Who's next?

That’s the question various “authorities” are no doubt asking themselves. Whom is it safe to pick on and make an example of? As various minority populations and get wise to the fact that they don’t have to take the abuse, the only “safe” targets left are the kids. Of course, youths have always been abused in schools, whether as the “teacher’s pet” or the “goat.” That seems to be one of the ways abusive behavior is spread from generation to generation.

The recent story about youths in high school being targeted by law enforcement personnel pretending to be friendly students themselves is, however, unusually disgusting. Suborning special needs students who have been main-streamed, as seems to have happened in Riverside County, smacks of blatant antagonism. Lots of adults are apparently jealous of children getting the kind of attention and care they could have benefitted from when they were young.

In 1967, Jerry Farber, writing for the Los Angeles Free Press, identified the “Student as Nigger.” But, I’d argue that was somewhat of a mistake because it focused on the victims of authoritarian abuse, instead of recognizing that the abusers are simply motivated to pick on whom they think they can get away with, to show how clever and/or powerful they are. The culture of obedience encourages them. After all, isn’t the mission of public education to make good citizens? Never mind that the emphasis on mindless discipline pretty much drives out the love of learning.