the last word (tm)
19/No. 4 - 459th issue – September 28,
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Our annual Back-to-School issue!
BEHAVIOR PROFILING EXPANDS AT NKU
Education is a key that opens many doors. I know this from experience. But America's education system is a key that slams these doors right back in your unsmiling face. I know this from experience too.
Although this is our annual back-to-school ish, this article is almost all you need to know about the present state of American education. The Cincinnati Enquirer of September 5 reports that Northern Kentucky University has launched one of the most sophisticated systems anywhere in the country for profiling "troublesome" students. Of course, the EnCRYrer acts almost as if this is a harmless program that's just lookin' out for ya. Actually, this right-wing program is very insidious.
NKU has now created what it calls a Students of Concern Committee. This name is as deceitful as NKU's claim that it supported the First Amendment after hassling anti-Bush activists. That's because the committee doesn't even contain any students. It's made up of several university officials such as the dean and the police chief.
And what does this committee do? It gathers information about "behavior of concern" displayed by students or groups of students. What type of conduct does this committee watch for? Students being "socially withdrawn", experiencing a personal tragedy, or simply missing a class are reported to this committee.
This behavior is reported to campus police immediately. Because such conduct is a Danger-To-Yourself-Or-Others (tm), you see.
Anybody who's read my work for more than 3 seconds knows what this is really about: suppressing dissenters and getting them out of the way. NKU is big on that.
When the right-wing Congress of the '90s began punishing universities for their politics (by way of the Solomon Amendment and other policies), that was no excuse for NKU to comply if it otherwise wouldn't have. So there's certainly no excuse now. NKU is policing dissent because NKU wants to - and that's just as bad.
NKU's reputation as a training ground for future right-wing leaders is growing almost as quickly as the university's desire to gobble up residential neighborhoods to build more unneeded facilities for its athletic program.
CAMPBELL COUNTY SCHOOLS CENSORING CRITICS
Just because private schools such as the terrible Bishop Brossart High School try to silence critics who are no longer students, that doesn't give public school districts like the Campbell County Schools the "right" to do the same.
Around 1999, Brossart sent e-mail to people who ran websites that linked to my site, ordering them to remove the link because I pilloried the school to the most scathing extent that had ever been seen. (This was years before I really lowered the boom on Brossart. Apparently, that didn't go well for them.) But now the Campbell County Schools are clearly engaged in a similar campaign of Gestapoism to muzzle criticism.
About a year ago, when the Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article on its website about the Campbell County Schools, somebody made a post in the comment section criticizing the school system. It was quickly deleted.
It was a safe bet that the Enquirer deleted the comment because the school system told it to. Both the Enquirer and the Campbell County Schools have an agenda - which is pretty much the same agenda. The Campbell County school district has long sported a pattern of expanding its purview where it doesn't belong (e.g., by policing students who attend out-of-district schools or trying to have kids institutionalized even though they display no sign of a mental disorder). It's long had a reputation of being one of the most authoritarian school districts in the area. So why wouldn't anyone suspect it of trying to silence critics?
As you know, I recently deleted my Facebook account - largely because I was tired of all the right-wing whining there. But the straw that broke the (ahem) camel's back was what transpired when I posted on Facebook a teensy-weensy little reference to the fact that Cline Middle School wouldn't do anything about bullying. As you also know, some school officials had sided with bullies.
My comment was not on an alumni forum or any of Facebook's idiotic "like" pages. I posted my comment on the page of somebody on my friends list after she mentioned the school. Despite this, my comment about Cline lasted all of 30 seconds before Facebook took it down. I shit you not. I posted it, I checked the page again right away, and my comment was gone. Into thin air, that is. Not a trace of it was to be found.
Right away, I knew Facebook deleted my comment because the school district told it to.
Why is a public school system able to censor critics? Why is any school system - public or private - able to censor critics? At least when a private school such as Brossart does it, they're not doing so on the taxpayers' dime.
Nothing screams police state like a public school system telling websites to delete comments from 37-year-old former students complaining about how the school treated them. Gee, the nerve of some people for daring to speak out about the way they were treated!
There's been a cover-up for years of the very type of bullying I was alluding to. A cover-up by the media (as they wouldn't expose the school system when they had the chance), government officials, the media, and even the media. After high school, we went to the media with what had occurred. The result: nothing.
To say that the Campbell County school system was devious and tyrannical isn't the stuff of paranoid, disgruntled alumni. Bad school districts dot the American map - but suffice it to say, this one is in a league of its own. This is a conclusion that should be perfectly clear to anybody who attended the Campbell County Schools in the '80s. And it is clear to most. Unfortunately, the cycle continues, despite witnesses to my plight as a youth.
