attention that Kirsten Gillibrand is actually a Senator. I regret the error, but I stand by the substance of my story, and by coming forward, I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of animal cruelty.

Update: A zoologist who reads my blog has pointed out that the material covering the skin of domestic cats is technically referred to as fur not scales. I acknowledge his superior grasp of feline anatomy and I regret my error, however I still stand by the substance of my story and I hope it will put a spotlight on the problem of cruelty to animals.

Update: Further research has revealed that Senator Gillibrand represents New York, not Arizona. I once witnessed Arizona Senator Tom Udall throw an armadillo in a wood chipper, and apparently in my emotional distress I had conflated the two incidents. I regret the error, but I stand by the substance of my story, which I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of mistreatment of animals.

Update: Friends have pointed out that on June 28th of last year I was actually in Kentucky attending the wedding of my cousin Margery. Still, I’m sure the incident must have been in June or early July. Maybe August. Anyway, I regret the error, but I stand by the substance of my story. And I hope this will put a spotlight on the problem of cruelty against animals.

Update: A spokesperson from the DeWalt corporation has apprised me of the fact that DeWalt is a manufacturer of portable power tools, not kitchen appliances. I once witnessed George Clooney cut the head off a goat with a reciprocating saw and I had conflated the two incidents. The implement used by Senator Gillibrand was actually a Hitachi blender. I apologize to the DeWalt corporation for my error, but I stand by the rest of my story, which I hope will put a spotlight on the problem of mistreatment of animals.

Update: Dearest visitors, loyal readers, it is with a heavy heart and a sorrowful soul that I put pen to paper to write this paragraph. After extensive consultation and prayer with my spiritual advisers, I have come to realize that I may have inadvertently posted a message earlier today that might have lead some readers to incorrectly conclude that I had seen New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand kill a kitten in a blender and consume the entrails.

I apologize if any of you feel I may have mislead you, and while I regret the error, the issue of cruelty to animals is a serious one, so I hope it’s just putting more of a spotlight on the problem. I hope it’s not undermining our advocacy, because this is important.

I’m sure Senator Gillibrand will understand, because she expressed a similar sentiment when said she hopes the recent news coverage of the UVA campus rape hoax will put a spotlight on the problem of campus rape:

Update: I’m sorry. Every sane person knows that using false or highly suspect examples to support your argument is a good way to undermine the very cause you’re fighting for. I only wrote that earlier stuff because somebody gave me a bad batch of Flakka. I don’t know what Senator Gillibrand’s explanation is. Maybe she uses the same Flakka dealer.

(Hat tip: Simple Justice.)

Undercover Colors Under Fire

Have you heard about the idea for nail polish called Undercover Colors that can be used to detect so-called “date rape drugs” in drinks? It seems to be just a concept for now, but the idea is that a woman having drinks with a date could discretely dip a fingernail into her drink, and the polish would change color if the drink had been spiked with any of several drugs.

My wife noticed this in the news a day or two ago, and my initial thought was that a woman who suspected her date was trying to dose her could use drug-detecting nail polish to check her drink. On further consideration, however, I’m not sure that makes any sense. I mean, if she’s so suspicious of her date that she wants to test her drink, is there really any point to doing the test? Shouldn’t she just get the heck out of there? What’s the thinking for sticking out the date? “He strikes me as the kind of man that would knock me out and rape me, but if the drug test clears him, I’ll stick around and maybe we’ll make out”?

I suppose it makes some sense at a social event or a busy club, where a total stranger could dose your drink without you ever knowing it, although even then it’s only going to stop the small percentage of rapes that involve drugs as a means of controlling the victim. Also, unless the indicator chemical goes on as a clear coat over other colors, it probably won’t give women the color choices they want.

Anyway, I wouldn’t have given it any more thought, except that I stumbled across a link on Twitter to an article about Undercover Colors by Melissa McEwan at the feminist site Shakesville. Some of her concerns are similar to mine, but a few of her complaints are frankly baffling.

Yeah. I have a couple of problems with that. Tara Culp-Ressler does a good job of compiling some of the obvious objections being made by anti-rape activists.

Like: Once again, potential victims are being tasked with rape prevention.

As opposed to who? Most rapes occur in private settings with only the victim and the rapist present, and the rapist is not going to be interested in rape prevention.

Like: Once again, we’re preemptively blaming victims. (How long before a woman who is sexually assaulted after being drugged is asked why she wasn’t wearing nail polish that could have prevented it?)

No, we’re not blaming the victims. It’s possible that at some point in the future someone will blame a victim, and that someone should be called out for being an asshole, but we’re not doing that now. Are you angry at companies that make car alarms because if you don’t have one and your car is stolen, some people will say you should have had an alarm? When someone offers you a choice, why would you get mad at them because someone else, who you consider to be a jerk, might criticize you for your choice?

