Don't Laugh at the D.O.E.
June 27, 2005 10:42 AM   Subscribe

 
Ah, the ongoing campaign to change human nature continues apace. Good luck with that.
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on June 27, 2005


Ha ha!
posted by flashboy at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2005


Metafilter is their home page too?
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2005


With luck they can repeat the resounding success of Operation Don't Pin Me Down In The Cafeteria And Shove French Fries Up My Nose
posted by gurple at 10:55 AM on June 27, 2005


If they're holding up MeFi as a shining example of respect, they've already lost. Which is good. Yes, I know the OP fucked up.
posted by keswick at 10:58 AM on June 27, 2005


Psh. It isn't funny unless somebody gets hurt.
posted by schroedinger at 10:59 AM on June 27, 2005


Ye-ah. I heard about this program a few years ago. I work in an agency that occasionally does prevention programs for youth in schools, and my boss told me that she'd seen "Don't Laugh at Me," with Peter Yarrow actually there to sing the folk song and everything, presented at one of the schools in Hartford. I asked her what the kids' reaction was and she said, "Well. . . they laughed at him."

I have so little faith in these things, even as I try to raise money for them. It's a sad place to be in sometimes.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2005


The song's author is described in the new yorker article as:

a veteran of the civil-rights, gender-equality, nucleardisarmament, peace, and Amtrak-subsidization movements

Amtrak subsidization movement? Sorry, attempts to prevent me from laughing have already failed.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2005


Hey, wait a minute:

In God's eyes we're all the same
Some day we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me


What the hell is this doing in public schools?
posted by gurple at 11:03 AM on June 27, 2005


The exercise emphasized using “I messages,” as opposed to those that begin with “you” and, therefore, can put their targets on the defensive. [...] "Just make sure they’re sticking to the formula, [...] I often get students who say, ‘I feel that you are stupid.’ ”

hee hee hee kids are too smart for you. Sheesh, I got at least my fair share of teasing, and I won't spout the usual crap about how it made me a better person - it sucked and I'd love to have kids get less of it. Nonetheless I am fairly certain the Folk Music of Peter, Paul and Mary will not significantly alter the ways kids have interacted since we invented speech.
posted by freebird at 11:05 AM on June 27, 2005


When I was a kid, bullies would say "You're gonna get your ass kicked by me." It's a good thing we're teaching them to say "I'm gonna kick your ass", as it puts the victim less on the defensive and makes it more likely that they won't fling up their hands and accidentally block the first punch.
posted by Bugbread at 11:11 AM on June 27, 2005


I asked her what the kids' reaction was and she said, "Well. . . they laughed at him."

I'm amazed they didn't pelt him with rotten fruit and spitballs. But Yarrow's gotta work the Elementary School circuit since he's probably not safe in the High Schools.
posted by jonmc at 11:12 AM on June 27, 2005


Why don't they start with something less formidable like a campaign to get kids to quit eating their boogers?

Or, they could also force the entire population of the US into this intensive curriculum of character development too, I know plenty of adults who could use a little (or a lot) of how to respect other people.
posted by fenriq at 11:14 AM on June 27, 2005


Woah, I didn't know that. Thanks, jonmc. Yarrow always struck me as a seedy little man. Not without reason, apparently.
posted by keswick at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2005


It's whiney 60's dreck like this that occasionally tempts me to burn my Pinko Liberal card. Somebody please wake me once all the stinky hippies have died.
posted by MaxVonCretin at 11:17 AM on June 27, 2005


Hmm. That was not intentional, but funny!
I know that I don't have to tell those of you with a Status Bar that the "home page" link above should be: http://www.operationrespectct.org/.
posted by spock at 11:25 AM on June 27, 2005


I wonder if we're seeing the start of an anti-bullying trend here. I just finished reading "Please Stop Laughing at Me" by Jodee Blanco, who would be a much better resource than Peter Yarrow.
posted by zarq at 11:28 AM on June 27, 2005


Somebody please wake me once all the stinky hippies have died.

