Dead Ethics Alarms+Blackface+Social Media+Spineless School Administrators= One Hopeless Ethics Train Wreck

Constant reader/commenter/master provocateur Michael Ejercito flagged this story for us, and it had already garnered some interesting commentary before I spotted it.  Michael has a distinct style here and is always asking questions that are the equivalent of firecrackers thrown into a wake. He’s one the longest-enduring participants here, and I haven’t let him know sufficiently how much I appreciate what he contributes.Thanks, Michael.

This is a hopeless ethics train wreck at this point, screwed up beyond all repair. I will note the points at which it all could have been avoided, but really, as it is now, it can only get worse. The thing unfolded like contemporary Shakespeare tragedy, in five acts.

ACT I: In Illinois, photos and video  posted to Snapchat, showed a group of white males wearing blackface pulling up to a fast food drive-thru and making denigrating comments about African-American girls. One of the boys is wearing a sweatshirt from Homewood-Flossmoor High School, where all of them were students.

Morons with dead ethics alarms. No high school student in the United States should be unaware that such a prank/stunt/ unbelievably stupid act and self-publishing the evidence of it is almost—but not quite!—the equivalent of maliciously shouting fire in a crowded theater, and thus deliberately tempting others to react emotionally and destructively. I know, teenage boys are too close to sociopaths for comfort, but conduct  like this indicts their parents, their teachers, and the community, as well as them.

Just to be clear, the reason why this is not quite like shouting fire in a crowded theater is that doing that is deliberately inciting a riot, and thus not legal and protected speech. Blackface is offensive speech, but still legal.

ACT II: A former student of the school re-posted the content to her Facebook page, thus ensuring as much damage as possible.  Over a thousand students and others now knew about the blackface episode, and so did the school district.

This is like someone hearing someone whisper fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire, and then shouting what was whispered to maximize the damage. If the student wanted to alert school officials, then she should have done this responsibly and quietly. Doing what she did was intentionally creating an online mob and inciting as much anger and irrationality as possible. The student was virtue-signaling, while magnifying  the harm done by the original jerks. That is malicious.

ACT III: District 233 superintendent Von Mansfield and Homewood-Flossmoor High School principal Jerry Anderson sent out a letter to parents denouncing the “highly offensive and culturally insensitive” posts, saying,

“The social media postings that were seen and heard were not representative of the high expectations we have for all students that attend our school.This type of behavior is contrary to our expectations, is being addressed quickly and appropriately and will not be tolerated.”

What students do and post to social media off campus and unrelated to school personnel and activities is none of the school’s business. They have no obligation to comment on it or disclaim it.  Let me repeat that: What students do and post to social media off campus and unrelated to school personnel and activities is none of the school’s business. Just because school activists, social justice warriors, busy-bodies, victim-mongers and trouble makers want to start shaking their fists and screaming at clouds over what someone else does, student or not doesn’t mean that the school should take the bait. Wearing blackface is 100% legal, in fact, it is Constitutionally protected. So is saying mean things about black girls, Asian girls, white girls, or Martian girls. The letter from the administrators made a tricky problem worse, and that’s not the moronic boys’ fault, nor the trouble-making ex-student’s fault. It’s their fault. They are supposed to be adults, and more competent, responsible, and reasonable than this.

[No, I do not think the fact that one of the students was wearing a school T-shirt made this a school-related act. If one of the students was wearing a Union Jack T-shirt, I would not assume that Great Britain was behind the episode.]

ACT IV: In an effort to urge administrators to take harsh discipline against the students in the blackface episode, nearly 1,000 of the uninvolved students participated in a walkout,  “chanting their demands for justice.” I assume this means that hackneyed “No justice, no peace” chant that I have come to loathe as much as “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”Students don’t get to dictate discipline to administrators. That is known as “letting the inmates running the asylum.” Every one of the students participating in the protest should have been suspended. The parties responsible for students acting like this are the dim-witted and unethical educators who have allowed and even encouraged student holidays to protest gun control and climate policies. Protesting is not part of high school; it isn’t even a valid component of college.

