Security

Juvenile cyber-delinquency: Laws that are turning kids into criminals

Deb Shinder considers the problem of juvenile delinquency when it concerns kids and computers. Do we need a better strategy for dealing with juvenile cybercrime? Take the opinion poll.

The criminal justice system has always faced the dilemma of what to do when those who break the law are minors, and thus in many ways not legally responsible for themselves. Traditionally, underage offenders have been treated differently and kept separate from adult criminals. In many jurisdictions, a separate juvenile justice system exists, with its own courts and detention facilities (which are not called jails or prisons) and its own rules of procedure. Juveniles are not "arrested," they're "taken into custody." The focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

The juvenile justice system

The treatment of young people who break the law varies, in the U.S., from one state to another, and so does the definition of who is a "juvenile." In Texas (where I live), a juvenile is someone who is at least 10 years old but under 17 years of age at the time he/she committed an unlawful act. We don't even call it a "crime" because juveniles (with some exceptions) aren't charged under the criminal statutes. We call it "delinquent conduct" (an act that would result in jail or prison if committed by an adult) or "conduct in need of supervision" (an act that would result in a fine if committed by an adult, as well as acts that are not illegal if committed by adults - e.g., running away from home or skipping school).

Juveniles who are "adjudicated" (we don't say "convicted" either) for delinquent conduct can be confined in a special Texas Youth Commission facility or placed on probation. If a 15- or 16-year-old commits an especially serious offense or is a repeat felony offender, the court can certify the juvenile to stand trial as an adult. In that event, the case is transferred to the regular criminal court system. The cases of 14-year-olds (at the time of the offense) can also be transferred in certain cases such as first degree and capital felonies.

You'll notice that children younger than 10 don't fall under the jurisdiction of the Texas juvenile justice system. They are considered to be too young to be held responsible for their actions.

Note that these rules apply to only one state. In some states, children as young as six have been arrested.

Kids and computers

Everyone knows that kids generally take to computers more quickly and easily than their elders. Today's children grow up with access to computers - and not just standalone computers but computers that are networked to the rest of the world through the Internet. Many of them love to explore and experiment, as children have always done; that's an important element in learning. Unfortunately, that exploration and experimentation can lead them to virtual "places" that are legally off limits, and turn them into criminals (or juvenile delinquents) even without their awareness that they're doing anything wrong.

Common human childhood behavior that has been a characteristic of schoolyards for hundreds of years - teasing other kids about their looks, their names, for being too smart or too dumb or too tall or too short or wearing glasses or an infinite number of differences - can turn into something far more ominous-sounding (cyberbullying) when taken online. And it can get those kids in trouble not just with parents and teachers, but with the legal authorities, as well. Some of these laws don't distinguish between making death threats or relentless harassment and simply flinging a few mean words at someone in a moment of anger. In fact, under some definitions of cyberbullying, everyone who has ever said anything "cruel" to another person online (even in a computerized spat with a spouse) would technically be guilty of this crime. (Author's Note: I'm not suggesting that true bullying should be condoned or tolerated, but I believe the modern legal system has crossed a line in making every undesirable behavior subject to criminal penalties, to the detriment of the offender, society, and the justice system itself).

Kids tend to do with computers what kids did in past generations without computers. They play practical jokes, they poke into places they've never been, they try out things their friends are doing, they try to find out more about forbidden topics, such as sex, they hang out with other kids who are "bad influences."

And kids commit online offenses for the same reasons they commit offenses in the "real world" - rebellion, boredom, ignorance of the law, and because everyone else is doing it. In fact, according to a study by researchers at three universities, having friends who engage in cybercrime is one of the biggest determinants in whether juveniles commit such crimes.

Online is forever

Kids today benefit tremendously from the marvelous technology that lets them research a homework project from the comfort of their bedrooms without ever cracking open a physical book, or get acquainted with the cultures of other kids who live half way around the world - not just as abstract scribbles from a distant "pen pal" but through real-time audio/video conversations. But they also grow up with disadvantages that we "old folks" didn't have to worry about.

I shudder to imagine how much different my life might be if every stupid thing I did or said as a teenager had been recorded for posterity, subject to later discovery by potential employers, romantic interests, or my next-door neighbors. Sure, many of us kept diaries or journals where we confessed all of our sinful thoughts and deeds - but when we got old enough to recognize the foolishness of that, all we had to do was burn the thing.

Today's young people put their lives out there on Twitter and Facebook, make silly or mean comments on other people's websites, join questionable groups, post photos of themselves in less-than-professional positions (or, even if they're smart enough not to, they don't have control over the pictures of them that their friends - and "frenemies" - post online).

Social networks and self-incrimination

I've seen some discussion about whether online posts are protected under the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution (the right to not incriminate oneself). Good try, but most attorneys' opinions I've read agree that the Constitution grants the right not to be forced to testify against oneself. If you voluntarily post information on a social network or other online venue that incriminates you in a crime, all bets are off.

In the case of juveniles, Supreme Court cases have held that juveniles have some - but not all - of the same constitutional rights as adults. Since juveniles under 14 can waive their right against self-incrimination only if a parent, guardian, custodian, or attorney is present, and since the juvenile must waive the right "knowingly, willingly and understandingly" [G.S. 7B-2101(d)], one might ask if the self-incrimination rule still applies. That would be up to the court to decide, of course.

Most common juvenile cybercrimes

In addition to cyberbullying, which we discussed earlier, one of the most common online offenses committed by juveniles is "digital piracy" - sharing and/or downloading of software and digital music and movies without the permission of the copyright holder. Kids who would never in a million years shoplift a DVD will "steal" thousands of songs without compunction - and brag about it.

This happens because, according to a study that appeared last year in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, most college students don't consider such downloading to be stealing and don't believe it's morally wrong. There are probably a number of reasons for this:

The intangible nature of digital "goods" is different from that of tangible goods. Traditionally, the crime of theft involved "unlawfully appropriately property without the effect consent of the owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of the property." When you download a copy of a song, you don't deprive the owner of the use of that song, as you do when you steal a tangible item. Kids have a hard time understanding abstractions.

The corporate nature of most of the copyright holders means kids don't see themselves as taking something that belongs to another person (regardless of the law's treatment of corporations as persons for some purposes), but from a huge, nameless, faceless entity.

The belief that these corporate copyright holders are unethical, greedy and immoral means that even if they did see it as stealing, kids (who generally love Robin Hood stories) would find it more acceptable to steal from those who, in their eyes, are evil.

Another common juvenile cybercrime is viewing or swapping of pornographic material. This is a case (unless it involves underage models/actors) of an act that is illegal for juveniles but becomes perfectly legal on one's eighteenth birthday. A profound interest in sex is a part of human nature and teenagers are awash in hormones that make this "crime" almost an inevitability, given the temptation of all that easily available porn on the Internet.

Criminal trespass via computer (which most laws call unauthorized access) is another of the most common juvenile cybercrimes. The stereotypical hacker is a nerdy teenager who breaks into remote systems not for the purpose of stealing and using information, and often not even for the purpose of creating havoc, but merely to prove to himself and others that he has the skills to do it. In some cases, however, that teenager can be prosecuted under the same laws (and sentenced to the same penalties) as a terrorist who hacks into systems to disrupt vital communications with the intent to cause serious injury and death.

Some kids go further and, when they gain access to other systems and sites, want to do damage to leave their mark behind - much as their fathers and grandfathers expressed their teenaged angst by demolishing mailboxes or spray-painting graffiti on walls. The difference is that this cybervandalism can cost the victimized companies or individuals much more, and consequently the penalties are much steeper.

What can we do?