Yarrow's no hippie. He's a damned folkie. The people who booed Dylan for going electric. The people who blindly worshipped "primitive," culture while being the most lily-white stiffs in history. Plus they dissed the Mamas & the Papas, Donovan and the Beatles (all infinitely more talented artists than themselves) in this song. He even personally announced at Newport that Dylan would come back "with an acoustic guitar[emphasis his]" So he's all about respecting difference, I guess. Screw him.
posted by jonmc at 11:28 AM on June 27, 2005


Why are you all mocking this? Kids need to learn that in the real adult world there are no mean people.
posted by Capn at 11:29 AM on June 27, 2005


to change human nature continues apace

I disagree that laughing at other peoples' misfortune is part of human nature. At most it's like a dog's nature to crap on the carpet and jump on houseguests.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:29 AM on June 27, 2005


Well, if they've proved one thing, it's that enforcing a diss-free zone is a fantastic recipe for an ultra-lively internet message board!
posted by MaxVonCretin at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2005


I disagree that laughing at other peoples' misfortune is part of human nature.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary? Did you read the Dick Cheney thread the other day? Other celebrity death conversations here and elsewhere?

I didn't say it was a good part of human nature, but let's face it it's there. But, continue living in denial and carry on with the campaign to rid the world of bad thoughts. Call me when it's all done.
posted by jonmc at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2005


Schadenfreude is certainly part of human nature, nervousfritz -- not even just humans, animals exhibit it, too.

What's the funniest thing in the world? Someone else's pain.
posted by gurple at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2005


Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2005


He's the kind of folkie that goes folk music a bad name. It took me so long to look past his ilk to the truly great stuff like Dock Boggs, Woody Guthrie, and such.
posted by keswick at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2005


I had to do a double take on this one, but since when did the New Yorker start featuring articles that assaulted liberal elitism? What's next Harper's doing a pro-Bush spread?

(often reads both, am urban liberal elite, well, ok, at least urban and liberal)
posted by Pollomacho at 11:36 AM on June 27, 2005


This program will shorten kid's lifespans and lower their test scores!
posted by spock at 11:40 AM on June 27, 2005


Schadenfreude is certainly part of human nature, nervousfritz -- not even just humans, animals exhibit it, too.

I guess, what's human nature? Is civilization, enlightenment, moral reasoning, is all that against human nature? Or is it the very essence of human nature?

It is the noble human master that trains his dog to be obedient, and in its obedience it even appears wise at times.

So we are all given the opportunity to train our minds. To lose our human nature? Or to find it? Ahh well, here we are at one of the great debates.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2005



posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2005



posted by ericb at 11:45 AM on June 27, 2005


Forget the Ivory Tower. Whoever came up with this lame-ass crap is on an Ivory Planet.
posted by Doohickie at 11:45 AM on June 27, 2005


I coulda swore we'd have posts about schools usurping the parent('s) role in determining the child's character development or how Peter, Paul and Mary lost their ability to harmonize somewhere along the line, or sumpin'.

Who names these programs, anyway? Doesn't "Don't Laugh at Me" sound a little self-centered if character development is the goal? "Don't Laugh at Others" might at least be in line with their stated goals.
posted by spock at 11:46 AM on June 27, 2005


I had to do a double take on this one, but since when did the New Yorker start featuring articles that assaulted liberal elitism?

Even urban liberals have their limits, dude.
posted by jonmc at 11:47 AM on June 27, 2005


nervousfritz writes "I guess, what's human nature? Is civilization, enlightenment, moral reasoning, is all that against human nature? Or is it the very essence of human nature?"

Neither. Those are neither against human nature, nor the very essence of human nature, but merely aspects of human nature.
posted by Bugbread at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2005


So we are all given the opportunity to train our minds.

Or we merely grow up. If say, my pants fell down and everybody laughed at me, when I was six, I might've pitched a fit. If it happened today, I'd laugh along with everyone else. We learn to laugh at our ourselves.

Plus, while schadenfruede is a part of human nature, so is empathy. But trying to force a cumbaya universe is just going to backfire badly.
posted by jonmc at 11:52 AM on June 27, 2005


Is not civility a learned behavior?
Is incivility our only honest "human nature"?

