Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Unbearable Lightness of Responsibility

Not My Semi Automatic

Teacher haters celebrate any time some clueless chalkboard grunt gets caught with their pants down or gets blown up for sending inappropriate messages over the internet. Any kind of teacher misstep where the person whose very career is predicated on being professional and appropriate from the minute he sets foot in his first classroom til the day the union prints his name in The Provocator and he hands the classroom keys off to some bright eyed pup who's going to change the world is cause for some ugly headlines. Our cut score is 100% professionalism at all times. It's expected. Society and the profession demand it. We kind of do too I think.

When I wrote about the Buffalo teacher who was put on administrative leave after a student received a nude pic of him showing his face and his junk a few posts back I didn't pull any punches. Either you're a slimebag -- who sends minors  entrusted to your care obscene pics of yourself or you're a total fucking moron. I will share that I was trolled in a comment I didn't publish by someone who asked how did I know the guy didn't leave his phone out and a student rifled through it and forwarded the offensive image without his knowledge? Nice try by a cheap seat Paul Cambria but I'm not buying it. If that's what happened-- and I seriously doubt it did-- I'll take total effing moron for $500, Alex.  

The experience of teaching alongside one of these scumbags left me pretty damned cynical I'll admit. PJ, yes his real initials, came to my school under a cloud and we were all a bit leery of him after reading that he'd been accused by a number of kids in his previous school of behaving inappropriately with them. But he was a black guy coming to a South Buffalo school and who wanted to be tarred with that old brush right? Typical South Buffalo Irish Catholic racist bastards mistreating this poor guy who'd already been run through the ringer by his own scheming lying students! You could imagine the outrage and the uproar. So the guy was given a fair shake from what I saw and he used his greasy smarmy sociopathic charm and self deprecating humor to allay everyone's anxieties about the type of man he was. He had us believing he'd been railroaded by a gruesome little girls club of vindictive middle schoolers. We believed that right up until the troubled girl he'd been working on for months ran screaming down the hallway to the office after he tried to wrap his arms around her and slip her a grown up kiss in his classroom where he'd somehow managed to get her all by herself.   

Now you wanna talk about the outrage and the uproar? We were kicking ourselves in shock and disgust at being duped by this creep. What a shitty feeling to get played for one yeah but the fact that a kid got hurt really, really stung. I recall how we all cringed to learn about the Superintendent a few years back who hired a known thief to work in the grants office even though he was explicitly told she had a history and could not be allowed to work anywhere funds were available to be filched. Her file had Keep 500 Feet Away from Funds scrawled across it in red lipstick but hey I guess she told him she'd changed. So, money went missing and girlfriend got hauled away and we were sadder but wiser but no kid got molested so it's a different type of regret, One you can almost live with on a relative scale. Just a case of stupid and some secondary gains on someone's part that most of us weren't privvy to. I mean he must have had his reasons right? 

None of us wants a convicted thief sniffing around City Hall with an empty money bag. None of us wants to share a profession with the kind of dirtbag that thinks students are theirs for sexual poaching and flirtation. That's not who we are and it's not who we want to think of as our colleagues. God knows my name has never come up in a discussion of Top Ten Most Uptight Teachers. Once when teaching the jr. high behavior class I raised my voice for effect. Two people stopped by to ask if that was me laughing that they never knew I yelled or that I knew how to yell. I took it as a compliment. My point being even the most Jerry Garcia-esque among us is going to draw their line in the chalkdust and say This I will not accept. Being laid back doesn't mean you put up with perverts and pederasts among your ranks. When it comes to this kind of bullshit I think 100% of us might agree on this alone if nothing else. 

Which brings me to my point, for lack of a better word. In the weeks since Orlando we've seen another uptick in the so called "gun debate" in this here U.S. of A. My camp-- who counts among its membership my high school classmate and former Army Ranger friend-- espouses the idea that AR-15s and their ilk were made for the explicit purpose of killing many people quickly and thus were created for the battlefield not the Cul de Sac or street corner. We are hearing quite a different refrain from that aggrieved and put upon demographic self described online and in the media as "responsible gun owners." This oppressed minority feels their very way of life is under attack by misguided liberals and sentimentalists. RGO's will insist that it could just have as easily have been a Ford Escort or a fertilizer packed Ryder truck that wiped out all those first graders in Newtown. Cause if you want to kill someone you will find a way. The very idea that restricting semi automatic rifles to keep them out of murderously insane hands of people who'd kill children strikes at the very core of the Ammosexual Manifesto. The fact that a twisted little nameless turd  was able to get his hands on that type of killing machine -- it belonged to his mommy, a "prepper" and the first of his victims that day -- and use it on someone's 5 year old 2 weeks before Christmas doesn't seem to sink in with the gun crowd the way creepy PJ trying to french kiss a 13 year old sunk in with me and my colleagues. Don't you gunnies want to think of yourselves as decent, responsible folk who care about your fellows? Isn't there some deep need among ya'll to distance yourselves at least perception wise from the guy at Virginia Tech or the Aurora movie house or Newtown? Don't you want to step aside and say that's not us man, we don't approve of this shit? But in so doing you'd have to relinquish your toys, the really fun noisy ones that get your motor running like nothing else in your world does. 

Or am I missing some deeper point here? Do so called RGO's honestly believe their right to possess a weapon designed for battlefield use where it can kill many people quickly is more important than the life of someone's 5 year old who went to school that day without a thought in the world of being ripped apart by semi automatic rounds in a classroom? How exactly does one say Hey I am sorry this weapon is being used on moviegoers and first graders who are defenseless victims but don't think for a second that I am going to step up and agree that maybe I will be ok with just my shotgun and my .38? How exactly does one justify the availability of these weapons in the wake of nearly 1000 mass shootings since Newtown without ever once wondering if maybe they don't want to be part of this group any longer? 

I wrack my brain to come up with a reasonable comparison of something in my own life that I could cling to with the blind, emotionless resolve I see the among the so called RGO crowd any time someone suggests civilians should not be walking around with these goddamned guns. I draw a blank. Take my 8 cylinder SUV, my coffee pot, my ipad and my baseball bats. Take all of it I can't see if any of them were used repeatedly to murder small and large groups of fellow Americans how I would be willing to say "Hey, wait a minute here folks, I have my rights..."

But they do exactly that. Shooting after shooting after shooting. Save your thought and prayers next time, cause we all know the next one is coming. Instead of thoughts and prayers go take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself whose loved one's life is less important than your right to own a battlefield weapon. Then send them a card with your thoughts and prayers on it. I'm sure they'll be touched. 

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