Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lemming Tracks: Rules Should Make Sense

You should be warned that the following excerpt from today's news deals with a teenager's blatant disregard for authority, and the consequences which followed.

The Lemming suggests that readers of delicate constitution avoid this post, and find other diversions. Perhaps something from Sanrio's Hello Kitty website.

Now that you've had opportunity to procure smelling salts and a chaise longue upon which to recline - should the need occur - here's that excerpt. Remember, you have been warned.

HMU - Or, the Connecticut Horror

"Mayor: Punishment Doesn't Fit Crime in Case of Connecticut Teen Barred From Prom"
Joshua Rhett Miller, (May 11, 2011)

"A Connecticut teenager who has been barred from attending his senior prom after posting an oversize message to the front of his high school should be allowed to attend the dance, the town's mayor told

"Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti said he's unsure that the 'punishment fits the crime' for James Tate, an 18-year-old senior at Shelton High School who, along with two friends, posted 12-inch tall cardboard letters outside the school's main entrance last Thursday night so students would see the message in the morning.

"The letters read: 'Sonali Rodrigues, Will you go to the prom with me? HMU -Tate.' HMU means hit me up, or call me...."

In fairness, the Lemming suspects that there's a rule at the school that forbids 12-inch tall cardboard letters near the main entrance. The rule may even make sense, and not be rooted in a fear of cardboard, the number 12, or letters of the alphabet.

But you never know.

As for exclusion from the prom? As a spokesman/spokesperson/whatever for the Connecticut State Department of Education, said: it's an extracurricular activity. Attending is a privilege: one which local school officials can withdraw whenever they want to. As long as they call it "...'fair and appropriate' disciplinary action," it seems.

It's the Lemming's opinion that protecting the prom from this wanton sign-maker is also a learning experience for Shelton High School students. They've learned something about authority. Maybe not the best lesson - but it's a lesson nonetheless.

Why does the Lemming care? The Lemming's sort of apathy has been explained before.

12-Inch Letters in Changing Times

"...Based on what I know, I'm not sure that the punishment fits the crime,' [Shelton Mayor Mark] Lauretti said. '...Part of the problem in today's world is that we make policies or recommendations without common sense or flexibility built in and we lose sight of the big picture. This may be one of those situations.'..."
( [emphasis mine]

Despite the mayor's use of the word "crime," the prom ban didn't involve the police. It's something that the authorities of Shelton High School did all on their own.

Again, the Lemming thinks that "the rule may even make sense." For that matter, maybe something about the sign made its placement such a serious offense that exclusion from a one-off social event was reasonable.

Then again, maybe not.

The Lemming does think that this is a difficult era for old-school information gatekeepers: the folks who, in the Lemming's youth, were able to decide what 'the Masses' should be allowed to learn. No conspiracy involved, in the Lemming's opinion: that's just the way things worked, given the technology and social structures America had back in the 'good old days.'

Folks who run America's education establishment used to have a great deal more power to determine what the children of the middle and lower classes would learn. That was before Woodstock and the '60s challenged the wisdom of lockstep conformity and blind obedience.

Besides, with more folks getting some kind of college degree these days, having letters before or after your name isn't quite as impressive as it used to be.

Rules Should Make Sense

These days, the Lemming thinks it's more important than ever that rules should make sense. 'The Masses' aren't the occasionally-literate, isolated, powerless folks we were in 'the good old days.' Daft rules never, in the Lemming's opinion, were all that popular. What's changed is the ability of 'the Masses' to share information - and find out that they're not the only ones who are fed up.

America isn't nearly in the same position as, say, Tunisia, Egypt, or Libya, in the Lemming's opinion. On the other hand, the Lemming thinks Americans have entrenched authorities with obsolete attitudes, too. But that's just one Lemming's opinion.
Update (May 14, 2011)

To be fair, not all school administrators spend their time protecting America's youth from cardboard signs:

"31 Suspended after Destructive High School Prank" (May 14, 2011)

"Thirty-one students have been suspended from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor for five days after a scavenger hunt that included defecating on rival schools' athletic fields, officials said....

"...the scavenger hunt ... was intended as a senior prank, reported. Each student also must perform community service and pay about $90 in restitution, as well as write letters of apology....

"...About 10 of the 31 were heavily involved in the May 5 hunt that also included cutting tennis nets at Huron High School and spray painting the letter P on athletic fields of Huron and Skyline high schools, Margolis said....

"...Suspended students will be allowed to participate in the school's graduation ceremony but they will not be allowed to attend the all-night senior party June 2...."

Property damage? Yeah, the Lemming thinks that's a tad more serious than 12-inch letters on a cardboard sign.
Posts about education, rules, and/or making sense:


Brigid said...

Good grief. Maybe some of the students could hold their own prom?

By the by, there seems to be extra space between these two paragraphs:

"Then again, maybe not.

The Lemming does think"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


As you said, 'good grief.'

The extra space has disappeared - on my browser, at least. I've found a few formatting oddities in the aftermath of that Blogger crash.

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