Isn't the fact that a (lame) program like this was started, found acceptance, and is now being foisted upon the U.S. Educational community in itself an indictment of parents and U.S. society in general? I'm sure this is not a problem in Canada.
posted by spock at 11:58 AM on June 27, 2005


I'm sure this is not a problem in Canada.

No, there they just have the Quebecois to pick on. Canada is just a country, not a mystical land of lollipop trees. Please tell me you're joking or I will have to write you off as an utter imbecile.
posted by jonmc at 12:02 PM on June 27, 2005


OK then, back to everyone for himself, with trickle down compassion for the abused.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:04 PM on June 27, 2005


Other programs in the works:
  • Please Don't Make Me Shower After Gym
  • Chess Club Is Too A Sport
  • I'm OK Even Though I Took My Sister To Prom
  • The Green Stuff In The Cafeteria Is Good For Me
  • Getting An Erection At The Chalkboard Is Perfectly Natural
posted by pardonyou? at 12:05 PM on June 27, 2005


weapons-grade, I didn't say that we should encourage or even tolerate cruelty, merely deflating some of the more fatuous statements in the thread. And cloying faux-compassion like this program proffers, don't produce civility or empathy, merely banality.
posted by jonmc at 12:07 PM on June 27, 2005


Time to check the batteries in the humor detector, jonmc!
posted by spock at 12:07 PM on June 27, 2005


A good comedian never blames his audience, shecky.
posted by jonmc at 12:09 PM on June 27, 2005


spock writes "Is not civility a learned behavior?
"Is incivility our only honest 'human nature'?

"Isn't the fact that a (lame) program like this was started, found acceptance, and is now being foisted upon the U.S. Educational community in itself an indictment of parents and U.S. society in general?"


Doesn't your argument imply that civility is a learned behavior? Doesn't that thereby imply that a program to teach that learned behavior is a good thing? Isn't the fact that the program was started, found acceptance, and is now being foisted upon the U.S. Educational community in itself a vindication of parents and U.S. society in general?

Not that I believe either one, really, but the first half of your post and the second half of your post seemed to contradict eachother (hard to say with each sentence being a question, though).
posted by Bugbread at 12:10 PM on June 27, 2005


Meh. Take it from someone who teaches fifth and sixth grade - if this song were performed in front of my students they would laugh. The only net effect would be to increase their cynicism. Maybe if it were in a style of music they'd appreciate, maybe then they wouldn't laugh at it. But it still wouldn't get them to stop teasing one another.

Kids learn by doing, not by being preached at. That's true in every other school subject and every other domain of life. When are people going to get it through their heads that this is true of character education, too? There are only two ways I know to teach character education and community building - one proactive and one reactive. The proactive way is to give the class a really hard task that they like and that they'll only succeed at if everyone works together. (In my classroom it's dramatic arts). The other way is to mediate when bad things happen - to help kids understand how they get into negative things in the specific, not in the abstract. Not "don't say bad things to other people" but "Marcia, why are you so mad at Jerry - why are you giving each other a hard time?"

One of the most frustrating moments I've ever had as a teacher was when a parent I really respect said to me, in all seriousness, that our school is a failure at teaching values if any child bullies or teases another child, ever. In the real world people get in each other's way and piss each other off. Character is as much about how we respond to those situations as it is anything else. Saying that teasing will never, ever happen is like saying that all children should start school already knowing algebra. Things must be taught.
posted by Chanther at 12:21 PM on June 27, 2005


"Is not civility a learned behavior?
"Is incivility our only honest 'human nature'?


I think you are doing what many people that read Ayn Rand do (not that she's necessarily the cause of your mix up). You are mixing up egoism and egotism.

Primates are pack animals. "Human nature" is to work together. Its also to form hierarchies, so which wins out in the end?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:21 PM on June 27, 2005


I'm sure this is not a problem in Canada.

Well, the founder of Bullying.org lives just up the highway in Cochrane, Alberta, if that's any indication. I'm all for pointing out Canada's strong points vis a vis America - what true Canadian isn't? - but overcoming human nature isn't one of them.

