Tag Archives: satire

How to Use Your Cell Phone to be RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL and INCONSIDERATE

It is not a secret I have always despised cell phones, but it is not widely known that I have finally seen the light.  To my wife’s surprise, I recently moved from the dark side to the side of the Enlighted and the Cool!  I even bought a new Hawaiian shirt to show how cool I am.  No longer do I hate the idea of being tethered to a cell phone, and cell phone users, who I once thought of as obnoxious creatures with little or no manners, do not bother me at all anymore.  Before my transformation, I didn’t “get it” when it came to cell phones or their users, but now I do.  It took longer than it should have, but I finally realized everything I had always believed about cell phone users was wrong!  Being self-centered and inconsiderate is not a terrible thing at all.  What I once perceived as being rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate are tools cell phone users use to keep society at bay, family and friends in their place, and themselves at the center of the universe.

This is a complete turnaround from the old me, who saw cell phone users as self-centered idiots with cancer plates shoved against their ear holes 24/7.  Since my change, however, I have joined forces with cell phone users; I am all about being rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate if it ensures my place at the center of the universe. Remember, cell phone users believe they are the most important people in the world; they are the center of the universe.  The new me thinks no differently.

To convey this message to everyone, the dysfunctional cell phone user understands he/she must master being rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate.  However, that is not as easy as it sounds.  I discovered it takes practice to be self-centered every single day although it is easier with a cell phone in your hand.  To make it even easier, I developed ten simple guidelines for cell phone usage to help hardcore cell phone users, newbies, and returnees. like me, master the art of dysfunctional cell phone usage.  I call these quick, nitty gritty, get down to the dirty, guidelines “How to Use Your Cell Phone to be RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL and INCONSIDERATE.”  This short tutorial should be mass produced and placed in the box of every new cell phone sold.  As we all know, for many cell phone users, being rude, disrespectful, and inconsiderate comes naturally, but for some, these traits must be learned.  Here’s to learning!

How to Use Your Cell Phone to be RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL and INCONSIDERATE

  1. Stay glued to your cell phone during family or social gatherings. This will show everyone just how bored you are and that there are more important people in your life than the people you are with;
  2. Interrupt dinner at home or in a restaurant by answering your cell phone at the table. This will show just how little you think of everyone at the table as well as keep you at the center of the conversation;
  3. Answer your cell phone while engaged in a face to face conversation with another person. Nothing says the caller is more important better than disengaging from a conversation to answer your cell phone.  Sorry, but answering for a family emergency or an important business call you told the other person about at the start of your conversation does not give you points for rudeness;
  4. Once the lights go down in the movie theater, call or text a friend.  You paid for use of the seat and air conditioning, so other than Alfred Hitchcock, no one should care.  If they do, so what!
  5. Call someone before 9 am or after 9 pm. So what if they are sleeping or trying to get kids and themselves off to school and work!  Waiting until after morning coffee and breakfast or until the next morning is an inconvenience that can be avoided. [Note:  Rudeness points are not awarded for family and close friends];
  6. Say “What?” when you answer your cell phone. Let the caller know up front he/she better have a good reason for calling;
  7. Engage in a phone conversation while doing your business on the toilet. Who says there can’t be human interaction when churning the pot?  There is nothing wrong with a few grunts and groans between words or sentences.  Also, there is no greater closure to a phone conversation than a toilet flushing;
  8. When talking on your cell phone, talk loud enough to shake the windows. When dining out, shopping, visiting, or using the toilet, nothing is as discouraging to eavesdroppers as someone using their “inside voice” when talking on their cell phone, so speak up;
  9. Completely segregate yourself from the world around you by plugging into your cell phone every minute of every hour you are awake. When walking around with a cell phone to your ear or your nose stuck to the screen, you appear unapproachable – mission accomplished; and
  10. Make your cell phone the priority in your life! Ignore personal relationships by relegating them to social media, texting, and talking on your cell phone.

By the way, if you are one of the few who really doesn’t want to be RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL and INCONSIDERATE of others when using your cell phone, I have one final piece of advice – SHUT IT OFF, PUT IT IN YOUR POCKET OR PURSE, AND TALK TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS!  Get to know them; it is the human way.

JL

©Jack Linton, June 1, 2017

Advertisements

Copy Machines are Responsible for the Demise of Public Schools

Since the beginning of civilization there have been schools to educate citizens with the knowledge and skills needed to be productive in the community.  Most early schools were available only to a select few, but as time passed, the concept of educating everyone became more acceptable, specifically for religious reasons.  For example, in the United States, the first schools were decreed by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1647.  Those early schools were intended to teach all Puritan children to read the Bible and receive basic information about the Calvinist religion.  Since that decree to establish elementary and Latin schools in every town, schools have grown from the one room school houses of the early Colonial days to the mega multi grade complexes of the present day.  Today, there are fancy boarding schools for the affluent, religious schools to ensure the propagation of spiritual doctrine, private academies for those with societal peculiarities, and free public schools intended to provide all citizens an equal opportunity for a quality education.  All have their place, but none more so than free public schools.

