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The kids are allright
October 7, 2007 5:08 PM   Subscribe

This is what happens when paranoia overwhelms common sense. A high school in NY state banned backpacks and bags from the student body. The whole situation reached a critical mass when a security guard pulled a young woman out of class because she had a small purse. He asked her if she was on her period. Way to humiliate teenagers.

The female students were allowed to continue to carry purses ONLY if they were having their period and needed to carry female hygiene supplies. In response the kids have protested by wearing tampax necklaces, and one young man streaked the school. Some of the male students have also stuck maxi-pads to themselves in supportof their female classmates.

Nice to see the kids sticking up for each other.
posted by wuwei (78 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Pandagon link was pretty great if you ignore the troll named Cookie...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:16 PM on October 7, 2007


On the other hand, at least some members of the next generation are learning: it's dangerous to sacrifice reason upon the altar of safety (or worse, feeling safe).
posted by Riki tiki at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you can read this then my back pack fell off
posted by hortense at 5:19 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I honestly can't tell if this idiot posting in the first linked thread is being serious or it just a complete ass:
Girls should stay at home when they are doing that.

Posted by: ThisIsBob at October 4, 2007 05:37 PM
WTF?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:21 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Poolio at 5:22 PM on October 7, 2007


We must at all costs keep readers from winning, worse than terrorists they are.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:31 PM on October 7, 2007


Streaking is not protest (NSFW, obviously). It is, however, awesome.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:34 PM on October 7, 2007 [2 favorites]



I honestly can't tell if this idiot posting in the first linked thread is being serious or it just a complete ass:

Girls should stay at home when they are doing that.


He's probably 11.
posted by frobozz at 5:44 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Serious question: Why didn't the students just slaughter the security guard, tear the flesh from his body, and nail his flayed corpse to the front door?

Maybe if that happened, they'd ban kids from school, and their education would finally improve.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:45 PM on October 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


It would be amazing if every kid in this school decided to come to school wearing a backpack every single day until these power-hungry, movie-plot-fearing retards came to their senses.

Sure, you can punish five kids or ten kids. Try punishing your entire student body every single day.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:00 PM on October 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


frobozz -- what if he's not?

I think that's the scarier option.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:02 PM on October 7, 2007


* A completely empty backpack.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2007


"This is what happens when paranoia overwhelms common sense."

The USA PATRIOT act is also what happens. Not that backpack bans aren't undermining the foundations of the republic as well.
posted by adamrice at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


It would almost be funny, if it weren't true.
posted by zaphod at 6:12 PM on October 7, 2007


It would be amazing if every kid in this school decided to come to school wearing a backpack every single day until these power-hungry, movie-plot-fearing retards came to their senses.

Don't forget October 17th is Trench Coat Day!
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:25 PM on October 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


In my high school, they enacted a policy which required every student to wear their ID card on a lanyard around their neck at all times, or be ejected from the school. As well, backpacks were no longer allowed in classrooms.

What did we do? We completely ignored the pointless, draconian rules, in force. They never enforced them for a day.

These kids need a lesson in civil disobedience. All the students silently complying with the baseless and absurd rules are part of the problem. They're adding an element of ostracization to the climate of fear.
posted by tehloki at 6:56 PM on October 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


reason #5359 to homeschool.

when will people learn that the more adults attempt to infantilize teenagers, the more they will become unable to function outside of prison or the military.

oh wait...
posted by RedEmma at 6:59 PM on October 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


Security guards in schools? The problem is one helluva lot worse than merely banning purses. There are security guards in your schools WTFBBQ? How the fuck do you end up with such a culture of violence and fear that you post freakin' security guards in a school?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 PM on October 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's a lot to be said for small-town life. Not having to worry about being shot-up at random is one of the many benefits.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:20 PM on October 7, 2007


Right, because school shootings only happen in big cities.
posted by puke & cry at 7:25 PM on October 7, 2007


FFF: Columbine Colorado. Population 24,095 as of 2000.

