Archive for February, 2005

Going AWOL

Monday, February 28th, 2005

Maybe I’m picking on the wrong person here, but I really don’t understand Jeremiah Adler:

He made solo treks into the Oregon woods for days at a time. He stood on the front lines of downtown anti-war protests. Then, shortly before graduating last June from the alternative Waldorf School, Adler did what his friends and family considered unthinkable.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army — not just a two-year stint, but a five-year commitment with a chance to attend the U.S. Army Airborne School.

“I didn’t want to be the average infantryman, the average grunt,” says Adler, now 18. He wanted to make a difference, he says, not only to the Iraqis he hoped to help liberate, but to the military itself.

But only hours after arriving for basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., he had a change of heart. The Army, he says, wanted to turn him into “a ruthless, coldblooded killer,” and he wanted no part of it.

You think you are going to change the Military?

After nine days, Adler fled, running into the Georgia forest in the middle of the night with a friend. As he did, he joined thousands of other would-be soldiers who bolt from their units each year, risking everything from a blot on their employment records to prison time. Since 2001, more than 15,000 people have gone AWOL, or absent without leave, from the Army, according to statistics provided by a military police official at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Most of whom I have much more sympathy to than Jeremiah Adler… the cases where someone goes to war and has a conscience change. Or realize suddenly what the military is and what it is you are doing. Or realizes that it is not worth the college money. Frankly, they are often brave people for deserting against such a political backlash. Jeremiah Adler, on the other hand…

As a high school senior, Adler seemed as unlikely a candidate for the military as one could imagine. He not only marched the streets of Portland to protest the war, but his mother had to talk him out of a plan to scale a downtown crane and hang an anti-war banner from it. Growing up, he was forbidden to play with toy guns. To schoolmates, he was a jokey, sensitive social activist.

But there was another side to Adler. He had served as a cadet for the Beaverton Police Department and spent enjoyable nights on ride-alongs with officers. He didn’t play organized sports, devoting himself to art and music, but he loved working himself to his physical limits.

He thrilled to the possibility of joining the Army. He told his mother, he told his teachers, he told his friends. They all tried to talk him out of it.

Perhaps his mother, his teachers, and his friends saw the difference between the military and himself? Egad, he could have been a perfectly good police officer… might have helped solve some of the Portland Police Burea’s problems.

“He said, if it’s only warmongers in the military, that’s how the military will stay,” Wasson said. “He believed he could tip the scales. It was a very, very idealistic attitude, but my son is a very articulate, convincing kind of guy.” […]

He was giddy on the airplane to Fort Benning in September. He arrived late at night and filed with 103 other recruits into an auditorium. A drill sergeant welcomed them with a story about why he joined the Army. Not for the education, not for the camaraderie but, as Adler recounts him saying, “to shoot (bad people).” The auditorium erupted in hoots.

Over the next few days, Adler says, pretty much the sole topic of conversation with anyone was about “shooting Arabs.”

“It wasn’t about preparing you to kill,” Adler says about basic training. “It was about instilling inside you a desire to kill.”

That’s the culture one has to know they’re joining with when signing up for the military. A bit disillusioning, I imagine. Except if you throw out all your idealistic illusions and realize… that is the culture you’re about to encounter.

Have I ever shared my military recruitment story? It’s only vaguely interesting, but that may be good enough to throw back up.

Your Head Will Gunking Explode

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

I woke up feeling sickly because the window shut closed in the middle of the night. No circulation of air in a poorly ventriculated room, which is why the window must always be open.

Maybe I oughta vaccuum the place. I can’t clean it, because if I told the manager that I was “cleaning my unit”, I would receive a lame lowbrow joke. I’d much prefer an ironic comment on the double-entrendre nature of the term “cleaning my unit”, and a knowing reference to how lame such a remark is, but the manager is not that type of person.

