Colorado Springs School Bans Tag on Playground,

From Fox News this morning.

Submitted here without comment, mainly because I can’t post a video of my head shaking in disgust.

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Colorado Springs School Bans Tag on Playground, Citing Conflicts

Thursday, August 30, 2007


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — An elementary school has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus school.

Running games are still allowed as long as students don’t chase each other, she said.

Fesgen said two parents complained to her about the ban but most parents and children didn’t object.

In 2005, two elementary schools in the nearby Falcon School District did away with tag and similar games in favor of alternatives with less physical contact. School officials said the move encouraged more students to play games and helped reduce playground squabbles.

Learning Experience

Un-effin’-believable.

When I read the news blurb the other day, it seemed so far-fetched that I figured there had to be a mistake. Or that the news was not reporting all of it, and there was some “rest of the story” that would, in context, help everything to make sense.

I was wrong.

In case anyone missed it, in Murfreesboro, Tennesee a group of middle-school children on a class trip were suddenly terrorized by their teachers subjected to a “learning experience:” they were told that a gunman was attempting to attack them, that it was “not a drill” and spent the next five minutes believing that a crazed killer was rattling the doors trying to get at them as they hid under tables, crying and pleading for their lives.

The Fox News report suggested that the teachers considered it to be “a prank,” as well as a “learning experience” because after they finished terrorizing the students, they explained that it was to foster a discussion on what they would do should it have been a real situation.

In what could well win the Understatement of the Year Award, CNN reported that some parents were “upset by the staff’s poor judgment.”

Over the last few years, we have seen dozens of reports of schoolchildren being disciplined for writing book reports or essays in which violence was suggested. Teenage frustration, expressed on web logs, MySpace accounts or in email has been used to subject students to suspension or expulsion, and even legal action. But so far, the Murfreesboro school board has not taken any disciplinary action against the so-called adults responsible for this “learning experience” that would have landed any other teenager in jail.

Now, I’ve been guilty of poor judgment in my life – we all have. But on a trip with 69 students, we know that there must have been more than one adult. Could one adult have dreamed up a stunt gone wrong? Sure. But out of the several other teachers on this trip, how is it possible that the other adults did not intervene, to point out the flaws in the plan?

Apparently, it’s because they were all crazy. What are the odds?

Blogster Against Idiocracy

Some of my brother Freemasons have joined the online movement “Blog Against Theocracy,” which ostensibly supports the ideals of maintaining the political firewall between church and state. I write “ostensibly” because in backtracking the various links, I’ve noticed a few things that gave me pause for reflection.

For one thing, the logo proposed for the “Blogswarm Against Theocracy”, designed by Mock, Paper, Scissors shows the US Statue of Liberty holding a large cross, with the international red “No” crossed circle around it. Okay, that’s cool, but what this tells me is that this is not about theocracy in general. Nobody is protesting the Sharia in the various middle-Eastern or Asian countries. I live in an area of the US with a lot of Jewish citizens, but I never hear the term “right-wing Jewish Fundamentalist”. Rather, this is about keeping (presumably) fundamentalist Christians out of American politics. Fair enough. I guess “Blogswarm Against Theocracy” is a catchier, umm, catch-phrase thingy then “Keep the Christian Fundies out of Government.”

I keep seeing the term “Democracy” bandied about, but I think that some of us miss the point: If a number of people in an area get together, vote en masse to elect politicians in agreement with their cause, and manage to change local laws to reflect their beliefs, well, isn’t that democracy?

Yes, this is not a perfect analogy, but the point is that people tend to get the government that they deserve. If you and the other people in your area do not make your views known to the local politicians – loudly and clearly, then the politicians will listen to those who do manage. No, it’s not “fair” in the sense that we would like to think that people have a reasonable expectation to not have repressive laws passed without representation, but it is fair in another sense to the people in a community who manage to make their views known to the legislature. That’s the problem with a democracy – it’s meant to be a form of representative government, but politicians themselves keep tweaking the system to get the votes. The only groups that can “win” are those who manage to tweak the politicians.

Look, I have nothing against the general concept of what “Blogswarm Against Theocracy” is trying to portray. In fact, I agree with the concept. I would like to see religious fundamentalists keep their ideals where they belong – in their communities. But by the same token, I also would like to see most other groups not force their personal ideals on the general populace. I maintain that the BAT people have got it slightly wrong; the real threat to our liberty is from those who are already infiltrated into our political system.

By that, I mean the politicians and their supporters. More specifically, the politicians who get elected and re-elected by promising things to voters that can only be given by taking things from one group and giving to another.

You’re worried about religious intolerance? Barely a week goes by without a news report of an innocent civilian wounded during a police raid on the wrong home. Recently, a 70-something woman was shot because she brandished a shotgun at what she thought were intruders during a drug raid gone bad. Another home was raided twice in the same day as police got both the address and the name wrong.

You’re worried about your neighbors having a problem with your views on religion? The “war against terror” has made business and vacation travel more costly and inconvenient as middle-aged suburbanites are hauled out of lines to be stripped of their nail-clippers and cork screws. The “war” has led to laws and edicts that tighten up on public security at the expense of the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

You’re concerned about your children having to study Intelligent Design? In several large US cities, the food police have outlawed certain food products, not because they are poisonous, but because over-indulgence can lead to heart disease.

You don’t want religious-based morals to interfere with a woman’s right to choose? Your right to choose what to do with your body has already been compromised in Orwellian ways. Most states have passed anti-smoking laws for public places, and some states have now passed anti-smoking laws for private places, as well. Not content to stop there, some towns have banned smoking in your home if you live in a multi-family dwelling. Some areas are even passing legislation to ban smoking in your car.

You don’t want certain religious groups vilifying your way of life? The perils of smoking and high-fat diets are being vilified in much the same way that alcohol was done right before the Prohibition. But more than that, some communities are looking toward regulating cell phone use, or the hours that teenagers can be at the local mall, or your the colors that you can paint your house. The color? Hell, thanks to the city of New London, CT, some people are now worried that the local government will simply take their house and hand over the land to any developer that promises to “benefit the community” by way of increased tax revenues.

Instead of protesting against minority religious groups, I’d like to see those energies directed toward blogging about the situations in which our freedom is already compromised.

To that end, I propose a blogswarm against idiocracy.

Anybody out there interested?