I'm just sayin.
posted by adamrice at 7:36 PM on October 7, 2007


Right, because school shootings only happen in big cities.

Right, because you have a big chance of being involved in a school shooting in the first place.

Hint: You'll be struck by lightning before it happens. Being this frightened about school shootings is a shining example of bad risk assessment.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:39 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


FFF: Red Lion, PA. Population 6,149 as of 2000. Two school attacks in the span of 26 months. Not Columbine by any stretch, but still horrifying for a small town, especially the machete attack on a kindergarten class.

Oh, and the Nickel Mines attack in Bart Township, PA (population 3,003 in 2000) happened a little over a year ago.

That's how you end up posting security guards and/or metal detectors in schools.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:52 PM on October 7, 2007


As far as I can remember, all of the hugely publicized high school shootings have been in small towns... And to me, that makes complete sense. In small towns, you get loners. I live in Los Angeles and with 4,000 kids per school, and a high school every mile or two, almost everyone has other people who are similar to them and who understand them. It's in small towns where kids can have not a single friend, and be ostracized by almost every one of their classmates that these shootings happen. At least, that's how I see it.

On the flip side though, we get gang shootings which often include high school students.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 7:52 PM on October 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


EDIT: actually, last year a senior at my school was shot outside of school after an argument with another student in their neighborhood; a student brought a machete to school and threatened a student (he was apprehended before any harm could be done); a man was stabbed nearly to death on the lawn of my school, but he had no ties to the school, except that he almost died there.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 7:54 PM on October 7, 2007


There's a lot to be said for small-town life. Not having to worry about being unable to menstruate without publicly announcing it to the rest of the fucking class is one of the many benefits.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I derail the derail?

I'm more worried about the lack of respect given to these young women who, after all, can't particularly help the fact they have to bleed once a month or more (teen girls' cycles are rarely as regular as Experienced Bleeders over 30).

I can't imagine how mortifying it must be to get treated like you've done something wrong, and be singled out, when all you're trying to do is prevent the Teen Girl #1 Nightmare -- visibly bleeding in class.

And seconding RedEmma -- by the time we have kids, if ever, homeschooling will be about the only sane option left.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:55 PM on October 7, 2007


It's amazing how easily everyone is terrified by things. I work with a bunch of hardass rednecks, and all they do is quail about:

1) Sex predators
2) Terrorist attacks
3) School shootings

All. Day. I am really really not making this up. It's not a caricature, it's not a stereotype. These are real people, all scared shitless and unable to do anything but shiver in horror all day about it, despite their otherwise uhh... overtly manly demeanor. They don't do any work. They just talk about these 3 subjects and the astounding variety of examples that exist in the news today. Usually Subject 1 is connected to fear for their own children. Subject 2 is related to the War and its various tentacles. Subject 3 comes up somewhat more rarely, but it (remarkably!) always comes back to "boy, if everyone had handguns, this shit wouldn't happen!" What a bunch of poltroons.

I just shut up and do all of their work for them.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 7:56 PM on October 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


Was she on her period?
posted by sneakin at 8:02 PM on October 7, 2007


The father of one of the girls questioned by school officials commented over at Slacktivist here.

That it would be considered acceptable for a moment to question girls about their menstrual periods is perverse. (Not to mention that their policy is bizarre. If your period is irregular, which is particularly common when you're younger, you have to carry pads or tampons all the time anyway.)

The security issue is...stupid. Note that there are no proposals to ban males from wearing pants...which is the common stowage location for handguns.
posted by desuetude at 8:03 PM on October 7, 2007


That it would be considered acceptable for a moment to question girls about their menstrual periods is perverse. (Not to mention that their policy is bizarre. If your period is irregular, which is particularly common when you're younger, you have to carry pads or tampons all the time anyway.)

You expect school officials to know anything about health science? Pfft. Little girls ain't be needin' they's periods in the first place if they's not a-havin' the sexual relations!