Regardless of what some may say, public schools have been the educational mainstay of the United States.  Although under attack lately for a grocery list of ills that encompass about every evil known to man, public schools have nevertheless been an integral force behind the success of the United States.  Few nations provide all citizens the education opportunities the United States provides its citizens, and regardless what the haters say, overall, public schools have been a tremendous success though at times they struggle with change.  However, in fairness, the inability to change has not always entirely been the fault of public schools.  Quite often shortcomings are due to outside forces beyond their control such as politics, an obtuse culture, or an ill-informed public.  Nevertheless, sometimes public schools are to blame.  That is especially true when a good school idea such as copy machines morphs into a bad idea.

Copy machines are ingrained in public schools to the point that the odds of doing anything to jeopardize their existence are slim at best.  Tinkering with them can get a person strung up by his thumbs even though these machines are an example of a logical, well intended solution to a school problem that has mutated into a monster.  Copiers often masquerade as essentials when in reality schools would most likely fare much better without them.  Due to the aura of innocence that surrounds these machines, few people in or outside education recognize the serious negative impact they have on America’s public schools.  However, it is time to expose the monster for what it truly is!

What would you say if I said copy machines are responsible for the demise of public education in the United States and should be outlawed in public schools?  If you are a teacher who is dependent on the copier for copying worksheets and tests, you might think I am crazy!  If you are Joe Public burdened with ever increasing taxes to pay for such 21st Century playthings, you might cry “Hallelujah!”  Whereas, if you are a parent who too often is confronted with volumes of handouts crammed in the bottom of their child’s backpack or inch thick packets of handouts sent home as homework, you might sigh with relief, “It’s about time.”  On the other hand, if you are a politician committed to a never ending war against public education, you might feel a tinge of excitement.

Unfortunately, copy machines are indeed responsible for the demise of public education.  It’s not simply passing out endless homework and busywork packets that canonize copiers as a lethal schoolhouse disease slowly sucking the life blood from public schools, but the fact that copiers directly lead to other school related cancers such as state testing.  From the mimeograph machines of the late 19th century to the super-fast, high efficiency digital duplicators used today, a direct line of decline in public education can be tracked.  From the beginning, copiers generated an unnatural gluttonous need for paper, which in turn created a strain on the timber industry to provide pulp to paper manufacturers at a reasonable cost.  When paper manufacturing costs rise, textbook prices escalate, and as a result, school districts can no longer afford to maintain up to date textbooks .  Without the latest textbooks, teachers are more likely to use copy machines more frequently to provide current materials to their students.

With the decline of textbook sales, textbook publishers were forced to find a viable educational alternative or go out of business.  Therefore, they turned their attention to the test producing business, which required less paper per unit to produce while escalating overall paper volume usage exponentially.  With the help of their lobbyists in Washington, they were able to finagle policies that required all students to take their tests.  Since testing mandates are virtually free of testing exceptions, the publishers basically found a lucrative never ending market for their number one new paper product – state tests!  As a result, today, states divert billions of education dollars each year from public schools to the test publishers, which more than makes up for lost textbook revenue, and they ultimately owe it all to the copy machine.

Copy machines are the catalyst for this cycle, and consequently must shoulder the blame for the current state of public education in the United States.  This cycle greatly benefits paper manufacturers, test publishers, lobbyists, and politicians, but does little for public education in return.  The bottom line is that public schools now spend more money on copiers, paper, and testing than they ever did for textbooks.  So, should there be any question as to why there is not enough money to hire quality teachers or properly maintain school facilities?  As long as there are copy machines in schools, paper manufacturers, test/textbook publishers, lobbyists, and politicians will continue to get richer while public schools fiscally slowly spin down the drain.

When these costs are coupled with the diversion of public tax dollars from public schools to support special interest projects such as charter schools, private schools, and vouchers, it is easy to see why public schools are gasping for life.  Unfortunately, little can be done to keep public school funds from being diverted to such special interest projects, but there is something educators can do to facilitate some relief.  They can GET RID OF COPY MACHINES!  Schools have little control over funding, but they can remove copy machines and hopefully, over time, minimize the damage these monsters cause.  Chain them up, haul them to the dump, or convert them to garden sculptures, but get them out of the school house.  Parents and politicians are always talking about the “good old days” when they were in school, so why not go back to ink wells, mimeograph machines, and numbering a sheet of notebook paper from one to ten before taking a test?  Since apparently no one is to blame for under-funding education or testing the life out of education, why not put the blame where it belongs – on copy machines?  With copy machines, we have a scapegoat everybody can live with at least for now!

JL

©Jack Linton, December 12, 2016

Three Kinds of Facts

“Just the facts, mam,” Joe Friday, Dragnet.

