Sunday, June 17, 2007

CHILDHOOD'S END. Every year near graduation time, the seniors at Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose, New York do a prank. This year they set a bunch of alarm clocks to go off at the same time and snuck them into the school. Now many of the pranksters are up on felony charges because nineeeleven Virginia Tech we're a-scared etc.

You can read about this case in the White Plains Journal News, which also mentions what appears to be a little epidemic of this sort of bullshit:
Three students at Haldane High School in Cold Spring also found themselves in trouble this month after they created chalk outlines of bodies splattered with red liquid to resemble blood. The students were hit with criminal trespass charges, but will be able to participate in the school's graduation ceremony.

An Internet search shows that news organizations across the country are reporting about senior pranks that turned out to be serious busts. In one case last year, armed guards and swarming helicopters responded to a senior prank at an Orlando, Fla., school. The threat? An annual toilet paper attack.
You can also read a thumbsucker about Hudson High in today's New York Times. It's Select, but don't worry, here are the ponderosity highlights:
And it’s leaving everyone mulling over the questions of what’s stupid fun and what’s just stupid, and where you draw the line between reaction and overreaction in a world that’s half “Jackass” and half Age of Anxiety... of those Rorschach tests for an edgy age: Is it a case of kids — and their overly protective parents — who need to face the consequences of their own bad behavior, or is it a reaction way out of proportion to the threat?...
(Pause for another thoughtful draw on the briar, and an oracular clouding of visage)
...You could get both responses, and a sense that maybe the vogue for dumb behavior celebrated on the Internet and in shows like MTV’s “High School Stories” needed some brakes...
No. No, no, no, and no. This isn't a cultural litmus test and it has nothing to do with those wacky shows the kids watch on the teevee. This is just nuts. If every American morning for past six years had begun with a terrorist attack, I might just consider it a forgivable overreaction to be reversed immediately; but with the relative paucity of terrorist attacks since 2001, it's nuts.

It's too seldom mentioned that one of the most obvious bad effects of the War of Whatever has been the pressure it puts on young people -- or, rather, the excuse it gives to the sort of petty tyrants who always like to make kids' lives hell to go absolutely bonkers, as the Montrose authorities have done.

Kids can get suspended these days for their MySpace pages or for holding up a goofy sign. They can get arrested for drawing cartoons. I suppose some of the Hudson High students can expect to be spirited away to one of our secret torture prisons in Syria.

There is an upside to this thing: that, after years of this crap, some kids persist in acting like kids. Maybe their draconian punishments will scare the guts out of them, or maybe they'll just understand more strongly the appropriate message: that the people in charge aren't fit to run a hot-dog stand, let alone other people's lives.

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