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Monday, April 27, 2009

A Little More Perspective – The Moose Death At Colony Middle School (updated)

Update: Original Post is here. If you're not a regular reader of Stonekettle Station, you might want to read that first. //Jim
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Those kids should be lined up and thrown into that same fence until they wish they were dead instead. Make their names public so we can watch out for them and their parents – Bob, MamaDance, an Alaskan Parenting Blog

This is exactly why the names of minors who commit crimes should be released in newspapers when reported on. So people can ridicule the crap out of them for the rest of their lives. - Pepsi One, PETA, an animal rights blog

Sarah Palin's sadistic animal killing Alaska is rife with too many human demons who have no reverence for the lives of our fellow creatures. – Brien Comerford, PETA

ANY RATIONAL SCHOOL PRINCIPAL WILL KNOW THAT THIS CANNOT RESULT IN A SLAP ON THE HAND, BUT MUST BE DEALT WITH IN SUCH A MANNER SO AS TO SEND A MESSAGE THAT AL ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE IN THIS CASE ARE NOT OURS TO TORMENT! THE KIDS SHOULD BE GIVEN EXTRA SCHOOL WORK AND COMMUNITY SERVICE IN AN ANIMAL SHELTER OR SANCTUARY AND THE SCHOOL SHOULD EMBRACE HUMANE EDUCATION. THIS IS A NO BRAINER! THE SCARED ANIMAL'S DEATH WAS 100% AVOIDABLE AND SOLELY THE RESULT OF KIDS LACKING EMPATHY. ALLOWING THIS TO GO UNPUNISHED WILL ONLY CEMENT THE TYPICAL DEFENSE THAT "WE WERE JUST PLAYING." – I Love Peta, PETA

Shame on the parents for having such awful children!! - Maurikelly23, PETA

I am disturbed about the school’s apparent cover up. I think they are only making matters worse…There have been many conflicting stories because the school district refuses to reveal details so far. - Alaska Mom, MamaDance

Sick, sick, sick. These kids need a punishment to fit the crime. I suggest they be ordered to each take part in skinning and cutting up the moose for food–and I do mean take direct part in it, as in getting bloody, sawing the bones, etc. They need to learn that the only acceptable reason to kill an animal (other than for euthanasia) is for food. - CorningNY, MamaDance

Now the troopers are animal behavior scientist? I don't think so, the animal may have just laid there and peaceful died if left alone. The students behavior WAS a factor in this animals demise. My child would have a rude awakening if he took part in such a inhumane treatment. Believe me this was cruel, I worry about today's youth and there thinking. - Oops, The Frontiersman

- Thank God, you selfrightious,vindictive,all knowing,imbasils who crave to play judge,jury and executioners all belong to a minority class of low life, low educated, idiots. Hope fate never has me come to that Mat-Sue region/town. I'd rather spend my tax dollars eslewhere. Perhaps we should put Alaska up for sale to a communist country,one with no regards to inalienable rights. – Wise Owl, The Frontiersman

- The school district and the two boys are responsible for this cruel, dangerous, and completely unnecessary incident, and I want them to accept that responsibility, and prove to the community that something like this won't ever happen again. Concerned Resident, The Frontiersman

- We need steps to insure nothing like this happens again! I would like to see the holes in the school fence closed so this cannot happen to another unfortunate wild or domestic animal. I would like to see an aggressive program of education so all students fully grasp the importance of respect toward all living things - and community service and counseling for the two boys and their families, and volunteer aides for teachers. - Concerned Resident, The Frontiersman

- Why didn't the principal use this as an opportunity to strongly condemn bullying and cruelty?Instead she hid in her office, and refused to answer questions - Khachney, The Frontiersman

- The kids should be expelled at the very least and their parents should be flogged. – Ex-Colony Student, The Frontiersman

- What C***!!!!. No one is responsible? From what eyewitness reports I have read in the other blog something here smells of Moose dung. What part of "Two students started yelling at the moose, poking it with sticks and throwing small stones" is there no responsibility. Minor injury? - an antler rammed back into its head again WHAT C***!!!!!!! – Appalled, The Frontiersman