There are three kinds of facts – my facts, your facts, and their facts – and somewhere in between lies the truth.  In today’s society, people embrace the facts that come easiest or the facts they want to believe.  Therefore, truth does not exist outside my facts, your facts, or their facts, and that, my friend, is a fact that results in a factiction.

Today’s Factictions

  1. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in cahoots to ensure she wins the Presidency;
  2. In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed House Bill 1523, which protected certain religious freedoms and banned Dirt Devil and Rainbow vacuum cleaners;
  3. Bill Clinton says Hillary likes it rough; their breakfast table is made of rough-hewed planks;
  4. In Washington D.C., Republicans are only permitted to use elevators that go up, and Democrats can only use elevators that go down;
  5. After over twenty years, a research team sponsored by Republican Conservatives for the Purification of America (RCPA) concluded Jesus was Jewish;
  6. Supreme Court Justices are required to be blind or at least sight impaired;
  7. Hillary Clinton’s issues with her health are an attempt to get the sympathy vote;
  8. Donald Trump has backed off making Mexico pay for his border wall. He now plans to import The Great Wall of China to the Mexico/USA border and have the Chinese pay for it;
  9. The reason Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton despise each other is because they dated in college; and
  10. The 2016 Presidential campaign is actually a Saturday Night Live skit.

My facts, your facts, and their facts, and somewhere in between lies a truth we are blind to or choose to ignore.  Unfortunately, the resulting factiction is the present foundation of politics and civil unrest in America.

JL

©Jack Linton, October 3, 2016

The Trial of Silas Washington

Silas Washington’s opinions were no different than anyone else. Like most people, he said whatever came to mind regardless who he offended.  He didn’t intentionally offend anyone, but he didn’t worry about it if he did either.  Why worry?  In BS 16 (before shoulderboards), every spoken word or sentence, no matter how innocent or politically correct offended someone somewhere.  No matter what was said, around the clock organized groups specializing in the study and contextual dissection of words and phrases turned anything said into something offensive to someone.  In a common sense world, this should have made people choose their words and comments very carefully or shut up all together, but in a conspicuously combustible society such as America, the opposite occurred.  People threw common sense aside and became increasingly free with their opinions.  However, by BS 11, people across America, including Silas, finally said enough is enough.  They demanded something be done to reel in an opinionated society, and bring a semblance of sanity back to the nation.

Believing the federal government was largely to blame for the insanity, the 51 state legislatures took on the task of setting things straight. However, Cuba, the newest state, a state motivated by the tobacco tea industry and a surreptitious government rumor mill designed to invigorate tourism, declined to participate.  The 50 remaining governors called a convention in St. Louis in November of BS 11 to discuss and collaborate on measures to resolve the problem, but the meetings were cut short after only two days due to an overabundance of self-serving opinions on how to handle the situation.  In March, BS 10, Mississippi became the first state to introduce a solution.  The GOPAU (Good Old Politics as Usual) Party in Mississippi introduced a law forbidding opinions of any kind, especially those not favorable to the convictions and beliefs of the authors of the law.  HB 1313, as the law was called, was so simple in design and content, that other states enthusiastically adopted it as well.  By the summer of BS 8, anyone with an opinion – with the exception of select membership in the GOPAU – was subject to a $100,000 fine and solitary confinement in a state or federal prison for up to ten years.  It was not the best of times, but like the majority of people, Silas was not overly concerned.

By fall BS 6, with opinions banned, social media collapsed, and all elections were canceled since it was illegal to vote for the candidate of choice.  Rather than hold elections, elected offices were filled by drawing names from a fruit jar, which proved to be much more efficient and credible than the old election process.  Anyone Tweeting, texting, or sending a message that could not be supported by hard data was arrested for an opinion crime.  Since all beliefs were classified as opinions, churches closed and converted to one choice bicycle shops, and libraries, a viable source for opinions for the few people who actually used them, were sold to storage vendors.  Television was relegated to unopinionated news and weather reporting, The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, and Sponge Bob Square Pants.  All other programming was strictly forbidden.  As a consequence, and shortly after all musical instruments were re-classified as blue devices and outlawed, the entertainment business declared bankruptcy and ceased to exist.  No one had an opinion on anything, or at least they kept it to themselves, which Silas thought wasn’t such a bad thing.  In Mary Kay vs The United States of America, the Supreme Court ruled wearing makeup was an opinion crime since a person would have to be of the opinion their natural complexion needed adjusting to be acceptable.  Not even the stock markets were spared as thousands of stockbrokers on Wall Street were locked out of the exchange – speculation was most definitely an opinion crime.

