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School Defends Drunken Driving Hoax
June 12, 2008 5:13 PM   Subscribe

"On a Monday morning last month, highway patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino High School [Oceanside, California] to announce some horrible news: Several students had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend. Classmates wept. Some became hysterical. A few hours and many tears later, though, the pain turned to fury when the teenagers learned that it was all a hoax — a scared-straight exercise designed by school officials to dramatize the consequences of drinking and driving." While the school defends its actions, some students are protesting: "Death is real. Don't play with our emotions."

"The stunt was a twist on a program called Every 15 Minutes*, which was designed in the early 1990s, when someone was killed an average of once every 15 minutes in alcohol-related accidents."

Scared Straight or Scared Stiff: Do Alcohol Awareness Programs Sometimes Go Too Far?
posted by ericb (138 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
A cruel hoax done by people who have never been told that someone close to them was tragically killed.

After having experienced having a police officer walk up to me and tell me my son died in a motorcycle accident, and understanding the trauma that can cause...I can only say that, were someone to do this to me, or my child, I would be hard put not to beat them to within an inch of their clueless life....
posted by HuronBob at 5:18 PM on June 12, 2008 [42 favorites]


I'll tell you, if I had been taken advantage of that way, I'd make an point of going out and doing something extra-rebellious this weekend.

Kids are all convinced that adults lie to them constantly. They're right about that; it's very hard to separate the truth out from the bullshit they get fed. This kind of thing helps ensure that they'll ignore the things that actually ARE true.

If adults would lie to them about their friends being dead, what lines wouldn't they cross?
posted by Malor at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2008 [26 favorites]


The real leason here is that the police will lie to you as part of their job. And that's an important leason to learn early.
posted by Ragma at 5:21 PM on June 12, 2008 [116 favorites]


"'It was outrageous,' says one parent who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation. 'My daughter came home a wreck -- she didn't get over it for days. She was more freaked out than educated about drunk driving.'"
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on June 12, 2008


That's disgusting. It's abusing the trust of the students, it's exploiting them, manipulating them, and I have trouble believing that this will have any net benefit.

Yes, it's a serious issue. Yes, sometimes you need to shock people to get them to understand the gravity of the situation. If they'd showed disturbing photos of crashes, or had survivors come in and speak earnestly about how horrible their experiences were, that's fine. It's still shocking, but it's genuine.

If they want the students to make adult decisions, they should respect them as such. This is treating them like children and hoping it makes them better adults.
posted by twirlypen at 5:23 PM on June 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'd make an point of going out and doing something extra-rebellious this weekend.

Does calling every lawyer in the state count as extra-rebellious? Because that's what I would be doing.

Snark aside, those kids did learn a truly indelible lesson - never, under any circumstances, trust an authority figure. Whether that's a positive lesson for those kids to have learned is an intellectual exercise I'll leave up to you.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:27 PM on June 12, 2008 [10 favorites]


I don't remember much about 5th grade, but I remember one thing. The school nurse came to our classroom and called our names one by one. She told us that because of some contamination, we had all contracted various fatal airborne diseases. She called my name, told me what ailment would take me to my grave in great detail, and then cooly went to the next person.

We cried and felt the shock of mortality. They said we could not leave the room to be with our families, because we were contagious, and they could only let us die one by one before removing us.

After they finished telling us we were going to live, they cemented their point by telling us we shouldn't litter on school property and we should flush the commodes in the restroom.

This was in the early 80's and I never forgave those f-ers.
posted by Senator at 5:27 PM on June 12, 2008 [11 favorites]


Remember kids: The only way we can keep you from doing drugs and alcohol is to lie to your faces.
posted by Avenger at 5:28 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Several years ago, two teenage boys in the Louisville area made several prank calls in which they claimed to be police officers, and told people that family members had been killed in car wrecks. They got jail time and community service for it.
posted by dilettante at 5:29 PM on June 12, 2008 [10 favorites]


Where were the students they claimed were dead? Did they just pick students who were absent that day? Or were they in on it?
posted by lou at 5:30 PM on June 12, 2008


It's a good idea to convince young people that the authority figures aren't exaggerating the risks of their behavior by openly lying to them about it.
posted by nanojath at 5:32 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Camino High guidance counselor Lori Tauber said, "We wanted them to be traumatized."

It's not that I ever did believe a high school guidance counselor's opinion was worth a damn thing, but if I were on the fence, that quote would settle the matter.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:33 PM on June 12, 2008 [13 favorites]


Totally. That "guidance" "counselor" needs to review her job description.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2008


As a teacher, there is absolutely no way that I would go along with this. I work hard to establish mutual trust and respect in my classroom, and this crap would abolish that instantly. I can't even imagine the planning session for this event... at my school, I know for a fact that all or most of the teachers would refuse to participate, and a few of us would make a point of telling as many students and parents as possible.

What the hell is wrong with people...?
posted by Huck500 at 5:38 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sounds like the students could give the teachers/administrators a nice lesson by faking a rash of suicides.
posted by troybob at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2008 [14 favorites]


Does calling every lawyer in the state count as extra-rebellious? Because that's what I would be doing.

Indeed. The in loco parentis door swings both ways.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:44 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Personally I have never understood the mass grief of high school deaths. Some kids in my school died in a traffic accident when I was in high school. I have never heard their names before that moment. When the circumstances of their death was described (car, accident, train) it seemed like whatever they were doing wasn't 100% safe. My main thought was that their number came up unlike all my other friends who also drove irresponsibly. I suppose it was sad but those kids really meant nothing to me. Who are all these kids that get all bent out of shape when someone dies? How many BFFs can one person have?
posted by GuyZero at 5:46 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Kids, we have terrible news. John, Jimmy, Steven, and Paula are not here today. And, well, it's touch-and-go. They may not make it. After spending an evening smoking the devil weed, marijuana, they went on an ice-cream eating binge that left them incapacitated. We can only pray that they were not also lactose-intolerant.

THINK, children! Think of the horrible consequences!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:46 PM on June 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm having trouble with this. Are we absolutely certain that msnbc link is not a hoax?
posted by notreally at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2008


posted by troybob Sounds like the students could give the teachers/administrators a nice lesson by faking a rash of suicides.

Or anonymous bomb and Columbine-shooting-spree threats.
posted by optovox at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm someone, one of far too many in this country, who has good reason to have no love for drunk drivers. And so I say this as someone who agrees with the intended message strongly: this is plain and simply cruel, fucked up, and people who would play such sick mind games to children should be fired and perhaps even prosecuted.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:48 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I find the entire idea of scaring people "straight" in this manner pretty horrible. I've had a lot of people die in my life and it isn't ever something to be discussed lightly.

The thing that really stuck out at me was this part of the article:

"You feel betrayed by your teachers and administrators, these people you trust," said 15-year-old Carolyn Magos. "But then I felt selfish for feeling that way, because, I mean, if it saves one life, it's worth it."


If you ever wonder about that Orwellian conditioning - wonder no more, it's working wonders!

This kind of "education" is so wrong headed. Discipline the people behind this for emotional battery and treat them as we would treat any other person who seeks to cause panic and undue emotional trauma.
posted by ioerror at 5:48 PM on June 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


The memory of students dying in accidents while I was in high school - one disrupting a robber and was stabbed, one was in a van returning from a concert when the driver, another student fell asleep at the wheel, makes this all the more appalling. Our administrators were burdened with bearing that sad news to the student body, and did it with all the grace one expects of decent human beings. How could these administrators be so insensitive to the reality of tragedy like this? It's fucking gross.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2008


The school had counselors on standby to calm kids who were visibly upset but didn't anticipate the power of cell phones to spread the word.

You fucking idiots. You silly, stupid fuckers. Jesus.
posted by cortex at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


faking a rash of suicides

In case they need some pointers. with a little geriatrophillia on the side.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2008


Reading more into the article, it appears that some of the kids at the school were actually complicit in this little scam.

I certainly hope those kids have some kind of security arrangement with the police department they helped, because if this school is anything like the one that I went to, they're going to end up on the wrong end of a couple of the worst beatings of their lives.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yet again proving that many people in education have almost no recollection of what it was like to be a teenager.