The security issue is...stupid. Note that there are no proposals to ban males from wearing pants...which is the common stowage location for handguns.

It's all bullshit. The scared-shitless-for-no-reason idiots who enact these ridiculous policies always quote Columbine, while conveniently forgetting that Harris and Klebold just showed up at school with guns out in the open and started blasting away. They didn't hide shit in their Jansports until after 5th period gym class, they got to school around 11 a.m. and someone was dead before 11:30.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:11 PM on October 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


My 666th comment involved Columbine. Creeeeeeeepy.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:14 PM on October 7, 2007


Mikey-San, grasshopper, it's never about what will make us safe, but always about who is or who is not obedient.
posted by telstar at 8:28 PM on October 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, these policies don't go far enough. Those girls could easily be lying about their periods in order to sneak in contraband or worse. What the school needs is trained dogs to sniff out anyone who's menstruating, and if they're not, take their purses away.

If the school can't afford dogs, well, there are other ways of finding out. Anything for the security of the school.
posted by chrominance at 8:32 PM on October 7, 2007


more.
posted by ilsa at 8:34 PM on October 7, 2007


Security guards in schools?

My upper middle-class high school had around 2500 students. We also had an incident that necessitated police involvement almost every week. So yes, we had security guards. Security does help keep unauthorized people from wandering campus.

Not saying that school admins don't have fascist tendencies, but having someone in charge of security doesn't strike me as unreasonable.
posted by zennie at 8:40 PM on October 7, 2007


Mikey-San, grasshopper, it's never about what will make us safe, but always about who is or who is not obedient.

Hey now, this is no place for wisdom. Open up that backpack right this instant and show me what's inside. Are you on your period?
posted by Mikey-San at 8:44 PM on October 7, 2007


Hey, folks, it's no big deal -- remember, schools are in place to train kids to get along in the world at large when they're adults, right? And we have some holy-fing-crap-ridiculous laws on the books these days, presumably to make us (feel) safer -- so we have to do the same thing in schools, so that they don't question the nonsense when they're adults. It's elementary (school), man!
posted by davejay at 8:52 PM on October 7, 2007


I recall that when I was in high school, there were briefly no doors on the girls' room stalls. Reasons cited: punishment for vandalism to doors with bonus points for making it easier to discourage smoking. (A teacher or admin had to see you with the cig in your hand as evidence in order to punish you.)

The outcry was immediate, so much so that the doors were reinstalled before some people even realized what had happened. Parents had a FIT that the girls would be forced to use the restrooms without privacy and no, the stall dividers did not count as "enough" privacy.

The school had just discontinued the the designation of one of the courtyards as a smoking area the year before, and the backlash was fierce. This was 1988. How the times have changed.


You expect school officials to know anything about health science? Pfft. Little girls ain't be needin' they's periods in the first place if they's not a-havin' the sexual relations!

I did think to wonder what this school's policy on sex education was.
posted by desuetude at 9:00 PM on October 7, 2007


when menstruation is outlawed, only outlaws will menstruate!
posted by bruce at 9:22 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I gradated in the early 90s, before the idea of school shootings terrified everyone. My high-school had a rifle team, and one of my friends brought in a shotgun (with permission, even) to a public speaking class to use as a prop in demonstrating how to field strip it. Our science teacher taught us three different methods for making explosives (with the strong suggestion that we don't, because it was dangerous), and my metal shop teacher helped me refine my skills at the forge so that I could better make hardened knife blades.

By comparison to a modern educational facility, my school was a fucking terrorist training camp.

And yet, there were no metal detectors, no guard dogs, hell, there weren't any guards other than the teachers.

Want to know how many people died in my four years? Three; one from a car accident, and two from cancer.

I've come to the belief that sometime between when I graduated and now, the news networks really learned how to push America's fear buttons. And ever since, people have become more and more scared of anything and everything that might be a threat, no matter how unlikely the possibility that it could actually happen.