With people tight lipped and prisons growing into gigantic city states, life was pretty hard boiled in The United States – that is until The Great Caffeine Rebellion.  Silas thought the rebellion was a good idea, but of course, he kept the thought to himself.  The rebellion began and ended April 1, BS 3.  The limited news reported thousands of people gathered in DuPont Circle and surrounding streets and restaurants in Washington D.C. to peacefully protest HB 1313.  With their plain black coffee – the only choice allowed – hoisted high in the air, the people slowly poured their drinks over their heads in protest of the discombobulation of America.  In Hot Coffee, Mississippi, several people, mostly kin, gathered outside Knight’s General Store and poured hot coffee down the front of their pants in protest against the law.  Other than a couple of nasty sticky comb overs in D.C. and some reports of serious shrinkage caused by scalding in Mississippi, no one was seriously injured in the protests.  Fox News staged an illegal analytical forum as to the effectiveness of the rebellion, but the government shut them down citing the forum as a violation of HB 1313.  As far as a rebellion, The Great Caffeine Rebellion of BS 3, wasn’t much, but the idea of once again being able to make simple choices such as the color of clothes worn, being able to choose to salt or pepper food, have an opinion on what was pretty, ugly, fat, skinny, acceptable or not acceptable, as well as have a choice in friends was so overpowering that in BS 2 the 30th, 31st , and 32nd Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America were presented before Congress.

Ratification of the Amendments was tricky.  As long as HB 1313 was law, the states could not ratify any new Amendment since the law strictly prohibited a change of opinion on the law; therefore, the nation’s lawmakers found themselves in a catch-22.  As a last effort, Congress released the Amendments to the states for individual consideration, but under HB 1313, the states were just as powerless.  However, one state, Mississippi, had no problem ignoring the law they created and becoming the first state to ratify the 30th Amendment to the Constitution.  Once again, the rest of the nation followed Mississippi’s lead.  Silas marched proudly in the July 4 Emancipation of Opinions parade.  The next day, newspapers across the nation were filled with local, state, and national opinions and wonderful blatant gossip.  It was a great day of celebration in America!

The 30th Amendment struck down HB 1313 as well as closed all loopholes or questions as to the patriotic heritage of opinions by linking them forever to the First Amendment and the American pursuit of liberty and happiness.  To once and for all resolve proprietorship issues concerning opinions and establish opinions as a sovereign right, the 31st Amendment established the right of first opinions with guaranteed copyright protections and benefits regardless of position, wealth, entitlement, political correctness or degree of sensitivity.  The 32nd Amendment protected individuals from incarceration for being opinionated.  Finally, to assure everyone happiness, conformity, and whatnot, the government contracted with Disney, Intel, and a newly invigorated social media to develop a Personal Integrated Sensory System Imagined Network Grid, or PISSING Network for short.  The first prototype was a monstrous insect-looking virtual reality helmet, which frightened little children and the elderly.  The helmet gave way to a more user friendly and breathable device, although slightly more cumbersome, known as a shoulderboard.  Wearing the shoulderboard guaranteed people in their everyday life the same anonymity and lack of accountability they had loved so much with the old social media.  The device was such a hit with the public and government officials that The United States Congress passed the Disassociation Act requiring shoulderboards be worn during all hours of the day except when sleeping.

Silas despised the four sided digital shoulderboard that sat on his shoulders surrounding his head, but he had to admit the apparatus was an ingenious time saver.  Get up in the morning, unplug the unit from its charging port, slip it over the head, and punch in the desired look for the day.  Presto!  No more hours doing makeup, shaving, or fussing with hair.  The manufactures still highly suggested bathing the rest of the body at least twice weekly, but from the shoulders up forget it.  To become whoever a person wanted to be, all that was required was to simply speak into the Intel 2022 mic or punch in a descriptor on the nifty Intel sychromatic wristband, and instantly the desired image appeared on the board in amazing Disney Realmation  3D.  Not only did the boards provide a look, but wearers could express any opinion or say anything they desired without physical association or accountability just like they did in the old days of social media.  People could literally be whoever they wanted to be; or at least who they wanted everyone to believe them to be, and therein was the problem for Silas.

Silas was a little man, and the shoulderboard hurt his shoulders, but that was a minor problem.  He was an old soul, and simply wanted to be.  His few friends told him to relax and let the shouldrboard work for him, but it simply did not work for him.  No matter how he tried to fit in with the shoulderboard crowd, that world did not click for him.  He tried a macho muscle man image on his shoulderboard for several days, but just as he was getting use to the part, a gust of wind sent him toppling into a nearby shrub with his feet kicking frantically in the air.  For children and smaller adults like Silas, the boards made a person top heavy and prone to tip over, which in Silas’s case did not speak well of his implied masculinity.  Another time, he presented himself as a square jawed, no nonsense cowboy with Southern roots.  He was opinionated, conspiracy loving, and ultra conservative.  As long as people believed as he believed, he championed their cause.  For several days, he had a blast criticizing opinions disagreeing with his and warning that stocks would plummet and the world would end if people failed to share his beliefs.  Nevertheless, after a couple of weeks of being better than everybody, he grew tired.  He was just not the in your face type, so he turned off his shoulderboard and set it aside, and didn’t bother to plug it into its charger.  He had no intention of ever wearing it again.  Three days later his home was surrounded by SWAT teams, helicopters, foaming at the mouth dogs, the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security.  Poor Silas was taken away in chains.

