Featured post

Are You a Rude and Disrespectful Cell Head?

Definition of a Cell Head:

noun
  1. short for cellular head or empty head

(1)  A person obsessed with his cell phone.

(2)  A person who lives with his eyes or ear glued to a cell phone

(3)  A person with a stronger relationship with his cell phone than with people

(4)  A person whose life is dominated by his cell phone

(5)  A rude and disrespectful person

If you are guilty of any of the following 10 cell phone behaviors you are a CELL HEAD.  Your use of your cell phone is often RUDE and DISRESPECTFUL:

  1. You are rude and disrespectful if you use your cell phone at the dinner table;
  2. You are rude and disrespectful if you use your cell phone in a restaurant while dining with others;
  3. You are rude and disrespectful if you constantly check your cell phone for new messages in the presence of other people;
  4. You are rude and disrespectful if you use your cell phone to message, text, tweet, or surf the web while visiting in someone’s home;
  5. You are rude and disrespectful if you use your cell phone in your car to message, text, tweet, or surf the web while stopped at a traffic light and it causes you to hold up traffic when the light turns green because you are not paying attention;
  6. You are rude and disrespectful if you use your cell phone to message, text, tweet, or surf the web in a movie theater during the movie;
  7. You are rude and disrespectful – but primarily disgusting – if you use your cell phone in a public restroom while sitting on the pot or standing at the urinal;
  8. You are rude and disrespectful – as well as obnoxious – if you carry on a cell phone conversation while walking down the street. walking in the mall, or doing your business in a public restroom loud enough for those around you to hear;
  9. You are rude and disrespectful if you use your cell phone while engaged in a face to face conversation with another person.  Few things are more rude or disrespectful than having a conversation with someone and in mid-sentence or story they take out their cell phone to check for messages; and
  10. You are rude and disrespectful if you cannot turn your cell phone off, leave it in the car, leave it in your purse, or place it on silent when visiting or engaged in a conversation.  Instead of being RUDE and DISRESPECTFUL, why not pleasantly surprise everyone and join the conversation?  It might surprise you to discover all the endless calls and messages that titillate and inspire your life will be waiting for you after the visit to grandma’s house or the face to face conversation with a friend.

My Advice to Cell Heads:

  1. People first – Cell phone second!
  2. If dealing with a major emergency or health issue that you must closely monitor by phone, let people know, put your cell phone on silent/vibrate, and excuse yourself politely to take a message when it buzzes. Other than that, turn your phone off and forget it for a few minutes while visiting in someone’s home or engaged in face to face conversations;
  3. Always be present for the people you are with by focusing on them rather than someone floating in cyberspace;
  4. When you enter a public restroom, put your cell phone away while doing your business. When finished with your business, wash your hands before reaching for your cell phone unless you don’t mind nasty toilet microorganisms transferred from your hands to your phone to your face;
  5. If your cell phone is the first thing you hold in the morning and the last thing you hold at night, you have a problem.  GET A LIFE!

People, there is no other way to say it . . . .

IF YOUR CELL PHONE TAKES PRIORITY OVER PEOPLE (especially family and friends), YOU ARE A RUDE AND DISRESPECTFUL CELL HEAD!

You have the power to control your cell phone!  Of course, if you are a CELL HEAD, the cell phone controls you.  IT’S A CHOICE!

If someone must play second-fiddle for your attention, it should be the person on the other end of your cell phone.  There is an old adage that says “Love the one you are with!”  So, why not start a new one that says, “Be attentive to the one you are with!”  Who knows, with a little more personal interaction, we might actually break down some of the barriers, such as HUMAN DISCONNECT, that plaque our world.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 31, 2018

Advertisements

The Reality is Pit Bulls are Dangerous

Recently, there was another vicious attack by a Pit Bull that sent a man to the hospital where he underwent surgery to repair the damage.  I do not have all the facts of the attack, but regardless, this is yet another incident of a Pit Bull turning on an adult or child and causing serious injury or death.  The difference is this time the victim was someone I know, and that hits too close to home for comfort.  Such attacks are all too common in the United States, but when the cry goes up against Pit Bulls and the danger they represent, supporters of these animals jump to their defense claiming the fault lies with the person who was attacked and not with the dog.  The American Pit Bull Foundation claims Pit Bull attacks are the result of human neglect or abuse, and when treated kindly and respectfully, Pit Bulls are no more dangerous or prone to maul or kill than any other breed of dog.  They say responsible dog ownership is the key to reducing vicious attacks by any dog.  I agree responsible dog ownership is important, but between 2005 and 2017, Pit Bulls accounted for over 70% of all dog attacks resulting in a human fatality; therefore, it is time common sense prevailed and something was done to protect people from these animals.