ACT V: The president and vice president of the district’s board of education reacted by sending  out a letter following the walkout, where they condemned the blackfaced students’ conduct  and praising the “speedy response” from Homewood-Flossmoor administrators, which allegedly includes an investigation. The administrators have no right to investigate legal actions engaged in outside of school not involving other students. The parents of the students should tell the school to back off, and hire some tough lawyers to make the point as vividly as possible. “Our children misbehaved, and this is our job, not yours. You worry about education in the school, we’ll worry about how our kids act out of it.”

The letter read,

“The District 233 Board of Education will be revisiting and moving forward with the diversity and inclusion aspects of our new strategic plan, as they relate to cultural awareness and cultural competency training. Homewood-Flossmoor High School will continue to stand against racism, and against insensitive and disrespectful behavior of any kind, and will take the appropriate and necessary actions to ensure that all students are respected, that our differences are embraced and that our unity is celebrated.”

Oh, ugh, yechh, blechh. More posturing and virtue-signaling out of abject cowardice. “Cultural awareness and cultural competency training” sounds like, and almost certainly will be, political indoctrination. I’d like to see 1000 students walk out over that. You can’t dictate that “all students are respected,” and wearing blackface off school grounds isn’t a show of disrespect for students, since it didn’t involve students other than the jerks in blackface. Nor can students be compelled to embrace differences or to celebrate unity, especially when there is only one kind of unity that Big Brother School District will allow to be celebrated, and because you can’t encourage “differences” while demanding unity.

My review of the play? Everybody involved screwed up, acted without considering consequences or proper boundaries. At this point, this mess can not be fixed. If my son was one of the idiots who wore blackface, I would consider,

  • My own protest to the school and the school district, as well as a law suit for demonizing and endangering my son based on his non-school related conduct.
  • Meeting with every administrator involved and explaining in great detail why they are incompetent fools unqualified to train goats, much less educate children.
  • Taking my son out of the school, and either hone schooling him or shipping him off to military school.
  • Making him regret the day he donned blackface for the rest of his youth, telling him that such privileges as driving, having an email account, using social media or having a cell phone would cease until he was living elsewhere and over 18.

Good job, everybody!

32 thoughts on “Dead Ethics Alarms+Blackface+Social Media+Spineless School Administrators= One Hopeless Ethics Train Wreck

    • If that has become a sterotype today, when did it start, or why is it worse today? What changed? I don’t think this happened overnight, but why must stupid explode into forever? Teen girls can be just as foolish in different ways, perhaps leading the mobs. Personally, I think they all have too much free time and resources and not enough responsibility.

      • Sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

        I’ll agree that a blanket statement like saying “teenage boys”, meaning all teenage boys, is pushing it and almost bigoted but they did agreed that they are “close to” not “are”. 😉

          • Jack wrote, “Puberty and adolescence is a personality disorder”

            Sociopath is a personality disorder.

            You just moved the goalpost on me a bit, you went from “close to” to “is”. Which do you really think it is?

            • An adult who behaved like a teenaged boy would be diagnosed as having a personality disorder. He wouldn’t be trustworthy or employable. You’re moving far away from the topic. Sociopathy is an adult disorder. When we say teens are sociopaths, we mean by adult standards. Infantilism is also an adult disorder. Do you object if I say, “All infants test as infantilists”?

              This is quibbling.

              • Who but a sociopath would punch someone else out and then get in a try-to-kill-each-other fight over the merits of the Islanders vs. the Rangers?

                Who but a sociopath would cause trouble, then when the target told the teacher, attack the target later for being a tattletale?

                Who but a sociopath would twist someone else’s nose almost to the point of it breaking, despite their obvious shouts of pain?

                Who but a sociopath would shoot out a school bus window with a pellet gun, then come on the bus, warning that someone from that school had been harassing someone or other and if it didn’t stop next time he would kill someone?