In some cases, education may be enough; most young people don't know the intricacies of the law nor understand the severity of the possible consequences. For some less serious juvenile offenders, the behavior will change simply in the course of growing up. Teaching children ethical and moral behavior in general will go a long way toward alleviating problems such as cyberbullying and cybervandalism; they need to learn empathy and how to put themselves in the place of the victims.

Kids may also harbor the illusion that their actions online are anonymous, that "nobody will ever know," that their posts boasting of their illegal behaviors are truly private, or even that nothing that happens in the cyberworld is "real." They may dehumanize the people on the other end of that network link and think of mistreating them as the same as doing it to a software construct in a game. Again, education and personal growth are key to changing that.

For some types of cybercrime, such as copyright violations/piracy, it's going to be harder. It may be time to rethink the system that makes these acts crimes in the first place. In fact, one of the reasons we have so many more criminals today is that we have so many more criminal laws. And there is evidence that when a populace is overwhelmed by laws to the point where even a person who tries to be an upstanding citizen can't keep from breaking some of them in just trying to go about his/her business, that causes a loss of respect for all laws, including the ones that are beneficial and necessary.

If we brand children as criminals, because of common and relatively normal behavior, we create a generation in which criminality becomes the norm. Perhaps the juvenile cybercrime problem will push us to finally reexamine our entire criminal justice system and how it "just grew that way."

Take the poll below and express your opinions on what we should be doing to prevent online juvenile delinquency.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

133 comments
ratnick04
ratnick04

Charge the parents for giving these children 18 and younger the technology to be able sext or bully others.

With none to little direction, guidance, let alone moitoring their interaction. There are phone packages that can block data and pictures from being sent or used. Filp phones for one. Society is directly at fault with the hypersexuality of these pre teens and teens. CHARGE THE PARENTS

Like the parents giving a bike to them, letting them learn to ride it in traffic they get killed whos fault is it? The parents thats who. by the way they will not change this because 99% of all judical and afluent citizens have given or allowed their offspring the use of these smart phones and computers. Can not charge these people because they represent the Judical system and upper society. So they throw thier children under the bus because they took the porn pics or sent them. Sick Sick Sick all societies collaps at some point.

The sexual marketing of these 18 and under people with padded bras for 6 and up children and panties and thongs stating felling lucky, wild, bite this, spank me, naughty but nice, call me. What is wrong with this picture? and parent go along with it.../. 

Tenagra71
Tenagra71

Someone made a comment that, "Your not a criminal because what you did harmed someone else, your a criminal because an arbitrary law says you are." Arbitrary? So if there were no law against robbing a bank, that makes it OK? Doesn't matter that you harmed someone else? Or if 99% of people think murder is wrong and they pass a law to impose punishment for it, but that 1% person murders someone anyway, that is OK? The one person thinks it is OK so they should not be punished for that crime? Some things are just not complicated. You steal something, you should be punished. You hack my PC and just look around? That's the same as breaking in to my home and going through my file cabinets but not taking anything. No difference. People just think it is less a crime because they did not break and enter my front door and have to worry about getting confronted by an angry homeowner. Doesn't matter that you did not take anything. You are still guilty of breaking and entering. Situational ethics and morality is one of the main issues. If it is wrong, it is wrong. If not, then it is not. And the person(s) doing the cyber crime(s) know that it is wrong. So hacking my computer should get the same punishemnt as breaking in to my house. And, yes, downloading music you did not pay for is a crime as well. If you think it is not a crime, just go to the local CD store and try to walk out with a CD w/o paying for it.

andrew232006
andrew232006

I think cyber bullying laws are necessary. The rest of these should be misdemeanors at worse. The law may be necessary but there is no malicious intent in downloading a song. As for the bullies, they shouldn't be prosecuting kids for isolated incidents. But if there is a pattern of behavior is there. You can't rely on the bully's parents to address the issue, many don't care. You can expect teachers to police students outside school. And in my opinion you can't teach bullies to be nice in most cases. It's not what they learn from their parents and teachers it is also what they learn from their peers and the rest of society. It's not that they don't understand what they're doing, it's that they don't care and know there are no consequences. It's not that they can't socialize, there are popular bullies. And when they grow up they'll find more covert ways to victimize people.

delf20k
delf20k

The laws should be made more simple and clear-cut so people can more easily understand and keep the law. Once the laws are simple they should be taught in the schools so young people will know the laws and the penalty for breaking them.

darije.djokic
darije.djokic

Any field without regulations degenerates into destructive chaos sonner or later, so - yes for laws to be implemented on the internet. On the other hand, let us be wery carefull about what laws we allow and how are they to be executed, for some judge, DA or cop with an over-the-bodies-of-whomsoever professional advancement tactics might do more damage than good.

stpeters
stpeters

I think that adding to #3, that kids that are caught in a (crime), would have to (as part of rehabilitation) be involved in "in depth" education on negative behaviors, and maybe even some community work.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

[i]Another common juvenile cybercrime is viewing or swapping of pornographic material. This is a case (unless it involves underage models/actors) of an act that is illegal for juveniles but becomes perfectly legal on one???s eighteenth birthday. A profound interest in sex is a part of human nature and teenagers are awash in hormones that make this ???crime??? almost an inevitability, given the temptation of all that easily available porn on the Internet.[/i] And when they swap or View Pictures of themselves in a Show Me yours and I'll show you mine type environment they if caught end up with a Sex Record are recorded on the Sexual Offenders Register for the remainder of their lives as being involved in Kiddy Porn. Yep makes lots of sense as we give them the tools and then wonder why they use them. ;) Col

gcorbo
gcorbo

I would have to (and did) vote for putting more about cybercrime into the education curriculums. Side comment regarding file sharing/downloading: Author stated: "sharing and/or downloading of software and digital music and movies without the permission of the copyright holder. Kids who would never in a million years shoplift a DVD will ???steal??? thousands of songs without compunction - and brag about it. This happens because, according to a study that appeared last year in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, most college students don???t consider such downloading to be stealing and don???t believe it???s morally wrong". Have to disagree on this one. I have been looking at /studying (and been part of the "illegal" sharing of music myself) for more than 12 years. Kids have not been that stupid. They often realize that file sharing is a complex issue, but will look at it with the view that they did purchase some music and simply shared it, while others ALSO purchased music - and they are taking part in the sharing of what the other person(s) did legally purchase. Here is another perspective on this - when I was younger (far before the digital age) we bought vinyl record and albums, and when friends or family (or in some cases, simply acquaintances or people you only knew through other friends) wanted the songs because they did not have them (we did not ask WHY, they just had some songs in their music collection but not others...) we would make a copy of a single or album - and share it with them. There was no thought about possible legal issues not only because we were young - but also because it would have gone against all common sense. Kids today are much more aware of the law than in my childhood period - but it still goes against common sense. Was this "illegal sharing" ? Probably yes, but in an analog form. Did we care - NO. It would have been ridiculous then, and it is ridiculous now. The digital age made this common sense and altruistic idea into something more nefarious. Most kids (not all, I realize) just started out wanting to share some music with friends and others. They came to know that our copyright laws need reform (what is it, 50 or 75 years ownership of a song - 20 years should be the maximum).

jim.lonero
jim.lonero

Your statement: ???Kids who would never in a million years shoplift a DVD will ???steal??? thousands of songs without compunction - and brag about it.??? Says a lot and should be an eye opener. Stealing, whether it is from the store or from a web site is stealing. Then you reverse yourself in a later paragraph: ???The intangible nature of digital ???goods??? is different from that of tangible goods. Traditionally, the crime of theft involved ???unlawfully appropriately property without the effect consent of the owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of the property.??? When you download a copy of a song, you don???t deprive the owner of the use of that song, as you do when you steal a tangible item. Kids have a hard time understanding abstractions.??? Whether the song is on a DVD or downloaded, it is still a copy. The only tangible part of a DVD is the material it is made of. You still need some technology to hear what is on it, just like you need some technology to hear what is in the byte stream. Whether it comes on a physical form of media or in digital form, stealing is stealing.

lwallace
lwallace

Technology doesn't keep up with the law makers; it's the other way around. The liberal machine wants to make everyone so docile that we live in a country that can tolerate the current parenting skills. No one has any kind of self-discipline any more and that's why we have so many people incarcerated; no parent(s) around while little John/Jane are running amuck in society using the latest tech to run havoc on "the system"; I'll leave it up to you what I mean by "the system". There should be a program for future parents to raise a few of the foster care children and then decide if they want to have children of their own or every future parent takes classes on how to handle such situations; maybe it should be both. But no one will let a program florish because "love" happens. Give me a break! There's enough information in our tech society that anyone wants to find out what happens when you break the law or have a kid you should know the consequences. The law can't keep up with every little tech discovery and how it's used by juvies or adults.