It bears repeating that, because the Campbell County school district supports pedophiles, it rehired a former employee who had lost his teaching license because of his activity at school. That should give you pause before allowing your kids to go near the Campbell County Schools.
The Campbell County Schools' philosophy has long been: "You will submit. You will shut up. You will be followers."
REPUBLICANS PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT SOMETHING
In Kentucky, placing public schools as far as possible from populated areas has long been the state sport (as opposed to the state religion, which is standardized testing). And the Republicans have never given a shit - until they can use it as an excuse to play the race card.
The Campbell County school district, for example, habitually closes down schools that are in walking distance of built-up neighborhoods and forces children to be transported by bus to the exurbs. It's a fact that it's a deliberate gimmick to deprive children of an equal education simply because their families have less money than their exurban counterparts.
The Republicans had plenty of chances to fix this, but never did. Hell, they've controlled the Campbell County school board at least since I was eating strained peas. They don't care.
The Jefferson County (Louisville) school system has come under fire lately for making students travel too far to go to school. Many children were assigned to schools that were actually further from another school in the same district. But right-wing Kentucky Senate President David Williams sees this a perfect opportunity to exploit as he seeks statewide office.
Suddenly, Williams has decided to file a bill to allow kids to attend schools that are closest to their homes - an issue he's never cared about before. He cites the Louisville situation, even though he's never raised a peep about Campbell County.
David Williams's race-baiting isn't going to go over as well as he thinks. I don't fall for his shit - and most folks in Louisville won't either. If Williams cared one iota about letting kids go to school where it's closest, he would have attempted to tackle this matter long ago. I don't need assistance from right-wing race-baiters who only care about things when they can exploit them.
It's not as if the Jefferson County school system is completely blameless. The school district had a better school assignment plan until about 2 years ago, but won't use it, because it would rather do what the Federalist Society (which seems to embrace segregation) tells it to.
As for Campbell County? If you've never read my writings, you might not remember the problems I had with the Campbell County Schools when I was growing up in the '80s. But trust me, my battles with the Campbell County Schools were famous at the time. The school district has been impenetrably arrogant and thinks it can do what it wants. Often, I had to get on the bus before 6 AM to go to schools that were outside the district, when there were other schools that were much closer. The last direct dealings I had with the Campbell County Schools were when I was finally old enough to tell them what I thought, and I was ordered to leave the room when I told them.
But where were the Republicans to come to my rescue like the saviors they think they are? Peeing?
That said, there is an interest in making sure children get to attend school within a reasonable distance of their homes. The Republicans just aren't the right party to be making an issue of it.
FINGER-POINTING EXPANDS IN SCHOOL RACISM CASE
You'd think we wouldn't be seeing stories like this in 2010, but after the nationwide hard freeze of 28 years of radical-right garbage, should we really be surprised?
A public middle school in Nettleton, Mississippi, has issued rules saying that only white students can run for class president. Certain lower offices are reserved only for black students - and the rest for whites.
Seriously? In 2010???
I'd have the same reaction if class president was reserved for blacks while other offices were reserved for whites. But that's not what the school in this article did.
What about American Indians and Asian-Americans? Does the school's rules mean they can't run for student offices at all?
The outcry was so overpowering that the school has reportedly dropped its race policy. But now comes the finger-pointing stage, and sometimes it seems as if the rightist intelligentsia loves this part the best.
Conservative commenters are claiming it was "liberals" and "leftists" in the school system who adopted the race policy in the first place. Really??? Somehow I doubt there's many leftists who run school systems in small Southern towns.
How do the right-wing thought cops explain this? When a parent wrote to the school board to ask which election her daughter (who is multiracial) was allowed to run in, the school board replied, "Go by the mother's race b/c with minorities the father isn't generally in the home." The school system is trying to offend absolutely everybody, aren't they?
Isn't it nice to know that a public school system in America is teaching kids they can't achieve their goals? And isn't it nice to know that the Fux News crowd won't even accept blame for it, choosing instead to blame everybody else?
MILLION KIDS MISDIAGNOSED WITH ADHD, BUT MEDIA DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT
The Science Daily website reported on August 17 something I bet you never would have guessed: Almost 1,000,000 children nationwide are misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Naw! You don't say!
This Michigan State University study says they are diagnosed with ADHD simply because they are the youngest in their kindergarten class and therefore less mature. In other words, they were diagnosed because they were born at the wrong time of the year. Accordingly, these children are much more likely to be drugged with Ritalin and other toxins than classmates who are only a few months older.