                Who but a sociopath would harass the same person day in and day out?

                Who but a sociopath would beat another person to the point of hospitalization because that person looked at his gf one second too long?

                Who but a sociopath would forcibly precipitate someone he didn’t even know from a bridge because that person happened to be gay?

                Who but a sociopath would lower someone else down the opening of a pit toilet to stand up to his waste in human excrement?

                Sound farfetched? I experienced or witnessed all of the above, except the throwing from a bridge, which was the Charlie Howard murder in Maine, all of them perpetrated by boys between the ages of 13 and 17.

              • Jack wrote, “An adult who behaved like a teenaged boy would be diagnosed as having a personality disorder.”, “Sociopathy is an adult disorder.”, “we mean by adult standards”.

                I really don’t mean to deflect or drag this any further away from the topic so the following is my closing thought on this presented as a completely rhetorical question.

                Why don’t we as a society publicly diagnose from a distance, without professional evaluation, that a huge swath of modern day fully consumed-by-emotion progressives and Liberals and absolutely ALL of the emotionally charged social justice warriors of today as having personality disorders?

        • “I know, teenage boys are too close to sociopaths for comfort.”

          Whoa, Nellie! That’s little too rich for this former teenage boy. This is toxic masculinity territory. Some guys lose it for some period of time but “extreme antisocial attitudes are not omnipresent in the demographic.Some teenage boys ARE sociopaths, but it’s some, fortunately. I’ve already spoken to my almost thirteen year old grand daughter about the dangers of bad boys and the advantages of the supposedly less interesting, nice boys. I think she’ll be okay and will get it.

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, progressives and social justice warriors have already won the battle of the minds; either a vast majority of the population is willfully consumed by the social justice bull shit or they are in literal fear of it; therefore, our society is screwed. Progressives’ social justice intimidation tactics have won the day. Be completely honest with yourself, how far do you think these totalitarian Nazi’s will push their social power to gain complete control of our society.

    I’m not giving up; but, trying to “fix” this kind of social justice stupidity is like pissing in the wind.

  2. I think characterizing any particular sex or age borderline sociopathic. Mariedowd suggests having excess time on their hands precipitates such acts. I’ll approach it from a different angle. I believe that children are routinely encouraged to be standouts. Early on the dance moms and the t-ball coaches want Janey or Johnny to be the best little ballerina or athlete among the group. Without going into describing events at every age group we see evidence of parental pushing their kids to be standouts even when they are not. The college admission scam bears this out.

    Technology is said to be connecting people but I believe technology is creating a false sense of connection. It feeds a teens narcissitic needs to feel attractive and wanted. Social media in the hands of teens is equivalent of letting them play with firearms without supervision. Obviously, firearms can kill much more easily but we have cases of cyberbullying leading to suicides. Far more difficult to assess are the psychological effects on children. We have no idea on what social media is doing to our kid’s actual ability to cope with ignominy or failure which happens to everyone at some point in their lives.

    Other than that, Michael Ejercito has captured the inability of adults to deal with the stupidity of teens.

    • First sentence should read:

      Characterizing any group, sex or age borderline sociopathic is a bit unfair to all members of that group.

    • Having raised a teenaged boy and read some clinical studies explaining that virtually all teenage boys—and a lot of teenage girls—test as sociopaths, I think your sensitivity is an example of kindness overcoming reality. Is it similarly unfair to say that teenage boys are operating with incompletely formed brains that make sound judgment and ethical analysis difficult if not impossible? That’s just another way of saying the same thing, and we know that’s true.

      By the way, I was led to those studies by an throw-away remark by one of the profilers on “Criminal Minds,” who said, “You know all teen age boys test as sociopaths!” I decided to check. It’s a bit more complex than that, but not much.

      • Jack wrote, “Having raised a teenaged boy and read some clinical studies explaining that virtually all teenage boys—and a lot of teenage girls—test as sociopaths”

        Showing similar traits in a test and actually being a sociopath are two different things. I think there is a fine line there.