I've been teaching for 12 years now and I find teenagers, in general, to be a reasonable, intelligent lot. You treat them with respect and create a decent environment for them and 99.9% of them will behave just like adults will under the same circumstances.

Telling lies, misleading them and generally treating them like kids is a surefire way to totally destroy your own credibility with them - just like with adults.

Honestly, sometimes I hear stories of how soldiers in the battlefield start to view their opponents as less than human. I feel like some of my colleagues in education go through a similar (albeit less extreme) process when they convince themselves that teenagers aren't really people and, thus, they don't need to treat them with the kind of respect they'd offer any other human being.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:51 PM on June 12, 2008 [12 favorites]


*Next weekend at Mr. Cop's Doctor's office*

"I'm sorry... you have prostate cancer..."

OMG! REALLY?!

"No. But remember to get yourself checked, regularly."
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:52 PM on June 12, 2008 [13 favorites]


Yet another gauge of the depravity of many of those involved in "education" and "law enforcement".

Just sickening...
posted by dbiedny at 5:52 PM on June 12, 2008


Honestly, sometimes I hear stories of how soldiers in the battlefield start to view their opponents as less than human. I feel like some of my colleagues in education go through a similar (albeit less extreme) process when they convince themselves that teenagers aren't really people and, thus, they don't need to treat them with the kind of respect they'd offer any other human being.

I agree. I never overheard such words of contempt for children and teenagers as I did when I worked with educators. Well -- not since I was one, back in the paddlin' days of education.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:58 PM on June 12, 2008


The good thing is that now that the story is out, online networking will probably ensure it won't happen again. Now, THAT is when it will be fun to mess with the teachers who try to pull it--to be prepared for the possibility and stage on-the-spot suicidal hysterics as soon as the police try to run the scam.
posted by troybob at 5:59 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's absolutely ridiculous.

But since we're talking about it, I never understood the kids who got "hysterical" ("for days"!) when someone they didn't know died. I mean, people are dying *right now* all over the planet, probably even a couple within miles of you, depending on where you live. Shouldn't you be in hysterics 100% of the time?
posted by DU at 6:03 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Perondi said the program would be revised, but he would not say how.

What an idiot. This worked once. Good luck with the revised lies next year.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:04 PM on June 12, 2008


So wait, that fake bomb threat I called in was bad? I'm confused.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:06 PM on June 12, 2008


DU: according to the first article, it least, people were being told that particular friends had died...
posted by troybob at 6:09 PM on June 12, 2008


An alternative approach, should you want a different way to go about it, with the caveat that I have some association with that group.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:10 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, particular friends. I thought it was supposed to be kids from another, unspecified school.
posted by DU at 6:12 PM on June 12, 2008


Flat out fucking appalling.

Take a look at the poll results on MSNBC. The fact that only a little over half the people have answered that this was not cool is utterly depressing.
posted by maxwelton at 6:12 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how good one's intentions are at the outset--trolling is toxic and corruptive. I have come to believe that trolling for good is a dangerous, foolhardy fantasy.

I'm sure the police officers meant well, and I'm sure they thought they could handle what they were doing, but now that they've tasted that intoxicating thrill, nothing is going to matter except finding someone else to troll.

I've seen it too many times, and it's always the same.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:13 PM on June 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm confused, are they trying to desensitize these young people to tragedy and make them less likely to react in a humanitarian manner, or are they purposely trying to destroy their own credibility? How is this different from calling someone's mother as a school authority and telling her that her child is dead, and then saying "JUST KIDDING, BUT SERIOUSLY THIS IS FOR A GOOD REASON"?

Yes, drunk driving is dangerous, etc., etc. However, I don't understand the notion of falsely arousing people's deepest sympathy and emotion in order to deter them from illegal activity; I suppose I just don't hold the law in the same regard as the individual's genuine care for another, neither do I think this kind of appeal works whatsoever.
posted by hellslinger at 6:21 PM on June 12, 2008


...trolling is toxic and corruptive. I have come to believe that trolling for good is a dangerous, foolhardy fantasy.

It's been clear for a long time now, though, Steve-arino Yer Mama, that you're happy to troll for good, bad or indifferent, so I don't imagine we'll be seeing much of a letup from you.

As far as whoever came up with this bonehead idea... FIRE 'EM!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Camino High guidance counselor Lori Tauber said, "We wanted them to be traumatized."

Is there some kind of law protecting the school from prosecution here? Because if not, that seems like a pretty damning quote to me, the juror.

I mean, this is the Land of Litigation, right? If anyone can sue for emotional distress, ever, isn't this a textbook example?
posted by rokusan at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble with this. Are we absolutely certain that msnbc link is not a hoax?
posted by notreally at 5:47 PM on June 12 [+] [!]


MSNBC is a pretty trustable news source... but that's just me.

In any event, having been out of high school for a little over a year now since graduation, I would probably have the same above feelings mentioned in previous comments, including the will but no ambition to 'hand' them my two cents if this were to occur.

I mean, as a high schooler, you get lied to or given false impressions from practically everybody, except when it comes to teaching science or math (which is 99.9% based in fact, gotta watch for that 0.1% though...). In that light, I am glad I am going to college. ^_^

The rage as a consequence of the discovery of the truth here: well warranted. If the admins had any brains, they would have foreseen this. You do not go lying about a touchy topic without the truth having some form of effect.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:26 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is nothing compared to the "Startled Straight" program that they gave at my school once:

George Bluth Sr.: You want to have some guy reach around you in the middle of the night, start messing with your junk?
Gay Guy: Is he ugly?
George Bluth Sr.: You can't see anything. It's pitch black. And it NEVER STOPS, guys! And everybody acts like it's no big deal.
Gay Guy: Is there a cover charge?
George Bluth Sr.: There's nothing to do there all day but lift weights, fold laundry... and get thrown into a cage with a bunch of sweaty men. Oh god, I cant go back. Cant go back!
Gay Guy: I'm glad he wont be there. He's ugly.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:27 PM on June 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


Who are all these kids that get all bent out of shape when someone dies? How many BFFs can one person have?

When I was in 8th grade, I was suspended from school for a week. I conspired with several trusted friends to spread the word that I had died. It worked way better than I would have expected. Some of my friends that weren't in on the joke had to be let in on it, because they believed it totally. But the weirdest thing was, I was told by my co-conspirators, were the kids that I didn't know, and even kids that had picked on me, were all of a sudden grief-stricken at their "loss". They took my "death" and twisted it so it was all about them, and their terrible grief. It was an important lesson in human nature. I later observed the same behavior when kids actually did die/commit suicide, and all of a sudden the same cliquey jerks who had tormented them were falling all over each other to compete for the most histrionic display of fake grief. "Oh, if only she had TALKED to me!" It was pretty disgusting.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:31 PM on June 12, 2008 [16 favorites]


well, what do you expect in a country where the news media reported nearly 8 years ago that a coked up, psychotically aggressive, pathological lying chimp was elected our president?

uh ... that was a joke, right? ... why are they waiting so long to tell us it's a joke?

oh ... i get it now ... this horrible little exercise in lying is a mere prelude to a war on driving, right? - it's just a bunch of people taking their cue from the BIG GUY and using the same sort of tactics he did in his little war against terror and iraq and whatever ...

hey where did all these chickens come from and why are they roosting?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you haven't yet had your daily dose of RAAAAGE, check out some of the comments on the msnbc story. Otherwise, avoid them, you might throw your computer out of a window.
posted by thedaniel at 6:36 PM on June 12, 2008


For those wondering why teens would be so upset at someone dying that they may not have even known, I think the answer is simply that they're kids and this may well be the first time they've ever been in that situation.

I recall vividly the time a guy at my high school committed suicide; everyone was let out early and the visitations became slightly gross inasmuch as there was definitely some brinkmanship of how upset you were, how well you knew the person, etc.

At my p/t job after school a week or so later, I was still in a state of shock and disbelief, probably being slow and morose. A co-worker finally snapped at me that I should get over it and that people die all the time after all.

It's true: people die all the time. The world keeps turning and life goes on. But this was the first time it happened to someone I knew, and I felt deep down inside that the rest of the world should stop what it was doing and be affected by this tragedy, should acknowledge that this was a Really Really Horrible Thing.