Currently, the group of people that still support Bush, and identify as right-wing Republicans are the end result of this process.
posted by quin at 9:46 PM on October 7, 2007 [8 favorites]


There's a lot to be said for small-town life. Not having to worry about being shot-up at random is one of the many benefits.

.. that and the meth
posted by pwedza at 10:32 PM on October 7, 2007


Why isn't streaking considered a form of protest? No backpacks, no purses, no concealed weapons. I think it would be perfect.
posted by wv kay in ga at 10:48 PM on October 7, 2007


Some of the male students have also stuck maxi-pads to themselves in support of their female classmates.

Nice to see the kids sticking up for each other.


Haha...sticking up. Heh....sorry.

The HS I went to (graduating class: 50) had security guards (2 fat cops) and the administration was planning to put in metal detectors, but the students and their parents quickly put a stop to that. None of the lying down BS for us, no sir.

We did have a rule 'no backpacks in classrooms between desks', but that was more of a fire hazard thing, though.
posted by bkudria at 11:01 PM on October 7, 2007


I work in a town of about 23,000. They recently passed a millage increase to fund capital improvements for the school district. Among the proposed items? Building safe rooms in all the elementary schools.
posted by lemoncello at 11:34 PM on October 7, 2007


If I ever have kids, they'll never believe my stories of school. No security guards, a designated smoking area for students, and then there was that one day in speech class. There was a kid with a black belt and who was incredibly obsessed with the military and all sorts of violence. For the "how-to" speech requirement in that class, he gave a talk on how to organize a guerilla resistance for when the Soviets finally invaded. This topic was merely an excuse for telling the class how to make weapons and bombs out of the various things lying around your house. To this day, I'll always remember how to make a set of anti-personnel bombs out of coke cans, toilet paper, glass jars, electrician's tape, old t-shirts, and shotgun shells. A little gasoline is optional.

Not only was he not expelled, but he almost got an 'A' for the effort. The only thing relegating him to a 'B' was the smashing of a glass jar which caused a minor injury in the front row.

So much for how things used to be. At least the nice thing about the kids today is that when you tell them to get off your damn lawn, they get off the damn lawn.
posted by pandaharma at 12:44 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Serious question: Why didn't the students just slaughter the security guard

If they're old enough to bleed, they're old enough to butcher a security guard...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:27 AM on October 8, 2007


How the fuck do they expect a kid to not use a backpack. My daughter totes about a billion tons of books to school in her backpack daily.

And for the record, we had armed security guards in my high school. And regular locker searches. In 1976.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 AM on October 8, 2007


Yeah, you're really safe in a small town. As far as I can tell, almost *all* major school shootings in the US have happened in towns with less than 50K residents, most in towns fall smaller. That's a stick in the eye of conventional city-smearing wisdom, huh?

Now comes Crandon, Wisconsin, where 6 HS students and recent grads (in a town of 2000) get shot by a . . . cop. Totally par for the course in America 2.0.

I want the cops to be prevented from carrying guns or backpacks. Then we worry about the teenagers.

Small towns suck.
posted by spitbull at 5:46 AM on October 8, 2007


For the "how-to" speech requirement in that class, he gave a talk on how to organize a guerilla resistance for when the Soviets finally invaded.

Dude, pandaharma -- how many times did that guy watch Red Dawn??
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:52 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not surprising. I graduated from high school after 2000 in a town of 50k, not only did we have guards and security cameras, during lunch all the hallways that led outside the designated eating-area (except one that was guarded) were closed off with large, extendable iron gates. Nor were you allowed to leave the building at any time during the day except emergencies. I think field trips have been banned since I left, so backpacks being banned isn't a far cry from my experience.
posted by Ndwright at 5:56 AM on October 8, 2007


The larger issue is in fact the state of faulty-risk-assessment government-stoked paranoia and zealotry we have to endure in the name of "security." Americans of limited education and with self-imposed (ie ignorant) limits on their exposure to sources of news and opinion other than Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, are in a state of constant fear. Not of losing their job or their home, mind you, which might be reasonable, but of some bearded Muslim terrorist disguised as a schoolkid or a grandmother blowing up their town or airplane.