Jeff Gannon Redux

Saturday, February 26th, 2005

Hey! Jeff Gannon, ex-gay prostitute, ex-contributor of re-written White House Press Relases to the currently-on-hiatus “Talon News”, now has a BLOG! Why can’t this guy sign up with “bloglines”? (Otherwise, I’m never going to be able to follow up on the hilarity of pearls of wisdom such as:

I’m baaaaaaack! If you thought I was going to slink away – then you don’t know much about me. Someone still has to battle the Left and now that I’ve emerged from the crucible, I’m stronger than before.

Despite all the pleas from the Left to go over to the ‘dark side’ and expose the ‘corrupt Bush administration’ simply isn’t going to happen. My faith and my ideology are rock solid.

No longer a strange peg in the wheel of the Right-Wing Echo Chamber, Jeff Gannon has emerged as a Maytr for the Cause… Bigger, Louder, and UnCut!

Does he still have his white house sources?

Two items pop up in regards to the Jeff Gannon story. #1 is the nature of the White House Press Briefing. That’s really not a place to get news of any type… bonafide journalists should be seeking answers (and investigating, mind you) elsewhere. It’s a stupid ritual. (And, as noted here, perhaps getting frozen out of the White House isn’t such a bad thing.) Knight-Ridder has been able to get some good stories by making their reporters actually do some digging. They’ve cultivated sources lower down in the departmental hierarchies–where there’s actual news, not just press releases. I believe it was by necessity, as K-R was reportedly frozen out of the cozy access arrangements.

#2 is the Jeff Gannon is the closed-circuit loop nature of the Right-Wing Media Echo Chamber. Start in the White House before you have any media source to report for. Regurgitate falsities from Rush Limbaugh. Recycle White House Press Releases. Call John Kerry too gay-friendly. Make an appearance on Sean Hannity’s program. There is no need to look beyond Free-Republic — Fox News (itself a Pravda unit) — NewsMax — Talk Radio for any information of any kind… all of which, incidentally, you must burn before your very eyes.

Columbine Revisited

Saturday, February 26th, 2005

That last blog entry of mine (and the quote from the Creationist that spawned it) leads us right back to Columbine, a news event that weighed heavily on me through my last month of high school. (The uptik in murmurings on public education on this blog is due to reading through Gatto’s book… as well as a couple of news items.)

Now I can elaborate on the “Rorschach” Test aspect to the whole thing. It seems as though nobody ever discussed the violence known as Columbine — they discussed other items. (Oftentimes it seemed to take on the aspect of debating whether to abridge the First Amendement or the Second Amendment.)

Remember “The Trenchcoat Mafia”? They didn’t exist. Or, for all intents and purposes, they didn’t exist in 1999. They appeared in a group photograph in the 1998 yearbook, and that was just about the end of those guys. (I sort of assume it was mostly guys.) Kleebold and Harris were just two straggler-ons, incidental enough to the whole cliquish subset that they didn’t appear in that photograph. Thus… The Trenchcoat Mafia are completely innocent and have little or no bearing on any conversation regarding the Colubime Shooting Incident. It makes perfect sense how they permeated popular imagination: second hand from other high school students looking from the outside in on a batch of weird looking freaks. Translate this into news items, and everything is perverted from there on out.

This lead us to news items from throughout the nation’s schools about students expressing, in class discussions and elsewhere, guarded sympathies to the two killers. These kids were guilty of framing Kleebold and Harris into their own experience as alienated, bullied adolescents. Welcome “Jocks versus Nerds”. (or Goths. Or Whatever.)

Maybe this is for the best. It has lead to schools re-examining and looking at the issue of bullying, frequently and too easily dumped away and rationalized as a cynical social Darwinian exercise: “It’ll toughen them up. Prepare them for the harsh, real world.” (An attitude that seems to frequently lead to suicide, if nothing else.)

The other batch of news items I was reading through and scratching my head at at the time. Interviewing “jocks” (usually jocks, occasionally other “popular kids”) who now feel (a) vulnerable and (b) a bit more empathetic to the less popular, picked-on kids. The imprint on my mind was an article with a football player saying something along the lines of “And a friend pointed at a fellow student, saying ‘he’s the type who just might do something like this’, and I was like, (and as though this proves his virtue) I didn’t bother looking over at who he was pointing to.”

