I am soooo completely loathsome of poor behavior somehow passing as activism. Whatever.
A couple of news stories caught my eye, all three of which had me scratching my head.
Both The Citizens’ Voice and The Times Leader reported on the mostly unproductive ‘gang conference’ held here in Wilkes-Barre.
And I chortled at the TL piece about how the Crime Watch folks won’t rest while our mayor continues on with his incessant breathing. Talk about steppin' in it.
First of all, we’ve got untold numbers of police officers from all over this far-flung region participating in all sorts of ongoing training, which obviously touches upon gang activity. Junkets, I think the negative nincompoops call them.
We have a Luzerne County Drug Task Force that regularly conducts operations with the State Police, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. Not to mention Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
And right here in Wilkes-Barre, we have a squad of detectives who’s level of sophistication just might surprise those who continually dwell on the negative and badmouth what they have at their disposal.
With all of that typed, still, the local and imported self-branded activists continue to insult us by suggesting that we are not up to speed insofar as gang activity infiltrates some aspects of our society.
Remember what I wrote many years ago: Policing is best left to the police.
Wilkes-Barre Online...5/20/2008: Policing is best left to the police
Not to some local watch group, and not to some transplant from NYC who poses as the ultimate reference on all things gangs and policing. The watch groups and the self-appointed “community leaders” should supplement law enforcement, not portend to be some appendage of law enforcement.
As was predictably mentioned in those aforementioned stories, one thing I hear stated over and over is that we should be alert to any and all “behavioral changes in kids.” And while that is sound advice, it should not taken as gospel. Taken as gospel, it can be as problematic for kids as the other myriad of challenges young people face.
When I was rushing on towards my fifteenth birthday, a former drug counselor of a neighbor transplanted from NYC started filling my mother’s ear about all things drugs. And she suggested to my mom that she ought to be proactive, not reactive.
At that time, I was going through an abrupt and easily noticeable growth spurt. I had been working for nearly a year, meaning for the first time in my life I had disposable income. I bought myself a slew of new clothes. And new glasses. New sneakers. An amazing 10-speed. A new baseball glove and the Ralph Garr-autographed bat. Still have those latter two.
I was doing well at work, fitting in nicely. School was going. I was bigger. I grew faster. The natural athleticism was much more enjoyable being bigger and whatnot. I was dressed better than ever. And I felt pretty good about things as they were. My self-esteem and confidence soared.
But then I got caught skipping classes while in pursuit of some Kresge’s pizza. Real criminality, ain’t it? Enter Expert #2...
Our assistant principal at the time had a degree in psychiatry or psychology. I cannot remember which. And when he started tossing all the tough guy talk around and threatening me with corporal punishment (a stupid paddle), I simply told him to bring it on. I wasn’t afraid of his punishment.
Well, the alarm bells fired, and both of my parents--my mother and my grandmother--were ordered to meet with him. And while I sat there taking it all in, he told them of the tough road I was heading down, and how he had seen all of the warning signs before and blah, blah, effing blah.
And then they gleefully agreed and chimed in with how I had a mouth on me, how I took the lords’ name in vain, how I took girls up to my room, how I had split my little brother’s head open, how they had found pills on my dresser (work-issued salt tablets) and that they thought I was experimenting with illicit drugs.
But never once was I asked to speak in my own defense. And not once was I given any credit due. And they, the parents and so-called experts, wonder how and why kids end up seeing suicide as an option.
At that time, my life consisted of school, work, bowling and sports. I did not even consider alcohol, save for one family-related incident that ended very badly. I had not even considered using drugs. And I was known for picking on potheads to no end, which later on led to the nickname “skinny senior prick.”
But according to my parents and the so-called experts, I was a drug-toting alcoholic, I was headed for juvenile hall before graduating on to the big house, I had no respect for authority and intervention was long overdue. And all over a slice of pizza and a couple of salt tablets.
So, as a result, the intervention programs from all of the so-called experts involved eventually manifested themselves in my frustration boiling over and my mother assaulting me with the Ralph Garr-autographed bat. It took everything I had to not pop my mother in the head, because the fact was, she would have deserved it.
I went to school, I worked when I wasn’t in school and I played sports when free from the other two, a true testament to my hyperactivity.
But due to my quote/unquote “behavioral changes,” I was somehow deemed to be a problematic kid headed for bigger and bigger problems.
If parents would remain more involved in the everyday lives of their kids as they grow older and bigger, and if the so-called experts operated from anything other than very narrow, supposedly time-tested templates, perhaps kids wouldn’t be so quick to detach themselves from the deluded realities of others.
Sad to say, the only thing that was real during that entirely frustrating period was my Ralph Garr-autographed bat.
Beware the so-called behavioral scientists.