There is no question there are dog owners who neglect and abuse their dog causing the animal to lash out, but there are times when Pit Bulls turn on people who were basically in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Animal abusers should be punished severely, and maybe they are getting their just reward when the animal turns on them, but what about children and innocent people who have done nothing intentional to provoke the dog when it attacks?  Is a child getting his just reward when he playfully pulls on a Pit Bull’s ear or plays with the dog too roughly and the dog attacks?  Does a child who accidentally steps on a Pit Bull’s foot and causes the dog pain deserve to be mauled and have his face ripped off?  Does a mail carrier or meter reader doing his job deserve to be hospitalized with life threatening injuries because he unknowingly ventured into a Pit Bull’s territory?  I think not even though proponents for these dogs will never concede the dog was not provoked and the human was not at fault.

I agree humans (adults and children) sometimes do foolish and stupid things.  That is why society has created safety laws/regulations that require people to wear seat belts, warning labels are placed on lawn mowers warning users not to insert a hand or foot in the discharge shoot, and regulations are passed into law that require motorists to stop at railway crossings.  These laws/regulations are there for a purpose – to keep people safe.  People are human; they make mistakes – they drive too fast, they clean clogged grass from lawnmowers with the engine running, and they get in a hurry and race trains to the crossing.  By nature, they are careless, neglectful, and at times down right stupid.  That is why there are rules, regulations, and guidelines, to keep people safe from themselves as well as others.  Therefore, it is reasonable to assume human beings may indeed sometimes be guilty of lack of care and common sense when handling Pit Bulls or other animals, but isn’t it equally reasonable to assume there should be laws to protect people from potentially dangerous animals that pose a threat to human well-being?  When it comes to Pit Bulls, where are the regulations to keep these aggressively bred animals away from innocent children and unsuspecting adults?  Why do we allow people to be maimed or killed with regularity by an animal that is descended from the English bull-baiting dog that was bred to use its powerful jaws to bite and hold bulls and bears around the face and head?

Aggression is in the DNA of the Pit Bull!  The animal was bred to fight and kill; it was not bred as a lap dog or companion dog.  Strict regulations are needed for an animal, that to this day, can turn aggressive at the drop of a hat and instinctively clamp it jaws around the face of a child or adult and literally shake and rip skin into shreds while crushing bones.  Regulation of such killing machines to keep people alive and well is not over-bearing government; it is common sense.

Some will say I am being overly dramatic, and I am giving Pit Bulls a bad rap.  They will say the Pit Bull is a great, friendly, loving family pet, and to some extent, they may be right – until the animal turns on a member of the family or a neighbor.   It should be common sense that such animals have no business sharing space with people, especially children, but unfortunately too many people do not think that way.  They think of their Pit Bull as a valued friend, a personal bodyguard, and a member of the family that would never hurt anyone; however, let’s look at the facts:

  1. The April 2011 issue of Annals of Surgery warned children with a Pit Bull in the home are at the highest risk of injury or fatality. The report recommended “these breeds (Pit Bulls) should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated;”
  2. Unlike most dogs, Pit Bulls may not give a warning such as growling before attacking. Also, unlike most dogs, they are not likely to back down once engaged in an attack.  They are bred to kill or fight to the death;
  3. The United States Army acknowledges Pit Bulls are high-risk dogs, and prohibit these dogs in many military housing units;
  4. Pit Bulls consistently rank at the top of fatal dog attack lists. Pit Bulls make up 6% of the dog population, but they are responsible for 68% of all dog attacks and 71% of dog-related deaths.  The viciousness of this animal can be seen in the following breakdown – Human Fatalities by Dog Breed:  2005 – 2017:
    1. Pit Bull                                       284
    2. Rottweiler                                  45
    3. German Shepherd                    20
    4. Mixed Breed                              17
    5. American Bulldog                    15
    6. Mastiff/Bull-mastiff                 14
    7. Husky                                            3
  5. From 2005 to 2017, Pit Bulls killed one American every 16.7 days while Rottweilers were second killing one American every 105 days; and
  6. 50 countries regulate Pit Bulls as a dangerous dog breed. In 39 of those countries, the regulation is a national-level law.