- I'd put them to work on a highway cleanup team all summer long with no vacations. Make sure they're wearing jailhouse colors when they do it also. Maybe then these kids would learn some kind of respect for others and wildlife. I bet if they did a criminal background check on their parents, the apples don't fall far from the tree. Aweful Sad really – mikmaq, Anchorage Daily News

- This story sounds like a cover-up to me! … It sounds like bits and pieces of the story are true, but the story is being spun in the light most favorable to the school district. I don't like that. – rdrosenberg, Anchorage Daily News

- I am outraged by this! I think the name of the kids and their parents should be made public and humiliated. These mean-spirited, evil kids and the parents that raised them deserve more than light discipline. – tweedledeetweededum, Anchorage Daily News

- you are so stupid!. I bet you think you are a big touff man, just lick those two little bastards criminals who killed that moose to suicide!! Kids will be kids thats what YOU say. You are just ignorant. Those kids and you should be shoot!!!! I hope you get stomped by amoose! – WendyS, via eMail! (from the writing, I thought this might be a child, but other things in the letter indicate that this is a CMS parent and somebody who is in their late twenties). [Update: Correction, WendyS is a parent, and does have children in the MSBSD, but not at CMS. WendyS is also outraged that I would criticize her writing ability and also that I am an "elittist basterd jerkhole [sic]." Thanks for writing, WendyS]

- I DO think animals have rights. I DO value animals rights over humans. Humans are EVIL. Animals are innocent. These kids should be killed by having THEIR heads slammed into a wall. – [PETA Zealot], via Email.

- You said you were a parent. I find that hard to believe, or especially that you have a kid at CMS. CMS is a terrible school. The teachers are covering this whole thing up so they don’t loose their jobs or funding. Obama is a tree hugger and you can bet if they told the truth, they would lose federal money jiffy split. You need to wake up and smell what your shovelling before you’re own kids becomes a psychopath just like these two kids. Oh thats right – your military, you probably like killing and think its “cool.” Some hero you are. If I see you on the street, I will punch you in the face and show you how smart you are. And I have your picture, Palmer is a small town, Mr Wright. And the kids that killed that defenseless moose. – Dave, via email

And so on, and so forth. And so forth and so on. And on, and on. And on. There are thousands of comments like these, all across the nation. The ones I posed above are the comments from my fellow Alaskans, responding to the moose death on Colony Middle School grounds last week.

The comment are posted verbatim.

Here are the common themes:

1) The school should release the names of the kids involved so that people may take the appropriate action such as shunning, ridicule, scarlet lettering, lynching, threatening, and so on. I didn’t actually see the terms “stocks” or “pillory” but I’m sure that was just an oversight.

2) The school should publically detail the punishments given to kids involved so people may judge if they think it’s appropriate. And in fact, whatever the school issued as punishment isn’t enough, no matter what it was. And besides, school discipline is the business of the entire community, see paragraph 1) above. The kids should be made to skin a moose and be drenched in its blood, given community service, made to clean up along the highways, forced to work in animal shelters, or have their heads beaten against a pole until they wish they were dead. Basically, they should be made to hate themselves and be drowned in guilt for the rest of their miserable lives – presumably their parents will also be forced to place “My Child is a Moose Killer at CMS” bumper-stickers on their SUVs as well.

3) The parents of the kids involved are horrible people, their homes are terrible places, they are criminals, lowlife scum, and so on, who should be flogged or worse.

4) The school is engaged in a cover up, so are the State Police. Presumably so that they can go on slaughtering innocent wildlife with impunity on the school grounds.

5) We must make sure that THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN!

6) It’s all Sarah Palin’s fault.

7) I am so stupid.

It really makes you proud to be an Alaskan.

Gah.

I tell you, folks, the whole thing is about as ridiculous as the She’s a Witch! sketch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It would be almost amusing, that is if these people weren’t, you know, actually serious.