It's a know fact: scare people with baseless terror threats and they become compliant and malleable. Look at how we just accept the death of Carol Ann Gottbaum, basically beaten to death by thug cops in the Phoenix airport for having a breakdown in public. That would have been an outrage 5 years or 10 years ago. But now because it happens in an *airport,* it must have something to do with terrorism and the cops get the benefit of the doubt for their sick abuse.

Cops, of course, love this shit. The zealotry of "security" gives them carte blanche to do what used to take work and subterfuge -- kill, torture, abuse, and otherwise assert their power over civilians.

This is how a police state happens. One day you wake up and "security" has replaced "freedom" as a cardinal value. We're already there.
posted by spitbull at 6:01 AM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dear Josephine! I find myself praying that this is some over dramatized nonsense. It's true though, isn't it?
posted by triv at 6:15 AM on October 8, 2007


Back off, man. I'm a scientist security guard.
posted by Ickster at 6:53 AM on October 8, 2007


My immediate reaction on reading the FPP was America, meh.
I mean what the fuck is the matter with your country. Is it something in the processed food?
posted by adamvasco at 6:59 AM on October 8, 2007


The idea that students could be forbidden to carry personal possessions and have no right to privacy is (despite the patina of "security!) a ridiculous assault on the basic civil rights of students, but somewhat different than the issue of security guards in schools, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, the movement seems to be that a principal (who is not an elected official) can try to mandate whatever limitations on basic personal freedoms that he/she deems fit, just because students are minors.

Can you imagine an office building passing such a regulation? I work in a building with federal offices; visitors to the building have to go through airport-type security. And yet, security guards are absolutely not permitted to comment on the contents of bags unless they have a question about whether something is a weapon or an electronic device.
posted by desuetude at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Try punishing your entire student body every single day.

What else do you think I was doing locked in my bedroom from ages 14-17?
posted by turaho at 8:16 AM on October 8, 2007


YA, MY IMMEDIATE REACTION WAS AMERIKA SUX LOL ALSO! THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR INSIGHT, ADAMVASCO!
posted by Kwine at 8:37 AM on October 8, 2007


Yikes, what a story. Thanks for posting it.
posted by agregoli at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2007


FFF: Red Lion, PA. Population 6,149 as of 2000. Two school attacks in the span of 26 months. Not Columbine by any stretch, but still horrifying for a small town, especially the machete attack on a kindergarten class.

Good god. Did anyone ever discover a reason for that? There's got to be something deeply wrong for a tiny place like that to have such problems.

I am so thankful I don't have kids. I get to remember school as a peaceful, mostly-safe place where there was never a fear of someone going off the deep end.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 AM on October 8, 2007


Girls should totally not come to school when they're "doing that." They should not come to work, either. All girls should get from three to fifteen days off every month. Not just "get out of gym," get out of EVERYTHING. Let us make this law posthaste and include reparations for adult women who have been denied compensated "doing that" days off for DECADES. We'll call it Flo's Law.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2007


Well, it will help with the back problems. Maybe we can do away with buying textbooks every year and just use ebooks that update themselves. That'd be so /nerd Star Trek /nerdFast Food Nation I was struck by how nonchalantly all the teenagers are walking through metal detectors everyday on their way to school. I don't even think it was a dramatic element, it was just EXT. SCHOOL -- Kid walks into school.

If we can teach our children to submit to mundane security measures in middle-school and high-school then surely they won't whine at the airports as much.
posted by M Edward at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2007


We'll call it Flo's Law.

The Hell we will!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what happened to my comment,

While watching Fast Food Nation ...
posted by M Edward at 12:36 PM on October 8, 2007


fivefreshfish: There's a lot to be said for small-town life. Not having to worry about being shot-up at random is one of the many benefits.

adamrice: FFF: Columbine Colorado. Population 24,095 as of 2000. I'm just sayin'.