Although Pit Bulls are beautiful animals that appear loving and social, the evidence supports they are a dangerous threat to human limb and life, especially young children.  Denying this reality will not make these dogs any less dangerous or threatening.  There are those who will continue to argue the problem is with people, not Pit Bulls, and though there is truth to their argument, that truth does not negate the facts that these animals are a potential lethal risk to children, neighbors, and anyone who comes into contact with them – even owners.  Therefore, is the ever-present possibility of a Pit Bull in the home mauling or killing a loved one worth the risk of ownership?  For a reasonable and prudent individual, I would think the answer would be NO, but sensibility is a human trait that often defies all logic.  However, regardless of the school of thought a person may embrace, the reality is Pit Bulls are dangerous, and ownership should be strictly regulated or maybe even denied completely.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 19, 2019

Support for a LEGO Wall

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook depicting President Trump building his proposed border wall from a box of Legos.  Other than a brief laugh, I scrolled down the page giving it little thought, but then it hit me like a Lego brick upside the head.  It could work!  Not only could it work, but a Lego wall would be a cost-effective way to get hog-tied American citizens and laughing Mexican leaders off the hook for funding the wall.  A Lego wall stretching the length of the border between the United States and Mexico would still be expensive, but the cost could be reduced drastically from billions to millions by taking advantage of America’s greatest untapped building material resource – old Lego sets and Lego pieces collecting dust under sofas and in toy closets in homes across America.     

Putting a plan to build a Lego wall in action would not be difficult.  Most American families would be overjoyed to donate their old Lego sets and partial sets that no longer interest their children or grandchildren to the wall.  A network of Lego Drop Boxes in malls, Walmart, churches, and government buildings could be set up across the nation to collect Lego pieces for The Great Wall of America.  Legos make sense as a money saver as well as a building material.  By using Legos – new or donated – to build the wall, money for mortar, adhesives, rivets, welding, etc. to hold the wall together would not be necessary since Legos interlock.  Donated Legos would be especially useful to the construction of the wall.  Used Legos not only interlock but are covered with a thin gooey film from sticky little fingers that once played with them.  Try prying apart two interlocked Legos sealed by peanut butter and jelly or banana pudding taffy?  It is almost impossible.  Nuking might do the job, but it’s doubtful.

Labor is the second area in which a Lego wall would save the country money.  Let’s assume every Congressman can assemble Legos (A stretch, but for now please humor me).  Why not put them to work building the Lego wall?  They receive a paycheck for doing little to nothing, so why not put them to work earning their pay for a change?  Of course, such a work force of limited skill sets and questionable work ethics would require constant supervision and mentoring, and that is where pre-school and kindergarten children come into play.  Children are Lego experts, and through their expertise and guidance, the construction of the wall would flow smoothly from beginning to end.  Now, before someone starts shouting about child labor violations, please, listen closely.  Under the Lego plan, communities would organize pre-school and kindergarten field trips to allow children to travel to the wall and spend a day eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mentoring the Congressmen stacking Legos for the wall, and teaching them how to work and play nicely together.  If nothing else, children mentoring Congressmen on how to get along, share, and work together would be a patriotic service sorely needed in America. 

Finally, maintenance for the wall would be easier and cheaper if Legos were used.  Billions of dollars would be saved on maintenance since cumbersome and expensive steel and concrete would not be needed.  When a section of the Lego wall needed repairs, Congressmen would simply pop out the worn piece and fit a donated Lego piece in its place.  There would be no long delays waiting for replacement materials since America’s Donate a Lego campaign would produce an endless stream of Legos for repairs and additional tower construction.  This would especially be true in March and April when most children lose interest in the Legos they received for Christmas and put them aside.  That interest lull is the perfect time for patriotic parents and grandparents, tired of losing their religion and speaking in obscene tongues when they step on a Lego piece buried in the carpet, to scoop up all Legos laying around the house and drop them in the nearest Lego Drop Box.  The beauty of this process is it comes at no cost to the to the citizens of the United States or Mexico.