 

To make sure everyone tuned in, Silas’s trial was held on a Sunday afternoon in Federal court.  The government determined they would make an example of him that the people would long remember.  The prosecuting team was confident his treasonable act of refusing to wear his shoulderboard would be a slam dunk case in their favor.  The defense team agreed.  They were envious of the prosecution’s case, and hoped for mercy at best.  Unless something went terribly wrong, by the end of the day, they fully expected to be home watching their client on the ten o’clock news as he was ushered off to prison in chains.

In spite of his attorneys protests, Silas refused to wear his shoulderboard in the courtroom and appeared natural – unshaved, hair knotted, and unwashed.  Warnings were flashed across shouderboards around the nation that some images (mainly Silas) might be too intense for small children and pregnant females.  Although his unkempt appearance frightened many young children, embarrassed his family, and sickened the majority of onlookers, not a single person turned away.  The nation was captivated by him.  For many in the watching audience, he was the first nonviolent individual they had ever seen held accountable for anything.

The court room was packed with people wearing shoulderboards – all except Silas. Everyone expected Silas’s attorneys to challenge the Constitutionality of his arrest under the 32nd Amendment.  In fact, most observers felt the trial might be more about the Constitution than Silas.  Therefore, the Honorable Joseph Summit, the foremost authority on the Constitution, came out of retirement to convene the court.  The President of the United States, with Ronald Reagan smiling warmly from his shoulderboard, sat directly behind the prosecution table along with several national, local – including the Governor of Mississippi, and even foreign dignitaries.  Silas’s family and friends sat directly behind the defense table; several of them had flashing banners scrolling across their shoulderboards that read “We are so sorry, Silas was brought up better than this,” and “Please, don’t judge us by our cousin’s actions.”

Silas sat with one elbow on the defense table with his chin propped in the palm of his hand.  Five defense attorneys with shoulderboards depicting Teddy Rooselvelt, Samuel L Jackson, Brett Favre, Jerry Clower, and Clarence Darrow, hovered around him all talking at once, begging him to take the government’s offer of five years in solitary confinement and a meager $25,000 fine.  They insisted he could not hope for a better deal.  Silas thought differently and refused to discuss the offer much less accept it.

As soon as the judge was seated, Bobby Joe Stalwart, aka Clarence Darrow, the lead defense attorney and a six four former linebacker for Mississippi State, jumped to his feet.  “Your Honor,” he said, “I move this case be thrown out by virtue of the 32nd Amendment.”  The crowd in the courtroom and at home sat up straight.  There it was; the case everyone had expected.  “My client,” he continued, “was unlawfully incarcerated, and he is owed an apology by The United States of America.”  The crowd nodded its approval.  Sitting directly behind the President, the Governor of Mississippi, Theodore G. Bilbo smiling from his shoulderboard, pumped his fist proudly.  It was nice to see a Mississippi boy take it to the feds, even if it was in a losing cause.  There was no way Silas was going to walk out of court a free man; not when a 450 million dollar deal for a shoulderboard factory in Issaquena County was on the line.  A rebel like Silas could ruin everything.

“Mr. Stalwart,” said Judge Summit, Judge Greg Mathis looking very serious from his shoulderboard, “first, you are out of line, and second, the 32nd Amendment applies to incarceration for opinions and does not apply to this case.  The defendant has been charged with the treasonable act of refusing to wear his shoulderboard in direct violation of the Disassociation Act.  His opinion is of little concern to this court.”

“Oh,” Bobby Joe said, and he and Clarence Darrow sank into his chair next to Silas.

“Oh,” gasped the crowd.  They had not seen that coming.

The judge stared Bobby Joe into his seat, and then turned his attention to Silas.  “Mr. Washington, will you please rise?” he said.  Silas stood.  As his attorney, Bobby Joe halfway stood, decided better and sat down, thought better of sitting, and started to stand again.  The judge watched him a moment.  “Mr. Stalwart, please make up your mind to either stand or sit?”

“If it pleases your Honor,” Bobby Joe said, “I sure would like to stand with my client.”

“Then I would sure like for you to stand with your client, Mr. Stalwart,” said the judge.  “Just be quick about it.”  Bobby Joe stood, towering over Silas.  “Mr. Washington,” the judge continued, “do you understand why you are here today before this court?”

“Yes, sir,” Silas said, “because you people won’t let me be.”

Judge Summit and Mathis smiled.  “And, what would you like for this court to let you be?” he asked.

Silas held his chin high.  “Alone,” he said.

From the back of the room, Jessie, Silas’s second cousin on his mama’s side, who had a 3D image of Dolly Parton smiling sweetly from her shoulderboard, yelled, “You tell’em cus!” The courtroom erupted with laughter.

