Sunday, May 22, 2005

"Public" Schools and the Bill of Rights

A recent column from Chuck Muth refers to the fact that people in the middle- and upper-class 'burbs realize that the inner city kids aren't getting much in the way of a usable education, but their government schools are just fine, thank you very much. Hence the resistance to the idea of school choice in the comfy classes.

Complacency was the order of the day when they were in school, and as long as their kids can succeed in college and join the jacket-and-necktie set, well, they prefer no change even to change for the better. The wealthier of them (those who aren't working sixty or more hours a week to keep the Mercedes and the $700k+ home) will attend cocktail parties where they'll discuss what's to be done about those unfortunates in the city.

But, school choice? Never!

I'm a reluctant member of the middle class. No, I don't wear a necktie, but I could if I could figure out how to tie one. I flunked knots in Cub Scouts.

I went to a government school that was then and still is considered one of the best. When I was in attending, we were exposed to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and were given a teacher-biased view on what they meant. Years later, as I became interested, I studied the Revolutionary period and the history of the early years of the Republic. I've reread the documents more than once and have read the analyses of several individuals far more learned on the subject than I.

My high school teachers, my history, civics and American government class teachers didn't really get it either. When they spoke of the First, what was emphasized was that you can't yell "Fire" in a crowded theater. The Second? You have the right to get a license and go hunting, in accordance with state and federal law. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Today, it's different. It may vary from state to state, but here in the Stalag, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are spoken of by teachers and government as a template for government to follow, as it's deemed convenient. They light-heartedly speak of the Constitution as a changing, flexible document, the original language of which is hardly suitable to our modern era.

The Bill of Rights, except for the First and probably the Fifth Amendments, are approached with a degree of chortling dirision to outright hostility.

Hence, we come to the post 9/11 era, in which virtually any atrocity by government is tolerated (if not joyfully accepted) if it promises security. Be clear: it doesn't have to achieve security, it only has to promise security.

Perhaps the young don't remember when you could hand the attendant your airline ticket, then walk across the tarmac to the steps, climb them and board the plane with nothing more than a smiling greeting from the stewardess (that's what we used to call flight attendants). You could have your Lone Ranger four-blade-with-a-bottle-opener jackknife in your pocket and no one thought twice about it, even if you used it, while sitting in your seat, (shudder) to trim the fuzzy ends off your shoe laces.

You could walk to the edge of town, carrying your .22 over your shoulder like a soldier, to the slough where you could kill a few tin cans (please don't shoot any birds, children!).

You could (in my state) buy a car at the age of twelve without your parents' knowledge and wrench on it until you were old enough to get a driving permit (fourteen at the time). Of course, Dad had to register and insure the car. If anyone says they saw me driving the car before I got my permit, it was actually a guy that looked a lot like me, in a car very similar to mine.

Each year, at the end of the school session, the plan was to take my paper route money and buy as many firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets and spinners for the 4th of July. Of course, most of the firecrackers didn't make it to the holiday, but enough of them did.Point is, it was legal. We all did it.

I could continue this list, 'cause we've lost a lot of freedom, even in my lifetime.

But why do you imagine we've allowed those monsters in Washington, Sacramento and Albany to do this to us?

Government schools, as noted above, have been preparing us to unquestioningly accept government authority for generations. Parents have accepted the mistaken notion that the promise (but never the guarantee) of security has to be bought with a surrender of freedom.

What they haven't thought through is the nature of the kind of society they're handing off to their kids.

They've killed Freedom! Those Bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

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