        I’d be really interested in the opinion of our resident Psychologist and Psychiatrist on this.

          • dargin_dragon wrote, “Z you might have to wait a while. I’m going to have to think about my response.”

            Thanks for considering it. I am curious, I don’t mind waiting and if I’m wrong, I’ll learn from it.

        • Z, Jack is right in that a lot of adolescents test out as sociopaths. And, their behavior is such as to be indistinguishable from a diagnosed adult sociopath. However, that does not mean that, as adults, they will be sociopaths. In many (not all) cases, these are learned behaviors and attitudes, from parents, teachers, other adults or peers. On the other hand, many kids learn to avoid these behaviors, from fear of punishment or retaliation or from a belief that the behavior is wrong (which would imply a conscience, thus negating the sociopath label). Kids also tendency to do things because they are bored, and crave a little excitement. They also, as a general rule, do not have the ability to project possible consequences, which makes them SEEM like they are ignoring the outcomes. Hope this helps. Just for the record, this is also why many Child Psychologists go astray trying to treat adolescents. Personally, I’ve only accepted one adolescent patient in a rather lengthy career, and I came to regret that.

          • dragin_dragon,
            Thanks for the opinion, I really appreciate you taking the time to think about it.

            dragin_dragon wrote, “Jack is right in that a lot of adolescents test out as sociopaths. And, their behavior is such as to be indistinguishable from a diagnosed adult sociopath.

            My opinion is that “a lot of adolescents” is quite reasonable and the “virtually all of boys” opinion that Jack got from the clinical studies he read is likely hyperbole that could very well be part of the study conclusions. It might even be considered reasonable hyperbole by some based on the participants in the clinical studies, but it’s probably not accurate to extrapolate the study results to virtually all of boys. Statistics can be a good tool to show trends but sometimes it’s not entirely reasonable to extrapolate them across the board. Letting that go now.

            Can’t the same testing out and indistinguishable behaviors be said about many adolescents in regards to just about any of the Cluster B personality disorders? In fact don’t many of the traits crossover between Cluster B personality disorders causing non professionals to misdiagnosis adolescents unless they are thoroughly evaluated by a professional? If I remember correctly it can sometimes be difficult to obtain a decent diagnosis of adolescents from a singular testing, it usually takes prolonged interaction and very regular observation which is sometimes difficult unless the adolescent is having serious enough problems that they are evaluated on an inpatient basis. What I’ve personally seen in adolescents over the years is a lot of them show a cross section of traits related to borderline personality disorder and some of those traits cross over to the other Cluster B personality disorders and, like Jack said, most adolescents do tend to grow out of it. Isn’t there an old saying…

            When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a adult, I gave up childish ways.

            dragin_dragon wrote, “In many (not all) cases, these are learned behaviors and attitudes, from parents, teachers, other adults or peers.

            When my own children were adolescents I saw a pattern of the signs of Cluster B personality disorders in one child but none of in the other. I can attribute some of the differences between my children on genetics, different mothers, and different genders. However the majority of the behaviors in my eldest can be directly attributed to being prodded on by his alcoholic biological mother trying to use the child to get back at me for winning sole custody; yes there was proof of her wildly unethical and immoral behaviors, some even bordered on criminal. Love, sometimes tough love, discipline consistency, and a united parental front in my home paid off in the end.

            What I’m seeing in our “woke” society today is that the traits and behaviors of the borderline personality disorder, that are often seen in adolescence, have been unhealthily encouraged to persist well beyond adolescence and society is now reaping the consequences of a population that’s been brainwashed with enabling participation trophies mentalities and now either borders on, or is literally suffering from personality disorders. Read the deliberate dumbing down of america by Charlotte Iserbyt.

            How does society as a whole combat against this

            When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a adult, society literally encouraged me to continue my childish ways.

            Seriously, how do you combat that?