How we choose to control this nature is another story, of course, but bigger (tougher/cooler/smarter/richer/more popular) kids exploiting their status is pretty much universal, I think. I mean, my only teaching experience ever was English instruction for five- and six-year-old Tibetan refugees, and those kids could be just vicious to each other.

Also, Peter, Paul & Mary are indeed the iconic Trinity of overearnest, wussy-ass folk. Phil Ochs, however, had his moments . . .

. . . and on preview, spock's already sorta recanted . . .

*throws "If I Had A Hammer" on stereo, winces, sits in penitent silence*

posted by gompa at 12:26 PM on June 27, 2005


Anti-bullying curriculum is the dumbest idea ever. Anti-bullying disciplinary practices, on the other hand, are a very good idea in poor neighborhoods. If you live in a low-functioning community and have a low-functioning family, school is the one chance you have to experience a well-ordered social environment. So, bottom line: less folk singing, more expelling.
posted by MattD at 12:28 PM on June 27, 2005


*throws "If I Had A Hammer" on stereo, winces, sits in penitent silence*

If you really want to suffer for penance, you should listen to Leonard Nimoy's cover.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:29 PM on June 27, 2005


The Onion interviewed the South Park guys a while back. Their insight was that kids are not corrupted by society, they instead start out vile and are civilized by society. Couple that with some observations of chimp behavior, from ostracism to murder, and you'll have a realistic view on things.

Given that, you have a few choices- change student nature with saltpetre, correct it using orange jumpsuits, or use the healing power of folk music to make students laugh.
posted by efbrazil at 12:29 PM on June 27, 2005


Phil Ochs, however, had his moments . .

Ochs went electric and embraced rock and roll, and got booed for it, too.

So, bottom line: less folk singing, more expelling.

That's got a nice ring to it. It'd make a great folk song:

"Less Folk Singing. More Expelling
Less Hugging, More What-the-hell-ing
My blood pressures rising and that's blood I'm smelling
Kid, I've had it with you

Less touchy-feely, more torture-wheelie
Less Barney, More rubble
Your ass is out the door if you make any trouble
and then you'll cry boo-hoo"
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on June 27, 2005


Incidentally, does anyone remember the Family Ties where Elyse decides to get back into folk singing, but nobody at the coffeehouse wants to hear "If I Had A Hammer," so she does a few bars of a kind of folk-thrash version of "Beat It"?

Man, the '80s sucked so bad . . .

/nostalgic tangent
posted by gompa at 12:38 PM on June 27, 2005


Less Barney, More rubble

I salute you for that line alone.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:42 PM on June 27, 2005


Incidentally, does anyone remember the Family Ties where...

No. And please don't make me.

Oh, hey, there's another good school program name: Please Don't Make Me.
posted by davejay at 12:49 PM on June 27, 2005


Incidentally, does anyone remember the Family Ties where Elyse decides to get back into folk singing, but nobody at the coffeehouse wants to hear "If I Had A Hammer," so she does a few bars of a kind of folk-thrash version of "Beat It"?

I was just thinking of that. I remember afterwards, some ventriloquist had his dummy tell her that she didn't go over well because what she sang had "too much meaning." Christ on a bike, the obtuseness of that statement sums up what was wrong with folkies, and several other musical subcultures, come to think of it.
posted by jonmc at 12:49 PM on June 27, 2005


These programs work. Sometimes, even, they work too well. Middle school might be pushing it, but young kids are pretty impressionable. Repetition is the key. More importantly, this sets of the tone of the school environment. Teachers, ironically, are part of the problem because they overlook bullying as just kids being kids. Of course, the orange jumpsuit idea would've also been pretty interesting. Maymbe jumpsuits with some hard labor thrown in.
posted by nixerman at 1:02 PM on June 27, 2005


MattD: right fucking on.

Bullying can ruin people's lives. Going through life fearing social interaction and with piss poor self esteem is a fast track to suicide.

