I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Did I say "overlords?" I meant "protectors."

It is the year 2020. Aliens have taken over. They have decided your constitution gives you too many rights. Pick five of them to keep. If you are all unanimous, then you may keep those five rights. If not, then you lose all of them. What rights do you keep?

This is the task put before Girl's 5th grade class yesterday. I was the special guest lawyer. So it was cute that "right to a lawyer" was one of the first things to go. One girl said, well, if you're guilty, you should go to jail.

So nobody goes to jail just because they're too dumb to be able to say the right thing? That never happens? (Crickets) Let me put it this way -- have you ever been in a situation where somebody could out-talk you? Like, they always win just because they're older than you and it just seems like they can always say the right thing and you're there all shy, going, "Um, shaddup."

Can you think that maybe when a regular guy is talking to a cop or to a judge that maybe that guy would feel like that?

Or what about Ernesto Miranda (Of "Miranda Rights")? He was guilty as sin, but we didn't send him to jail (Not for that particular crime anyway). Why? Because -- write this down, children -- rights are not a reward for good behavior. They're rights. We have a "right" to them. That's what makes them "rights."

Three rights were absolute no-brainers for them:
Right to bear arms
No cruel and unusual punishment
Freedom of religion

Why those three? Hot topics, I guess. Especially I can see where they would think that the one about God was the "right" answer.

They were less clear about peaceful assembly. One boy said, well, Martin Luther King already did that, so we don't need that one any more. (Excellent.)

So, it's all good now? Nobody ever abuses their power? Nobody ever needs to stand up to anybody in government now?

But of course it is difficult for kids this age to question authority. Frankly, that's probably appropriate for 5th grade, so this is where it was nice to have alien overlords to be the heavy.

Say the aliens decide that we all have to pay for the air we breathe from now on. We might want to say something about that? In a group, maybe? Should they be able to arrest us just for meeting?

They weren't hearing me about privacy, either. But again, as kids, I don't think they're really feeling the "My home is my castle" thing. With kids, it's a process of "unlearning" that respect for authority.

We had the same problem in high school when teachers would try to point out something racy in a novel. We'd spent so much time getting our minds out of the gutter, we just couldn't believe that the innuendo really was there. I distinctly remember our Great Gatsby teacher practically heaving over the desk, announcing, "Come on, guys. This is hot stuff!"

That's how I felt about our little experiment. I just wanted to shout, come on guys, our founding fathers were some radicals and heretics. Get feisty here!


somacow said...

It's a trick question. The only right a populace must keep is the right to bear arms. All other rights will "right" themselves, provided a people are not enslaved to the whim of the military or the government.

Love the blog, thanks for the read!

Astrodon Johnstoni said...

Oh, I don't know, soma cow. What good will your pitiful earth weapons do against their annihilator rays?