            I personally see the extreme political left as intentionally encouraging the people to continue their childish ways (dumbing them down) and it will take deliberate efforts by critically thinking responsible adults for multiple generations to repair the cancerous damage that the far left extremists have inflicted on our society.

      • I will concede that teenage boys and girls behave in ways that mimic sociopathy. I am also aware that neural development is not fully developed until as late as age 25. But, I still believe that teens are looking for acceptance and sense of belonging because of that. It is a lack of experience or guidance that objectionable behaviors occur.

        It can be argued that hormonal changes directly affect behaviors but the age of reason is 10. Knowing right from wrong is developed enough after age 10 to know that such stunts are wrong.

        My entire thesis was simply that kids are looking to set themselves apart so they appear attractive and or dominant. They are often encouraraged by parents to be the best but rarely are they told how. I came to this conclusion based on my own upbringing and my work with incarcerated students and regular students. Despite having educators as parents I remember reward and punishment as their goto teaching tools and never do I recall discussions on how to deal with issues I would face as an adolescent beforehand.

        What I have witnessed appears to be, regarding how each chose to stand out from the crowd, a learned behavior not instinctive. No doubt instinct plays a role but parental and peer group influences exacerabate or temper adolecent instinct.

  3. For arguments’ sake, let’s assume hat these boys are actual alt-right “activists,” aware of what they’re doing, and trying to make some kind of broad political statement against minorities. The worst possible scenario, in other words.

    The way that progressives now control the culture has given the alt-right IMMENSE power. My biggest impression reading all of this is just how godlike they have made these kids, just for wearing black face and going to a drive-thru acting like morons.

    Thousands of people feinting on their couches, national news organizations getting involved, students organizing in a panicked protest, administrators promising to brainwash students even harder from now on…teenage snowflakes crying that they don’t “feel safe”…and no one has laid a finger on the boys themselves, who did nothing illegal and really can’t (and shouldn’t) be touched.

    The Left not only doesn’t really care about minorities, they also do not have the best response to real racism. In a more sane time, these kids would be shunned by most of their peers, face public criticism and derision from everyone who personally witnessed their behavior…and that would be it. NBC News wouldn’t be surrounding dorks with cameras just for painting their faces. They wouldn’t be getting the thrill of being considered subversive, terroristic threats or menaces to society. They’d just stay losers. There would be a proportionate response involving other students and adults in their lives explaining why blackface is offensive and stupid. Maybe the kids would even learn something and be able to mature and go on to have normal lives.

    • Isaac wrote, “For arguments’ sake, let’s assume hat these boys are actual alt-right “activists,” aware of what they’re doing, and trying to make some kind of broad political statement against minorities. The worst possible scenario, in other words.”

      I think it’s more likely, and obvious to me, that these boys are intentionally “trolling” social justice warriors by exercising their freedom of speech to incite social justice warriors to see how far over the edge of reality they will fall over something that is so obviously a sophomoric gag. It’s ignorant, it’s immature, and yes it’s completely inappropriate sophomoric behavior without seriously considering the consequences of their actions. I lay the responsibility right in their own laps for their own actions and their parents laps for not teaching them that this kind of behavior is not acceptable regardless of the social justice warrior cancer that’s currently infecting our society.

      • Nailed it. IN the last six months or so, there has been so much talk about blackface, much of it hyperventilated and overheated, so as to make it seem as if it’s one of the most taboo acts one can engage in. (Admittedly, it’s a pretty nasty thing to do.) What happens in a teenager’s mind when you tell him over and over that he’s not allowed to do something, and then provide numerous examples of how big a reaction others get by doing that thing? You reckon that little idiot just might be tempted to transgress that taboo purely out of innate shit-headedness and desire to rebel? This sort of thing was inevitable, right on down to the predictable and inexplicably dumb “walkout” and cowardly administration response, once everyone started wailing and gnashing their teeth about decades-old episodes of blackface. And it will happen again, because the response to this episode shows an easy path to becoming the center of attention for adolescent shitheads (but I repeat myself!) who can’t discern that there’s a difference between bad attention and good attention.