Columbine High School [Google Map] is in an unincorporated suburban area of Jefferson County (pop: over 520,000) on the southwestern corner of the greater Denver-Aurora-Boulder metropolitan area. By any stretch of the imagination, it's hard to see CHS as part of a small town.

OTOH, people with guns and murderous intentions don't seem to pay much attention to population statistics.
posted by cenoxo at 12:47 PM on October 8, 2007


In order to cut down on the number of heavy books they carry, and due to the fact they banned backpacks, my sister's high school gave out CD-ROMs of the text books for some subjects. It was supposed to be a searchable pdf of the book with an Adobe Director front end. After spending a half hour trying to figure out where the installer was hidden, as per the instruction sheet that came with the burned CD-R, I realized they had just installed the Windows portion of the program on a computer and copied that folder to the disk. Part of me hopes they really did pay the license fee and chose this route to simplify the process, but the vast majority of me feels they saved some cash by pirating the program. This duality in deciding which laws they wanted to enforce made me cringe. I took the time to point this out to my sister in order to get her to laugh at those in her school who come up with stupid rules and then ignore the rules that apply to them, I hope she learned something from that CD-ROM, and that it wasn't necessarily algebra.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:37 PM on October 8, 2007


Come to think of it, I live about three blocks from the site of Canada's previous largest mass murder. Estranged husband slaughtered his wife's family at a pre-wedding party.

Crazy shit happens in Canada, too. But not at a rate that results in us all living in continuous fear. Not at a rate that has us clamouring for metal detectors in schools, at least in my neck of the woods.

I get the impression that most of the USA is fearful of fellow citizens. That you wouldn't walk around downtown at night. That you could be attacked at any moment. That you gotta take precautions.

Certainly that's how your media makes it out to be, and that has to have a profound effect on your nation's general culture.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:46 PM on October 8, 2007


I get the impression that most of the USA is fearful of fellow citizens. That you wouldn't walk around downtown at night. That you could be attacked at any moment. That you gotta take precautions.

You must realize that any time you reference "most" of a country that this generalization will just not work for large swaths of the population. I wouldn't say that anyone I know who lives in a major city is generally afraid of fellow citizens unless those citizens are acting menacing. But those of us who live in cities are used to casual contact with hundreds of strangers every day. Part of the reason that the fearmongering works so well that there is no "downtown" in many areas, nor any other reason to interact with any more than a certain handful of selected people.
posted by desuetude at 2:13 PM on October 8, 2007


At the same time, desuetude, surely you recognize the horrible image your media portrays of America, no? And if things are so good, then why are there metal detectors and security guards in schools? That's just not normal.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:23 PM on October 8, 2007


"The idea that students could be forbidden to carry personal possessions and have no right to privacy is (despite the patina of "security!) a ridiculous assault on the basic civil rights of students"

How about you try replacing "students" with "prisoners" or "inmates," and see if it rings a little differently to you.

We have more people in prison in the USA than any other country has in theirs - more than many countries combined. One institution preparing young people for another one?

(I know, I know, this is perhaps an extreme case. But it does have some parallels.)
posted by zoogleplex at 6:01 PM on October 8, 2007


Worse than having the most people in jail, which is no big deal if you also have a humongeous population, is that you have the highest per capita incarceration.

If you're a black in America, there's a one-in-three chance you're going to end up in jail at some point in your life. That simply blows my mind. If you're hispanic, it's something like one-in-seven; white and it's still more than a five percent chance of incarceration.

Those are staggeringly high numbers, yet perceived as completely ordinary by US citizens.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on October 8, 2007


FFF, I'm not excusing some of the fucked-up things going on in my own country. But really, perception of "what a country is like" is a bit more complicated than "what the media portrays." Not to mention, which media? There's a lot of media besides local TV news.

Those are staggeringly high numbers, yet perceived as completely ordinary by US citizens.