As I mentioned in the update to my previous post on this topic, this is exactly how mob hysteria happens. You’d like to think that we’re a bit more advanced here in the shiny 21st Century than the superstitious Puritans back in 1692 Salem, but it would appear that at least some of us are not.

This morning I spent some time at the school where I spoke to the principal, the assistant principal, and the head of security. I’d like to thank them, and the rest of the school staff I talked to this morning, for taking the time to meet with me. I learned a few things, and confirmed a number of things I knew already.

And so, for the benefit of my fellow Alaskans, allow me to clear a few things up about this incident and specifically address you, the mob of torch bearing witch-fearers.

First, the school and our children are in excellent hands. Principal McMahon is neither “hiding” in her office or “refusing” to answer questions. She specifically invited parents to contact her directly or visit the school so she she could personally address their concerns, she sent this message to all parents via the school’s automated phone message system and via email. Principal McMahon is out in the halls and classrooms and cafeteria, she’s in meetings with her teachers and staff, and is highly visible should you choose to take her up on her offer. Principal McMahon is outgoing, outspoken, and hardly shy – you should have no trouble finding her. Now, I suspect she does spend some fraction of her work day in the office – but she’s hardly hiding. She answered all of my questions, provided me with written information, read her notes on the incident to me, and was completely forthright and upfront – as were the members of her staff. And in fact, here’s the funny part, PETA claims on their website that they’ve contacted her, in order to obtain information and request access to the students – but the truth of the matter is that nobody from the organization has actually contacted the principal. It didn’t happen. And I strongly suspect that other similar claims are also complete fabrications. Certainly the claim that Principal McMahon is “hiding” in her office is a complete and total fabrication. I didn’t bring a camera along to document my observation though, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Note that in the previous paragraph I said “parents.” As in Principal McMahon contacted parents. She has also updated her boss, the MatSu Borough School District Superintendent via the proper channels. During the events in question, the proper state and local authorities were contacted and kept advised, and their directions were followed. Outside of that, Principal McMahon is not obligated or even authorized to contact anybody else. The school district, like any other organization, has a Public Affairs Officer. Contact with the press, and the public outside of parents, and other organizations such as PETA must go through proper channels. There is a good reason for this, not the least of which is that Principal McMahon is paid to run her school, which she is doing very well indeed, and not spend all day fielding phone calls from crazy people and holding press conferences. Bottom line, if you don’t understand why all public release of information goes through the PAO, instead the principal, students, teachers, or the lunch lady, then you should probably just stop reading right now and go back to whatever conspiracy website you surfed in from.

Second, the school is absolutely obligated to protect the identities of the students involved. Period. They are minors. Releasing their names is against the law, school district policy, and could be dangerous. The school is receiving threats, and threats specifically against the children involved in particular - people who are expressing the same type of sentiments as the commenters I quoted above. The school has a responsibility to protect the students, even if they’ve done something wrong. It is likely that most of the commenters who have advocated violence against the school and the students are just engaging in angry hyperbole and would never actually carry through on their threats. But some might. The more zealous animal rights advocates have hurt or even killed others in pursuit of their goals. The school cannot take that chance. What is certain here is that if the school were to comply with demands and release the students’ names – those students and their parents would be deluged with harassing phone calls, email, maybe physical harassment, and maybe far worse. Maybe you think they deserve that, if so, you’re an idiot. And don’t tell me it won’t happen. Hell, I’m getting harassing phone calls, email, and three people came to my house on Friday to complain about what I wrote (and on that note, if you’re considering coming to my house to express your disapproval, I’d highly recommend you reconsider that course of action. I don’t take kindly to assholes, I’m armed, I’m a combat vet, and I have no compulsion about perforating your ass if you threaten me or mine. Really, you should probably just send me hate mail like everybody else).