This wastes as much as $500,000,000 annually on unnecessary medications - and that's nothing compared to the lifetime health effects of being drugged.
A still-hot smoking gun...
Researchers called the link between birthdays and ADHD diagnoses a "smoking gun." In Michigan, for instance, the kindergarten cutoff date is December 1 - so kids born on December 1 or earlier have to be enrolled a year before those born on December 2 or later. True to form, children in the Wolverine State born on December 1 have an astoundingly higher rate of ADHD diagnoses than those born on December 2 (who start kindergarten a year later). Similarly, Illinois children born in August had a much higher rate of being diagnosed than their Michigan counterparts. Illinois's kindergarten cutoff date is September 1.
A study by researchers at North Carolina State University, Notre Dame, and the University of Minnesota reached almost exactly the same conclusion that the Michigan study did.
Maybe the reason our schools are so eager to diagnose kids with ADHD is that school officials have some sort of strange interest in the various aromas associated with the medications - so they want an excuse to keep more drugs in the office to make it smell cool. There's the little pills that smell like Froot Loops for the tiny tots. For the big kids, there's the powerful antipsychotics that stink of burned bicycle tires, which I'm sure our school administrators really love. (They've got strange tastes in things. Isn't that right, Mr. WKRC?)
But seriously now. ADHD is a right-wing scam that schools employ because it's easier for them to drug kids and try to wedge them into a "one size fits all" education system than to try to educate them in a way that lets them make the best of their abilities. Greedy drug companies have cashed in on the schools' lazy attitude.
Because of the ADHD swindle, I spent years being labeled and being taken to task by school officials preoccupied with achievement. (Schools locally are all about competition, and anybody who underachieves is considered trash to them.) I spent decades not knowing who I was or how to take advantage of my own talents (which were largely wasted). And my body is broken because of a childhood full of Ritalin, Cylert, and other poisons. If it wasn't for this misdiagnosis, life would have taken a very different course. (At least my experiences led to the protests that got the Pathway Family Center cult shut down. So the joke's on them.)
One of the worst things about the ADHD fraud is that the media sits on its high horse, releases air biscuits onto the saddle, and refuses to cover the story. The only place I've seen this story covered is Science Daily. Overall, the pop-up media has been one of the most arrogant defenders of scamming folks and destroying lives in the name of ADHD. Any time a story about the dangers of attention deficit drugs breaks, the story never spreads beyond more than a handful of news outlets. The media (like other apologists for the corporate-bankrolled ADHD charade) has such a thick skull that it won't pick up on things that are in plain sight.
I'm one of the oldest members of the first ADHD generation, so I have a head start at knowing what looms for today's kids 30 years from now. If this fraud isn't nipped in the bud pronto, America is going to become a country full of ruined bodies and missed opportunities - for that's what this diagnosis and the accompanying druggings do. If you ingest the wrong substances, your body eventually gives out prematurely. I can absolutely, positively guarantee that the Ritalin nation isn't going to end well.
Learn a lesson from somebody who's old enough to know.
RIGHT-WING COMMISSIONERS IGNORE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW
In our 11/12/09 edition, we reported the fact that Kenton County Fiscal Court wanted to waste $160,000 in taxpayer funds on an overpriced system to use GPS to track who it deemed "habitual truants." Students who missed school too much would be required to carry a GPS and be tracked.
This program was expensive, ineffective, and - above all else - almost certainly unconstitutional.
But hey, that's the Republican-run Kenton County Fiscal Court for ya. Waste is their first, middle, and last name. It's almost as if you have to change your name to Waste W. Waste to get elected. If they're not wasting taxpayers' money to update official county websites to reflect imaginary GOP electoral victories (like they did following the 2002 congressional election), they're pissing it away by spying on high school kids.
Of course, it never occurs to the Republicans to fix the damn schools so they're not completely unusable. Then maybe everybody wouldn't skip school all the time. But that's another topic altogether.
Now the fiscal court is refusing to pay for a GPS system needed to monitor stalkers. This system is required by a new Kentucky domestic violence law - yet Kenton County refuses to implement it.
The county's excuse is that stalkers are just going to stalk people regardless of whether there's a GPS to track them. That's like saying murder ought to be legalized because not every murderer gets caught. The county can't very well say it doesn't have the money to fund this program - after they came up with the money to fund the useless truancy trackers. Besides, the new law says stalkers can be ordered to pay for the system out of their own pockets.
Much of the reluctance by county officials to adopt the domestic violence law must be that some county officials are probably wife-beaters themselves.