Summit and Mathis frowned with remarkable synchronization.  The gavel pounded the sound block several times to restore order.  “If there is another outburst like that, I will clear this courtroom!” Summit and Mathis shouted in unison.

“Your Honor,” Bobby Joe said, “if I may speak?”

“Go ahead, Mr. Stalwart.”

“Your Honor,” Bobby Joe said laying a hand on Silas’s shoulder, “as this court and everybody in it and at home can plainly see by my client’s continued refusal to wear his shoulderboard, his ragged appearance, and his lack of clarity to your Honor’s questions, Mr. Washington is not of sound mind or body.  Therefore . . . .”  Silas brushed Bobby Joe’s hand from his shoulder, reached up and grabbed him by the base of his shoulderboard, pulled the much larger man down to his level, and whispered to Clarence Darrow.  Clarence Darrow jerked erect, red faced.  He stared in disbelief at Silas for a moment, and abruptly sat down at the table.

“Mr. Washington,” the judge said, “there will be no secrets or whispering in my courtroom.  What did you say to your attorney?”

“I told him to shut up and sit down,” Silas said.

“That is highly inappropriate,” the judge said.  “Mr. Stalwart is your attorney.”

“Sir, no disrespect intended toward you, but this court is inappropriate, and Mr. Stalwart is not my attorney.  I also told him he was fired.”

Ronald Reagan coughed loudly, and everyone sitting on the first row behind the prosecution table began high-fiving and slapping each other on the back.  Everyone else in the courtroom sat in silence, not believing what had just happened.  Without a lawyer, they knew Silas had probably cheated them of the courtroom drama they came to see.  The judge pounded his gavel to bring the room under control.  “Mr. Washington, are you sure this is what you want to do?” he asked.  “I highly recommend you reconsider.”

“No doubt in my mind,” Silas said.

“As you please, but Mr. Washington, if at any time, you wish to reconsider let me know.”

“I object!” the lead prosecuting attorney, Elrod Gladstone aka Vince Lombardi shouted.

“To what?” asked the judge.

“Your Honor,” Gladstone said, “you can’t let him change his mind later if it suits him.”

Judge Mathis sat back and laughed.  “Yes, I can,” said the judge.  “This is my courtroom, and I’ll do as I please.  Do you understand?”

“Yes sir,” Elrod and Vince said, and sat down quickly.

“Thank you,” said Judge Summit.  “Now let the trial of Mr. Silas Washington on the charges of treason against the United States of America begin.  We will not hold his foolishness to dismiss his attorney against him.”

The judge turned to the prosecution table.  “Mr. Gladstone,” he said, “as lead attorney for the prosecution, the floor is yours.

Elrod Gladstone stood slowly.  He looked at Silas and shook his head sadly.  Walking toward the twelve jurors, he stopped halfway and looked back over his shoulder at Silas and again shook his head sadly.  The jurors watched him intently as he walked from member to member of the jury sitting in the first row of the jury box.  Six times he stopped, looked over his shoulder at Silas, and turned back to the juror to shake his head sadly.  “Your Honor, Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “I will not take any more of the court’s time than is absolutely necessary.  Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen, it is the opinion of the prosecution and The United States of America that the defendant is guilty of treason against the United States as outlined by the Disassociation Act, but to avoid a long and costly trial, the prosecution wishes to exercise its protected right of first opinion as promised by the 31st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.”

The judge nodded.  “Mr. Gladstone, I was wondering how long it would take you to get to the bottom line in this case.  Your point, Sir, is well made.  By virtue of the 31st Amendment protecting your right of first opinion, the judgement of this court must rest in favor of the prosecution.  I therefore find the defendant guilty of treason as charged.”

The President was the first to his feet.  He grabbed the Governor of Mississippi, and kissed Bilbo square on the lips.  He then turned to the Governor of North Carolina and lay a fat slobbering kiss on the shoulderboard image of Andy Griffith.   The room was in complete bedlam.  The judge pounded his gavel, but no one heard.  The defense team of Rooselvelt, Jackson, Favre, Clower, and Darrow stared in disgust at Silas, but he looked straight ahead unconcerned.  After several minutes, the room settled down and order was restored.

“Mr. Washington,” the judge said, “do you have anything on behalf of your defense you would like to say before I announce your sentence?”

“Yes, your Honor, I do,” Silas said, and stepped forward to face his judge and jury.  “Your Honor, I am not a treasonable fellow . . . .”  A snicker escaped from the row where the President sat.  “Sir, I believe in the United States of America.  I respect the Constitution of this great nation, and I respect the prosecution’s Constitutional right of first opinion in regard to the verdict in this case.  However, I also have right of first opinion as to how the sentence is determined.  Therefore, Sir, it is my opinion, I should be held harmless of further incarceration or penalty.”