        • I’m not sure there is “bad attention” anymore. It’s now a sliding scale from “lots of attention” (good) to “no attention” (bad.)

          I’d rather not go down the rabbit hole of why that is.

        • “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

          Teen boys have a rebellious streak in them. The more authoritarian the schools become, the more overbearing their teachers, the more I expect things like this to happen.

          • Kids, especially teen boys, do in fact have a rebellious streak. That’s why parents and teachers have to teach them how to behave well, but they’ve got behaving badly covered. Rebelliousness isn’t the only problem, though. Kids, especially teens, also have a cruel streak (twisting someone’s nose more than 90 degrees despite him screaming in pain?), a lack of empathy (plunging someone into a cesspit?), and frequently less than wonderful judgment (fighting over the merits of hockey teams who they’ve never seen live?). However, one thing they don’t have is a whole lot of courage when confronted by someone who could take them down. Bullies are scared to the point of crapping their pants of someone who could do to them what they do to others. There’s nothing more frightening to someone with no mercy than being at the mercy of merciless others. That’s why kids who get a bit too rebellious or too crazy should get a tour through central booking, seeing criminals who think they’re tough guys getting dragged in in cuffs and interrogated, then a tour of the local prison, complete with seeing 6’5″ inmates who’ve spent the last five years pumping weights and hearing just what they do to young arrivals.

            • Bullies are usually cowards, at least in my experience. Few are willing to be truly evil and tenacious in their actions: once it will cost them personally they usually back down.

              Just like progressives, when there are personal consequences to their actions.

            • You are right about the lack of empathy and that is why I expect more things like this to happen. Imagine, your teacher tells you that we need to have open borders to let in everyone who wants to come in to do cheap labor, but we should also protest for $15 minimum wage because many jobs these days have really low pay. If you point out that the teacher really needs to choose one of these issues, you are called a racist, stupid, etc. Imagine your whole life like that, being mandated by law to be subjected to such people. These kids are mandated by law to endure 13 years of bullying by the educational system. Some such people are going to rebel and since they are teenagers, they aren’t going to carefully consider who is going to get their feelings hurt. Given the response by the school, I have no sympathy for the school or the town. I do have sympathy for those boys. They are lashing out. Would it have been better if they had found a nicer way (get 200 people wearing MAGA hats to go to Starbucks all at once)? Sure, but let’s not pretend the the penalty wouldn’t have been any less severe for any other act of political incorrectness. If someone has been harassing you for years, the state approves of the harassment, and the penalty is the same for writing a letter complaining about the harassment or murdering your harasser, what do you do? Go big or go home.

              What do you do when ‘society’ deems logic, facts, and your very thoughts to be crimes? What do you do if this happens when you are a teenager whose view of reality is quite warped, you view everything as being much more serious than it really is, and you are near the edge of being suicidal (the TV show glamorizing suicide has caused a measurable spike in teen suicides)?

              • What do you do when ‘society’ deems logic, facts, and your very thoughts to be crimes?

                That was what happened in Germany from 1933-1945.

                No need to guess what happened as a result.

  4. In an effort to urge administrators to take harsh discipline against the students in the blackface episode, nearly 1,000 of the uninvolved students participated in a walkout, “chanting their demands for justice.” I assume this means that hackneyed “No justice, no peace” chant that I have come to loathe as much as “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”Students don’t get to dictate discipline to administrators. That is known as “letting the inmates running the asylum.” Every one of the students participating in the protest should have been suspended. The parties responsible for students acting like this are the dim-witted and unethical educators who have allowed and even encouraged student holidays to protest gun control and climate policies. Protesting is not part of high school; it isn’t even a valid component of college.

    By walking out, these students gave some Grade-A assholes power.

    Make no mistake, wearing blackface and making defamatory remarks did not give them power. The walkout did.

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