The remainder of the problem is local officials' long-running habit of laying blame at the feet of everybody except themselves - whether it's youth, "the liberals", a smashed Chap Stick they found laying in their driveway, or whoever.
WHEN BIKERS FOUGHT CLINE
I haven't been keeping up too well with the articles about the motorcycle club member in Cincinnati who was recently shot to death by police after he reportedly shot and injured several undercover officers. The biker apparently thought the cops were actually civilians just looking to start trouble.
However, I've heard quite a bit over the years about the biker club, because it used to be based in Highland Heights. Many folks describe it as an outlaw gang - though its own members disagree with that characterization. But all I have to go on is what I've heard from others.
In my day, the club was based only a few blocks from where I lived, because that's where one of its head honchos resided. The man's son went to Cline Middle School in the late '70s or early '80s right before I did - a fact that has produced one of the most memorable stories ever to emerge from Cline's dangerous halls.
I've heard this story from numerous reliable sources, and it goes like so: The biker guy's son got in trouble at school one day. Nobody remembers exactly what for. Considering Cline had a rule against just about everything, it was probably something like having hair too long or going up the down stairs.
Evidently, the school called the boy's dad (the biker) about the incident. This didn't sit well with ol' dad, and he planned to raise hell against the school.
Usually, when parents complain to schools about their kids getting in trouble, it doesn't become a big issue. I know schools try to throw people in jail for it now, but this was 30 years ago. In fact, schools have everybody cajoled so much these days that most parents don't complain. But things got a little out of hand in this story.
The dad came to school with a bunch of his biker pals. In full view of most of the student body, one of the motorcyclists approached the assistant principal and led him into the glass-enclosed office.
Teachers tried to keep order as students whispered to themselves about what they thought was going on.
A few minutes later, the biker escorted the assistant principal back out of the office. The hapless educator was now wearing nothing but his underwear. No shirt, no tie, no pants. Just his underpants and undershirt. And there he was, standing in front of 611 snickering students.
You read that right: The biker club forced the assistant principal to appear in his underwear in front of the whole school! I almost busted a gut laughing when I envisioned a stereotypical tough biker commandeering the assistant principal and making him strip down to his Fruit of the Looms in front of everybody - all because the son of one of the leaders of the biker club got in trouble at school. (I assume the school administrator's undies were not poopy, because standing in front of hundreds of kids with a brown streak in his drawers would have likely forced him into permanent hiding.)
As the story goes, the bikers seemed to be satisfied with conferring a few seconds of industrial-strength humiliation upon the assistant principal. I guess they figured that was enough to teach him a lesson.
Then they rode off into the sunset. Within a few years, the motorcycle club was a distant memory in Campbell County.
And that's the legend of the day bikers fought Cline Middle School. They fought Cline, and Cline won, or Cline lost, or something.
It is possible that the story was embellished while being passed from student to student and retold for 30 years. But like I said, I've heard it from enough reliable sources that a vast majority of the story must be true. These sources don't even all agree about whether the motorcycle club was a criminal gang or just a bunch of guys who liked motorcycles.
But the same narrative will be told hundreds of years from now, I'm sure!
PHONY EVIDENCE SUIT DISMISSED
In our 8/16/07 edition, we regaled you with the story of a student at Simon Kenton High School suing police after they searched her car and arrested her for allegedly having marijuana.
Let's get this straight now: The search was illegal. Read the Fourth Amendment sometime. You'll love it!
The suit said police made a fraudulent lab report and fabricated evidence. The arrest resulted in the student being suspended from school and being banned from her graduation - even though the charges were dropped.
That's a strike against the school right there. You can't punish somebody once the charges are dropped.
As we said 3 years ago, we're 99% sure somebody faked some evidence. The fact that the charges were dropped is almost ironclad proof of some fakery. America's schools are no less a part of the ultrarightist web of deceit that also envelops the country's political offices, corporations, media, and other organizations. If you go on Facebook, you'll notice a tight knot of people spanning all these agencies. (That's how they get kids locked up for looking at somebody cockeyed.)
But now - 3 years later - the lawsuit has been dismissed. Why? Because the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply in Kenton County, I guess.
The attorney for the police said that "officers take it personally" when "accused of violating civil rights." Simple solution: obey the Fourth Amendment - and the rest of the Constitution. I'm not saying the cops who were sued were the ones who faked the evidence, but even minimal involvement in an unreasonable and unconstitutional search should be enough to hold them accountable in a court of law. This is real life - not Blue Bloods.