Like: Once again, we’re focusing on women detecting roofies, rather than the men who put roofies in drinks in the first place.

Well, these people have a plan for detecting roofies, so that’s what they’re focusing on. If you think they should focus on getting men to stop putting roofies in drinks, what’s the plan for doing that? How has it been working so far? I’m willing to believe that initiatives to discourage sexual assault have some effect, but none of them are a panacea that obsoletes all other approaches.

Like: Being able to detect roofies in your drink only protects you; the person who put them there can move on to someone who isn’t wearing nail polish.

I’m not sure I’m understanding that correctly, but it sounds like McEwan is saying that because drug-detecting nail polish would not prevent all rapes, it’s a bad idea to use it to prevent any rapes. This sounds like some kind of radical egalitarian nonsense. Should we not have installed airbags in cars until we could afford to install them in all cars? Should we not produce new drugs to cure diseases unless we can make them cheaply enough for everyone?

There are so many reasons that this is problematic, and they all boil down to this: Individual solutions to systemic problems don’t work. It’s true whether we’re talking about unemployment, childcare options, or rape prevention.

Individual solutions work just fine for individuals who are able to take advantage of them. Not everybody can benefit from them, but not everybody can benefit from systemic approaches either. No rape prevention program aimed at changing men’s attitudes toward sexual violence is going to be 100% effective. Some men are just psychopaths.

And let us all take a moment to appreciate that we’re being told to buy something to prevent rape. Of course. Because the market solves everything. The market has never met a problem that screaming “bootstraps!” and admonishing crass consumerism can’t fix.

Oh dear God. You know, I understand the people who rant at capitalism, because capitalists are so often terrible people (Donald Trump, please call your office), but ranting at the free market is just bizarre. I mean, here are some people using their own time and money to try to solve at least part of a serious problem, and you don’t have to have anything to do with it if you don’t to, and somehow that’s a problem.

Besides, despite what I said earlier, there are probably going to be some women who find it useful to check if a drink is drugged. I would think, for example, that a woman who has been the victim of a “date rape drug” before might appreciate the peace of mind of being able to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It could take some of the fear out of social situations.

Another group that would probably benefit is professional escorts, who routinely take the risk of spending time alone with strange men, and often turn down drinks out of fear of being roofied. With a discrete way to test the drink, they could be more accepting of hospitality and create a friendlier mood.

And while I was writing this, Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote about the same subject at Reason:

At the crux of most of these complaints is the axiom that we should teach men not to rape instead of teaching women not to be raped. And that’s an important message! Too much cultural focus for too long has been on how a women’s own conduct contributed or may contribute to her assault, in a way that winds up absolving assailants of culpability.

But teaching men not to rape and helping women avoid rape aren’t mutually exclusive options. It’s been said so many times already so as to be a cliche, but no one accuses security cameras of encouraging “theft culture”. And neither do most people blame theft victims for getting robbed just because they didn’t have security cameras.

And if they do blame theft victims for getting robbed because they don’t have security cameras, they’re idiots, and it would be ridiculous to argue against the sale of security cameras because idiots would blame victims for not having them. You shouldn’t give idiots that much power over the choices available to sane people.

Selfish Billionaires

Divid Sirota at In These Times has a mind-boggling complaint about rich people:

[…] Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced a $120 million donation to San Francisco-area schools. That donation came only a few years after California considered a ballot measure to increase funding for its schools. Zuckerberg was notably absent from the campaign to pass the measure.

That detail is germane to Gore’s point about charity and democracy. Indeed, there seems to be a trend of billionaires and tech firms making private donations to public institutions ostensibly with the goal of improving public services. Yet, many of these billionaires are absent from efforts to raise public resources for those same institutions. Zuckerberg is only one example.

For instance, hedge funders make big donations to charter schools. Yet, the hedge fund industry lobbies against higher taxes that would generate new revenue for education.

Likewise, there are the Koch Brothers, who simultaneously finance the nationwide anti-tax movement while making huge donations to public institutions.

Meanwhile, Microsoft boasts about making donations to schools, while the company has opposed proposals to increase taxes to fund those schools.

The selfish bastards! They’re willing to donate huge amounts of their own money to causes they care about, but they don’t want to force other people to support those causes! That’s just how evil they are!

Jim Ardis and the Abuse of Power

Via Radley Balko comes more narcissistic whining from Jim Ardis, the mayor of Peoria, Illinois, who is rapidly becoming famous for sending his pet cops to raid the house of someone who ran a parody Twitter account in his name. Nick Vlahos of the Peoria Journal Star reports that Ardis doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong:

Ardis defended his actions, which led to search warrants, a police visit to a West Bluff residence and the arrest of one occupant on a marijuana-possession charge.