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

Let us begin by examining the real magnitude of the supposed problem. How many children or young adults knowingly or unknowingly violate cybercrime laws? What percentage of the total population of children or young adults does this represent? In other words, are we dealing with a real, or with a perceived, problem? If the numbers are too high for one's liking, is it because of a blatant disrespect of the law, a lack of knowledge of the law, or the fact that the law is reaching beyond any reasonable attempt to define "acceptable" behavior? I think any intelligent answer to the questions posed here must first address these aspects of the issue.

Too Old For IT
Too Old For IT

When I was a kid, way WAY before computers, I held the opinion that bullies should just be taken out back and shot. This was probably because I was the pencil-necked 98 lb weakling nerd. Strange, my opinion on what to do with bullies hasn't changed much as I got older and wiser.

lwallace
lwallace

The parents should be monitoring little "John/Jane". Most kids can't afford a computer in the first place and so, the parents need to rein in their offspring. If the parent(s) are the techno delinquents showing off their skills to the kid(s), then the parent(s) should be punished. Heavy fines should do the trick for the parent(s) and community service for the kid(s). If the kid(s) are caught at school doing some type of computer hacking (playing around), then everyone caught should be sent to some type of juvie camp and community service; the parents still get hit in the pockets. The only time kid(s) should be playing around (hacking) is in the environment of a computer security class or course designed to keep the hacking confined to the lab. There is just to much of this type of computer hacking going on and people will never learn if you don't take this type of activity serious enough and start hitting the activities with some kind of enforcement against it. The laws right now seem to lax.

realvarezm
realvarezm

Not along in my country was created a law to prevent people from gather rain water, wich on time was cancelled, just like soon, it will be a law in USA to prevent farmers from grow their crops from natural seed and force them to use genetic altered and non reusable seed (60% is already doing it). All to help with the human hunger. That sounds more to me like helping corporations. The issue is that money and personal greed are the forces that tell a society if you are a criminal or not, take Apple for example with Ebooks2, now they get to decide if your work is right/legal or wrong/ilegal, just by creating a new set of rules that will take full control of a writers work. So my point is to watch for this initiatives that will condemn everybody just make some profit or creat a way of thinking that is benefitial to any corporation or government.

DadsPad
DadsPad

They have been photographed all their life and before. Suppose you had very little privacy in you life, would you act different with private or embarassing pictures/videos? Mix that in with the internet and social media, and why do we question todays teens posting or sending photos of themselves? I think punisments should fit the crime, especially with juveniles. Innocent, but harmful cyber-crime might result in being put in an enviroment with no electronics and exercise/sports for a year. This might just change some behavior. The article made good points, I agree with a lot of it.

WanderMouse
WanderMouse

The problem is that laws just pile up on one another until what's lawful and what's unlawful can hardly be distinguished, and/or just about any behavior can be criminalized. Other laws, such as not hitching your horse at a bar on Sunday, are outdated and ridiculous. Many professional organizations who pass resolutions have an automatic "sunset" provision, where any not renewed affirmatively will automatically inactivate after a certain period- usually 5 or 10 years. If governmental units reviewed ALL the laws now on the books, consolidated many laws addressing the same issues, throwing out contradictory laws, and eliminating laws no longer relevant, and, after doing so, replaced the current body of jurisprudence with the new body of law, AND THEN examined these and all new laws on a regular "sunset" schedule, we might get a body of law that would make sense to all, and be both more easily and readily followed, and more enforceable. In addition, elected lawmakers need to rethink passing laws that deal with redressing particular incidents that become particularly newsworthy- those laws that usually bear the name of an individual who has suffered a particular wrong that has captured the national news and drummed up instant indignation among the people. Many DO address real issues, but in today's vulture of 15-minute attention spans, some are so poorly conceived and poorly written that they eventually suffer from another law- the law of unintended consequences. Our lawmakers need to be more deliberative, and less reactive, if the laws they generate are to make real sense.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

You commit a cybercrime as a kid, we ship you to Afghanistan, without any electronic devices. You get to walk, swim or hitch a ride back home on your own.

jCottrell
jCottrell

There are articles in newspapers, and news stories about this problem. There are computer usage and behavior policies on the web, and in the schools. The problem is that knowing something is wrong does not stop it from happening. We need real consequences for this behavior.

neil.postlethwaite
neil.postlethwaite

I can see your point, but fuindamentally illegal activity is that illegal regardless of age - though there is much ground to be made in Police reverting to the 'clip behind the ear' to nip it in the bud, instead of resorting to mediation, social workers, and the self-serving business of child protection to leap into action. To push the article point, if a juveline commits murder, rape, abuse should they be treated any less harshly than grown up person ? Is not, you have argued yourself into a corner.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

...since finding proof is so much easier. Bullying sucks, I think we can all agree on that, but in most cases nobody does anything about it, because they just hear claims and counterclaims. Teachers tend to act on allegations of bullying only when the alleged perpetrator is someone they've already decided is a bad egg in need to breaking (which is a flucked up attitude for a teacher to have). We've gotta remember that children are forced to go to school (barring alternative solutions, I know). They're forced to be there, and often being there isn't very nice. That causes stress, and some kids will act on the stress by picking on easy targets. That's not an excuse, but it is a fact. The thing is, if the community requires them to be there, the community also has a responsibility to make the experience bearable - and certainly to ensure that they're not victimized while thus incarcerated. After all, going to school is also about learning how to deal with one's peers; do we really want to teach our coming co-workers that they've got a choice between being a bully or being a victim? Or to accept that someone else is victimized because it means they're themselves safe? A nation of thugs, victims and passive bystanders, not cool. So... "Cyberbullying"... yeah, it's gotta be "not OK" to harass people, on the net/mobile [u]or otherwise[/u]. But with children as the perps the point is NOT to throw the law at them. Bullying has to be addressed, but the justice system is not the right tool. It's a socialization problem. On the other hand, if there's no law, it can be hard for the victim of bullying to get the proof. Dilemma?