I know now that this was a naive notion, but I suspect it's common in teenagers who suddenly have to come to grips with death.

/also thoroughly disgusted by this ruse BTW.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:36 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hear a lot of criticism of law enforcement in general. Vicious contempt for the officials, students and teachers that cooked up this hoax. How many have written the powers that be to register your complaint for this escapade. My opinion is that some of you, have a axe to grind with the police and officials at the school, probably from some encounter other than reading about this one incident. Look, I not condoning what they did, but I can sense hostility way beyond the normal indignation one would associate for this occurrence.
posted by brickman at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2008


This is so odd. Was there a drunk driving problem at the school, to the extent that the administration felt that something drastic had to be done?

I'm also curious how they're going to measure if it's successful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 PM on June 12, 2008


If no one's caught or dies driving drunk it's successful. If someone's caught or dies driving drunk it's evidence that more programs like this are needed.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:45 PM on June 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Drunk driving is bad, mmkay.
posted by stevil at 6:46 PM on June 12, 2008


My opinion is that some of you, have a axe to grind with the police and officials at the school, probably from some encounter other than reading about this one incident.

Yes, such unusual and disreputable encounters as a) attending high school; and b) being hassled by cops.
posted by dyoneo at 6:46 PM on June 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Stan, you may be wondering why your friend Butters' Future Self also died in a drunk driving accident...
posted by Navelgazer at 6:49 PM on June 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


My opinion is that some of you, have a axe to grind with the police and officials at the school, probably from some encounter other than reading about this one incident. Look, I not condoning what they did, but I can sense hostility way beyond the normal indignation one would associate for this occurrence.

Have you been to high school? It's fucking awful.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:50 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


What the fuck man.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:50 PM on June 12, 2008


All the deaths that happened in my tiny high school while I was there were gun-related. One hunting accident, one bullet to the face because ha ha ha oh this gun isn't loaded.

They didn't even offer us a firearms safety course, much less roll out the "guns are bad, m'kay?"

I don't know what my point is. Maybe that life is horrific enough without a bunch of self-righteous Carrie Nation types going BOOGABOOGABOOGA during Wednesday assembly.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:51 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hear a lot of criticism of law enforcement in general. Vicious contempt for the officials, students and teachers that cooked up this hoax. How many have written the powers that be to register your complaint for this escapade. My opinion is that some of you, have a axe to grind with the police and officials at the school, probably from some encounter other than reading about this one incident. Look, I not condoning what they did, but I can sense hostility way beyond the normal indignation one would associate for this occurrence.

Oh, please. This has nothing to do with not liking cops or school adminstrators. If a choir full of nuns and the cast of Up With People had pulled this shit I'd be disgusted with them too.
posted by lysistrata at 6:56 PM on June 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


lysistrata, the cast of Up With People should be shot on general principles. And/or tested for drugs. Seriously.

Unsnark: this is total fucking bullshit. Want to scare kids out of drinking and driving? Take them to the trauma ward at a large hospital. After they stop puking, they'll be pretty receptive.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:04 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


miss unpopular opinion here. i can't get too worked up about this. kids are FULL of drama. breaking a fingernail is a tragedy. was it shitty? yes. but taking the focus off of the problem and putting it onto the shitty behavior of the organizers of this little circus isn't doing any good, either.

teenagers, in general, [may] be a reasonable, intelligent lot, but they're also reckless, spiteful, and pretty stupid--in general, of course. these kids are going to make a lot of bad decisions, some of which may kill them. fueling their little fires with comments like I'd make an point of going out and doing something extra-rebellious this weekend is pretty much going to cinch the 'make a bad decision and die' deal. and how many parents do you really think need encouragement to stand up for little johnny? part of what's wrong with kids today is that they have too damn many people standing up for them instead of letting them take responsibility for their own actions. (not that they don't come by it honestly.)

i can't believe this little scene will be repeated, and with good reason. but they'll get over this cruel hoax. what they won't get over is slamming a car into a tree going 60 mph.
posted by msconduct at 7:07 PM on June 12, 2008


Yes, such unusual and disreputable encounters as a) attending high school; and b) being hassled by cops.

Attended high school just like everybody on this site. Wasn't harassed by cops and respected them. Saw first hand in the 60's, police officers being spit on and spewed with rocks by malcontents unable to control themselves during what was suppose to be peaceful protest.

My son is will attending the police academy at the end of the month. Served in the Navy at several bases around the world including Guantanamo Bay with the terrorist. So, let me ask you if it's OK to generalize about police, or just criticise the individuals responsible for this fiasco.
posted by brickman at 7:08 PM on June 12, 2008


...trolling is toxic and corruptive. I have come to believe that trolling for good is a dangerous, foolhardy fantasy. -- Dr Steve Elvis

Flagged for irony. Love it.
posted by rokusan at 7:08 PM on June 12, 2008


probably not the best way to prevent drinking and driving. at seventeen I probably would have downed a six pack and driven merely in protest of this stupid trick.
posted by caddis at 7:10 PM on June 12, 2008


Ragma writes "The real leason here is that the police will lie to you as part of their job. And that's an important leason to learn early."

Ya, important knowledge for sure. Much better to develop a little mis trust of authority before your arrested for the first time.

JoeXIII007 writes "MSNBC is a pretty trustable news source... but that's just me."

Which is sad, either it's the cops and school administration pulling a big hoax or it's the well known news media.
posted by Mitheral at 7:13 PM on June 12, 2008


i can't get too worked up about this. kids are FULL of drama.

yeah, you know, you starve them half to death and the next thing you know, they're in front of the international press with boney limbs and flies all over them, just showing off - brats - someone should send them home without supper, i say
posted by pyramid termite at 7:17 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


but taking the focus off of the problem and putting it onto the shitty behavior of the organizers of this little circus isn't doing any good, either.

If it keeps them from doing it again I'd say it's doing some good.
posted by lysistrata at 7:22 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


So what sort of stunt would be appropriate to get cops to stop talking on their cell phones while driving? Because, around here anyhow, most of them do it, and research says it's says it's as dangerous than drunk driving.
posted by LordSludge at 7:22 PM on June 12, 2008


lysistrata, the cast of Up With People should be shot on general principles.

Yeah. Right after I posted I thought, "hmmm, maybe Up With People isn't the best example of a well-liked group." Come to think of it, nuns probably wasn't a good choice for this crowd either.

Ok, revised for Metafilter: If a choir full of nuns Radiohead and the cast of Up With People National Association of People Who Make Things Out of Bacon had pulled this shit I'd be disgusted with them too.
posted by lysistrata at 7:25 PM on June 12, 2008 [14 favorites]


I'm wondering who "the terrorist" is.
posted by maxwelton at 7:38 PM on June 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


msconduct, I can't help but wonder how you'd feel if someone told you that a friend of yours had died, only to take it back later. Would it be defensible if it taught you a valuable life lesson? Teenagers may be occasionally histrionic, but they're not cattle. They do enough to torture each other; we as authority figures shouldn't be piling on extra trauma. Anyone who has received this kind of terrible news for real would agree that it is not a joking matter or an appropriate ruse. Any decent teacher should know how to impart a lesson on a roomful of students (that being a key component of the job), and something more tasteful should have been selected. This is emotional abuse, and it's never justified. Even for those "reckless, spiteful, and pretty stupid" teenagers.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 7:39 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Strangely enough, the same thing took place at my high school, and I was unfortunately a part of it. They actually announced over the PA system, ten minutes after classes started, that I had been killed in an accident. I then went to my classes as normal, with a sign around my neck saying "killed by a drunk driver". I wasn't supposed to speak all day. (I was asked to do this because of my involvement with the drama club. It didn't occur to me to object since at the time the whole thing seemed more ridiculous than potentially traumatic.) Those that didn't shun me were pretty angry. I remember people that I didn't know coming up to me and saying that they were upset that they had cried over my death. That day seemed to be pretty awful for everyone involved.
posted by RedcurrentBasil at 7:52 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm sure they will think of something creative to do with 911.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:56 PM on June 12, 2008


I'm wondering who "the terrorist" is.

Given the source, probably a cat.
posted by D.C. at 7:58 PM on June 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


First, let me say that I think this tactic above is absolute bullshit and those people should be ashamed of themselves for what they did to those kids.

