Volume 1501, Number 4
They learn by watching
Young people who attended the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday night learned a lot.
They learned that the way to deal with those who dare disagree with you and your friends is to groan ostentatiously, catcall, and yell “liar.” And, they found the way to handle a request to refrain from applauding by the Committee Chair: applaud more loudly yet, and whistle and cheer. After all, it’s your First Amendment right to say whatever you want, whenever you want, right?
If their school studies include the history of community agitation they will remember: “If the rules say we have to share the time and can only speak for three minutes then we’ll just come back again and again. It’s important to get everything we want to say on video so we’ll be recognized.” That is, sharing means take as much as you can get away with — you deserve it because you’re so special.
Speaking of video, the performance artists who dominate comment periods at Council meetings attended to get their camera time. The “singer” refrained from ditties and scatological references and the FROG chair didn’t wear a bathrobe, but they did share their wisdom.
Bubbles assiduously tried to get unflattering photos of committee members he doesn’t like. For example, say a committee member is sitting quietly and breathing evenly with his eyes partly closed. If he’s on a mat in a gym – we might think he’s grounding himself during a trying time or meditating to help clear his mind. If he’s in church, perhaps he’s praying. But at a committee meeting? Bubbles will photograph and mock him. The kids are learning that personal attacks are the way to go.
When they study Alinsky and the protest movements of the 60s classmates may ask, “If this Alinsky guy said truth was irrelevant and that accusing and belittling officials helps you get your way even if you’re wrong, why did anybody listen to him?” They can reply; let me tell you about the Park Committee meeting my mom took me to, it was just like that and it was in 2015.”
Or, if their Civics class studies how Roberts Rules ensure fairness to all, they will know that Roberts Rules, like decorum and respect, don’t apply if you “feel strongly.” It’s OK to break rules and behave rudely if you “feel strongly.”
It may be hard for the kids to see a difference between yelling out insults at a committee meeting and screaming profanities at a security officer as in the Facebook video that circulated recently. (During that video clip pre-school children imitated their mother by cursing at a guard who wouldn’t allow her to steal things.)
Where should they draw the line for what is or isn’t acceptable? If you don’t like someone’s views you should intimidate them? If that doesn’t quiet them, then threaten? And then if they don’t shut up, you can shoot them or behead them?
The children at the meeting learned a lot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about adult problem-solving, cooperation, or even about the Park