The new school year is beginning across the country. At the risk of sounding like a Drug Warrior, I have to ask: what message will we be sending to the kids?
· It’s OK for an administrator to watch a teen age girl pee so he can see what she did away from school last weekend.
· Sit quietly while armed thugs with dogs sniff around your locker and car.
· Get wasted on beer this weekend because if you smoke a joint, you’ll be busted.
· It doesn’t matter if you’re talented, learned all the skills, practiced hard, and made the all-state team last year. If your pee is dirty, you’re off the team and can kiss a scholarship goodbye.
· You’re president of the Debate Team and state champion, but you’re not allowed to debate the principal or the school board about drug policy.
· The school can’t afford a modern chem lab, and you’re sitting in a desk left over from the 1950s, but it can spend thousands for drug tests.
· Even though studies show drug tests don’t work we have to look like we’re doing something.
Can’t we send better messages to our kids? Messages like these:
· Get the facts. Slogans and fairy tales are no substitutes.
· Do your own research. Don’t accept anyone’s unsupported word.
· You learned your most important lesson when you were two: always ask why.
· “Because I said so” is not an answer.
· “No” is not an answer; it’s just an invitation to negotiate.
· If they try to scare you it’s because they know they can’t convince you.
· Study the Constitution. It teaches a lot of lessons like…
· You have a right to privacy that no one can invade.
· The government (including the school) cannot search you, your home, or your belongings (including your urine) without a warrant based on probable cause.
· You can’t be required to testify against yourself.
· You have the right to free speech, including asking the school why it is searching your car or your pee without probable cause.
(Come to think about it, these are pretty important messages to send to adults too.)
The message we send to the kids determines the kind of adults they become. If you want them to become mindless sheep, covering at the growl of a herd dog, tell them to sit still and do what they are told. If you want a crowd of 1984-automotons shouting memorized responses to Big Brother’s slogans, tell them to “Just say ‘No!’”. But if you want a society of independent adults who think for themselves, tell them to also demand proofs based on real evidence. Tell them to think for themselves.
We must teach the young to stand up for their rights, or even, in the words of the Beastie Boys:
You have to fight
For your right
For your right