However, FWIW, every year, around prom time, my family funeral home participates in a "mock accident" that is staged in front of the local high school. The students are called into an assembly, and while they're in the building, and with the assistance of local government and law enforcement, we arrange crashed cars on the roadway in front of the school. Every effort is made to make the accident as realistic as possible, including fake blood and (admittedly) crappy make up.

When the students come outside, they see the wreck, which is usually peppered with popular students for maximum effect. At first there's some laughter and gawking at the students they recognize. They are given a moment to take in the scene, and then police and firemen arrive, with lights and sirens, securing the perimeter. An ambulance comes, removes the bodies from the cars, attempts treatment and then pronounces them dead.

Then, it's my turn. My brother and I drive up in the hearse, solemn and grave-faced--full black suits. Much more serious than we would be at an actual wreck. First, we cover the body with a white blanket. We gently lift the body of the student onto our cot, into a zippered black bag. We slowly zip it up, place the body into the back of the hearse and drive off.

At no point does anyone try to pass this off as reality. It's a tableau...something to stick in their minds. This past year, they included as part of the scene a hysterical mother, arriving at the scene and going apeshit at the sight of her "dead" daughter. And, just like all of the kids there, I knew it was all fake, but it still affected me. The mother played the part well. She screamed and cried and fought the police officers to get to her child, finally collapsing into a heaving heap on the asphalt.

It wasn't until later that I found out that the woman playing the "mother" was actually the mother of a young man who had died in a drunk driving accident a few years ago. She told us that she had acted out this part many times and when she did she tried to remember how she felt that night, seeing her dead son on the concrete in front of her totaled car. I know that she had the best intentions to help those kids, but I can't imagine what it must be like for her, going around the state, year after year and re-enacting what must have been the worst night of her entire life so other parents may not have to.
posted by ColdChef at 8:00 PM on June 12, 2008 [53 favorites]


I too have decided that this isn't that bad. What Phillips Exeter does is much crueler:

Principal: Today it is my sad duty to report that each member of the senior class has only been accepted to his or her safety school.

Senior Class: Brown?!?!!

Audible gasps, crying, screaming, recriminations, fainting spells, pitched battles with lacrosse sticks and Louis Vuitton bags, mass hysteria.

Principal: HA HA HA just kidding. You're all going to Harvard.

Sighs of relief, recalculations of future capital gains, rehearsal of tastefully smutty jokes to be told at the Bilderberg Conference, plans to invade Pakistan, renewed appreciation of the perquisites of privilege.
posted by dyoneo at 8:00 PM on June 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


However, FWIW, every year, around prom time, my family funeral home participates in a "mock accident" that is staged in front of the local high school.

A similar demonstration was also part of the El Camino High School in Oceanside (as per the Scared Straight or Scared Stiff: Do Alcohol Awareness Programs Sometimes Go Too Far? link in the FPP:
"Drama students from El Camino High School in Oceanside, created a re-enactment of a car accident to show the dangers of driving alcohol and driving. The event was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and grant funds from the CHP. The entire student body filled the school's football stadium to see the staged event. Local police officers, firefighters, the coroner's dept. and a life flight helicopter participated in the re-creation, on Monday morning. There were also events, including a video presentation scheduled for Tuesday. The event was also photographed by school student photographers, videographers and a video team from the local Oceanside cable channel."
posted by ericb at 8:08 PM on June 12, 2008


Brickman wrote: Wasn't harassed by cops and respected them. Saw first hand in the 60's, police officers being spit on and spewed with rocks by malcontents unable to control themselves during what was suppose to be peaceful protest. ... So, let me ask you if it's OK to generalize about police, or just criticise the individuals responsible for this fiasco.

I'll offer your anecdotal story with those of my own. I've seen cops use batons on an old lady in a wheelchair at a peaceful protest. I've seen pepper spray, mace, rubber bullets and batons used without provocation on licensed protesters.

I've also seen cops start full blown riots, without any warning wading in with batons and sheilds and striking homeowners on their own lawns. Not at a protest, at a 4th of July block party in Huntington Beach.

And we've all seen time and time again common citizens become victims of "official procedure" and "the thin blue line", or worse, "the Brotherhood."

More than ever good citizens have a right and duty to question authority to make sure it serves them, not the other way around - and this most certainly includes the rather mild criticisms doled out here, in this thread, on this topic.

Meanwhile it is exactly the job of someone who choose to be a police officer, an "officer of the peace" to actually learn and know how to keep the peace. This sometimes includes suffering the abuse of their fellow citizens in the line of duty. When you put on a uniform, you assume this role. If you aren't actually capable of selfless self-sacrifice for the greater good, why would you ever want to be a cop?

Let me repeat that: It is a police officer's job to put themselves in harm's way. They're hired - and supposedly trained - to do so. Task number one on that list is keeping the peace.

Conversely it is also a policeman's duty - as a citizen - to decide when their given orders counteract this goal, such as at protests where things can get heated and downright ugly, especially if a disproportionate response is used as we've seen time and time again.

Since you bring up the 60s as a sore point for you - you need to remember that these protests were (and are) valid expressions of frustration and discontent with the things being done in their (our) names. Unfortunately the police were (and are) either willful or unwillful pawns of an established power, being used to protect the interests of these powers. But they're hired to do so, and again, hopefully trained to deal with it in ways other than all out violence or thuggery. Ideally. Ideally.


This hoax does absolutely nothing to keep said peace. It isn't educational. It preys on the most base insecurities about mortality that young adults have, and it's a very dangerous, caustic and damaging lesson in real world ethics. It's going to damage the trust of those students very badly.

It's a reprehensible action whether or not authority figures like school administrators and police officers were involved - and it's even more reprehensible since they are involved.
posted by loquacious at 8:13 PM on June 12, 2008 [25 favorites]


I don't get the whole putting kids down because they get overly dramatic about death. It's a tired joke that pretty much came and went with Heathers. Teens are overly dramatic; it's in the job description. And as much as you like to think, looking comfortably back on it, that you were different, I assure you that your amnesia is selective.
posted by troybob at 8:13 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I should also say that they do this "mock accident" every year at the same time, and have been doing it for nearly twenty years...

Again, there is never an attempt to trick students into believing that what they're seeing is real or trying to tell them that their friends are dead. That, to me, makes all the difference in the world.
posted by ColdChef at 8:15 PM on June 12, 2008


So, let me ask you if it's OK to generalize about police, or just criticise the individuals responsible for this fiasco.

I'm glad that you've had good experiences with the police, but a lot of people haven't, and some of them see this incident as a sadly unsurprising extension of the behavior they've previously witnessed. I don't think this is "generalizing" or "axe-grinding" so much as "further rounding out a worrisome picture of a class of professionals with largely unchecked authority and the not-infrequent willingness to abuse it."
posted by dyoneo at 8:22 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't decide whether I'm more irritated by the knucklehead authorities or the OMG you scarred our precious children crowd. I reckon they deserve each other.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:30 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's been clear for a long time now, though, Steve-arino Yer Mama, that you're happy to troll for good, bad or indifferent, so I don't imagine we'll be seeing much of a letup from you.

Do I seem happy? Before you point the finger, ask yourself, seriously ask yourself, what you'd be willing to do for that next breath of fresh air. What you'd do if you really had to.

You feel bad for these kids, and I guess you should, but they didn't dabble in trolling. They'll get better. They'll move on.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:40 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately the police were (and are) either willful or unwillful pawns of an established power, being used to protect the interests of these powers. But they're hired to do so, and again, hopefully trained to deal with it in ways other than all out violence or thuggery. Ideally. Ideally.


Like to see the source for this statement. I got the time and you can post it right here on this thread. You seem to think the 60's protesters were pure as the driven snow. That any amount of crowd control was to much. What were they supposed to do, let the idiots break windows and turn over cars? You think trying to reason with a bunch of drugged crazed protesters is going to get the job done from a law enforcement standpoint. Don't give a shit how frustrated the youth of 60's were. Violence begets violence and any reasonable person would see that. Maybe they should have used harsh language to calm them down. That would probably work.

