Tuesday, October 02, 2007

strong arm of Authority

abc7.com: Aftermath of Food Fight Triggers Protest at High School

here's the story: there's an alleged food fight in a school cafeteria; there's a girl who drops a piece of cake; there's an armed security guard who tells her to clean it up; she cleans it up; he doesn't like the way she cleans it up and wants her to clean it up better; she tries and then gets up to leave; he grabs her, throws her down on a table and fractures her wrist. there may or may not have been a racial slur said.

but there's another kid taping the incident with his phone; he gets thrown down and arrested. the girl who dropped the cake is thrown down and arrested. the boy's sister who tries to intervene on his behalf is also thrown down and arrested. oh, and get this: the girl's mother, understandably upset that her daughter had her wrist fractured by a school employee, gets irate and then she gets arrested and suspended from her job with the school district.

(before anyone gets all judgmental about the 'out of control black mother' imagine your emotional response if your precious child was assaulted by a hulking, armed, over zealous school employee and then expelled and arrested for battery, during which she was the object of battery, not the subject.)

exactly who is overreacting here and who are these schools hiring for security? Blackwater USA??

this is another story that brings to mind more than just the weird racial politics of living in southern california. we have another instance of armed force being used against children who defy authority.

my sister, who teaches high school in l.a., is of the mind that authority is authority and should be obeyed; that kid who was tasered at ucla? my sister thought he got what he deserved. sometimes, my sister lives in a seriously weird world where you obey first and ask questions later. ok, that's one point of view. but whatever happened to the idea of civil disobedience?

(not saying that the girl who didn't clean up the cake to the satisfaction of some bohunk security guard was engaging in a political act of resistance. she's a teenager and thought she picked up all the cake and wanted to leave because she was being humiliated.)

when i was young i participated in all sorts of acts of civil disobedience. in 6th grade, i circulated a petition protesting the rigid and regimental recess rules at a new school and organized a recess sit-down in protest. if i did that now as a 6th grader, would that get me expelled and arrested? should that get me expelled? if i refused to end my sit-down during recess, would that get me slammed against a table and my wrist fractured?

i don't believe that authority should automatically be obeyed.
i don't believe that initial obedience automatically means Authority has the right to unfettered abuse in the future.
i don't believe in chaos and anarchy either.

but is it just me or is there something something in the air - a change in our social training that is repeatedly demonstrating that one must obey Authority or suffer to consequences, even for something like dropping cake? do you want to live in a society like that?

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