Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm In A Profession of Idiots

Anyone want to defend the role of the school, the cops, or the courts in this one?  Misplaced faith in these fields does untold damage to our nation:
Here comes another story highlighting the danger of schools "outsourcing" their disciplinary problems to law enforcement. As we've stated before, this does nothing more than turn routine misconduct into criminal behavior, which is a great way to derail a student's future.

A Pennsylvania teen, who claimed to have been bullied constantly (and ignored by school administration), made an audio recording of his tormentors using a school-supplied iPad. He brought this to the school's attention, which duly responded by calling the cops… to have him arrested for violating Pennsylvania's wiretapping law...

The judge said that bullying victims should first bring the problem to their parents -- which this student did. Next, she says the parents should let the school administrators know -- which she did. Finally, she says, let the school handle it -- which it did. And now, the student faces her -- having followed all the proper steps -- charged with disorderly conduct. And yet, despite this, she asserts that the system works and, indeed, has always worked in regards to this particular school. Logical fallacy piled on top of logical fallacy until a bullied kid is charged with a crime while his recorded tormentors remain unpunished.

The judge refused to believe that any one these esteemed administrators could have screwed up, failing to believe that they, too, are human and as prone to failure as anyone else. If they've never screwed up in the fast, all future misdeeds are forgiven (and forgotten) in advance. This is the sort of rationale that should never be deployed by a supposedly impartial overseer like a judge, because it's just as wrong as assuming every authority figure involved here is an irredeemable monster.

Maybe the future holds better outcomes, but for right now, everyone involved had a chance to stop this from reaching this illogical conclusion, but no one -- from the administrators to their legal team to local law enforcement to the presiding judge -- was interested in reining this in. In the end, it looks as though an innate desire to punish someone was satisfied every step of the way.
Is it really illegal in Pennsylvania to record people in public? Do people have an "expectation of privacy" in the open areas of school?  Are you "wiretapping" in Pennsylvania if you set up a camera on a street corner?

Update, 4/21/14:  The disinfectant of sunlight has made the cockroaches scurry for cover:
Throughout the entire debacle, not a single person involved even considered the possibility that the student had committed no crime or the fact that he had followed all of the school's prescribed steps for reporting bullying incidents. Instead, the desire to punish someone was obliged every step of the way.

Finally, someone within the justice system has chosen to act like an adult, rather than a bunch of clique-y, vindictive children...

More specifically, both the wiretapping charge (which was apparently still brought despite the involved officer's statement otherwise) and the disorderly conduct charge (which the judge found the student guilty of) were dropped
The DA was the adult in this case, but:
While it's nice that the DA has dropped the charges and allowed the student to proceed through school without criminal charges hanging over his head, one wonders if this same outcome would have forthcoming without the attendant public outcry. Any adult can start acting like one with enough public shaming. But the application of a little common sense would have averted this incident completely.


maxutils said...

I agree with you ... this seems ridiculous. But, don't we want judges to uphold the law? This case may be a stick in their eye if the judge is right ... and were I on jury I would absolutely practice jury nullification . But no ... you have no expectation of privacy at a school, except for the bathroom.

allen (in Michigan) said...

The real crime is that the school administration was shown up as not doing their job to protect this kid from bullying.

As long as it was just the kid getting knocked around and the mommy complaining to an administrator the problem could be contained, i.e. nothing would reflect badly on the administration. But as soon as a recording was made the ability of the administration to "manage" the situation to their advantage went out the window. So they did what they could to make the victim the perpetrator.

Oh, and it's not a profession of idiots. It's an organization that's a product of the political system so politics - appearances, implications, innuendos - are more important then reality. The public education system, due to it's inherently political nature, puts a premium on suppressing bad, embarrassing, unappetizing news so if the administrator had managed to keep the incident under wraps they would have been doing their job. But it's the system that rewards that sort of behavior so it's the system that bears the responsibility.