Even the lawyer who prosecuted the student over the alleged marijuana admitted that school athletes got off much easier for the same offense.
Why are we not surprised that nobody was held accountable for constitutional violations in this case? It's because - at least locally - the branches of government are too closely intertwined. At minimum, instead of approaching cases with an uncritical eye, there's too much of a natural inclination to believe authority. At worst, it could be far more insidious than this. I'm not saying the judge in this case did anything intentionally wrong, but I know damn well there are judges who do. When I was locked up without a trial for several months in 1990, I was warned not to make any formal complaint against the facility, because the facility owns lots of judges around here, and they woulda locked me up longer.
That Constitution! It means what it says! And it means it like a dictionary!
CIVICS AND CHARACTER MATTER
Civics and character form the glue that bonds a democratic republic. Without it, there's no nation.
I'm amazed to see people "educated" in America's public or private schools who can rattle off epic slogans they learned at school that mean nothing and won't help them in life - while they don't know a thing about the Constitution or the basic rules of living in society.
The 3 R's are nothing but letters and digits if they don't have civics and ethics behind them. And since civics education began crumbling at a rapid clip in the '80s, our schools have been derelict at teaching basic constitutional ideals.
It's reaped losses. A perfect example is the instant gratification crowd that has dominated Facebook of late. Thirty years ago, if a preteen acted the way some adults on Facebook today behave, somebody would have inevitably told their parents to get used to seeing them in jail. These days, selfishness coupled with ignorance of rudimentary constitutional law is not only accepted but normalized. It's us - not the other side - who are attacked as misfits.
America has become a society that's just too "cool" to care.
This is a key reason why the last decade was one in which government pulled out all the stops in policing every facet of our lives, while corporations were allowed to pollute our environment and gouge consumers with almost no limits. Meanwhile, our political "leaders" have compelled the taxpayers (you and me) to subsidize actions that are just plain unethical. A mockery has been made of our entire government system.
I'm part of a lost generation. I'm from the years when civics education began to erode. I've known for years that much of my generation was lost. I remember one evening in the summer of 1989, around the time I turned 16, thinking of the grim future that would be in store for America someday at the hands of some of my contemporaries. Now, I know that in the past couple years, there's been some strong signs of hope that the tide has finally turned for the better. Maybe it's an indication that the younger generation realizes that what they see in school is a joke, so they don't view it as anything more than the long wafer of crap that it is.
But action must be taken now to avoid another lost generation like mine.
Instruction in civics and character must begin young - no later than any other subject. As the bedrock of society, it must be woven into all academic endeavors. Everybody must know what it means to be an American well before they're old enough to vote.
This education must continue throughout life. Before every election, an easy-to-read pamphlet should be mailed to all registered voters outlining the civic duties of fairness, freedom, and progress. This should be accompanied by a campaign of public service announcements on TV and radio (for the benefit of both of radio's remaining listeners).
Let's keep the Evil Empire from getting the foothold it had in the last decade.
FREE SPEECH? NOT AT TAXPAYER-FUNDED STADIUMS!
I guess the taxpayers being fleeced to buy sports teams new stadiums (when the old stadium was just fine) doesn't mean that the Constitution actually applies anywhere in the vicinity.
Earlier this month, when the Cincinnati Reds hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2 fans unfurled a banner that opposed S.B. 1070 - the racist law that passed recently in Arizona. (Neither The Last Word nor LeftMaps officially refers to the Reds' stadium as Great American Ball Park, because that's a name that was purchased by a corporation as naming "rights.")
After the pair exercised their First Amendment rights by displaying the banner, they were hustled out of the stadium, arrested, and jailed for 6 hours for "disorderly conduct." Other fans who unrolled a different banner opposing Arizona's racist law were also kicked out of the ballpark.
Everybody knows damn well that none of these spectators would have been kicked out of the stadium (let alone arrested) if their banners supported the new law. I don't even need to tell you that. If you attend or watch any sporting event, you see a zillion banners flowing from the stands. And half of the banners you see aren't even substantive. Most of them just mock the network's initials, like "Cee Bull Scat" and such.
In other words, the spectators with the banners opposing S.B. 1070 at the Reds' stadium were targeted because of their views. Period. End of story.
One of the main facts of this incident is that the ballpark is a taxpayer-funded venue. So arresting people over a banner is nothing short of government suppression of free speech. Even if it wasn't a taxpayer-funded stadium, arresting them would still be out of line, because all that would do is deputize public police as the stadium's own private police force.
County commissioners need to repeal the stadium tax at once - seeing how the stadium acts this way over people who disagree with the Republican party line.
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