apotheon
apotheon

1. I have no idea who you're talking about saying that something is only a crime because an arbitrary law says it is. Your commentary here seems to suggest that you think things are "crimes" based on whether it's right or wrong, though. If by "crime" you mean "bad thing that should be prohibited", I agree with you. If by "crime" you mean "there's a law against it", you should realize that there is often a huge difference between what is wrong and what is unlawful. Consider, for instance, laws that mandate a death penalty for adultery when the "perpetrator" is a married woman who got raped. In short, the simple fact there is a law against something does not make it wrong; many laws are themselves wrong, and are indeed very arbitrary; and it would be much better if only things that are wrong had laws against them. So . . . I'm not sure where you stand on this, because what you said about it seems a bit less than coherent to me. Please clarify whether you agree or disagree with my explanation. 2. I don't know if I'd say that cracking security on your PC is the same thing as picking the lock on your front door and going through your papers, but it is certainly closer to that than it is to sitting in a car somewhere taking pictures of the front of your house, so I guess I at least kinda agree on your statement that unauthorized access to your computer is kinda trespassy. 3. I agree that there are definitely some things that are wrong, period. 4. Some of the discussion of differing consequences is related to differing circumstances, differing intent, and differing capacity for responsibility for one's actions, rather than to differing techniques for getting unauthorized access to your stuff. You seem to want to argue against the idea of computer security cracking being treated differently from trespassing, but from what I have seen a lot of the discussion has been about an eight year old who is not fully conscious of the ethical implications of his actions being treated differently from a forty year old IT professional doing the same things as the eight year old when he's sitting in front of his computer at home. 5. You might want to have a look at Neon Samurai's comment titled "hacking should be encouraged", where he explains what "hacking" really means. You've been misusing the term "hacking" here, just as a lot of nontechnical journalists, law enforcement officers, and politicians misuse the term, for sensationalistic effect. 6. Downloading a song that is freely offered is not the same as walking out of a store with a CD without authorization to do so. It's more like walking out of a store with a CD for free because the store is having a promotional event where it gives away free CDs. The difference between the two is not the act; it's the law. Now, if the store was freely giving away CDs that it made by copying CDs it bought from a distributor, and the store didn't have authorization to make those copies, then it would be a whole lot more like downloading songs from an unauthorized distributor (like some kid on his mother's computer using BitTorrent). From the customer's point of view, it's still just "Ooh, neat, they're giving away CDs!" with no necessary criminal intent; only the people running the store really must know that a law is being broken in that case. So, no, downloading freely offered songs is nothing like stealing; it is, instead, exactly like being the recipient in a copyright infringing transaction.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

God gave them the tools. It's His fault if they use them! And why does He even make them grow these organs prematurely? Is He some kind of sick'o? :^0

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Right now the Iron-Fisted Overlords of the Slavery Industry (music and comics publishing especially) are trying their damndest to obfuscate this simple thing: If you go to your library with a pen and huge stack of paper, and proceed to copy the text of some book, you are NOT stealing anything. Copying has just become so easy that the business model of said slavery industry no longer makes sense. That's their problem, not ours. They can go screw themselves, and they can also finally stop screwing the public and the artists as well... You only need to listen to a record company mogul spew their self-important BS to know that these leeches have been screwing with a basic part of human creativity for way too long. It's time to throw down the tyrants, not to give them more control over us all.

apotheon
apotheon

Criminy. I've read your comment several times, and I'm still not sure what you're trying to say. Stealing is divesting someone else of a possession by taking it. Copyright infringement does not divest anyone of any possession, in and of itself. It is regulated by a completely separate body of law from theft; it is not theft; calling it "stealing" is misleading, propagandist BS, and anyone propagating that view either needs to be educated or punished, depending on whether the person's tendency to equate copyright infringement with "stealing" is based on ignorance or malicious intent.

apotheon
apotheon

The average US citizen commits three felonies per day without knowing it -- because the laws are so byzantine, self-contradictory, and just utterly misbegotten on a fundamental level that it is effectively impossible for society to function according to the law now.

apotheon
apotheon

"in today's vulture" It would be difficult to say it any better than that.

apotheon
apotheon

Parents don't give their children any electronic devices, and prohibit them from using others'. Schools do not have computers in the classrooms. Everyone's afraid to let kids near the things. They get their hands on them anyway, get shipped to Afghanistan, and the world turns to a gigantic turdpile. Congratulations.

apotheon
apotheon

Will a seven year old child whose parents have just been killed in a mugging, who then runs into traffic and causes an eight-car pileup in which four people die, then be tried for manslaughter?

dogknees
dogknees

While bullying is a social problem, we need someway to protect the rest from them while the bully is learning a different way of doing things. It's not OK to put programs in place that have no teeth, as there are those who will not accept that they are in the wrong no matter how much education they get. There has to be, at least as a last resort, serious, legal consequences. For the parents as well as the child! It's also not OK to require the victim to acknowledge fault or force them to have to change their behavior. I speak from the experience of a close friends daughter. She won the school district citizenship award and topped her class in several subjects as a 12 year old. After 2 years of high-school, she was forced to spend all her time, both class time and recess, in an empty class room as the teachers would not protect her from attack Even in class! She now suffers from depression and has attempted suicide! This is a person who had an enormous amount to contribute to society who will probably never reach her potential. A loss for all of us, not just those that know her.

bboyd
bboyd

So I'm a victim of child pornography for those pictures of my naked self running down the slip-n-slide at 6! eek!

apotheon
apotheon

Tell me again (for the first time?) why you haven't gotten involved in the Copyfree Initiative community.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

is: the *authorities* have the citizenry on notice that anyone can be taken off the street and into the legal 'system' at any time, for any of a number of 'reasons' (+ or - 3 per day...). This is the nightmare-society of Kafka's "The Trial", and, incidentally, 'the triumph of Laws over men'.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Having also been on the recieving end of of it in grade school, it's not acceptable behavior and it does suck. Consider the legal climate those teachers have to deal with though. A decade ago, the teacher would have broken a meter stick over the bully's backside infront of all the class and it'd probably have been done with. A bruse and emberassment infront of peers; very affective. Now a teacher can't step in to defend the child being attacked because it risks loss of employment and a legal response. The school can't support a teacher who would step in because then the school is in court along side the teacher. Public school? Government has to pull funding or find itself along side the first two. Private school? You know the parents have the money to run this case long and hard; not to mention they probably bare much of the responsability for the bully's attention seaking actions. Parents of the victim steps in; now it's a civil legal case filed by the bully's parents. Litigate, litigate, litigate! We need more laws to define these henous acts rather than stepping back and reconsidering methods that actually work. There is indeed no good reason why your friend's shild should have experienced that and I hope my own children never have to endure such but your legal climate premoted the conditions which that child had to endure.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This ensures that judges are not allowed to decide justice based on the indavidual merits of the case. A mandatory due process must be adhered to and madatory sentancing guidlines followed on outcome wich usually involves set minimum time served. The trouble is having a legal system instead of a justice system and having that be the first response instead of the final stage with teeth reserved only for those who refuse every other attempt at change. The problem is everbody get's to claim victim status now not just those who are truly victimized beyond any possability of escape. We don't teach kids to consider the source and turn the other cheak. At the slightest indication, we claim that the victim can do no wrong and the big meany who uttered an unfavorable word must be handled by the courts. I was the kid being teased and I was the agressor at different times throughout childhood. Everybody was. Kids are mean and inconsiderate.. that's part of not having matured to the point of learning better behavior. Most kids will outgrow that (different rates depending on parental influence and such of course). Why is it acceptable to criminalize the kids that will develop beyond the behavior through more socially responsible methods? Parents are indeed to blame too of course with schools that are afraid of constant legal actions? Teach kids about evolution in some places; you'll be in court over that. Teach kids about creationism in others; that's a court visit again. Fail a child who did not demonstrate the minimum requirnments to move ahead to the next stage; court again.. and now we have "no child gets ahead" programs to insure mediocraty rather than accepting that some kids are smart and other's are not and that life is hard.