Again with the generalizations. I have serious, serious issues with the US justice system and our prison system and the rate of incarceration. But I still call bullshit on you blithely referencing what "US citizens" supposedly "completely ordinary."
posted by desuetude at 6:37 PM on October 8, 2007


Most of the people I know think we don't have enough people in prison. Or that we should be killing more criminals if we run out of room for them, or that having inhumane prison conditions is a good thing, and that conditions should worsen in our prisons.

Any dissent is usually shot down with the typical "soft on crime" talking points. One guy suggested that all liberals were actually child molesters. Also, that we should do away with the judiciary, because they were softening sentences for the perverts... so once again, it comes back to "think of the children" garbage, which is what gets us into the prison-like conditions at schools! Which inevitably makes them into helpless morons!

IT'S A DISEASE.

I'm becoming increasingly agitated living around people who don't even agree with me about the basic premises of our society. Can you tell? Anyone have a job for a unix admin? Have fu, will travel.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 5:47 PM on October 9, 2007


Synaesthetichaze seems to disagree with you desuetude. And I'm afraid I simply don't believe you: the US has been crazy about incarceration and punishment for so long that what you have today is simply ordinary for your fellow citizens.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2007


One person has discussed the points of view of "most of the people he knows" so therefore, your generalizations are correct?

I'm frustrated with your generalizations, not the assertion that our incarceration system is fucked up here in the US. Or, y'know, what I just said in the comment above.

The issue of US prisons has turned into a derail anyway. Can we get back to discussing tampons?
posted by desuetude at 7:47 PM on October 9, 2007


I understand that you are frustrated with my generalizations. I think you need to understand that I'm saying that your prison system is as familiar and comfortable to your citizens as the streets they drive upon.

Yours is a country where most of the people can't even locate their own state on a map. I do not believe for a moment that most of your fellow citizens know the USA has the highest per-capita rate in the world. You expect me to believe that these same people consider the prison system they've known since birth to be anything but ordinary? Pshaw.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:28 PM on October 9, 2007


You understand that I'm frustrated, so you'll just add on more generalizations and compel me to believe them. Good grief.

FFF, our prison system isn't familiar to "most" of our citizens at all, let alone familiar and comfortable. Despite the high incarceration rate, "most" of the US has never been inside a prison. For this reason, many people think, as referenced by synaesthetichaze, that more people should be locked up, prisons are pretty cushy, and that criminals are lucky that they're not in a truly bad prison.

I expect you to perhaps consider that "these people" are not a monolithic block, but people with a plethora of opinions and different amounts of knowledge and experience. I'd bait you with some generalizations about Canada, but see, I'd find that to be a stupid argument.
posted by desuetude at 8:42 PM on October 9, 2007


Nowhere in your 8:42PM message do I see anything that would indicate "most people think the prison system is ordinary" is a false assertion.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 PM on October 9, 2007


Maybe I should just let this conversation die, but...

I feel like I should note that my comment is entirely anecdotal, and severely limited by political geography; I am in the red-state middle of PA. However, the part about most of the people I know thinking that we need more people in prison is correct.

It's a fallacy to think that they don't know what prison is like, though. The one with the most hilariously dissonant ideas (thinks all drugs should be legal, and fucks anything that moves, but would like to instill Bush as President For Life) is related to someone who is a prison guard. He tells gut-wrenching stories, presumably relayed from the prison-guard guy, but he truly enjoys telling them... he thinks that it's a good thing to treat prisoners inhumanely. I doubt his opinions are very mainstream, but he is not ignorant of the situation. He is also pro-torture of "terrorists."

Most of the people I'm talking about aren't so extreme, but that feeling is implicit in their opinions about law enforcement & the prison system. They're criminals and they should be punished.

HOWEVER, they are ignorant of the demographic makeup of prison populations, and of the incarceration rate as compared to our total population (and other nations'), and of the offenses that most of these "criminals" are guilty of (i.e., drug possession). So the prison-class folks themselves are ignored, while their living conditions are glorified as the pinnacle of the punishment ideal.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 1:57 PM on October 10, 2007


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