The children were disciplined. Again the exact nature of that punishment is protected by the privacy act, and frankly it isn’t anybody’s business but the school and the students involved and their parents. This is why we have disciplinary guidelines, this is why we have a formal process and don’t discipline children, or adults for that matter, at the hands of a mob. Listen to me carefully, I’ve spent most of my life in war zones and third world countries where the rule of law is few and far between – I’ve seen what happens when the mob rules. You have only to look to our own past, hanging, lynching, stumping, range wars, branding, scaring, and vigilante justice are what happens when the mob determines “justice.” Think I’m exaggerating? Go back and reread those comments again. Then do a little research, start here.

While I’m on the subject of discipline, a rather large number of folks seem to be laboring under a serious misunderstanding of the scope of the school’s authority. Despite threats to ruin an unruly kid’s entire life with the promise of a black mark in the old “Permanent Record,” neither the district, the school, nor the principal have the authority to assign students to field dress a moose, perform community service, or to rot in hell as a rather large number of people have demanded. Additionally, it would appear that it’s a little known fact that the school does not actually have the authority to punish parents. If my child screws up, even if he should use harsh language in the presence of a harmless bunny, Principal McMahon, cannot, in fact, call me up at home and assign me detention, let alone community service. Punishment beyond the scope of the school’s authority would have to be meted out by the court, after trial, after charges have been brought. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you all that despite eight years of George W. Bush, this is still the United States of America and we are a nation of laws and not ruled by the mob - and that’s a damned good thing.

The incident was investigated by the Alaskan Department of Fish and Wildlife, and by the State Police - both of which considered this to be an unfortunate accident and that the school is handling the matter appropriately. Here’s the bottom line folks, you don’t have all the details, you’re not going to get all the details unless you’re a parent of a CMS student, because it is NOT your business – no matter how much you’d like to stop and gawk. If you are a parent, and you want details, then read your email, or answer the phone message, and follow the directions to contact principal McMahon.

Now, I want to close this post with one final observation. Prior to the meeting with the Principal and her staff, this morning I dropped my son off at school as I do every morning. And just as I do every morning, I saw parents in two ton SUVs careening through the parking lot well above the 15MPH speed limit, talking on cell phones, rushed and late for work. I saw those same parents, just as I do every single morning unless there is a police cruiser present and sometimes even then, speeding through the school zone well above the 25MPH speed limit. I saw, just as I do every morning, soccer moms with Save the Planet and PETA bumper-stickers impatiently tailgating the school buses at unsafe distances. This despite the fact that it is often dark out, visibility is limited, and there are kids crossing the road and walking along the side of it.

As I passed the high school, on the far side just out of the school zone, a large black dog with collar and tags jangling dodged out of the brush alongside the road and darted past me, hackles up, passing behind my truck. I glanced in the review mirror and realized that the dog was chasing a large bull moose that had emerged from the woods alongside school property and was crossing the road directly behind me. The dog harried the moose into the woods and I lost sight of both.

Allow me to be blunt: before you go condemning the school, the principal, or the kids – you need to take a serious look at yourself. If you are the type who endangers both children and wildlife because you’re in too much of a hurry to slow down in a school zone, or put down the cell phone while driving though the school parking lot, or if you’re the type of person who allows your pets to roam free – anywhere, but especially here in Alaska – without regard for the consequences, if you are the type of person who advocates violence against children to satisfy some misplaced sense of vengeance, if you are the type of person who penned those comment above without understanding the consequences of what you’re demanding so self-righteously – then you are every single bit as guilty of poor judgment and immaturity and inhumanity as the students you are endangering with your careless rhetoric.

That makes you a hypocrite.

That makes you somebody who threatens children.

That makes you far worse a human being than anything these kids ever did.

See, they’re kids, they have an excuse. You don’t.

Think about it.



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Update: I've made a number of corrections to this post. Mostly fixing typos and such, the basic gist of the article remains unchanged. //Jim

15 comments:

  1. Wow. The degree of hatred directed at those kids is, frankly, terrifying ("inducing terror," not terrorism). If you ask me, that's more disgust-inducing than the original incident with the moose. People are sickening sometimes. :(

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  2. Let he who is without sin...