apotheon
apotheon

Part of what I feel like we need is participation, really. Some stuff is difficult for me to accomplish without help developing ideas, for instance; other stuff is difficult for me to accomplish without help managing the participation that's going on (e.g. I recently mentioned to Sterling that a "secretary" for the Copyfree Initiative who keeps track of stuff for me would be great, though such a person would have to be at least as engaged with the community as I am). If anything specific comes to mind, though, I'll let you know. Tonight, I'm mostly just trying to work on managing my todo list.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Within reason - I can't take a baseball bat to Zuckerberg's knees, for instance - on account of Zuckerberg not living around here :^0

apotheon
apotheon

You interact with Sterling and me, at least.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I was playing on different potential meanings of "involved" and "community". I interact with people I think are part of that community regularly, do I not? As for involvement in the sense you referred to, I'll see if it can be remedied.

apotheon
apotheon

I must not have noticed whatever name you're using there, then, I guess -- or your involvement is not vocal. Sorry for the false negative detection.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I seem to be involved with part of that community on a regular basis :D Let me know if there are things a Hoomernist can help out with :^0 Or if there's a task list, I guess I can check for myself :)

apotheon
apotheon

I generally try to avoid assigning purpose to the aggregate actions of a bunch of effective sociopaths, but if I were to posit that such a singular purpose exists to this set of aggregate actions, your speculation is pretty much the top of the list of possibilities.

apotheon
apotheon

What you are saying appears to bear zero relation to what I've been saying. I think that whatever you're talking about is probably irrelevant to the point I was trying to make, and we should have ended this subthread quite a few comments ago.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Principle has a large number of false predictions, to which I don't subscribe. Chief among them that principle is the One True Faith, the only salvation. Anything what says that is a false faith, that much is clear.

apotheon
apotheon

QUOTE: some of those that are harmful do correspond to simple principles - such as "punishment" or "three strikes" or whatever If a principle doesn't work, it's the wrong principle. It's not the fault of employing principles of action in the first place, though. QUOTE: There is nothing wrong with taxes paid freely. QUOTE: There is nothing wrong with paying taxes freely. That's a contradiction in terms. Taxation is by definition not "free". If it's "free" (that is, you get to decide whether to pay it without anyone exerting coercive influence over you to pay), it's called a "donation", and not a "tax". QUOTE: There's something wrong when people feel they're being taxed for no good reason - it means the contract of nationhood is not being fulfilled and/or the people has become estranged from their union. That happens on about day two of taxation -- because everyone is affected by a tax, and not just those who agree with it. QUOTE: [hand-waving and dire portents] meaningless

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Thing is, there are things that work (even though they do not in fact correspond to a single simple principle - heck, could be they even violate a few). And then there are things that don't work. And then there are things that are plain harmful (and some of those that are harmful do correspond to simple principles - such as "punishment" or "three strikes" or whatever). There is nothing wrong with taxes paid freely. There is nothing wrong with paying taxes freely. There's something wrong when people feel they're being taxed for no good reason - it means the contract of nationhood is not being fulfilled and/or the people has become estranged from their union. I don't know if there's a way out of that kind of crisis... perhaps your proposal is the only way out of the mess you're in... but don't overgeneralize, it can give more gravity to those principles than they can bear, setting you guys up to err in another direction next.

apotheon
apotheon

I answered your question. I didn't assert everyone's reasoning was immune to error. Stop trying to lay traps and just start thinking.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's too easy to see what one expects to see, and then, if one uses that "observation" as premise for logical progression - then one is in the realm of dangerous make-belief.

apotheon
apotheon

Hindsight is easier than foresight.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

The things you cite are all propaganda pieces crafted for a specific purpose. I know they're widely propagated as common knowledge, but that doesn't make them true. Ask yourself this: If a system is that hard to predict, how can it be that easy to track causality?

apotheon
apotheon

The Tao Te Ching says something like "The best ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware." Counter-examples are everywhere. Minimum wage laws reduce employment rates, and kill marginal businesses (thus reducing employment rates further); laws requiring insurance companies to cover incredible amounts of minor matters cause insurance rates to climb while care quality plummets; taxes for subsistence welfare consume more than 80% of those specific tax revenues to be consumed by bureaucracy, and make taxpayers less willing to part with the 50% of their money not taken in taxes for charitable causes. Every one of these policies was implemented after someone said "It would be nice if $foo," and didn't consider that just passing a law to directly affect $foo also affects myriad other things. Laws that seek to remove those intent on doing bad things from the pool tend to have positive effects; those that seek to force everyone to do some laundry list of good things tend to have bad consequences. No decision-making process will ever be "perfect", I think, but that doesn't mean that the solution is to compound bad decision-making with worse decision-making, especially with some kind of ridiculous "if it doesn't work we'll undo it" policy that in practice is never executed. (I'm not sure how anarchism became part of this discussion.)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

What can be done that isn't playing god? Also, what if the anarchist consensus is that certain activities are too risky for the common good? Doesn't the anarchist community then have a right to ban those activities, or set down rules for how they can be done? Someone told me that anarchism is against rulers, not rules. If the problem turns into simply one of an imperfect decision process compared to a more-perfect-but-as-of-yet-unachieved decision process, then I'll still choose to deal with problems now, until such a time as a shift can be made to the more perfect way.

apotheon
apotheon

In the meantime, rights are violated and millions die. I have a better idea: find the causes of problems and see if there's a solution to those, rather than just trying to fix the symptoms by meddling in things you don't understand. Sure, a complex system is "robust" as a whole, but in this case we're talking about systems made up of actual people. There is no excuse for playing God with the lives of actual people.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

If it works as intended, good. If it doesn't, stop. A good example would be outlawing short-term incentives for stock brokers and investment bankers. They occupy a pivotal point in the sickest part of the economy, and their errors are decidedly on the thoughtless side. Not promoting short-sightedness is a good candidate for a fix, but it's not something they can be trusted to do by themselves. Good thing about emergent systems, they are robust.

apotheon
apotheon

My comment reappeared, along with the new comment, and my "short version" in the new comment wasn't much shorter than the original.

apotheon
apotheon

TR ate my comment. I need to stop trying to have discussions here, seriously. So does everyone else with a brain, for that matter, at least until they stop filtering out thoughtful commentary. Short version: You are a relativist, in practice, for purposes of these discussions. I am a relativist in metaphysical philosophy, I guess, but I work on assumptions that there are non-relative things that exist, because otherwise I end up with either behavioral paralysis or a belief system that prohibits nothing, ever, under any circumstances, which ultimately leads to nihilism (because unlike some people I actually try to reason about my own beliefs from time to time). Most of our disagreements here seem to boil down to: 1. Much of life is made up of emergent properties of complex systems, and you occasionally advocate for meddling in those things with a breathtaking level of arrogance regarding one's ability to play God with near immunity to the obvious consequences of such meddling (it being obvious that meddling in things so complex as if you can just change one little thing in a vacuum is going to prove disappointing, and probably dangerously so). 2. Using the language of relativism to tell anyone and everyone that we shouldn't reason about things in a systematic way strikes me as grossly irresponsible.