Kids who bully should be separated from the rest.
And also, although I hate bullies so much my dick is hard, once identified, bullies should be questioned as to how their family life is, or if they have stressors elsewhere. Stopping bullies from destroying other kids is step one. Step two is finding out what went wrong, and keeping it from continuing to go wrong. Not all bullies are children.
posted by modernerd at 1:02 PM on June 27, 2005


Repetition is the key.

You will obey the folksinger.
You will obey the folksinger.
You will obey the folksinger.
You will obey the folksinger.

Good lord, just because something's a good idea dosen't mean you can't brainwash someone with it. And ultimately that makes a lot of people want to smack the messenger.
posted by jonmc at 1:06 PM on June 27, 2005


jonmc, you, might er, want to come off righteous high-hourse. Nobody cares who you want to smack. And believe it or not, kids get 'brainwashed' with all sorts of 'good' ideas. They're taught not to lie, cheat, play fair, share... yeah, it's horrible, I know, but that's just the way the world is.
posted by nixerman at 1:16 PM on June 27, 2005


I'm down with cutting bullying behavior off as soon as possible. But expelling them doesn't help anyone. Sure, it's a short-term solution that works for the school, but for society? The street is the worst place for kids to learn to not be jackasses. They're just going go downhill and end up in jail or an even greater drain on society.

Separate the tormentor from their victims, but keep them in school. You need a program that will address why these kids are bullying and focus their energies on more constructive activities. You can't tell people not to bully. You have to teach them to not want to bully in the first place. People don't learn to not do things by being punished for doing them, they just learn to not get caught.

What kind of program would do this? I honestly have no idea. Probably one that chucks the kid into counseling, examines their family situation, finds out what they like to do besides pick on smaller people and gets them doing it. It would be crazy-sweet if it there was a mandatory course sequence in ethics and logical thought that started in middle school. 'Course, these things depend on good counselors and teachers the kid respects.
posted by schroedinger at 1:18 PM on June 27, 2005


Nobody cares who you want to smack. And believe it or not, kids get 'brainwashed' with all sorts of 'good' ideas. They're taught not to lie, cheat, play fair, share... yeah, it's horrible, I know, but that's just the way the world is.

If the current state of American society is anything to go by, they're doing a bang-up job. And a dictatorship of virtue is still a dictatorship. Yes, and a cloying washed-up folk singer is just the man to do it.

But, hey, anyone who questions the all-knowing nixerman, is off riding their righteous high horse.
posted by jonmc at 1:22 PM on June 27, 2005


nixerman writes "Nobody cares who you want to smack."

Jonmc never talked about who he wanted to smack.
posted by Bugbread at 1:22 PM on June 27, 2005


jonmc writes "And a dictatorship of virtue is still a dictatorship."

Jonmc, how do you think kids get socialized? Do you think they just naturally grow up knowing not to hit other kids or steal shit? Or that it happens at some time due to hormones? Raising your kids with good idea values (Don't stab other kids. Don't inject drano into cats. Don't set fire to teachers) isn't brainwashing, it's raising kids.
posted by Bugbread at 1:25 PM on June 27, 2005


Raising your kids with good idea values (Don't stab other kids. Don't inject drano into cats. Don't set fire to teachers) isn't brainwashing, it's raising kids.

I never said it wasn't. It was nixerman's sanctimonious "repetition is the key" I-must-not-think-bad-thoughts type of indoctrination that makes me nervous, (and nervousfritz's laughable "laughing at misfortune isn't natural" is just beyond clueless) because it begs the question of how it'll deal with anything that questions it. Judging by my interactions with him, not well.
posted by jonmc at 1:31 PM on June 27, 2005


You're comparing primary school education to a dictatorship?
posted by nixerman at 1:32 PM on June 27, 2005


You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be carefully taught

Rodgers and Hammerstein
posted by Floydd at 1:36 PM on June 27, 2005


nixerman, do you actually read comments for substance or do you just cherry pick stuff from them so you can make yourself sound all profound and shit?

Because I think your distaste and loathing for me (which you'd never admit to, since it would shatter your world veiw) is clouding your judgement.

You've got to be taught to hate and fear

I'll go out on a limb and say that in the right doses, fear is good. If you depend of people's virtue to ensure that bad things never happen...well, good luck with that.