If you stop to think about it, a Lego wall makes as much sense as anything else happening in Washington these days, so why not give it a chance?  Who knows, it might give us a reason to smile, be nice to each other, and be proud of our country’s leadership once again.

JL

©Jack Linton, January 19, 2019

New Year Resolutions: Fun or Serious

Making New Year resolutions is a time-honored tradition.  It is a time when many people jokingly make self-improvement goals they have no intention to honor.  Year after year, people from presidents to school teachers engage in making such resolutions in the name of harmless fun.  However, there are those of us who take such traditions seriously.  We would never think about lying, even in fun, about anything as serious as how we intend to face a new beginning.  No one is perfect in this world!  All of us have certain undesired traits and behaviors that could stand improvement, and as a Believer in the Sanctity of New Year Resolutions (BSNYR), I – along with mega tens of like believers – am thankful for the chance to address my shortcomings and improve as a human being.  Unfortunately, there are those who have no qualms wasting this valuable opportunity, and they readily show their irreverence for the occasion through their tongue-in-cheek approach.

The news media is a prime example!  They go out of their way to support the ridiculous and embrace the New Year with a facetious simplistic approach.  These perpetrators of fake news wallow in laughable self-indulging septic resolutions that cast a shadow over the first serious event/tradition of the new year.  Sadly, such a mindless jocular beginning sets the tone for the rest of the year.  The remaining 364 days never fully recover from the year’s raucous upside-down beginning.  As dubious as that may sound, the recurring lunacy that follows throughout the year – year after year – is a testament to what happens when people do not take their New Year resolutions to heart.

Therefore, please forgive me if I proclaim my resolutions with a bit more “ump” than the average Joe.  Resolutions are the yearly life blood that spurs me to continuous improvement as a human being, and folks I don’t take that lightly.  But, if your approach to New Year resolutions is little more than fun and games, I say kudos if that tickles your pickle, but for me, I choose to be a bit more impish in my annual reproach to the New Year.  However, regardless of where you stand on this issue, have a joyous and happy New Year, and above all, give your family a hug and a kiss.  That is truly the best way to start the New Year with or without resolutions!  

2019 New Year Resolutions:

1.     I will never walk when I can ride (It doesn’t make sense);

2.     I will buy new underwear (A year is about the limit for Fruit of the Loom);

3.     I will answer my cell phone when I can find it;

4.     I will go to the gym.  (I try to visit at least once a year);

5.     I will travel, travel, travel (Have I said it’s good to be retired);

6.     I will keep my opinions to myself about self-serving meathead politicians;

7.     I will give up uncooked bread and pasta;

8.     I will remember to zip my pants when I leave the restroom (At my age, there is little cause for alarm, but the draft is not good for old folks during flu season);

9.     I will be more assertive if no one is opposed;

10.  I will spend less time listening to FOX NEWS, CNN, FACEBOOK, CONSERVATIVES, LIBERALS, DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, and CRACKPOTS IN GENERAL; and

11.  I will make breakable or adjustable New Year resolutions (It’s more truthful and less stressful).

This article has been approved by the 2019 Believers in the Sanctity of New Year Resolutions (BSNYR) membership board.  All lies and responsibility for belief, disbelief, offense, feelings of betrayal, shock, and repulsiveness in the content is a figment of the imagination and squarely rests on the shoulders of the believer, disbeliever, offended, betrayed, shocked, and repulsed. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR ya’ll!

JL

©Jack Linton, January 1, 2019

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Other Potentially Offensive Classics

Once again those with time on their hands and nothing better to do have found a reason to be offended.  The latest episode from the “I am miserable – let’s make everyone else miserable as well” crew has them at odds with Frank Loesser’s 1944 flirtatious, call and response song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”  In the era of MeToo where any flirtation is a dangerous game, such offense can be expected, but pulling classic standards people have innocently enjoyed for over seventy years into the debate is a stretch at best.  Now before someone gets their panties in a wad and wants to hang me by my thumbs for being insensitive, please listen close.  No one is saying MeToo is without merit – of course, it has merit, and power to those women who stand up to being victimized and manipulated, but when a simple playful tune is depicted as a vicious “date rape” song, the movement may be reaching a bit too far.