apotheon
apotheon

You are a relativist in practice, in these discussions, at least. I see all things as interconnected, and most of things in which people want to meddle as emergent properties of complex systems. Every time someone starts trying to affect a single variable in a complex system to achieve a very limited, well-defined result in its emergent properties, I'm aghast at the breathtaking arrogance of the belief that they can play God like that. When people start talking about "regulating" the economy, what I see is a four year old child with power over life and death trying to arrange things to his liking, not realizing how much destruction he's about to set into inexorable motion, and cannot find a way to get the kid to see that actions have consequences beyond the immediately predictable. Most of my disagreements with you are over cases where you advocate such meddling. In practice, I lean toward absolutism, because the holistic relativism of my metaphysical worldview is not a tenable set of guidelines for how to live a practical life. I have working assumptions on which I live my life, and most of them basically boil down to components of arguments that generally lead to exactly the same conclusion: applying direct, meddlesome tweaks to complex systems is a friggin' awful idea, and I wish you'd all stop trying to do that, thus screwing up my life and the lives of everyone around you, then blaming those results on "deregulation" and nonsense like that.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Well, I'm no standard absolutist, certainly. I do see things as interlinked, affecting and being affected by each other: this means that the relation between any two things is like a rubber band, flexible - yet is has a constancy to it all the same. Imagine a large three-dimensional lattice of objects of different sizes and densities, all held together by rubber bands, that's how I see reality. One the one hand, there are "immutables", each object is what it is (subject to change), and each rubber band is also a constant (at any one time)... and yet the whole thing is in constant flux, and properties of each object flows to its neighboring objects by way of their connection. So, anyway, I don't think this view makes me a relativist. Or rather, I think this view makes me something other than a relativist. On the surface the views may seem similar, but I don't deny the truth of the objects, nor their constancy (depending on their nature) - rather I deny that the relation between them is straightforwardly predictable. Remember, a double pendulum is already unpredictable, whereas the system I describe is N orders of magnitudes more complex, in every dimension. In taoist perspective: A relativist might deny that there is a Tao. I, on my part, would suggest that the tao of any one object contains part of the tao of all objects, and that it is impossible to know the tao of an object in isolation from the tao of all objects, and finally, that parts of the tao of an object are not present in the object itself, but rather in all other objects.

apotheon
apotheon

You two are the only relativists with whom I regularly converse about topics where principle is important, so that's the comparison I have available.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Comparing me to Chip, that is :^0 Ok, I can definitely see what you mean, and I'm sorry if you feel I've wasted your time. The thing is, I didn't know we were talking about principles in the beginning. I take a pragmatic approach to most things, I don't know if I have principles in the way you do, I think I have the inductive variant instead. The thing I find fascinating is that one of us has a perspective that seems to be the bizzarro couple to the other's. Or rather, perhaps, something like this: One is a fish swimming under the surface, the other is a bird flying over the surface. We both speak of the surface, and yet we can't really reconcile the the-surface-seen-from-below with the-surface-seen-from-above.

apotheon
apotheon

The problem I have with pursuing these discussions with you is largely the fact that you use a lot of the language of discussion from my point of view, but repurpose it to essentially mean the opposite, and at the same time generally refuse to acknowledge your actual position on a lot of stuff or to reason with me about my points (instead just rejecting them on some hand-wavy basis that is too slippery and amorphous to even approach in discussion). For cases of things like absolutes, platonic ideals, principles of ethics, and other matters where you come out as not believing in such things after twenty or thirty exchanges in a way that just makes me feel like we wasted three days of discussion, Sterling very quickly makes it clear when he doesn't believe in such a thing, then proceeds to very productively discuss it with me. He acknowledges that there is a fundamental disconnect, and talks philosophy with me, which is great; he doesn't argue as if he accepts the basic premises on which I base my thoughts on the matter, all the while leading me down the garden path of unproductive dithering about what words mean when you decide to repurpose them to a relativist worldview. In short, with Sterling, I feel like I'm having a discussion where we question each others' assumptions in a productive manner, and both come away basically believing what we've believed all along but with a deeper understanding; with you, I feel like you're just wasting my time. In all of this, I've gotten nothing out of the discussion with you where this disconnect applies except an eventual, aggravating reminder that the reasons we seemed to disagree don't exist, because you're just harboring unarticulated relativist objections to my premises. addendum: Basically, I just spent days talking back and forth with you about principles, and you only just now pointed out that you don't believe in them. What the hell is that all about? It's like arguing about the nature of the Holy Trinity, then discovering that all along the reason the guy's position seems to shift like sand under your feet is that he's an atheist, but has not once said anything that questions the basic concept of the existence of a Holy Trinity at all. "No no no, you're wrong, the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is a pantheistic suffusion of God's benevolence in all living things!" followed by "The Holy Trinity doesn't exist. I'm an atheist." What response can one reasonably have to that other than "what a waste of time"? Maybe that's fascinating to the atheist, but if so it seems it could only be fascinating in a manner that abuses the good intentions of the other guy by shadow-boxing with someone who's trying to actually engage in meaningful discussion, as an experiment in learning about someone's position without ever actually taking it seriously or giving him the same opportunity to learn anything about yours. It is not the discussion the guy thought he was having; it's deceptive, even if only accidentally. Yes, it's a waste of time, for at least one person involved.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

There's no better way to explore one's own assumptions than by discussing a matter they pertain to with someone who doesn't share them. Of course, you have to go by Sonar, listening for echoes. I think we have two cases of not-the-way. That's interesting.

apotheon
apotheon

I've gotta stop discussing matters related to right and wrong with you. It's a complete waste of time.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's those other principles that I don't care for. Usually they're just excuses. A thing cannot work if it violates a pertinent principle. So if a thing works, whatever principles it might violate, are not pertinent. If I refuse to pay 5$ for a soda at a Cinema, and stand there at the head of the line shouting about the principle of the matter, I'm really just being an idiot - no such principle exists. When principle gets in the way of pragmatism, someone is being pigheaded. People are free to vote for a "no taxes party", but if that party don't win, they still gotta pay. It's a matter of principle. :p

apotheon
apotheon

Loans are not revenues, and the fact spending has been going hell bent for leather toward bankruptcy in no way changes the fact that revenues have climbed ridiculously quickly for a long time. The spending has just climbed much more quickly, in part because of the way government accounting works (i.e., calling the same level of spending last year "zero" rather than what it is -- ungodly amounts of money). As for principle . . . I have no use for people without principles when it comes to matters of trust, and I have no use for people unable to understand principles (what one might call "laws" in some contexts) when it comes to reasoning. That should cover all major, useful, honest meanings of the world "principle", but let me know if I missed one.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's pretty obvious that revenues collected haven't had a whole lot to do with US spending for a long while, but that's hardly a good argument. "Principle" is one of those things I don't get a whole lot out of, sorry.

apotheon
apotheon

1. Inconvenience does not make something wrong; convenience (for a particular group) does not make a thing right. 2. The US survived without income tax for quite a while. In fact, in 2008 wiping out income tax would have scaled back government revenues for the US to the levels of . . . a decade before. Oooh, terrible setback, that. 3. I could go on, but . . . meh. Either address my point or continue waving your hands around in panic over something that isn't central.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

that doesn't seem to work. Or well, yes, it works if there is no need for communal spending, no need for water purification plants etc. but there is such a need, so that's that.

apotheon
apotheon

I mentioned in another discussion we're having the difference between legitimate authority (authority derived directly from one's own rights) and illegitimate authority (claimed authority that affects others' rights). The former is simply an expression of sovereign right to make decisions for oneself (and potentially in defense of others), while the latter is someone saying "You have to bow to my authority." As I explained in that other context, my take is simply that nobody has any legitimate authority to do something that anyone else does not have. For instance, being an agent of the State does not grant one authority to carry a firearm for defensive purposes, to defend someone (self or other) from an assailant, or to collect taxes from some individual against that person's will with no pre-existing personal agreement. That authority legitimately belongs to everyone to the extent it belongs to anyone at all -- which, in the last case, means it does not belong to anyone at all. I don't recall which context it was where I first pointed out that claiming that, by simple virtue of being a part of the apparatus of claimed authority in government, some people gain added authority is a philosophy called "authoritarianism", where by circular argument (certain flavors, at least, of) claims of authority magically grant legitimacy of claimed authority. Responsibility is "There is something I am beholden to do, or to not do; I am responsible for the consequences of my decision to act or maintain inaction." Authority is "I have the right to do this thing, or to choose to not do it, and any responsibility associated with this only applies to either a responsibility to arrogate no more authority to myself, because responsibility is in practice a limit on authority -- not a part of it."