Were you there? Did you see the carnage of blown up administration buildings and soldiers being spit on and called baby killers after coming back from Vietnam? Well, I was and never was more angry and frustrated with youth of American than at that time. This information didn't come from some liberal professor literary gem on contemporary history that is forced on the students he or she teaches. Comes from a older American that was there and saw the shit these officers had to put with.

Also, seen protest by older American (not college student) during the Vietnam war that were peaceful and the police reacted in a civil and courteous manner. So, don't lecture me on the duties of police officers or their responsibilities to the citizens in America. Wanna see the dedication to the public-look at the plagues of dead officers inscribed in bronze all across this country.
posted by brickman at 8:49 PM on June 12, 2008


Served in the Navy at several bases around the world including Guantanamo Bay with the terrorist.

I can totally imagine that there's a terrorist at Guantanamo. In fact, if the Truth was revealed tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised to hear there's just one.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:59 PM on June 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Someone didn't read their Romeo and Juliet.
posted by dmd at 9:07 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]




I can totally imagine that there's a terrorist at Guantanamo. In fact, if the Truth was revealed tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised to hear there's just one.

Forget to insert a s on a word and somebody has to be cute to garner attention with asinine comment. Well, I don't know, but know people like you.
posted by brickman at 9:25 PM on June 12, 2008


Brickman: is the duty of police officers to lie to kids who are supposed to trust them?

I don't have any problems with events like the one at the high school that ColdChef talked about. It's theater. Theater is this amazing thing than bring profound emotions to the surface. A performance can have a lasting effect. And it can do all of that without lying to the audience.

This particular event, however, is total destructive bullshit. It will backfire. It won't accomplish what it was supposed to, because kids won't remember it as a thing that traumatized them because a friend died, they'll remember it as the thing that traumatized them because they were lied to.

Was that the intent of this little exercise? No. So was the exercise successful? No.

Teen #1: That thing at school was so fucked up.

Teen #2: Totally. I thought I was gonna puke when they said Danny was dead.

Teen #1: What's going on tonight?

Teen #2: I'm going to Scott's for that party - my brother bought me a case of beer to bring. You want a ride?

Teen #1: Excellent.
posted by rtha at 9:33 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


See, I can be asinine, but:

You think trying to reason with a bunch of drugged crazed protesters is going to get the job done from a law enforcement standpoint.

I now want you to back this up with evidence of Vietnam war proestors being "drugged crazed." You have to do better than claiming that because some of them were potheads or liked their acid that they all protested under conditions of insanity due to drugs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it at all surprising that a community that would pull this kind of shit on their kids has a problem with drunk driving? Talk about dysfunction...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:43 PM on June 12, 2008


Shit.

You know, when I was a teenager I always considered myself a fighter for some kind of greater justice. And man, had something like this happened at my school you bet your ass I would have called every lawyer in the state. I hated cops then and I still do, because I hear about so many instances where they fuck with people's lives.

But the funny thing is, this didn't happen at my school. Yes there were some fucked up things, but nothing on this scale, and nothing I didn't punish them administratively for. I know that sounds a bit braggardish, but I read the school policies and was able to cause quite a few headaches to school admins I didn't like. And I feel sorry for it now. And to be honest, there were a few people on staff aiding and abetting my shenanigans.

The same goes for cops. Institutionally and legally you bet your ass I know the dangers in dealing with them, but I've been treated fairly and leniently by them my whole life. Once when I was 15 I was out taking a walk at 4 in the morning, well after curfew. I literally bumped into a police car, lost in thought. They got out, asked me who I was, and then said, "Alright, well, you know we could take you in, but get yourself home and be more careful next time." Another time, same year, I got picked up for driving without a license (I was...headstrong back then). All it took was a simple explanation of my rocky relationship with my father and there was only the minimum fine and sympathetic, paternal advice from the officer. And in a similar situation, the police were at my house during a major "domestic disturbance" between me and my father (we had a rocky relationship), and it was from their testimony based on conversations with me that I got a restraining order against him that gave me, really, the first breath of independence I'd ever had. I hope I'm not getting too polemical when I say that in almost every encounter I've had with them they treated me like an adult, like a man, whose goals, feelings, comfort, and ability to live a normal life matter. And I've seen that in multiple countries (I live in China now, and recently found myself on the wrong end of an oncoming car; I'm okay, just a broken leg). The ONLY time I've ever had an issue with police was when I tried to register my residency in my old apartment with the local station, and it was just this one deskbound petty bureaucrat who just. wouldn't. register. me. Other than her, no complaints here.

So when I see police and school administrators doing things like this it just makes me sick. I have not personally encountered any systemic problems from officers, and my experience with school officials is widely mixed. You really have to take the teachers and staff as individuals. Whatever systemic issues exist are not a problem if the people executing the system's orders simply choose to have a little regard for you and not fuck your shit up out of spite. And if they can't make that individual choice, then it's time to force them to rethink their choices.

BUT: also, what little I've gleaned from my experience with school administrators shows me that where corruption exists, these attitudes are also more likely to exist. I went to high school in a little town that had had the same mayor for 20+ years. The school board did nothing controversial at all, and there was a general consensus in town that the farmers and ag people in town were generally in control of everything. There were also substantial immigrant populations from several countries - none of them in any leading positions. There were always, always rumors floating around. And the same people I heard those rumors from were the same people in the high school who liked seeing administration get the shaft, who wanted to try new things they couldn't get funding for, who wanted to get rid of certain testing requirements or teach new programs. Same goes in China; there's nothing to be gained from badly administering a car crash, but where foreigners registering residency is concerned there are fines galore to be had, almost none of the income from which gets reported in local newspapers.

I'm not gonna say corruption is the deciding factor, but I will say that where maintenance of a status quo, ideology, power, position, or money are concerned, callousness and disregard of other people are far more likely. I'll bet you there's a lot of dirty laundry in the closets of the people who engineered this stunt, and it'd be worth hunting for.
posted by saysthis at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Brickman, if you've never met the cop who became a cop just so he could harass people, you've wasted a whole lot of luck that you should have devoted on the lottery. My first encounter with local law enforcement was with a cop who later, along with a friend, got invited not back to our local police force. They apparently took turns going into local bars, starting fights, and then, the other would come in and club "the trouble maker" from behind.

soldiers being spit on and called baby killers after coming back from Vietnam?

Could you please provide a documented case of this happening? I know people who'd really really like one documented case of this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


It'd be nice if someone would conduct a study and try to figure out if this is actually effective. If it could be demonstrated to reduce drunk driving deaths among teens I'd support it.

But I suspect that it wouldn't make much of a difference. Perhaps there's a less invasive way to get kids thinking about the issue? Subliminal messages over the intercom? Constant harping? I don't know.

PS--yes, I'd be super pissed off, too, were I in their shoes. But I'd still support it if it worked.
posted by flotson at 9:51 PM on June 12, 2008


Did you see the carnage of blown up administration buildings and soldiers being spit on and called baby killers after coming back from Vietnam?

"Carnage"?!

Sir, there were two million people killed for nothing in Vietnam; I doubt the death toll from all protests in the 60s equaled 20 and most of those were the people protesting.

Your sense of perspective needs some serious cleaning.

And let me join the chorus of law-abiding people, respectful of the police, who have many times seen the police commit obvious crimes, taking bribes and ignoring obvious crimes (like the salsa/cocaine bar I lived next door to for years), while seeing non-violent, law-abiding, peaceful individuals being brutalized and arrested.

And yes, I have friends who are ex-cops and ex-military.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:51 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Could you please provide a documented case of this happening? I know people who'd really really like one documented case of this.

I seriously don't have a horse in this race, but I happened to recall this Volokh Conspiracy post from a while ago. By the way, there are related posts under, uh, "related posts" at the bottom.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:53 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Perhaps there's a less invasive way to get kids thinking about the issue? Subliminal messages over the intercom? Constant harping? I don't know.

The truth: drunk driving is stupid. You're liable to crash your car and kill yourself and others Don't overblow it. Don't make up bullshit about how drinking a beer when you're 18 is horrible and ruining yet drinking one when you're 21 is fine by the Bud commercials. Don't paint drinking as more dangerous than it is - it's more dangerous than a lot of things the schools condemn, but that doesn't mean oversell the dangers of drinking too.