A deep silence hung over the courtroom.  The prosecuting attorneys and the President and his pals looked back and forth at each other not believing what they were hearing.  Judge Summit raised and pounded his gavel.  “Mr. Washington,” he said, “your point, is well made.  By virtue of the 31st Amendment protecting your right of first opinion in the sentencing phase of this trial, sentencing is hereby established as time served without further penalty.  Well done Mr. Washington.  Case concluded.  Good day.”

“You can’t do that!” the Governor of Mississippi shouted jumping to his feet.  “That’s not right!  The right of first opinion can’t be used twice in the same case.”

Judge Summit stopped at the door to his chambers.  “Sir,” he said, “it was used once for the verdict and once for sentencing, which is very permissible under the law you helped write and the Constitution.”

The President turned to the Governor of Mississippi, “I thought you said this was a done deal?  You said your 32nd Amendment was flawless.”

“This doesn’t change anything,” Bilbo sputtered.

“Wrong!  This changes everything” Reagan hissed.  “Andy!” he called after the Governor of North Carolina who was walking to door.  “Andy!  Do I have a deal for you!” Ronnie called, and hustled after the shoulderboard that had just turned to Barney Fife.

 

The heavily influenced government newspapers didn’t know what to print, so they didn’t print the story at all.  The Bureau of Bureaucratic Syphoning, BS for short, hurriedly rushed prepared statements to all the television, radio, and shoulderboard networks, thanking everyone for tuning into the realistic legal docudrama pilot that was scheduled to be broadcast on television in the fall.  A week after the trial, a follow up bulletin was sent out saying the pilot had not lived up to rating expectations and future shows had been canceled.  Three months after the trail, no one remembered the bulletins much less the trial.

Silas continued to refuse to wear the shoulderboard.  Due largely to the misinformation pumped through the networks after the trail, there were no reports of others following his example and casting aside their shoulderboards.  Six months after the trial, he walked outside one morning to pick up the paper from his driveway, and noticed a helicopter just above the tree tops.  “That’s the guy!” yelled a man in the helicopter through a megaphone.  Within seconds, Silas was surrounded by SWAT teams, helicopters, foaming at the mouth dogs, the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security.  Once again, he was arrested and taken away in chains.  The government had decided they could not just let him be.  He screamed, kicked, and shouted his rights under the 32nd Amendment, but this time it didn’t matter, the Mississippi Legislature was back in session, and change was once more in the air.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 17, 2016

School Free: Eliminate Public Schools in the United States

I have been thinking about the recent Mississippi vote against fully funding public school education. I realize it does little good to rehash old wounds, but sometimes a second look is warranted. That is especially true in light of the emotions that flowed so freely on both sides of the issue in the days leading up to the vote. So, putting aside the confusion caused by the ballot and the chancery judge issues that dominated the discussion prior the people’s decision, I took a second long look at the main reasons people gave for voting against fully funding education. The primary issues I looked into were school consolidation, over paid school administrators, throwing money at education, and lack of performance and fiscal accountability. Rather than focus solely on Mississippi, I decided to take it one step further and examine how Mississippi attitudes toward education compared to public attitudes of education across the nation. I am glad I did; it changed everything!

First of all, when it comes to public attitudes, I found Mississippi pretty much flows in the same direction as the rest of the nation. We also seem to be perfectly in sync with the other education bottom dwellers – Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Washington, D.C. I found the negative attitudes displayed toward public education by so many Mississippi voters differed little from attitudes toward public education in other parts of the nation. Like most of the nation, Mississippi is facing an education crisis spurred by a thinly disguised Republican agenda to privatize public schools, a movement for greater parental choice in education decisions, and an unwavering belief that the public knows more about what is best educationally for their children than educators. In addition, the overall lack of political and public respect for public schools as well as the political and public resolve to influence, dictate, and control the selection and development of local and state school curriculums appears to be common across the states. What truly bothered me though was the discovery of a deep underlying – unspoken – opinion held by many in the political arena as well as the public that suggested the United States would be better off by eliminating ALL public schools!

After years of lackluster academic performance, it appears the public’s respect and trust of public education falls somewhere between their respect and trust of politicians, TV evangelists, and used car salesmen. In seems, many people in the public believe they can do better teaching their children at home than public school teachers can in the classroom, so they question the existence of public schools. Of course, as an educator, I regarded such reasoning as nonsense, but after immersing myself further into the issues, I came to the realization that maybe they are right. Maybe, it is time that as a nation, we face the possibility that public schools have outlived their purpose. If we are honest with ourselves, public schools today exist primarily for childcare, sports, free lunches, and of course, testing. Even academic courses, to create jobs and sustain student interest, have been subdivided and disemboweled to the point of irrelevance. When lack of subject substance and continuity is meshed with the present public school focus on social interactions, celebrations, playtime, political correctness, and curriculums we dare not make too challenging, we are left with little more than a hypothetical school. Again, let’s be honest, that game can be played at home with less expensive overhead than public classrooms. Current politics, local pandering, inclusiveness, and permissiveness have left many public schools little more than thirteen years of leveled kindergarten with a senior year that according to the public should exclusively be about having fun and building memories.