When people decide not to steal something , it's usually fear of consequences, not inherent goodness that stops them. When we move into violence, it's empathy that ultimate stops most people, but empathy is not something you can forcefully inculcate into people. I wish it was, but it's not. Some people, for reasons we're still figuring out will never have it. The nature of the universe cannot be changed by good intentions and wishful thinking.
posted by jonmc at 1:44 PM on June 27, 2005


jonmc writes "It was nixerman's sanctimonious 'repetition is the key' I-must-not-think-bad-thoughts type of indoctrination that makes me nervous"

Ok, that does help clarify what you were about. Still, I'd say for little kids (especially really little kids), repetition is the key. Discussions about how electricity works, the conductive properties of saliva, and thermal damage don't help much to convince kids not to put their tongues in the power outlets. Repetition ("Don't touch the power outlet! It's dangerous!") works really well. I suppose you could call that "brainwashing", but it's good brainwashing. Otherwise you don't get to teach kids anything until they're like 5 or 6 and are getting good at understanding cause-effect descriptions and thinking in advance about their actions. And even then, they aren't perfect, they're just getting better at that kind of thing. But by that time, if you haven't taught them that stealing other kids toys or punching other kids is bad, you're pretty much donald ducked.

jonmc writes "When we move into violence, it's empathy that ultimate stops most people, but empathy is not something you can forcefully inculcate into people."

Evidence?
posted by Bugbread at 2:09 PM on June 27, 2005


Can't we just beat the bullying out of them?
posted by klangklangston at 2:14 PM on June 27, 2005


Metafilter: I feel that you are stupid.
posted by matildaben at 2:29 PM on June 27, 2005


yeah, this shit can really compete with MTV and VH1, which blares 24 hours of bitch-fight reality tv all day set to today's popular hits.
good luck.

people need to realize that socializaton does not just happen in school anymore. it mostly happens on the tizube.
posted by es_de_bah at 3:41 PM on June 27, 2005


Peace Games
posted by ericb at 4:05 PM on June 27, 2005


I Messages: the guilt-trip mechanism of the psychpap industry.

"Oh, honey, I feel embarassed when you don't shower daily. Please go have a bath for mummy's sake, k, sweetie?" Guh.

I prefer the "you" message: "Sweet bitty jaysus, kid, you freakin' reek after soccer practice. You hit the shower now, before you even think about sitting down to supper."

Cochrane, Alberta, sucks! Nah-ha!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:11 PM on June 27, 2005


gurple: yeah, how come we're not talking about that? Are we all the same in the eyes of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
posted by moonbird at 6:34 PM on June 27, 2005


jonmc, I usually applaud your posts, but tonight I've been drinking and frankly I'm sick of your bullshit, smug attitude concerning human nature.
I get it, you ass. "It's just human nature. Wake me up when you've all realized that people just can't change and there's nothing that you can do about it."
Fuck that nonsense. Human nature is not acceptable. It is not ok to excuse behavior because it is in human nature. Have you ever read this book? It's ok if you haven't, it's a really boring book. But one of the points that it hammers home is that
rape, incest, infanticide, pedophilia and cannibalism are well within the bounds of human nature. I've never seen you stick up for the kiddy fuckers or the rapists in any of the crimefilter posts. Why not, jonmc? Why not??
After all, it's just human nature, right???
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:43 PM on June 27, 2005


About the flying spaghetti monster.
After reading that a brilliant thought occurred to me. (At least, I thought it was brilliant. It's probably trite and unoriginal.)

The flying spaghetti monster stuff is silly and so obviously satirical that it wouldn't put a dent in the die-hard Christian superintendent's emphasis on embracing both(?) theories of the descent of man. However, I was reading a book tonight that talked about plate tectonics, specifically, about how the meaningless dispute over the existence of plate tectonics set the theory back for almost 50 years.
Why not introduce a competing theory of intelligent design - one that is as credible-sounding yet logically offbase and quaintly appealing to midwesterners - a competing theory that we'd violently defend against the current I.D. nonsense? Surely evolution would rise to the top of the heap. We'd be the wedge people wedging the wedge people!
And...I think that would get kids to stop laughing at each other. I find my ideas intriguing and should subscribe to my blog.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:55 PM on June 27, 2005


hey Baby_Balrog, there's a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.
posted by keswick at 6:59 PM on June 27, 2005


Baby Balrog, I never said we shouldn't combat the things you mentioned, just that we shouldn't harbor unrealistic pipedreams about eliminating them from humanity. I don't excuse a damned thing, but I think that the just think good thoughts" approach epitomized by Peter Yarrow is futile and even dangerous.