Granted, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” may be offensive to some people, and if so, in a nation of free citizens, it is their individual right and responsibility to turn the channel on the radio or television or boycott what offends them.  However, there is no reason for them to assume it is my problem as well?   Personally, I see the song as a silly, fun little song written to instill a happy warm feeling and memories of youthful playful banter.  Any interpretation beyond that is going to extremes.  Unfortunately, in our society, finding offense with any and everything has become common practice, and there appears to be little relief in sight for the foreseeable future.  The day will come when other classics such as The Grinch, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” will come under scrutiny and face removal from radio and television for being offensive to someone.  After all, America’s new creed is “If I am offended, you should be offended as well.”

Other Potentially Offensive Classics:

The Grinch:

A delightful story of a mean-spirited green creature who finds the joy of Christmas.  Unfortunately, in our society there are those who might see a darker side.  The offended are likely to see a despicable green creature who has his creepy eye on an innocent little Who child along with numerous other wicked transgressions.  An ASPCA NIGHTMARE, the green goon ties his poor little dog to a mountainous sled and uses a whip to force him to pull the sled to the top of a mountain.  The sinister Grinch also humiliates the poor little dog by tying a reindeer antler on his head.  AND, if that is not enough to rattle offensive genes, he is a glorified villain who impersonates Santa Claus and steals Christmas!   Oh my!  The offensive horror of it all!

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer:

This is a cute, fun, tongue in cheek Christmas novelty song.  However, you can bet your eggnog, this song is on someone’s offended radar!  There is no way a song about an elderly lady whose family spikes her eggnog, lets her stagger home drunk through the snow alone, and does not bother to check on her until the next morning isn’t on someone’s offended list!  Did the family care she had “Claus marks” on her neck, or were they in on the dirty deed with Santa?  If that isn’t enough to get the offended juices flowing, Grandpa should really ring someone’s bell!  Instead of mourning poor Grandma, Grandpa chugs beer, gambles, and watches football on television.  If that is not enough dysfunction in one family to set the offended meter squawking, how about the part where the songwriter suggests Santa shouldn’t play with elves?  That is blatant discrimination against little and short people!  The “League against the Belittlement of Elves, Dwarfs, Fairies, and Short People” (LBEDFSP) are overdue to jump all over this offensive gem!

AND, let us not forget the most offensive child’s story of all time . . . .

 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:

This Disney fairytale tells the story of good (Snow White) triumphing over evil (the wicked queen).  However, this is exactly the kind of story those who carry the offended torch love to assassinate.  If a classic song such as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” wobbles touchy-feely orbs, then the story of Snow White has got to be on an offended list somewhere.  A young girl living in the same house and sleeping in the same room with seven little men must have someone’s “let’s find something to be stupid about” radar spinning.  After all, the dwarfs are sexists and guilty of slave labor; Snow White cleans their house and mends their clothes.  How can anyone argue a story about a young girl living in sin with seven men (little or otherwise), gets drugged, and wakes up to find her prince charming is anything but a sexist date rape story!  How can anyone not be offended by Disney?  God save America from such perversion!

All this might make a person want to swear off eggnog and join a convent, but as for me, I say, “Dang!  BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!”

JL

©Jack Linton, December 15, 2018

You Know You are Old When . . . .

I had given little thought to growing old until recently at a kid’s sporting event my grown daughter turned to give me a helping hand down the bleachers.  In that moment, she unintentionally shattered any delusions of immortality I might have held.  Like everyone, I have little aches and pains from time to time, but other than needing a full-length mirror to see my toes and getting winded if I walk further than my recliner to the kitchen table, I felt reasonably fit and young for my age.   That is – until my goody-good daughter interfered with my fantasy world.  In a reversal of roles, the little girl I once carried up and down those same bleachers had become the protector of her old decrepit father.  Of course, she had no ill-intent, but her kind, respectful gesture was an eye opener – a reality check for me. 

