Caddyshack? No, though of work of untouchable cinematic brilliance, I say. If you haven't seen it in a year or two, it's time again. But this time I award today's gold-star to Peggy Noonan of the WSJ who charmingly fries the lardy bottoms of our pompous politicos using examples from their own speech. How underhanded. Read it here. As a friend pointed out, it's easy to ignore the cheap theatre of fighting partisanship, because the narcissists in D.C. are a lot more like each other than they're like us.
Here's an article in from the New Yorker (hat tip: Michelle Malkin, read the comments for more goodies) about Operation Respect: Don't Laugh at Me. The goal is reducing dangerous bullying. Okay- good goal, but does it seem a recent development that young'uns have gone hog-wild on murder sprees at school 'cause someone doesn't like their T-shirts? (Parenthetically, that's just one reason why I'm pro-school uniforms and pro-school discipline. Express youself when you're eighteen, miscreant.) But onto the heart of it, shall we?
Here's what happens when teachers use assertiveness training to teach "I feel X when you do Y" messages for conflict resolution to schoolkids. “Just make sure they’re sticking to the formula,” Hurdle-Price advised. “I often get students who say, ‘I feel that you are stupid.’ ”
I laughed out loud, even though there was no smiley face after the sentence to let me know it was a joke. Here's another platitude from the program: “A ridicule-free world,” a soothing voice intoned. “It’s possible, but only with everyone’s help.”
Can I tell you how little I want to live in a ridicule-free world? Noonan's op-ed piece wouldn't exist even though the grounds for her ridicule are factual. I am pro-satire and quite against the pervasive hypersensitivity that created this program as well as the recent foolishness of the flag burning amendment. Were the representatives never in fourth grade? This kind of jingoistic hand-wringing will only encourage lousy behavior for Al-Jazeera's cameras if they suspect it really bugs us.
I say let them burn any U.S. flag they can find and wipe their behinds with the shreds, because it won't change a molecule of the oppression and hopelessness they suffer due to factors that are strictly local and that ought to be their greater concerns. Let them burn 1000 a day for a year and see what's changed in the quality of their lives. And any American doing it is just pathetically boring. What about a new idea in protest since the last three or four decades? The flag's an object, the Koran's an object. The Bible or a crucifix or even a consecrated, transsubstantiatied communion wafer is a mere object when balanced against human lives. I don't applaud desecration or destruction, and it betrays a certain weakness and vanity, but a freaking sense of humor is an essential survival tool especially when it forces you to laugh at the stiffening of your own neck.
Back to humor, here's what I think we really need in the schools: a focus on better comedy. The problem I have is that so much childhood ridicule isn't actually funny and it's getting worse. Sure, fart jokes and belches will work perenially and have been the basis of many careers, but most in-school mocking is lousy quality, I'm sad to say. Instead of Operation Respect. let's send kids to Theory of Comedy class where they can learn what's funny and realize that jokes and their reactions to same are each weapons in a well-balanced psyche's arsenal. Let them deconstruct and improve upon the comments used to hurt them. Tell the bullies that the scriptwriters for According To Jim are funnier (ouch).
But lest I forget, some nose and stomach punching will have to occur. I'm not completely sure when it descended, but there's a notion of childhood completely alien to both history and nature if the popular understanding is that civilized kids never get challenged to fight. When I was young and my attackers large, I ran. A fine skill to acquire, as well as learning to live through the attendant embarrassment. When I got older and bigger, I stood up and fought, and it was enough to keep the predators at bay. I didn't enjoy seeing especially vulnerable kids picked on near me, so I obstructed that, and I wasn't usually alone. That used to pass for normal.
Some agony of the schoolyard falls on everyone, because childhood is the training ground for adulthood, not some candy-colored utopia of unreality and soft landings. And what can come from confrontation is an understanding of force and appeasement, knowing how far is too far to go, respect from others, and even the decision not to let others be dominated. If a kid is absolutely meat, pull him or her out of the scrum and hie them away to independent study of karate or some other area that confers its own special importance. (Mere apple-polishing positions won't qualify. Who needs the Machivellian maneuverings of more Eddie Haskells?)
But this P.C. anti-bullying training would, no doubt, have made even bigger a-holes out of kids I already hated.