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I don't believe these things can be meaningfully defined to the umpteenth decimal place. Your own definition of Authority entails an unmeaningful clause of "being evil", for instance. If authority is defined as something to be avoided, I guess we can quickly agree to avoid it, but that doesn't really take us anywhere in terms of how to handle responsibilities. Or maybe I got it wrong?

apotheon
apotheon

The way you define terms (at least in this discussion), they seem to gather about them a miasma of uncertainty so that ultimately it is almost as though they do not mean anything at all any longer.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I see responsibility as the main feature of authority positions. Anyone can count wildlife, but only the wildlife oversight authority can be held to task if their counting is highly negligent. For defense of the rights of others it's a bit more muddy, normal citizens can be held responsible for inaction in the face of the violation of another's rights - but only the police can generally be demanded to go out of their way (as in getting in a car and driving to a different locale) to defend the rights of others. Doesn't mean other people shouldn't, or couldn't, though. Just like how I picture the "freedom of driving"... people enjoying a feeling of "freedom" while driving are idiots: sitting down behind the wheel is like putting on iron manacles and collar - one loses so many rights by assuming control of the vehicle, one becomes responsible for predicting the actions of others, even where these actions would normally be solely the other person's fault. We don't call that authority, but that authority is held in the drivers license.

apotheon
apotheon

The way you define "authority", it seems like what you really mean is "responsibility". The way you talk about it after defining it, though, is laden with terms like "power", which have nothing much to do with responsibility. I think perhaps you somehow incorporate "responsibility" into "authority", where authority does not necessarily involve any responsibility at all. As for the passionate few who run around the world doing things like executing Osama bin Laden at sea, there is a reason they are few. I, for one, would not like all the world's teaching to be performed by a dedicated few dozen people willing to suffer the injustices of a system designed to crush them, but I would no more like it to be performed by a bunch of jobsworths with no sense of personal responsibility who think of themselves as "authorities", either.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

And, I forgot the /rant tag. Ok, teachers aren't authorites - and children aren't incarcerated into school. Doesn't add up. We have to realize that children don't get the choice. That means that teachers must realize that, want it or not, they are authorities, with the loss of rights and increase of responsibility and accountability that ensues from that status. You have your own idea of what Authority means, I disagree. To me, an authority is a free person, who is less free on account of being given powers of arbitration over the rights of others. A person of authority cannot be afforded the freedoms of the Regular Person. That's what naturally should follow from the power of authority. And certain professions entail such powers, so we have to remember to follow up, by reducing the freedoms of people executing those professional tasks. Like, ok, Bob the Builder can laugh at a sexist joke. It's human. Jack the Cop can't : It's not acceptable for a figure of authority to underwrite a denigration of citizens based on gender. As for your position that people will flee from working with children, leaving only the dregs: Look at the Navy Seals. Being in the Navy Seals is hard, so only the people who really have a passion for being in the Navy Seals even bother to apply. Works that way with teaching, too.

apotheon
apotheon

The moment you confer the power of "authority" on a teacher, you have given up reponsibility for your own actions. It's exactly like expecting government to solve all your problems for you -- give you a job, keep you from losing it, choosing your professional path in life, paying for your retirement, giving you food, housing you, caring for your children, protecting them from ideas you dislike, and so on. Now, let's add teachers to that category of "authority" and wash our hands of our children altogether. Great plan. No wonder the world's such a screwed up place. Y'know that whole thing about police officers spraying people with pepper spray just because they're annoyed or want to see someone squirm? Yeah. That's the result of branding police officers as "authorities". This is what happens when we abdicate power over ourselves to others. If you want them to behave themselves, you should not grant them the lofty status of "authority", but rather saddle them with the weighty responsibility of "servant". Having authority means having the power to dictate, and that is exactly what they do when they break out the pepper spray to hose down peaceful protesters who won't even put up a fight when the police officers spray them. I would like you to show me (translated to English, please, so there's no real likelihood of understanding) exactly what the laws in question say. I'm pretty sure they don't just say "Yes, you're the supervising adults, so you're the only ones who can deal with this. Hence, it can't ever be 'somebody else's problem'." I bet they say a lot more than that, with a lot of caveats and gotchas woven into the tangled skein, because that is the form that laws take. Given the modern forms of systems of jurisprudence in Western democracies, that is the form laws must, in fact, take -- which is only one reason among many that any proposition of adding a law to the books should be met with suspicion and some trepidation by any thinking person. As you say, a conscientious teacher should take the attitude you describe regardless of the law. This is why the problem is best solved by hiring good teachers, and firing bad teachers, rather than by providing undeserved job security for bad teachers followed by trying to correct the problem with badly constructed legislation that (in many cases) may actually mandate non-action by even the otherwise good teachers for fear they may end up dragged into court for acting on their conscience. You can't have good laws without bad laws in a modern Western democracy, after all, thanks to the fact that the two are often one and the same. quote: "Legalism can go too far, sure. But this libertarian idea that all law is a step in the wrong direction is simply idiotic." I'll tell you what's actually idiotic: your characterization of "libertarian" and of my argument (which are not necessarily even connected). If that's the sum total of your objection, in its essence, you are not engaging in meaningful discussion any longer and have devolved into soundbite regurgitation in an attempt to aggravate and marginalize me and my argument without even addressing it honestly. So . . . screw you, at least for now.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Legally requiring the authorities to do their jobs is not criminalizing the general public. The sad thing is that we (even now) have to tell cops they can't spray people with noxious chemicals for fun, and tell teachers that they're not allowed to stand by idly while their charges are torturing each other. The thing is, all the law says is that "yes, you're the supervising adults, so you're the only ones who can deal with this. Hence, it can't ever be 'somebody else's problem' ". This is something that a conscientious teacher would already know, and would subconsciously act upon, anyway. The law targets the incompetents who try to get off easy. The thing is, the world was pretty flucked up a thousand years ago. Still was incredibly flucked up a hundred years ago, too. Legalism can go too far, sure. But this libertarian idea that all law is a step in the wrong direction is simply idiotic. Specifically, the powerful who would abuse their power agree with that way too much. Law is, in its uncorrupted form, a way for the majority to bind down those who would use force (be that the force of being the elite, or the force of being a violent idiot). It's not OUR fault that you've let the powerful twist your system, that's just y'all snoozing on the job. The cases where the extreme is the optimal are incredibly rare, where valid parameters are concerned - and what I mean by this is, that the claim that all law is bad, cannot be supported by evidence drawn entirely from a body of arguably Bad Law. You have to go beyond the US to find examples of normal law before you can posit that the badness is a property of law itself. A hundred years ago, a teacher would beat up the victim of bullying as readily as the perpetrator or some bystander, just to shore up their own authority. Law has stopped that, law that was unpopular at the time of its passing, but which has effected a paradigm change in how children's rights are observed. Anyway; if you look at the measured results of the Finnish school system (with almost 100% public schools) as compared to other western world school systems, I don't think they way they're going here is harming the standards of education : http://stats.oecd.org/PISA2009Profiles/# (You have to select the learning parameter to be shown on the right-hand menu) BTW: There is a bug in the map, I just noticed, where "Hong Kong China" appears to be a tiny area in north-west Denmark :D (So double-check that the number displayed is also associated with the country you're trying to point to on the map). I don't agree with everything they do here, but your fear that standards will suffer is not supported by data, on the contrary. Regulation and learning results correlate nicely.

apotheon
apotheon

The idea of heaping more and more criminalization on the general public as a way to "fix" anything is absurd. This is how we end up with asinine conditions under which a teacher has to go to court to defend him/her self for pulling one child off another before the victim is maimed or killed. You're damned right the "solution" you brought up isn't perfect. In many ways, it's worse. The best-case scenario: welcome, once things reach their inevitable conclusion, to a world in which only the most desperate and least qualified (in terms of basic personality and values) would ever consider a job where one is responsible for children. In the United States, we've already reached the point where a smart person will demand that a lost child asking for help stand ten or fifteen feet away at least while the adult calls 911 to try to hand the kid off to someone less susceptible to lawsuits and prosecution. What a world our legalisms (essentially, our dependence on government to solve all our problems) have created for us . . .