You've always been a reasonable guy, so I'll put it to you this way: it's the classic idealist vs. realist argument; do we try to build an ideal society or do we deal with the problems in the one we've got.

I've never seen you stick up for the kiddy fuckers or the rapists in any of the crimefilter posts. Why not, jonmc? Why not??

Because I find their actions repugnant and destructive. But I harbor no delusions that we can eliminate the circumstances (genetic or enviornemntal) that produce them, since quite frankly we're nowhere near understanding those factors, and I don't harbor much hope that we ever will. A younger, mor idealistic jonmc might've, and on a certain level I find that kind of idealism admirable, but still unrealistic and ultimately, dishonest.
posted by jonmc at 6:59 PM on June 27, 2005


A different jonmc, the jonmc of 1460 A.D. might have lamented that we'd never reduce those damnable humors to their baser causes, and eliminate that wretched wasting sickness.
Just because we're nowhere near understanding the cause of something doesn't mean that we never will. Maybe you and I won't, but I'm grateful that no one threw in the towel on optics before Anthony Leeuwenhoek started fiddling around.

One time, not so long ago, people thought black people belonged in chains - it was appropriate according to their nature.

I'm not trying to be hyperbolic and compare bullying to slavery, but I would like to point out that people's interpretations of human nature have varied greatly over the years.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:09 PM on June 27, 2005


There's a difference between flawed political systems and fundamental facets of human nature. Like I said we shouldn't excuse them, but even you grant hat there's a difference between "let's outlaw slavery," and "let's eliminate evil thoughts [which you, me and everyone on the planet has, by any definition]."

Somebody, I forget who, once said "All revolutionaries eventually become heretics or oppressors." Your youthful idealism is to be applauded, but just keep that in mind,before you judge anyone, including yourself, too harshly, down the road.
posted by jonmc at 7:14 PM on June 27, 2005


or as Denis Leary put it:

"Happiness comes in small doses. It's an orgasm, a cigarette, a chocolate chip cookie. You come, you smoke the butt, you eat the cookie, you go to sleep and you go to fuckin' work."

Same goes for a perfect world. it's a sad fact of life, but it's a fact.
posted by jonmc at 7:23 PM on June 27, 2005


Happiness is a long, successful, dreadfully unnatural marriage.

Maybe it is revolutionary to suggest that humans are capable of becoming more than our base nature suggests.
If it is possible to become this kind of a revolutionary without reading too much Nietzsche or signing on with the Objectivists, I'm all for it. I'll stand up against the smelly primitivists, because I agree with you, jonmc. I think they are wrong in assuming human nature is a beautiful thing that should be embraced. I think human nature is a vile thing that we should flee from, even if it costs us the survival of our species. I don't think we should play nature's ridiculous game, and this is why I won't let my kid beat up on some other kid.
I will teach him that it is better for him to be kind to the other kid.
Of course, in the natural world, this would greatly decrease his chance of producing viable offspring, and reduce his chances of having grandchildren to nearly zero.
However. I don't like the natural world, I don't like the way primates treat each other in the natural world, and I'm not going to defend it as an appropriate way to treat people.
In short, I agree with you - it is human nature that causes us to treat each other like animals, it causes our children to snarl and bite and kick each other. It even causes us to shoot at each other.
Am I going to fight against it, even at the cost of being branded a heretic or oppressor? Damn skippy. If I oppress someone because I don't think they should impregnate their offspring, so be it. It may go against their basic human nature, but I'm old enough to not give a shit.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:33 PM on June 27, 2005


I will teach him that it is better for him to be kind to the other kid.