I was polite and joked with her that the first sign of old age was reaching for the handrail on the stairs, but underneath, I was having none of it.   My virility – my manhood – had been questioned!  I rushed home moving faster than I have become accustomed, ignored my wife’s wise advice to rest in my recliner when I arrived, crawled up the stairs, and gasping for breath, pulled myself off my knees to the bathroom vanity to face the mirror.  I was horrified!  The blinders were gone.  The rose-colored glasses shattered.  The veil shielding my eyes from the mirror’s reality had been lifted.  I was old, and all the king’s men and all the king’s horses couldn’t put young Jack together again.  I wanted to cry but forgot why.

It took a day or two, but I forgave my daughter.  Although I would have preferred to stay in the dark a bit longer, it felt good to know she was so loving and concerned.  She could have just as easily pushed as offered her hand, but her mama taught her better.  I thank her and her mama – old fat men do not fall gracefully.  But, children – regardless of their good intentions – should be extra careful when exposing parents to the fact they are no longer young.  Most parents are way over the hill before they are willing to accept aging as a reality, and then it is only after years of incontinence, losing a tooth or three in their cereal bowl, living in a house smelling of mothballs and cheese, and leaving the thermostat set at 90 degrees year-round that they realize they are neck deep in their golden years.  Of course, there are parents who hold desperately to the illusion of youth – grandmothers who insist on dressing like their teen granddaughters, and grandfathers who wear sleeveless t-shirts with drooping lightning bolts tattooed on their upper arms.  Those poor souls may never wake to reality, but for the rest of us there are reminders of our mortality all around us.  For those of us with a thread of self-respect and dignity, it is paramount we recognize the signs of old age before someone, like our daughters, shock the hell out of us with pity, disguised as love, and an attitude of unsolicited “ah, the poor thing needs help.”

So, my advice to old decrepit hangers-on is take a deep breath and own up to the fact that over the years your children and life have simply worn you out.  If we are lucky and live long enough, old age happens to all of us, but . . . no one wants to be blind-sided by it!   Learn to recognize the many signs you have outlived your usefulness in a youth-oriented society.  Be prepared, don’t let your declining years sneak up on you!  Read the signs of advancing years printed below carefully and memorize them.  If, like me, that is easier said than done, print the list and put it under your hat or in your shoe for safe keeping, but if you are afraid you won’t remember where you stashed the list, stick it on the refrigerator – even us old fogies remember where to find the refrigerator.  Educate yourself to the signs of old age, and then celebrate you made it this far.

 You know you are old. . . .

1.     When you immediately reach for the handrail when climbing stairs;

2.     When your gut hangs lower than your butt;

3.     When you hear “booty call” and your first thought is adult diapers;

4.     When it takes Preparation H to shrink the wrinkles under your eyes;

5.     When you can remember using a rotary dial telephone;

6.     When you are thankful for your remaining tooth;

7.     When the perfect evening is being left alone;

8.     When you remember buying two hamburgers, fries, and a Coke for a dollar at McDonalds and getting change;

9.     When you see a pretty girl in a bikini and wonder if she’s wearing enough sunblock;

10.  When people around you mistake patience for don’t give a damn;

11.  When gas is a routine punctuation during conversations;

12.  When something always hurts or smells;

13.  When “getting lucky” means you slept through the night without getting up to go to the john;

14.  When you can’t put two sentences back to back without forgetting what you want to say; and

15.  When bending or squatting is likely to result in a pop followed by an unpleasant odor;

Remember, you know you are old when you finally have time to sit back and enjoy the little things in life that really matter like daughters watching out for you when you walk down bleachers.  Old age is not a disease to be feared, so enjoy life – at least what you have left of it.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 19, 2018

Letter to a Teacher Who Fought Back

A few days ago a California teacher physically lashed back at a disrespectful and abusive student in his classroom.  In many ways the teacher was wrong, but in many ways, he did exactly what so many teachers across America wish they could do.  There were no winners in the classroom that day – not the student who initiated the confrontation, not the students who came to class to learn, not the school or the community, not fellow teachers, and especially not the teacher who had had enough and stood up for himself.  The incident was a reflection on what is happening across America in our schools.  It is a reflection on a society that has grown soft on teaching responsibility, honor, respect, and consequences for actions.  A major reason teachers – good teachers – are leaving the teaching profession in droves, the incident was a mirror into a profession that has been battered, bruised, and abused too long.  It was a cry for help, but once the dust settles, it will be forgotten and pushed under the carpet until next time.  Why?  Because that is what we do in America with realities we do not want to face.  Mr. Riley was not a hero in how he reacted to the student, but he was not wrong either.  Maybe, this letter will find its way to him and let him know a nation of teachers feel his frustration.