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

On an individual basis lethal violence can prevent an individual from committing future violence, but even without the vendetta mindset that follows, this is hardly the way we want to go, or is it? The thing is, the LESSON to be learned by bullies (the thing they've failed to learn, evidenced by their behavior) is that human dignity must be respected. Some of them might learn that by having their own human dignity disrespected, but most of them just learn that the bigger guy with the bigger stick gets away with it. And don't tell me things were really better in the good old days. Teachers ignored the problem then, too. The problem was less publicized, less spoken about, sure. The media does it's fearmongering thing on the one hand, and the social stigma of being a victim of bullying is perhaps lifting... just perhaps. Kids aren't naturally cruel, we teach them to be that way. We teach them that it's OK to ridicule others, and react to stressful situations with aggression or scapegoating. School is very stressful - we've created an unnatural system, but failed to put in the lightning rods to lead away the inevitable charge. It's just a matter of spending more. Unlike military spending, spending money on giving kids an inspiring workplace is an investment that pays back manifold. Instead, schools are the places we grownups most readily agree to make cuts - kids don't vote, you see. /rant P.S: over here the solution seems to be to add more legalities; a school is responsible for keeping its pupils safe from bullying. So, now a pupil or the parent of a pupil can file a suit against the school if the problem is ignored. That's not perfect, but since the problem is made so much worse when teachers betray the trust of pupils by ignoring their plight, it's better than alternatives. It means principals keep the problem in mind, and stop rewarding teachers that report "no problems" without checking up on it. They're responsible for finding out, and they're responsible for dealing with it. If it means expelling the bully if the parents wont cooperate, then so be it. At least the victim has the rights.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

but bringing the court of criminal law into a socialization issue isn't going to work. Following through on it would be A) undesirable and B) prohibitively expensive. What we see is a lot of people saying "not our problem". So what is needed is an agreement that, as of now, it is indeed the problem of arbitrary group X, and providing additional resources to X as required. Parents are not present in the problem area, so they're out of the running. Basically, only teachers are present, so either they do it, or you introduce socialization guides to your school system, which could make a lot of sense. Sort of a junior counselor that's actually a part of the kids' daily day life, and observes their behavior in class, and can counsel both students and teachers, as well as lend a hand during the day.

dogknees
dogknees

Not all kids behave the way you describe. There are many that don't push, hit, ... other kids. Ever. I know, I was one.

apotheon
apotheon

"Zero Tolerance" is "Zero Intelligence".

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

That's a sure sign that something is fundamentally and irrecoverably Flucked up. It could be fear of lawsuits or other, but there are no excuses for not thinking about the realities when implementing policies. There should always be leeway enough for prudent ad hoc modification of policy, everything else is blatant incompetence.

apotheon
apotheon

I rather suspect that, deep down, the people who first implemented that drug policy really intended to appear to be doing something about recreational drugs, rather than actually doing something about recreational drugs. To some degree, these things might coincide, but for the most part I think they tend to conflict.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

with the intention of preventing kids from bringing pills in to school. They considered that there would be times that students would be on prescription medications taken regularly–3 times daily, 4 times daily–and made allowances. They did not consider that some prescribed medications are for emergency use. They have since changed the policy to allow students with chronic conditions (asthma) or allergies to carry their inhalers or epi-pens with them. I believe that change was recommended by their insurance company and legal department...

apotheon
apotheon

This is the ultimate result of "There oughta be a law!"

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Was the policy "No drugs"? How about endorphins and dope-amine? You should've demanded that a surgeon be present to cut those naughty glands out as students arrived in class. :D Then again, they might have sent one. :0

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Zero tolerance focuses on the act and solely on the act. This makes it easy for people who are incapable of dealing with ambiguity to make decisions. Circumstances are not considered. This quite often leads to stupid reactions and unintended consequences. Some examples: Expelling students for carrying butter knives or, in one case, a plastic knife received from the cafeteria. Banning candy canes because they can be sucked down to points, then used to stab people. :0 Even more stupid is the reaction to drugs in school. My son has asthma, but the school district's anti-drug policy was so strict, he was not allowed to carry his inhaler with him. He had to leave it in the office and ask to go there when he needed it; thankfully, he never did. The district I taught in had the same zero-tolerance policy, so students who had asthma or were allergic to bee stings or insect bites had to leave their inhalers and epi-pens in the nurse's office, then ask the teacher to be sent to the office if they felt they needed it. The campus was so large, my classroom was in a separate building almost a half-mile from the office. More than once, a student was half-carried into the nurse's office by his escort because the walk accelerated the onset of symptoms. In one case, the asthmatic didn't even make it out of my classroom before collapsing. That child spent four days in the hospital recovering from that attack; had the ambulance station been more than a mile away, he most likely would not have survived. The doctors said that if he had been allowed to use his inhaler in the classroom, the entire episode would not have happened. Did the district modify the policy? No. Thankfully, none of my allergic students were stung; I would not have wanted to explain to their parents that they died because their epi-pens didn't arrive from the office until 5 minutes after anaphylaxis killed them.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

I agree with everything you said, there. But you know, the rules for how teachers are meant to deal with things are codified. They are law. They're not criminal law, nor are they civil law. But if we want teachers to have a common guideline to go to in case of bullying, and if we want them to have the resources at their disposal to do something about it, that's law. A law can say, for instance, that the both victim and perpetrator are entitled to counseling (the victim, to cope - the perp, to grow some sense). Without this entitlement, they're not going to get it, because the political/municipal/foundation oversight won't allow the schools to set aside the funds for frivolous expenses. A law can be just a protocol for letting things be done well.

apotheon
apotheon

I only regret that I have but one vote to give.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

A five year old pushes another at the water table so we charge the five year old's parents with assault? The five year old instead hits the other with a toy over the water table conflict and now a parent is charged with agrivated assault? Kids have a natural inability to control there actions. Even at sixteen when we're handing them half a ton of metal to drive into stuff with, there is a level of compulsion control that is lacking. It's simple due to how us clever monkeys mature as we age not any thing wrong with a given child. We're going to hold adults criminally responsible for the actions of a child not capable of fully controling there behavior? Life is complicated and hard. Throwing a new law at a problem doesn't fix it. Repeate offenders and children who are demonstrobly intentionally malicious.. yeah, there needs to be some intervention there. But if we toss up a law that says parents are held criminally responsible for the actions of the child given the mandatory sentancing and due process now enshrined in the legal system your going to see parents charged over every little incident. And your still not adressing the root cause of the issue; the lacking social development of the child. Your just finding a new way to apply vengance and make yourself feel better.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

after that it's social services care, soon after that it's "tried as an adult" - and presto, life of crime. The thing is, we need to protect people from being bullied, not increase the stress of schooling. Put offenders in special ed classes, so the kids who know how to behave can be in peace. Bully someone in third grade? You flunk third grade and gotta make up over the summer or be held back :D Put empathy and consideration (and stress-reduction) on the curriculum.

dogknees
dogknees

"I was the kid being teased and I was the agressor at different times throughout childhood. Everybody was." There are many of us who were never aggressors. It's not a given that kids have to behave this way. It's got a great deal to do with the parents behavior. Parents should be legally responsible for the actions of their kids. The kid beats someone up, the parent is charged with assault on a minor and prosecuted.