Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pumpkin stealing OK with far too many

If you listen, watch or read the media reports on the Great
Pumpkin Heist; two college students who "accidentally" stole
two pumpkins, you will not find a report that doesn't confuse
the victim and the villains. In not one of them, will you find
read or written, that stealing is wrong regardless of the value
of that which is stolen.

Each story portrays the shoplifters in varying degrees of
victim-hood, and the shop owner, the law and the court, in
varying degrees, as villains.

If you read the comments being left on these stories, you will
find a disturbing number of people making all manner of excuses
and justifications for just letting the whole thing slide.

It is apparently OK with them, and ultimately with their children,

  • to steal small and to expect if caught, to set it all right by offering to pay for what they stole.
  • It is ok to do wrong things if other people are doing worse things, in particular if they're getting away with it.
  • It is ok to steal something if it costs more to prosecute the crime than the booty is worth.
You won't believe how many people argued that if drunk drivers
are getting off scot free, wikilink, these two shoplifters should get off scot free as well.

The problem stems from an unwillingness to recognize a line
that cannot be blurred as part of a defense for having crossed it.

Lines are useful in controlling (mis)behavior. As a middle school
teacher, it was at one point, my job to supervise the line at the
snack bar. I was charged with keeping kids away from the fence
that separated the line from everyone who wanted to cut into the line.

As it turned out, "stay away from the fence" wasn't practical
from an enforcement stand point. I decided to paint a line on
the asphalt about ten feet from the fence. I found "stay behind
the line" was eminently more enforceable. Lines work.

In stealing, there is only one line. A number of other lines have
been suggested, by those who have been caught stealing and
want to draw a line on stealing that doesn't include what they
stole, or minimizes their theft in some other way.

Children need to have their character developed. All day long
they are bombarded with messages from music, movies, TV,
and their peers. For the most, the messages they hear blur
the lines between right and wrong.

I would like to think that the students I shared my Character Counts! training with, did not grow up to be casual pumpkin thieves. Or at least that they would not try to justify their thievery as anything but their lack of moral courage in the face of temptation.

President Theodore Roosevelt argued;
To educate in the mind and not in the morals,
is to create a menace to society.
The need for character education as part of the core curriculum in public schools is self-evident.

The leadership of the APS has made a deliberate decision to abandon character education. They will not explain, defend, deny, or even acknowledge their decision. Just as they will not explain, defend, deny, or even acknowledge having removed from their own code of conduct, the words and commitment to serve as role models of the standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for adults,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Upon consideration of their investigation and reports on this incident, it is becoming clearer to me why the establishment media won't investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.
It isn't just because they're in cahoots with them.

Judging by the slant they put on their reports on the pumpkin stealing; they really don't think the stealing small pumpkins is wrong. And therefore don't think APS leaders are doing anything wrong in renouncing their accountability to standards of conduct that prohibiting stealing even small pumpkins; ethical standards of conduct; APS student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!

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