He said the profane tweets, on a Twitter account created by Peoria resident Jon Daniel, could not be tolerated. That was true even after the account was re-labeled as a parody and was deactivated.

“I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right,” Ardis said in an interview with the Journal Star before the council meeting.

“Are there no boundaries on what you can say, when you can say it, who you can say it to?” Ardis said. “You can’t say (those tweets) on behalf of me. That’s my problem. This guy took away my freedom of speech.”

Peoria City Council member Jim Montelongo pretty much nails it:

Montelongo said the episode represented an abuse of Ardis’ authority, as well as the police department’s.

“There was too much power of force used on these pranksters,” said Montelongo, the 4th District councilman. “It made it look like the mayor received preferential treatment that other people don’t get or will never get.”

That’s exactly right. Ardis is abusing his mayoral power when he uses it in service of his personal needs. In some ways, it’s no different from when a business executive brings his wife along on a trip and uses the company account to pay for the ticket. What makes it worse, of course, is that Ardis’s little power trip resulted in an armed raid on someone’s house and suppression of free speech.

As an aside, Radley brings up a good point:

Yesterday, Illinois State’s Attorney Jerry Brady announced that he would not seek criminal charges against the man who ran a parody Twitter account purporting to be Peoria, Ill., Mayor Jim Ardis. That’s because there is no state law against impersonating someone online. (Even if there were, it’s likely that the Twitter account itself would fall under the First Amendment protections for parodying public figures.)

[…]

We’ve already discussed Ardis’s power complex issues here. But that isn’t the only troubling part of this case. It would also be interesting to hear the explanation as to why Judges Kirk Schoebein, Lisa Wilson and Kim Kelley all signed off on warrants to investigate a crime that doesn’t exist. And why the police then executed those warrants.

The warrants reportedly listed drugs among the items to be searched for — based on some posted pictures of drug paraphernalia — but they also listed computers because of the impersonation issue, which seems like a problem.

Look, there are a lot of parodies online, and the targets usually just learn to live with them, like adults. If somebody out there starts a fake Windypundit blog in my name, I might be able to do something about it under intellectual property law (although not if it’s purely parody, a well-protected speech right), but there’s no way I could get the police to go after them. Even when the person pretending to be someone else does so with malice and causes harm, the police are unlikely to get involved if there’s no straight-up crime like fraud or threats of violence. At least not unless there’s an ego-crazed maniac like Jim Ardis pressuring them to do his bidding.

Meanwhile, Ardis is apparently working from the sociopath playbook and blaming everyone else for his problems:

In his pre-meeting interview, Ardis said he believed his complaint was handled no differently than anybody else’s would be. He said he didn’t orchestrate the police investigation, nor the search-warrant process.

“That’s a heck of a lot more power than any mayor I know,” Ardis said.

“My guess is as far as the judge is concerned, it doesn’t matter if it’s the mayor. They’re looking at the substance. Why would they allow something without a foundation? That’s the core of everything they do.”

Ardis said the situation provides an opportunity to discuss the proper limits of commentary on social media. He also said the news media is responsible, in part, for the problem.

“You’re the ones responsible for getting full information, but not to spin it in the way you want to spin it,” Ardis said to a Journal Star reporter. “To make us look stupid.

“It’s your responsibility to put actual information out there and cover both sides. Not to opine. And that didn’t happen. Clearly, that didn’t happen.”

Blaming the media is standard practice, of course, but I’m kind of in awe of how quickly he turned on the people around him. He may have pressured the cops into retaliating against the author of the parody, but once it started blowing up on him and attracting media attention in a bad way, he had no problem throwing them under a bus, along with the judge who so helpfully approved the bogus search warrant.

You Know Your Mayor Is a Whiny Little Bitch When…

He’s Peoria, Illinois mayor Jim Ardis, who is really thin skinned:

PEORIA — Police searched a West Bluff house Tuesday and seized phones and computers in an effort to unmask the author of a parody Twitter account that purported to be Mayor Jim Ardis.

[…]

Three people at the home were taken to the Peoria Police Department for questioning. Two other residents were picked up at their places of employment and taken to the station, as well.

The Peoria police chief appears to be kind of a dim bulb as well:

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said officers were investigating the creator of the Twitter account for false impersonation of a public official. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

[…]

The content of tweets, or entries on the account, ranged from ambiguous to offensive, with repeat references to sex and drugs — and comparisons of Ardis to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as Ford’s drug use while in office became public.

By about March 10, the bio of the Twitter account was changed to indicate it was a parody account.

Settingsgaard, however, said the intent of the account was not clearly satirical.

Needless to say, there are now a lot more Peoria parody accounts.

More about this incident from Justin Glawe at Vice.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

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