The truth has a certain power simply because when stated plainly it may be recognized as such.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:10 PM on June 12, 2008


brickman writes "Attended high school just like everybody on this site. Wasn't harassed by cops and respected them. Saw first hand in the 60's, police officers being spit on and spewed with rocks by malcontents unable to control themselves during what was suppose to be peaceful protest."

Sounds like you're the one with issues.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:26 PM on June 12, 2008


brickman writes "Attended high school just like everybody on this site. Wasn't harassed by cops and respected them. Saw first hand in the 60's, police officers being spit on and spewed with rocks by malcontents unable to control themselves during what was suppose to be peaceful protest."

I never really bought into the whole "cops are power tripping assholes out there harassing people for apparently no reason" stereotype. Then in my mid 20s I started driving a two seater, sporty looking car. In the ten previous years I'd been pulled over once. Once I started driving the Fiero it was cop city. For the next two years it was rare to go two weeks without being pulled over for something (even though I never got a ticket). My favourite was a written warning for "excessive acceleration onto a highway". Favourite because with tall gears and 95hp in a 2700lb car there wasn't anything ever excessive about my acceleration. It was just plain harassment because the car looked fast. My alternate for when my sports car was broken down (or i was heading out on a road trip) was a '60s fire breathing Chrysler monster. At about 4 times the power and even more torque excessive was a half open throttle away at any time. Yet I never, not once, in over 30K miles got pulled over in that car. Despite being a very capable car it looked like something grandma would drive and was therefor invisible.

Anyways count yourself lucky that you were obviously never a member of the local cops perceived to be trouble makers list.
posted by Mitheral at 10:37 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like to see the source for this statement. I got the time and you can post it right here on this thread. You seem to think the 60's protesters were pure as the driven snow.

No, I don't but that's not important for this debate.

That any amount of crowd control was to much. What were they supposed to do, let the idiots break windows and turn over cars?

So, you're saying you value property over human injury or death, then? Am I reading that correctly? You just proved an unspoken side-point, that the police are more apt to protect inanimate objects of wealthy property owners than people. How many cracked skulls is a car worth, anyway?

You think trying to reason with a bunch of drugged crazed protesters

Drug crazed? Really? Drug crazed? Did you actually just type that? They were drug crazed on what, exactly? Reefer? Acid? Did you drug test the entire crowd? You do know that these hippy drugs tend to make people much less violent, more sedate and more inhibited, right?

Maybe they were all hopped up on booze, which has been shown to make people much more violent and uninhibited. And it's legal.

Or maybe they were just very angry, and you told yourself that they must be drug crazed to display that much emotion and act on it.

Regardless, "drug crazed" is not a valid argumental point. You've just dehumanized a whole group of people with that statement and attempted to dismiss them as being somehow less than human or rational. History has shown us that these tactics of hubris usually backfire.

is going to get the job done from a law enforcement standpoint.

Getting the job done? From a law enforcement standpoint? The right, true and ethically correct "law enforcement standpoint" as I indicated above is keeping the peace, not busting skulls so they can go home early. The correct "law enforcement standpoint" is (and should be) the will of the people. This is a democracy.

And in democracies, sometimes people have to engage in civil disobediance to make that will known and felt. I must remind you that just about a half a century ago people were in the streets engaging in general strikes, in sitdowns, in mass protests and even in direct action to establish the will of the people in the form of what we know today as civil rights.

History has shown us that the established police were all too willing to attack citizens with live ammunition, with rubber bullets, with firehoses and attack dogs for protesting for those civil rights.

I reiterate and point out that the police - in an ideal world - should not have this "us vs. them" mentality, that they should neither be choosing sides nor enforcing a political agenda through their actions, as they did then during the civil rights movement, as they did during the anti-war protests of the late 60s.

As they also did at Kent State. Opening fire on unarmed students. Killing them. And sparking days of riots. It happened just recently in LA during immigration protests where LAPD motorcycle units were filmed driving into and over accredited journalists there to report on the protest. I've seen this political agenda enforced through violence personally happen at modern protests. I quote, from mine own ears "Fuck you, hippy! If you don't love America, leave it!!", accompanied by the swinging of a metal baton and the sickening, stomach churning thuds of metal on flesh and bone.

Don't give a shit how frustrated the youth of 60's were.

You said it, not me. You're demonstrating this "us vs. them" mentality through your language quite nicely. Nice non-use of empathy, that. A police officer should give a shit about these things - and the good ones do, because it's their job and they know it. I've met a few good cops, but they're far and few between. The rest seem to have very serious issues with control - they want to control everyone and everything around them, but don't have much self control themselves.

Psychologists call this "externalization" or "projecting", and, well, you'd have to admit that the pay and benefits for being a cop aren't very good, unless you happen to enjoy conflict. Which, if my ears didn't decieve me, does seem to be quite popular amongst the police I've actually met.

Adrenaline is a hell of a drug. And it's just as much as an addictive drug as almost anything else, don't kid yourself.

Violence begets violence and any reasonable person would see that.

This is my point, exactly. Which comes first, police-on-citizen violence or citizen-on-police violence? In my personal, first-hand, real-world experience it's usually police-on-citizen violence.

Let's look at it logically for a moment. Police have a lot of laws that protect them in the line of duty. Merely spitting at a cop becomes a felony assault. Spitting on a regular citizen is usually a misdemeanor assault.

Meanwhile, there are very few (or no) laws that protect a citizen from assault from a cop.

On one hand, we have very strong laws to protect cops that people take very seriously, often even by hardened, multiple-conviction felons. The the extreme punishments in the form of extended jail time just isn't worth it.

On the other hand, there's very little in the way of legal punishment to dissuade an officer from using "excessive" force - or even if the force isn't excessive, there's even less to dissuade an officer from being abusive, demeaning and dehumanizing in the line of duty. Worse, there's a known culture that fosters these attitudes. I've worked as a tech in a police station. I've overheard daily conversations about protesters that boiled down to "So, when do we get to go smash some hippy skulls? Should we provoke them?" with gales of laughter accompanying it.

That's not letting off steam. That's not the pressures of the job. That's directed, politically motivated malice. You don't think that this culture bleeds into the daily work of being a cop?

Look, I've personally seen LAPD herd a few thousand people out of a permitted, legal gathering, trap them in a blind alley and without provaction begin firing teargas canisters and rubber bullets into the trapped crowd and not letting them disperse as ordered. Have you ever been hit with a fucking tear gas canister? You think bricks are bad? Try getting hit by a brick that's been fired out of a gun and it's so hot it's just almost on fire.

Maybe they should have used harsh language to calm them down. That would probably work.

Maybe cops should learn to think more creatively or operate with more empathy. This is the part most bad cops don't ever get. If you come into a conflict like John fucking Wayne on a high horse, full of fire and brimstone and ass-kicking, your average citizen feels and sees this threat (correctly) and reacts in self preservation and self dignity. No one like being talked down to or abused, especially not when it's backed by the higher powers of the courts, and especially not when it is grossly misapplied or overapplied.

There are options above and beyond both force and harsh words. Hell, just fill the streets with firefighter's foam. That'll slow things down right quick and no one gets hurt. There are many solutions to each problem. Violence in conflict is a failure of applied imagination.

We put a man on the freaking moon, yet cops can't think of a better non-violent solution than pain-based compliance methods like rubber bullets and tear gas? What we have here is a severe failure in creative thinking skills - or a fetish for conflict and violence.

I don't envy cops. I can sympathize with their motives to want to try and help, and I can sympathize with their problems and the risks that they take.

But a badge isn't a license to hand their humanity in at the door, nor is it a license to dehumanize others.


For a while I could see myself becoming a cop, or an EMT or a firefighter, and even today I could probably pass a lot of the physical tests required, and I could probably do the job. I was a Boy Scout, I dabbled in Explorers, I believe in Doing The Right Thing. But then I realized I really don't want to be a cop's cop, I really don't want to join that fraternity, because I feel that the system itself is broken. And I'm not alone in this sentiment. Everyone I know who would have made the very best kind of thinking, feeling, selfless superhero of a cop doesn't want anything to do with it because the culture of policing is itself sick and damaged and broken - and it's breaking the rest of our society right along with it. Our prisons are massively overcrowded with non-violent drug offenders - and if they weren't violent before they went in, they are when they get out. If they weren't in the Aryan Brotherhood, Black Power or La Familia before they went in, they are now.