    :p

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  3. I think this means I owe you some apple butter.

    And who goes to someone's house to complain about what they blog about? Don't folks in your neck of the woods have any fetching?

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  4. I love the comment making fun of your service and how bloodthirsty you are and then saying how they're going to punch you in the nose. That's real smart, sparky.

    Be interesting to see how fast these people cave if the authorities investigated all the threats...

    Just sayin'.

    Dr. Phil

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  5. Punch you in the nose... hihihihihihihi - guess you could call him 'Lefty' later... What a rube.

    So that's like, 9 beers I owe you...

    Excellent post, Jim, thanks.

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  6. Middle school boys would probably enjoy the lesson - 'Field Dressing a Moose'.
    I deal with middle schoolers here in Georgia, the boys tend to like a bit of gore.

    I say we put the PETA folks in a fenced in area with a moose [true, this is cruel to the moose.] and see what happens.

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  7. I cannot believe the hatred that is evident in those letters. It was a moose. Would they rather the moose charge or possibly hurt those children? Wait, judging by the letters, they might have!

    Unbelievable.
    And to second Janiece..who goes to someone's house to complain about what they wrote in a blog? SERIOUSLY???
    People get a life.

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  8. "I will punch you in the face and show you how smart you are."

    That has to be shortest suicide note ever written.

    I wonder just how upset these folks got about the little girl found a week ago folded in half and stuffed into a suitcase floating in an irrigation pond. How about all the children's bodies being dug up in S. CA desert that were used as mules to bring in the pot and drugs that Dave is smoking.

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  9. WoW! talk about blowing thing out of proportion. Unbelievable.

    I am sorry you had to deal with that Jim.

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  10. Wow. Just Wow. Seems like you may have touched a sensitive spot there.

    BTW, were you ever able to figure out how the magic chainlink fence morphed into a brick wall? Or how the yearling moose managed to drive nonexistent antlers into its brain? Those are both some pretty neat tricks!

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  11. Pegkitty (Pittsburgh)April 28, 2009 at 7:19 AM

    Why are most of these people using online names instead of releasing their actual names so people can ridicule the crap out of them?

    Also, I am concurned about todays adult's and there spelling.

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  12. the stupid, it burns.

    You know, I like animals. A lot. I think kids can be miserable horrible brats when they want to be. And I have seen the cruelty towards pets (notice that it's pets, not "animals") as a precursor to worse crimes and behavioral problems.

    But you know, it's a moose. Sometimes the Gru gets you. While the kids didn't handle the situation with greta a plumb, I can think of at least a dozen things I haven't handled so well either. And that's after I've been an adult.

    And then I'm reminded how March of the Penguins was changed around for the US audience. And how much people disliked the end of Marley and Me. They could never make Old Yeller today.

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  13. Thought you might find this article about PETAs record interesting:
    http://www.consumerfreedom.com/pressRelease_detail.cfm/release/258
    -cindy

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  14. Gah!

    These people make me want to apologize on the behalf of all vegetarians and folks who do support animal rights. I swear, the majority of us are not whackjobs.

    Thing is, I shouldn't have to apologize for the actions of people who are nominally adults. These are people who should fucking KNOW BETTER.

    Yes, it's sad that the animal died. Yes, it's possible that this could've been avoided had the teenagers had more presence of mind.

    But it's also possible that the teenagers could've gotten hurt if they hadn't tried to scare the yearling away. Frankly, if it came down to the moose and the kids, I'd rather the kids survived.

    (And now I'm repeating myself from yesterday.)

    Zealots, I'll say this one time and one time only: Perspective - it's a good thing.

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  15. I kept waiting for tar & feathering of the guilty parties to show up on the PETA hit list. Goes right along with the pillory and stocks.

    Ah, crap, we had 6 year old bring a loaded gun to a school here yesterday.

    the whole world's gone NUTZ...

    WendyB_09

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