Name The Crime

I ran across a headline in Jezebel (not my usual reading) yesterday.

“After Body-Shaming a Fellow Gym Patron, Dani Mathers Will Be Tried in Court”

Body Shaming?

Well, don’t get me wrong. She definitely did that, too. (Allegedly, but in an already admitted it in an online video, and apologized, but really doesn’t want a record kind of way.)

But what she’s being tried in court for is taking a picture of a naked 70 year old in the gym locker room and posting it to the internet.

Let’s put it this way: if she’d said the woman was “hot” instead of the nasty thing she did say, she’d still be on trial. And probably for a sex offense. The DA delivered a nifty sermon on the evils of body shaming, but in the end, that’s not what she’s charged with.

The media likes to do the same thing with “bullying.”

“Bullying” can stretch all the way from not eating lunch with someone through harassment, and assault. Most of the time, if “bullying” hits the papers, what we’re really talking about is a concrete, nameable crime.

Sometimes, it’s lots of crimes.

You can sit and count the crimes in the articles that announce the “bullying” victims’ eventual deaths.

We could call this kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or assault or battery, or any number of things. We can name people who went to prison for the same things. If someone did it to an adult, they’d call the police, press charges, and name the crime by name.

But if the crime is committed in a school, we have a tendency to find the euphemism. Bullying. He was pushed (assault) into the women’s restroom (kidnapping), held there against his will, (unlawful imprisonment). Let’s call it “bullying.”

Let’s call the principal instead of the police.

Let’s keep it out of the papers until someone is actually, literally, dead.

Let’s fudge over the reports and the details, so no one can really be sure how often something like this happens in the school their children go to. You didn’t really want valid statistics on that in-school crime rate, did you?

And why on earth would the principal have any obligation to report these things to the police, in the first place?

It’s only a crime against minor children.

Oh, that’s right.

It’s a crime against minor children.

The next time you see a story that says something like “Bullying Victim Commits Suicide”… NAME THE CRIMES. Chances are pretty good that an adult would have called the police months or years earlier.

And if you have children, make sure they KNOW that these are crimes. Not just so they’ll understand the impact doing things like that can have on their own life, but so that if they are a victim, they’re able to walk into the principal’s office and say, “I’ve been assaulted, and I need to call the police.”

Sometimes, a stern talking to just isn’t the answer.

The punishment for assault–for kidnapping–for unlawful imprisonment–for any number of things that get waved aside as “bullying” isn’t that you don’t get to go to the winter Snow Ball.

A-to-Z Challenge: Content Management System

A content management system is basically a computer program that manages content, and typically the content of a website. So… well… WordPress springs to mind. There are plenty of choices out there.

So, once upon a time, I had some grade school teachers who decided (or possibly were told) that computers were the wave of the future. And since they were teachers, clearly this meant that they would be teaching computers/programming/technology-a-plenty.

The not so obvious flaw in this thinking was that they did not actually know anything about computers/programming/technology-a-plenty.

So… about that…

The school board procured lessons.

By which, what I mean is a series of “programs” that were intended to result in a specific and recognizable outcome. So, if it was Christmas, you were programming the computer to draw a Christmas tree. If it was Valentine’s day, you’d be looking for a heart. And so on.

These programs would be handed to you–no assembly required–on a Xerox handout, and you would type them verbatim, letter by letter into the computer while the 4th grade teacher (A former Marine who raised twenty-seven of her own children on nothing but MREs and Communist tears) loomed over you, waiting for a Christmas tree to appear.

One typo… anywhere, and the result would be either a blank screen or a shamefully lopsided Christmas tree. And of course, you would have to find that typo in a page of code that neither you nor the teacher understood.

Suffice it to say, I learned how to type.

I probably wouldn’t have learned to program at all, ever, and let’s be honest, after an introduction like that, I would have been perfectly happy with that arrangement.

I wound up building my own content management system later on, when I came up with a reason to do it. (Apparently, Christmas trees that would take twenty seconds with a crayon are not particularly motivating.)

I didn’t have any idea how big the project was before I was actually doing it. If I did, I probably wouldn‘t have done it. But I had an idea, and I couldn’t find any out of the box software that would do what I wanted, and besides, how hard could it be?

Yes, I hear you laughing.

Maybe “hard” isn’t quite the right word. Maybe “big” is better. It’s a long project, and you work on it a little bit at a time, until it starts to do the things you want it to do. You learn as you go along. You learn the things you need to know, so there’s a lot more motivation to do it.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

Coding as a Foreign Language

Florida’s fine senate has approved making computer coding a “foreign language” that will fulfill the 2 years required to get into Florida’s public university system. The kids would be able to take coding instead of a foreign language.

Huh.

I took foreign languages–of a human, organic variety–in high school. More of them in college. I taught English as a Foreign language (briefly) after I graduated.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I value language.

In fact, when I started coding (not this website), I chose my first computer languages based on their similarities to human languages I already knew.

There’s a lot of overlap between human languages and computer languages.

But they’re not the same thing.

In an ideal world, I’d argue that it shouldn’t be an either/or proposition, and that every child should do both.

But we’re not living in an ideal world, and even high school kids are mortal.

I absolutely believe every child should have the opportunity to learn computer languages. And they should also have the opportunity to learn human languages. They should probably dabble at least a little in both.

But with more and more information in the world, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re beginning to split off into specializations  younger and younger.

The question that I have here… is how you ensure that children are on a path they have the enthusiasm and talent for, rather than the one their parents or the school system feel is important, right now.