Friday, August 21, 2009

Epic Over-reaction

Every day it becomes more and more clear to me that something is very wrong with our society...

Today's continuation of the Blatant Stupidity series comes from a feature article in The Wall Street Journal online:
Just Say No....to Smarties? Faux Smoking Has Parents Fuming
Crush Candy, Suck In Dust, Blow Out Puffs; Schools Fear It'll Make Cigarettes Cool

It isn't the article that is stupid, although for a second I thought I was reading The Onion. No, what's stupid is the reaction by the parents and school.
School officials aren't amused. "It has come to our attention that some of our students are involved in something that is known as 'smoking Smarties,'" principal Phyllis Faust said in an email sent last year to parents of Hewitt-Trussville Middle School in Trussville, Ala. It called the practice "hazardous to your son or daughter's health."

"I have made it clear to our students that possession of Smarties (or similar candy) will result in a Class II offense," which usually means detention, the note said.

Jody Puryear, whose son Grant attends the school, says smoking Smarties could be a gateway leading "to smoking cigarettes or pot or anything else like that."

Excuse me?!

Let me remind you what we're talking about here: We're talking about these little candies that crumble into sweet, fruit-flavored powder when you bite into them. When I was a kid, my sister and brother and I used to call them "super pills."

None of us went on to abuse drugs (pills) as a result of powering-up with our Smarties super pills (although Mom may have taken issue with the inevitable sugar rush).

These people aren't complaining about Smarties being a possible choking hazard. They're not complaining about Smarties as being full of sugar and artificial flavoring, and rotting kids' teeth. These complaints would be pretty dumb as well, but at least they would be based on some real science. No, these people are saying that crushing Smarties and blowing out the dust ("fake smoking") is a gateway to real smoking.

Let's be honest with ourselves for a second - Isn't this just one of those harmless stupid things we all did as kids? Parents: Did you ever consider that these kids are mimicing what they see adults doing? You know, YOU? If you don't want kids to start smoking, then teach them why smoking is stupid.

Then there's the school. As far as I know we're not pumping-out long strings of geniuses from our public school systems in the United States. It seems to me that the effort that these school administrators are expending attempting to bust kids for possession of Smarties could be better spent figuring out how to get our kids educated and on-par with those in other countries. This kind of draconian response to a silly childish thing sends the following messages:
  1. That it's okay for authority figures to micromanage every aspect of another person's life
  2. Kids are able to exert control over adults through a harmless, childish act (what message did you think you were going to send when you reacted like this?!)
  3. You will take away the silly, harmless thing they're doing, forcing them to find another way to piss you off, which may now end up being the real thing.
That's right, the very way that these parents and school officials have reacted may lead to the exact behavior they were trying to prevent.

I'd like to give a message to you people: If you protect kids from every single activity where they could potentially harm themselves, then you're soon going to have a society full of pussies who can't deal with the face of adversity except to legislate it away or pull a gun and shoot everything and everyone in sight. Seriously. Childhood is the time when little humans prepare for adulthood. You can have fun and learn the lessons at the same time.

As I've stated here over and over again, people today are obsessed with addressing the symptoms of the problem instead of the problem itself. They don't know how to apply any kind of reasoning necessary to look at problem symptoms, discover the root cause of the problem, then determine what resolution (if any) should or can be applied. Instead, what I see over and over again are knee-jerk reactions to the symptoms with no understanding of the problem itself. These reactions quite often cause additional (more serious) problems while never addressing the original issue.

I'm really craving something sugary right now...

(The full text of the Wall Street Journal article is at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123750945477390601.html)

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