Monday, October 1, 2007

Where'd I grow up?

Curt Brown from the S-T:

Mr. Hickox said he has gotten requests from residents who wanted to
opt out of the town program after the deadline, and they have been denied.
Assessment bills were mailed Aug. 24 and the deadline to contract private
service was Sept.24. "We can't be continuing this process. The deadline was the
day the bill was due," he said. "We can't accept them anymore. I have to move to
the next phase. We have to continue moving forward."

We in Dartmouth have the option to pay the town to pick up our garbage or hire private haulers. But some people just couldn't. Because they're late or lazy or forgetful or special they think that the rules don't apply to them and must be changed or bent or ignored. Oh, and enjoy the second-guessing and armchair selectboarding by the commenters after the article, adjusting their tinfoil hats to decry the punitive nature of a law they voted to put into practice. Waah.
No one told me, while as a youth I spent time learning and practicing civics and civility, that I would be an adult in a world of selfish twerps whining and stamping their little feet as a form of discourse. "It's my right!" they squeal. The free practice of whims that are misperceived "rights" is anarchy. (Trust me. I lived through the Seventies and had a band. We sang about anarchy all the time.) The constant insistence of one's right to practice those selfish whims is annoying. (I also lived through the Eighties.)

One recent incident involved a high school student who was suspended for violating a high school policy. After the student’s father got nowhere yelling at the vice principal of the school, he went directly to the superintendent’s office. Because the incident had just happened, Flanagan had no information on it and referred the parent back to the high school administration. Not taking kindly to the direction his argument was going, the parent ended up swearing at Flanagan a number of times and grabbed himself in his private parts before being asked to leave.

The rest of the article is just as bad.

Once a week or so, I sit at the front desk at the New Bedford Art Museum. I get to interact with a wide variety of people, and generally they are people and their children with an interest in the stuff they see there. Part of my "job" is to enforce simple rules. Leave your bag or backpack here. No cell phones. No photography. No drinks or food. Don't touch.
If you talk to anyone from the Museum Association, every one of those rules is perfectly legitimate. And we're probably a little lenient, compared to most because NBAM wants people to enjoy and appreciate the art, not get all scared around it.
But the amount of time I spend explaining why every rule exists and why yes, it does apply to you, is mind-boggling. I can see why parents say, "Because Mommy said!"
Here on the Beach, those "Question Authority" bumper stickers are the only ones people commit to memory and practice. Screw "World Peace" or "End The War." The Yankees Suck and my kid beat up your honors kid. People actually believe that rudeness and vulgarity are rights, "because the First Amendment guarantees."
Funny thing about the Constitution. It was written by educated and civilized adults for educated and civilized citizens. They did not intend to empower citizens with abusive immaturely-exercised ignorance. Rudeness and vulgarity are not guaranteed anywhere in "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
How do I know this? I like to pretend that I was there in 1787, but realistically, an English degree only gives me warrant to LOOK AT THE TEXT. The United States Constitution, according to the United States Constitution, was written "in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty..."
Is beating on your kids' teacher and grabbing your junk part of striving for a more perfect union? Do you secure the Blessings of Liberty or establish Justice by insisting that laws don't apply to you? And does your vulgar T-shirt insure domestic Tranquility? Do you really believe that calling a radio talk show and writing insulting posts to online newspaper forums is petitioning the Government?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
When you use the Constitution to defend your own selfish and puerile superficiality, when you use that precious document to bolster your specious argument, it helps to have a little respect for it.

That might be a good place to start.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The constitution doesn't force anybody to be vulgar either. People should be nicer and have some class to each other. Nice blog.

ThirdMate said...

Thanks. Stop by anytime.
People think that the Constitution doesn't mandate or legislate manners... Or anything.
But I think it sets some fine guidelines.
And it already assumes we as a nation are a union of informed, concerned participants working in concert. Not just a bunch of self-important individual crybabies who have to redefine their rights every day in terms of what other people shouldn't be allowed to do.