And more power to you. But remember not to judge your fellow man to harshly for not measuring up.

It's odd to quote the Bible here, "but let he who is without sin cast the first stone," you know. I've learned that harsh lesson a lot of times, Keep it in mind.

And I've never read Neitzsche or Rand. I started Atlas Shrugged but I never managed to get past the first 10 pages. My opinions are based on listening without judgement to what all kinds of people tell me. Compassion may be a curse.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 PM on June 27, 2005


I don't think we should play nature's ridiculous game, and this is why I won't let my kid beat up on some other kid.

Good for you, but at the same time, I assume you'll teach him how to survive in a world where not everyone is soenlightened, is what I'm saying.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 PM on June 27, 2005


I like Peter, Paul and Mary's music - especially Mary's singing.
posted by jb at 7:44 PM on June 27, 2005


I prefer the Cadillacs' "Speedoo," a much better evocation of the same era.
posted by jonmc at 7:47 PM on June 27, 2005


You know what this thread needs? More cowbell jonmc.
posted by spock at 8:57 PM on June 27, 2005


you know, all this talk about "human nature" assumes that we haven't been domesticated, just as dogs and cattle were ... and it furthermore assumes that the domestication process couldn't possibly continue

isn't it possible that certain traits of people have been selected out by civilization? ... if we manage to keep going for a few more thousands of years, what could be selected out?

think of the things we do every day ... are they "natural"? ... is driving a car down a freeway at 75 mph "human nature"? ... just how are we supposed to tell what human nature is, when we've created such an artificial environment to experience it in? ... and when genetic engineering advances much further, by what criteria should we select what "human nature" is?

compared to that prospect, "brainwashing" a few kids with peter, paul and mary is nothing ...

by the way, "i dig rock and roll music" was probably the only really decent thing they ever did ... it fit into the am radio of the time ...

oh, and jon mc - "runaway" del shannon
posted by pyramid termite at 9:06 PM on June 27, 2005


i have a fever. a fever for jonmc.
posted by keswick at 9:31 PM on June 27, 2005


You've always been a reasonable guy, so I'll put it to you this way: it's the classic idealist vs. realist argument; do we try to build an ideal society or do we deal with the problems in the one we've got.

In other words, you go to life with the reality you have, not the utopia you dream.

Alternatively, "do not sacrifice attainable good at the altar of perfection." Or something like that.

...domestication ...isn't it possible that certain traits of people have been selected out by civilization? ...if we manage to keep going for a few more thousands of years, what could be selected out?

That is the most hopeful thing I've read in ages. If we can only hold our shit together another few generations, if we can finally figure out how to quit killing each other over stupid things like territory and oil, maybe ... just maybe ... we'll finally fucking evolve into paradise on earth.

It's that or die trying.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 PM on June 27, 2005


chanther: The proactive way is to give the class a really hard task that they like and that they'll only succeed at if everyone works together. (In my classroom it's dramatic arts).

I couldn't agree more. I am a high school acting teacher and I've found that you can get most kids, even many who are at each other's throats, to work together succesfully on a group project. I think drama, band, team sports, and all the group activities that school districts love to cut first are some of the finest tools for true character education.

So many schools seem to prefer putting up little xeroxed poster that say things like "Honesty: A Good Thing" or "Respect: Not a Four Letter Word" for the kids to ignore.

We had an aggresive character education program at our school for about six years. All teachers were required to teach it during home room. We had a word of the month and we had to do excercises (including worksheets and homework) on the word of the month. I have never seen good qualities become so totally despised as they did during those six years. Indeed, the negative words (because every positive word had a negative word to go with it) actually became the prefered modes of behavior of the kids.

So, in my limited experience, character education needs to be contextual as opposed to something taught separately. Teachers, parents, coaches, etc need to model good behavior, encourage good behavior, and, when bad behavior occurs, react immediatly and fairly.

I don't think bullies should be removed from the general student body. They can be reached and even become completely cool and awesome people if everyone (parents, families, teachers, etc) do their jobs well.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:59 AM on June 28, 2005


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