We're supposed to be America, the greatest, most free, most intelligent country on the goddamn planet. Our whole is supposed to vastly exceed the sum of our parts.

So why do we have more people in prison per capita than Communist fucking China? Why are prisons the fastest growth industry we have? Why are homes and families being wrecked over unharmful quantities of drugs, or just the merest suspicion of drugs?

Worse, we're now fostering a culture where we can't even take photographs in public places, but we're constantly surveilled by unknown, unaccountable agencies both private and public. Free speech is being curtailed to protect our... freedoms? Wait, what!? Our phones are being tapped. Our intelligence agencies are engaged in domestic spying.

This is not the America we want, but it may be all that we deserve.

posted by loquacious at 10:47 PM on June 12, 2008 [30 favorites]


As a society, we speak loudly of "traditional family values" and use "think of the children!" as a reason to restrict the liberties of adults--and yet we fucking loathe children, if you look at how we treat them (especially young adults and kids born to poor parents).

(If you had two levees on the ballot, one to buy your local police a Humvee with a machine gun mounted on it and one that will provide hot lunches for kids too poor to afford a midday meal, guess which will pass and which will fail nine times out of ten.)

That anyone can seriously defend this stupid "fake death" incident is perfectly in line with our societal norms, sadly.
posted by maxwelton at 10:54 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, brickman wrote: Wanna see the dedication to the public-look at the plagues of dead officers inscribed in bronze all across this country.

And if you really want to know what a population thinks of all that, you should read the grafitti on the walls of the ghettos.
posted by loquacious at 10:57 PM on June 12, 2008


You seem to think the 60's protesters were pure as the driven snow. That any amount of crowd control was to much.

Four dead in Ohio.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:47 PM on June 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


We're supposed to be America, the greatest, most free, most intelligent country on the goddamn planet. Our whole is supposed to vastly exceed the sum of our parts.

So why do we have more people in prison per capita than Communist fucking China? Why are prisons the fastest growth industry we have? Why are homes and families being wrecked over unharmful quantities of drugs, or just the merest suspicion of drugs?


ah, that would be because you don't understand irony.

(logs off, goes to the pub - woohoo, friday!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:56 PM on June 12, 2008


Hear a lot of criticism of law enforcement in general... Attended high school just like everybody on this site. Wasn't harassed by cops and respected them. Saw first hand in the 60's, police officers being spit on and spewed with rocks by malcontents unable to control themselves during what was suppose to be peaceful protest... Like to see the source for this statement... Don't give a shit how frustrated the youth of 60's were.

Are you real or are you a viral promotion for Watchmen?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:57 AM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Reality mimics Brass Eye (6' 00 on) again! Only on a larger scale!

how do you hyperlink to a point in time on youtube?
posted by davemee at 1:34 AM on June 13, 2008


brickman writes "Were you there? Did you see the carnage of blown up administration buildings and soldiers being spit on and called baby killers after coming back from Vietnam? Well, I was and never was more angry and frustrated with youth of American than at that time. This information didn't come from some liberal professor literary gem on contemporary history that is forced on the students he or she teaches."

I'm with you man. The real problem started when the liberal Feds stopped allowing good cops and sheriffs to uses fire hoses and dogs on them trouble-makin' blacks trying to get their "votin' rights". "Civil disobedience" is still disobedience, and someone has to show these trouble-makers who's boss.

Who y'all votin' for this year, Dick Nixon or George Wallace? I like George, but I hear Nixon's got a secret plan to bring us eace with honor in Vietnam.
posted by orthogonality at 1:59 AM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


It helps if you imagine Brickman's posts as being spoken by Warden Norton from The Shawshank Redemption.
posted by fullerine at 2:53 AM on June 13, 2008


See, now, I was thinking Rorschach.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:36 AM on June 13, 2008


brickman Its interesting to me both that right wing choads like yourself are still stuck in the 1960's, and that you lie about it all the damn time.

There is not one single verified instance of returning soldier/slaves being spit on, not one. That particular lie didn't even start until years after the war was over, but its so persistant that many people have actually deluded themselves into thinking that they remember it.

History is important, but the pathological obsession you and your ilk have with your total and complete loss in the 1960's is just plain pathetic. Its over, you lost, society has long since moved on and is now involved in other issues. Sheesh.
posted by sotonohito at 4:37 AM on June 13, 2008


Oh, forgot to add, re: right wing choads not getting over the 1960's, about four months ago I noticed that in the men's room at a local supermarket some bright spark had placed a circular sticker featuring Jane Fonda's face in the urinals.

The funny thing is that I didn't even realize what the stickers were supposed to represent until I'd seen them a few times. At first I thought the face looked like some boy band type and it was some obscure musical bullshit, doubtless a "serious social commentary" by some goth/emo/punk type. When I finally did realize it was Fonda I was stunned that there are still people shitting their pants over that.

Apparently to right wingers its still 1968 and if they can just scream about the damn hippies loudly enough we'll win Vietnam, Nixon will never be exposed, and those uppity negroes and faggots will just magically vanish.
posted by sotonohito at 4:43 AM on June 13, 2008


Brickman said: ...attended high school just like everybody on this site.

Wrong. Some of us actually did not find high school to be beneficial, and instead attended college. The real world is more complicated than your rightwing fantasies cover. But I hear they have pills today that help reconnect the psychotics with reality. Maybe you should see a doctor.
posted by Goofyy at 5:09 AM on June 13, 2008


The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam
"Images of long-haired antiwar protesters, almost always women, spitting on returning Vietnam veterans have become a shameful part of America's collective memory. Lembcke (Sociology, Holy Cross Univ.), a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, here presents a stunning indictment of this myth; an illusion created, he maintains, by the Nixon-Agnew administration and an unwitting press to attribute America's loss in Vietnam to internal dissension. In fact, the antiwar movement and many veterans were closely aligned, and the only documented incidents show members of the VFW and American Legion spitting on their less successful Vietnam peers."
posted by ericb at 5:45 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, brickman wrote: Wanna see the dedication to the public-look at the plagues of dead officers inscribed in bronze all across this country.

I have not seen a plague of dead officers. Is it anything like a murder of crows?

On topic: As I sit here stroking my pointy goatee, I realize that I can really get behind this emotional torture of young students. It's a fantastic idea! It helps prepare them for the real world, where they can trust no one and nothing. Next, they should be forced to fight each other in a steel cage match; the winner gets to be student body president. This will help them understand the dynamics of corporate America.


Yours,
Evil Alternate Universe Mister_A
posted by Mister_A at 6:43 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


My son is will attending the police academy at the end of the month. Served in the Navy at several bases around the world including Guantanamo Bay with the terrorist. So, let me ask you if it's OK to generalize about police, or just criticise the individuals responsible for this fiasco.

He participated in a destruction of a whole country? The country that was invaded under completely false pretenses? Worked at a detention facility that holds people, not a single one of whom has been shown conclusively to be a terrorist? And now he wants to be a cop?
Yeah, I think generalizations work pretty damn well in this case.
posted by c13 at 7:07 AM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


We're supposed to be America, the greatest, most free, most intelligent country on the goddamn planet.

Newsflash: nobody but you actually believes that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:13 AM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I remember in high school a police officer came in to 'talk about child abuse' and ended up showing us slides of horrific abuse for over an hour - burns, cuts, blood, the works. A few students left the room during the presentation. Looking back on it now it seems like some sort of sadistic passive-agressive exercise with no real purpose.
posted by mattholomew at 8:00 AM on June 13, 2008


Wow, this idea is right up there with nuclear tipped darts. I would like to meet the guy that thought this up and then I would like to meet the people that agreed this was a worthwhile thing to do! I mean seriously. Who in their right mind goes into a classroom and says, a bunch of people you know are DEAD! Then later says it's a hoax. How about we all start calling 911 call centers and say that we are being robbed and when the police arrive say this is just a hoax. We wanted to see if you take things seriously. All this does is undermine trust. Next time something is said to these students do you think they are going to take it seriously? I wouldn't. In fact I wouldn't believe anything anyone at that school said again. And these are the idiots that are teaching our children? Wow we are screwed.....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:00 AM on June 13, 2008


Cops aren't really known for their great sensitivity, so no surprise on that front. But the school admins are another story. I sincerely hope some jobs are lost.