Dear Mr. Riley:

The video of the confrontation I saw between you and a student was wrong in many ways, but as a former teacher and school administrator, I understand your frustration. In our society, teachers are helpless verbal and physical targets for students who have little respect for themselves, their family, or any kind of authority. While most students are good and decent, there are those who wreak havoc in classrooms and schools with little concern for the inadequate consequences schools are allowed by law and school policy to administer. These students verbally and physically assault teachers, administrators, and classmates with no fear of consequences other than temporary removal from school or expulsion.   Mr. Riley, you and I know, sending students home to walk the streets is not punishment; it is the vacation they hoped for when they started the confrontation.

As a society, we have nurtured such student behavior by soft pedaling their disruptive and disrespectful behavior with excuses and blaming the teacher for any and all disruptions and/or confrontations. Maybe, it is time teachers followed your example, and if a student verbally and/or physically attacks, they should fight back.  Most likely that is not the example you wish to advocate, but if a high school student wants to talk like a man (I use the term loosely) and fight like a man, physically treating him like a man may be the medicine that puts an end to foul mouth aggressive behavior in schools.  To a young bully set on tearing down and destroying all in his/her path, anything less comes across as a weakness   Unfortunately, passive interventions often invite additional abuse against students and teachers alike.  Textbook behavior interventions and passive mediation strategies developed by behavior specialists with little real-world classroom experience have proven to have little sustained impact on defiant, deviant, and violent student behavior.  Therefore, it is difficult to condemn teachers who out of frustration, desperation, and concern for their personal safety stand up for themselves and fight back.

I am not for abusing students in any way, but we cannot continue to strip the humanity from our teachers and leave them sitting ducks for out-of-control delinquents. A teenage high school student has no right getting in the face of a grown man or woman and dehumanizing them – verbally or physically.  However, that is exactly what is currently happening in schools in this country! Many think it is the fault of school administrators who don’t intervene promptly, and in some cases that may be true, but most school administrators are just as frustrated and hog-tied as the teachers.  Their hands are tied by the laws and “time-out” sentimentality of our society.

So, Mr. Riley, although I don’t condone you slugging a student, especially repeatedly with your fists and cell phone, I fully understand your frustrations, and as a man, I can’t blame you. However, unlike students who engage in such behavior there are severe consequences for teachers when they lose control.  It may not be fair, but in the United States, when you signed your contract as a teacher, you signed away your rights as a human being and obligated yourself to serve at society’s mercy and discretion. It is unfortunate, but teachers are expected to subject themselves to physically aggressive students and parents and keep on clicking until they can click no more and are forced out of the profession they love, or they crack under the pressure. Mr. Riley, if you could have walked away, you would have avoided this controversy, but if you had, it is likely, the same student along with a couple of buddies encouraged by your inaction would have been waiting for you another day. However, as the result of this incident, if you return as a teacher, I seriously doubt a student will ever challenge you again in your classroom. The word will be out, “You don’t mess with Mr. Riley.”

Sir, I don’t know if you cracked or not, but you did give in to your base instinct to stand up for your humanity and fight back, but unfortunately, for a school teacher that is unthinkable. In the end, I am afraid standing up for yourself will mean little to your school district and a society that often forgets teachers are human also.  As a teacher who has been pushed close to wearing your shoes, I am sorry for your troubles and pray you land on your feet once the smoke clears.  By accounts from your colleagues and students, you are a good man, a good teacher, and deserve a break.  I pray you get that break because as a nation we desperately need good men who are good teachers in the classroom.

May God bless you and your family who I am sure are hurting with you.

JL

Jack Linton
Retired Mississippi teacher and school administrator

The Ark Encounter:  An Encounter of Faith?