So, yes, maybe there is credibility to the idea of eliminating public schools altogether. With the Internet, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and texting, children have little need for the social aspect of school anymore, and the academic possibilities and resources available online far exceed what many underfunded and understaffed public schools can offer. Regardless of parental income level, the Internet is available with very few exceptions in homes via a connected computer, smart TV, Ipad, or data linked cell phone, so why do parents need to send their children to school? For a fraction of the cost of what parents spend on local school taxes, school supply lists, workbooks, monthly school fundraisers, school field trips, school uniforms, and private tutoring lessons, they can have everything a school can offer in the comfort of their homes or the public library, and still have time to drop the kids off at the mall for the afternoon.

This has not been easy for me to swallow, but as an educated person, I have no choice but to face this new reality. Schools are no longer relevant in America! The sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can put an end to the many school related issues handcuffing our society. Since everyone who has ever attended grade school or high school is recognized by most American political leaders as experts on what children need to know and be able to do (especially in Mississippi), the United States could easily abolish ALL public schools and save billions of dollars in education wages, salaries, and benefits. I dare say, making America “School Free” would most likely have a major positive economic and social impact on our nation. If there are any doubters, please look carefully at the following benefits . . . .

If we made America “School Free”. . . .

  1. Parents could teach their children the way they were taught;
  2. Parents could assign homework not too difficult, so they could help their children with the homework;
  3. If we made America “School Free,” the national budget could be balanced and the national debt paid off with the money saved on education;
  4. The cost of childcare for working parents could be drastically reduced. Parents could reduce childcare costs by dropping their older children off at the mall, movie theater, park, or zoo during the day. For younger children below the age of five, there would be an abundance of teenagers available and willing to babysit for a small fee since they would not be burdened by school;
  5. Eliminating public schools would drastically impact the economy for the better:
    • Revenue for businesses in malls would increase;
    • Local sales taxes would increase;
    • State money normally spent on education could be divided among other state agencies to hire extra personnel, improve services, rebuild crumbling infrastructures such as bridges, and there would even be money to build more prisons. Who knows a little extra money in the budget may even solicit a smile from the highway patrol personnel in the driver’s license office;
    • Without such expenses as school taxes, school fund raisers, and school supply lists, parents would have more money in their pockets;
    • If America was to become “school free,” unemployment numbers would spiral downwards since malls would need to hire extra security and sales floor people and more police and highway patrol personnel would be needed to patrol the streets.
  6. If We made America “School Free,” kids too cool for the mall or without transportation to the mall would have more social time on street corners;
  7. School buildings could be converted to climate control storage units, which would create additional local government revenues. Of course, the broken windows and air and heat would have to be repaired or replaced first, and better security systems would have to be installed in most public schools used for this purpose;
  8. Football and baseball stadiums as well as gyms could be turned over to local club sports. Clubs would be responsible for hiring and firing coaches at their discretion. There would be no more of the “namby-pamby” talk about character building; it would be “win or the highway” for coaches and players alike. Kids could practice eight hours a day, five days per week or even seven days a week if coaches and parents desired;
  9. There would be no testing, which means no more shaming comparisons to other schools in the state or countries around the world;
  10. Since they would no longer be needed, School buses could be parked bumper to bumper along the USA/Mexico border to provide an inexpensive wall to keep out illegal immigrants. School bus drivers could be hired full time to sit in each bus with a shotgun to repel all illegals trying to cross the border;
  11. Money saved on education could be used to create a wall of isolation around the United States. Only information and people deemed pertinent to the political agendas of the governing party or pertinent to the success of collegiate or professional athletic teams would be permitted to enter the country;
  12. The government could control all free thinking, or at least quarantine free thinking troublemakers to restricted zones in barren thinly populated areas of the country. The Democrat and Republican parties would be free to indoctrinate or brainwash the American people with any ideology that suited their agendas;
  13. Providing services such as sex education, suicide awareness, health screenings, counseling, providing for children with disabilities, and serving breakfast and lunch would once again become the moral, parenting, and monetary responsibilities of parents;
  14. State and Federal legislators could concentrate on issues such as poverty and not simply focus on the symptoms of poverty such as poor academic performance. Without public schools as a whipping boy, legislators might finally do the job they were elected to do;
  15. If we made America “School Free,” freeloading teachers would finally be forced to get real jobs like everybody else!

These are only a few of the benefits of getting rid of public schools in America. Based on the current attitudes toward public school education in Mississippi and across the United States, I am convinced the public is ready for such a move.  It is bound to happen sooner or later.  How much longer can public schools in this state and this nation exist without the confidence of the people? Public school educators have endured about all the disrespect and votes of “no confidence” they can tolerate. So, why not simply put them out of their misery and close public schools altogether? Except for Friday nights in the fall, I wonder if public schools would even be missed.

JL

©Jack Linton, December 14, 2015