You do recall that these two killers pretty well shot indiscriminately? See… that’s what leads some fundamentalist Christians to believe they were Atheists shooting Christians! (And a fairly odd legend grew out for Christian Youth to snatch onto, the matry who said “yes” to the question of whether or not she was a Christian, and was gunned down anyway. Replete, annoyingly enough, with merchandising.)

Actually, they were trying to kill everyone in that school, but the explosive devises they wired up proved poorly connected. Beyond that, they planned to … hijack a plane, kill more people on the way to … I believe Washington, DC, but my memory is fading.

Which would’ve turned their more-deadly than usual school shooting into a bonafide murder spree. Which is what they wanted to accomplish. And which destroys what had been my impression of the two, which was still buried into the popular storyline of the events (and everybody’s adolescent expereience): A month away from graduation, and yet they lacked the perepective to realize THEY WERE A MONTH AWAY FROM GRADUATION. Nay… they had some perspective beyond a shallow high school corridor. Or, at least the more dominant and irredemibly sociopathic of the two (and I don’t remember which one was that one.)

Figure out why they were sociopaths (emotion-numbing drugs which help put them into a video-game mode… but, then again, there was a reason they were prescribed emotion-numbing drugs), but don’t alter the story into what it wasn’t.

I’m not sure what my point is in deconstructing away what was a moderately (though only moderately) overhyped news event that is fading away from the public conciousness, as all things do. Nor do I know how shedding it away to what looks like its real story guides us anywhere in the future. But, I never knew how to discuss Columbine (the last time I had any reason to was, really, the Spring of 2001 — which was about the ending of the mass media feeding off of various incidents) — due to the difference between what it was and what different people wanted it to be for various reasons.

We should ban video games, maybe?

I Believe the Children are the Future

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Conveniently thrown at us in pull-quote form, comes quote from the Creationist Sect:

“We have kids killing kids because they think they’re just a bunch of people descended from monkeys, with no one to answer to,” he said. “If I took a bunch of guns to the zoo and handed them out to the monkeys, we’d have a bunch of dead monkeys. My problem is not with guns. My problem is with calling my kids monkeys.” (Jerry Allen is a mechanic from Burbank, a suburb of Pasco, Washington… which is just what we need… a suburb of Pasco, Washington. Can there be such a thing? Is Outlook [Home of Astronaut Jennifer Dunbar, or whatever it is her name is] a suburb of Sunnyside, Washington [Home of a sign that says it is the home of said Astronaut]?)

Never mind. One of the positive results of the 9/11 attacks is that it seems to have pretty well ended the era of school shootings, and more importantly the Political Rorschach Tests that followed. The media space that sociopathic drugged out kids attempted to mine through the early 90s and early 00s has moved away to weightier matters. Or maybe the increased security has done it… I don’t know.

Students Arrested for Cyber Bullying.

Investigators with the Attorney General’s High-Tech Crimes Unit say the situation started when a 15-year-old female student created a website called “Loranger’s biggest” The website featured pictures of a 14-year-old male student. He responded with his own web site, which investigators say included a list of students he called “The Preps,” and poems so graphically violent, investigators say “they crossed the line.”

That’s a strange little curious case of cross-purpose. Stick to threatening “Fluffy the Cat”, and you’ll be better off. (Who where and why does any angsty youth think about such a thing as “The Preps”?)

This article came to my attention when I heard in the corner of my ear a news item that Washington State politicos were seeking to rid our schools of “cyber-bullying”, and I wondered what they were referring to. A google search, and I ponder any number of items.

The Right-Wing is currently in a tizzy about some anti-war letters some sixth graders sent to the troops. I don’t really know what you expect sixth graders to write … and it seems to me that the Bill O’Reillys of the world seem to believe that the natural state of a sixth grader is to believe in the righteousness of a war effort, or to be “taught” to believe in the righteousness of a war effort. (Actually, I suspect the sixth graders’ opinions reflected the opinion of their parents, an effect that will change in a year or two.)