Recently, my wife and I, along with another couple, set out on a thirty-five-day camping trip.  We spent weeks planning the trip carefully orchestrating every stop around a theme of music and nature.  The music trail would take us to Mountain View, Arkansas; Hurricane Mills, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Tupelo, Mississippi; and Meridian, Mississippi.  Blending those stops with time to enjoy nature at Mammoth Cave, Tennessee; Cumberland Falls, Kentucky; Smoky Mountains, Tennessee; Desoto State Park, Alabama; and Dismal Canyon, Alabama seemed like a great trip, and when we added The Ark Encounter in Kentucky, we figured the trip was perfection.  Despite a couple of days of rain, the trip was everything we hoped it would be except for one stop – The Ark Encounter.

Our visit to the Ark left me (I will not speak for the others) not just a little dismayed but uneasy about my experience.  Granted, the Ark replica at 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 50 feet tall is a spectacular feat of modern engineering and construction.  To think Noah and his sons built such a vessel 4,000 years ago with crude tools, and unlike the modern replica, their boat could float is absolutely mind boggling.  Of course, there are those who say the original Ark was a fairy tale not to be believed, but I choose to believe based on my upbringing and faith.  However, some of what I found inside the Ark was puzzling and faith rattling.  It pushed my faith in the Biblical story of the Ark to its limits.

First, there is little doubt The Ark Encounter at $48 a head to enter, $10 to park, a gift shop around every corner, zip lines that range in price from $49 to $99 per person is a money-making endeavor.  Bills must be paid, and someone must make a profit, so money-making did not surprise me.  Besides, remarkable detail prevailed throughout the interior of the vessel.  There was nothing cheap about the modern-day Ark – the structure inside and out is beautiful.  How the animals were housed and cared for in the Ark was logically presented although the designers freely admit they took artistic license with the beautifully designed displays to explain how things may have worked on the Ark.  Considering no one alive was around during Noah’s time, taking artistic license to explain such as waste removal and ventilation makes perfect sense.  However, what made absolutely no sense was the kinds of animals displayed inhabiting the Ark.

As would be expected, there were crates, cages, and clay pots to hold insects, birds, small animals, and large animals.  But, did you know Tyrannosaur was on the Ark?  Yes, you read correctly!  According to the folks who developed The Ark Encounter, Tyrannosaurs and Sauropod dinosaurs as well as many other dinosaurs had tickets on The Ark!  The people behind the development of the modern-day Ark say there were as many as 80 kinds of dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark.  Now that I look back on my visit to The Ark Encounter, I realize I saw very few cages that held anything other than dinosaur-like creatures.

I am a Christian, but as I walked through the Ark, I began to feel uneasy.  If I had done more research before boarding the Ark, I would have known the present-day Ark is not simply a pilgrimage for Christians to marvel at the glory and miracle of God.  It is a tool to turn all credible science related to evolution upside down, and solely promote creationism.  Maybe my problem is I don’t see evolution as a threat to God’s power and love, but it is clear through their exhibits the creators of The Ark Encounter do.  They believe the world is only 6,000 years old, and that is okay if that is where their faith leads them but changing or misconstruing proven science to influence others to embrace their point of view is, for me, unsettling.

I hesitate to say I felt as though someone was trying to brainwash me, but that is exactly how I felt.  To be fair, some of the science presented seemed almost plausible, or was that the brainwashing?  What did not come across as plausible were such assertions as fossils did not exist before the flood 4,000 years ago, mountains and all contained within them were created by the flood 4,000 years ago, and the earth is only 6,000 years old.  I could have probably taken all that as well as the paintings of men during Noah’s time battling a triceratops with a grain of salt.  However, when I came face to face with a tyrannosaur and other dinosaurs populating cages in the Ark and a sign that stated 80 kinds of dinosaurs were on the Ark, not even my faith could save me from doubt.

I am sure there may have been some who left the Ark with a sense of renewal in their faith, but what about those who came seeking faith and a reason to believe?  Did dinosaurs and pseudo-science muddy the miracle of the Ark for them?  I hope not.  As a Christian, my faith helped me recover from my initial shock, but I can’t help but wonder the impact The Ark Encounter might have on those with less faith?  Will they leave the Ark believers in the miracle of God, or will they be turned off by what unfortunately comes across as a fairy tale authored by Edgar Rice Burroughs?

JL

©September 30, 2018