On a somewhat related note, the increase in generalized douchery here in the last week or so is, I would imagine, related to school being out of session. Go outside, little fellas.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:04 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


See, now, I was thinking Rorschach.

I was thinking Travis Bickle8212;"All the animals come out at night8212;whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."8212;but there isn't much difference between the two.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:17 AM on June 13, 2008


oh, bugger.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:18 AM on June 13, 2008


California recognizes the common law tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, the necessary elements for which are:

(1) outrageous conduct by the defendant;

(2) the defendant's intention of causing or reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress;

(3) the plaintiff's suffering severe or extreme emotional distress; and

(4) actual and proximate causation of the emotional distress by the defendant's outrageous conduct.


Objectively speaking, this here's a pretty clear case, no?
posted by applemeat at 8:26 AM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also I just read loquacious post. Nice post. I agree for the most part except. There are a lot of good police officers out there. It is not most are bad few are good. LAPD is a bad place to take your example from. Truth of the matter is if you are in a para-military organization and your commanding officer tells you to do something, you will do it without thinking. That is just how it goes. Also one point I would like to make, you cannot make any difference by going after the front line. They can easily be replaced. You have to go after the person in charge. If someone says use tear gas and rubber bullets instead of a better less than lethal approach then guess what, that person needs to be held responsible for what the "grunts" do.

As for jails being overcrowded, people commit crimes. Again what we need to look at is what is causing all these crimes? We cannot go on handling these problems on a case by case basis. There is a reason why people are committing crimes and being jailed. I have said it before and I'm saying it again.... it all starts with the children. And it's sad because the first thing that gets cut or gets voted down is educational programs. Tomorrow's criminal could be stopped if someone would invested a small percentage of the Iraq war costs into our educational system. But then again that would mean your teaching the peasants to read huh? Fuck elitist rich assholes!

Sorry I'm ranting but lastly nothing is ever going to change as long as the people in charge (not the true leaders but the people that refuse to leave) won't step down or embrace new ideas. Remember true power does not come from money, or who you know, it comes from your ability to adapt to change. I believe the rich right-wingers won't let go and embrace new ideas or step down and let the next generation take it from here. Then again you said there is the America we all want and then there is the America we all deserve. If we continue to let these (me/rolls eyes) "leaders" do whatever they want without repercussions for their actions then we will all be getting the America we deserve.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:31 AM on June 13, 2008


Served in the Navy at several bases around the world including Guantanamo Bay with the terrorist.

YOUR SON SERVED WITH THE TERRORIST????!!??!?!?!? HIM AM TERRORIST TOO THEN!!11!

Which terrorist was it?
posted by Mister_A at 8:43 AM on June 13, 2008


loquacious: We're supposed to be America, the greatest, most free, most intelligent country on the goddamn planet.

UbuRoivas: Newsflash: nobody but you actually believes that.

I dunno. Looks like about 15 people agree so far. And you know, he's not saying we are the most awesome place ever, but that we should be. And we're demonstrably not.

MasterCheddar - we've got overcrowded jails not simply because people "commit crimes" but because we've criminilized so much behavior, and made sentences so much longer. Simple possession shouldn't land you in jail for years. Nonviolent crimes in general shouldn't result in long sentences, or sentences that make you eligible for 3 strikes rules. The fact that we'd rather spend money on building more prisons than on improving schools, instituting drop-out prevention programs, recidivism-prevention programs, and drug treatment programs is a huge warning flag. (And it sounds like we basically agree with each other - I was just expanding a bit.)
posted by rtha at 8:43 AM on June 13, 2008


Again what we need to look at is what is causing all these crimes?

Writing a law that makes a particular action a crime. I'm sure you can think of plenty examples yourself, right?
posted by c13 at 8:43 AM on June 13, 2008


"There are a lot of good police officers out there."

I don't disagree. My point, way way up there, is that cops shouldn't be trusted. Even truly good cops will lie to you. If you are going to live in America it's important to understand this. We live in a society that tells us over and over - Trust the police. They are the good guys. They are here to serve you. But that's true only in a rhetorical and overly simplified sense.

Even if the police are the "good guys", they will still lie to you, still abuse your trust, still be as brutal as they need to be to "get the job done". They will spend

I admire the police for the job they take on. We need them, and they do some great work. The job we give them - the job we need them for - is a very shitty one. But they are also not to be trusted, ever.
posted by Ragma at 9:19 AM on June 13, 2008


They will spend
posted by Ragma at 9:20 AM on June 13, 2008


They are here to serve you.

Well, not according to the Supreme Court that says that the police is not under obligation to protect you.
Random googling brings up things like this: In 1856, the U.S. Supreme Court (South v. Maryland) found that law enforcement officers had no affirmative duty to provide such protection. In 1982 (Bowers v. DeVito), the Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit held, "...there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen."
I wish we would dispense with that whole "serve and protect" bullshit. It has as much truth as the scared stiff action we're discussing.
posted by c13 at 9:31 AM on June 13, 2008


They didn't even offer us a firearms safety course, much less roll out the "guns are bad, m'kay?"

We got a bit of a gun talk in high school. This gun safety guy came in and part of his presentation involved passing a gun around the room followed by a loaded mousetrap. More people were willing to handle the gun, if I remember right.

He then showed us that the gun was loaded. The message being that we should treat all firearms as if loaded and ready to fire. (The firing pin was removed though)

I never quite got the intended message. If we're supposed to treat all firearms as loaded then this guy should be fired and charged for handing around a gun to a bunch of high schoolers, right?

This is in Northern Canada. We got more warnings about bears than guns (and hey, it was the same guy who gave us that talk).
posted by ODiV at 9:58 AM on June 13, 2008


Was the bear loaded?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:03 AM on June 13, 2008


I keep two Magnums in my desk: I keep one loaded, the other one keeps me loaded.
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on June 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Good one Tracer.
posted by caddis at 12:18 PM on June 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Rokusan: Is there some kind of law protecting the school from prosecution here? Because if not, that seems like a pretty damning quote to me, the juror.

I mean, this is the Land of Litigation, right? If anyone can sue for emotional distress, ever, isn't this a textbook example?


A woman in the midlands of England has received a "five-figure compensation sum" for being questioned during a police/hospital training exercise and believing for a few hours that someone else's baby had been kidnapped.

posted by ceri richard at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2008


Objectively speaking, this here's a pretty clear case, no?

Egads, applemeat, I sure hope so. I hope they get sued back into the Stone Age. Add this as yet another "why I would never send my kids to public school" reason. I believe you teach responsibility re: alcohol in the home. I think it's fine to let kids drink watered down wine at dinner. If you make it NOT a big deal, they're less likely to pull something stupid.

(Added shocky shock bonus: at dinner last night, my English friend says to me "You know, they still give nursing mothers Guinness in England. Lots of B vitamins, minerals, etc..." To which I said, well, I'll nurse in England then, so as not to get the stinkeye from the alcohol freaks here. Generations of humans were raised by mothers drinking liquids other than the virginal tears of holy Fiji saints, liquids usually in the weak beer model).

This high school is sick, and that "guidance" counselor should be fired and stripped of any licensing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:04 AM on June 14, 2008


Generations of humans were raised by mothers drinking liquids other than the virginal tears of holy Fiji saints, liquids usually in the weak beer model

And those generations believed that witches would destroy their crops and eat their babies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:27 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mastercheddaar writes "There are a lot of good police officers out there. It is not most are bad few are good."

Probably true. But when their bad, it's really bad. Like this woman, a trained nurse, who got 10 months in gaol for pulling a cop out of a burning cruiser.
posted by Mitheral at 8:27 PM on June 14, 2008


And those generations believed that witches would destroy their crops and eat their babies.

Yet here we all are today, so it seems to have worked out just fine, no?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:40 AM on June 15, 2008


Yet here we all are today, so it seems to have worked out just fine, no?

Mostly thanks to the sort of people who said things like "Hey, guys, maybe pregnant women shouldn't be drinking."
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:53 AM on June 15, 2008


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