'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BAN I-PODS? THAT’S, LIKE, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DUDE
The new school superintendent in Torrington wants to do something radical: remove the headphones from the ears of students. Soon after assuming his duties in January, Christopher Leone noticed that most kids in the high school had two white wires surgically attached to their ears, the unmistakable sign of rampant iPoditis. It seemed there were more electronic devices in the school than there were students. (This is because students from poor families must carry two separate items, cell phones and music players—how embarrassing!—while the wealthy students enjoy the new generation of fashionable devices that combine the following functions: cell phone, text messaging, email, music player, the Internet, video recorder, and pencil sharpener.)
Leone’s proposed policy will allow electronic devices on school grounds, but they “may not be used, heard or displayed during the school day.” Wow, talk about a gutsy first move at a new job. Leone would’ve created less of a controversy if he had proposed to double property taxes and give every teacher a Porsche, or on the other end of the spectrum, abolish all unions and pay the teachers nine bucks an hour with no benefits.
This electronics ban has people in an uproar. There are two primary opinions on this issue. One opinion is called the C.S. view, or “common sense.” (Although C.S. might also stand for “crotchety seniors.”) This view, which I hold, believes that personal electronic devices are very distracting, and kids are distracted enough these days, so a ban during the handful of hours each week they’re actually in school is a good thing.
Also, there’s no truth to the rumor that those of us in the C.S. camp agree with the electronics ban because we’re jealous since we didn’t have them when we went to school. Fiddlesticks (to use a hip expression). We not only did not have iPods in our youth, we had to walk five miles to school each day. In two feet of snow. Uphill. Both ways. And yet, we don’t begrudge today’s youth the benefits of modern educational technology, such as TVs in every classroom and Ritalin in every bloodstream.
The opposing opinion is called the O.M.G.I.G.D.W.M.I.P. view, or “Oh my God I’m gonna die without my iPod!” Personally, I empathize with students who are freaked out by Leone’s proposal. After all, they were born in the 1990s. They’ve never known a time when people did not have personal electronic devices. Many of them probably received their first iPod when they were brought home from the hospital two days after being born. These kids most likely think every generation in human history has had the opportunity to shove earphones into their heads and tune out the world. I’m sure these youngsters sincerely believe the Declaration of Independence says all people have the unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of music downloads.” Leone’s plan is no doubt a scary proposition for the students.
Whether Leone succeeds or fails in his radical plan will not be determined by either the C.S. citizens or the O.M.G.I.G.D.W.M.I.P. students. Leone must get the support of the finicky segment of society know as W.D.Y.M.M.L.J.C.P.I.C.?.I.G.A.L.A.S.T.S., or “What do you mean my little Johnny causes problems in class? I’m getting a lawyer and suing the school!”
That’s right, this issue will be decided by those parents who have never, ever said “no” to their kids. In other words, Torrington will be looking for a new superintendent next year. Nice try, Mr. Leone. Some of us thought you made a lot of sense.
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