If there’s one thing I hate it’s a scofflaw! Lock u2018em up! Get them behind bars without access to a lawyer, all the better to beat them with rubber hoses! I get down on my knees everyday and thank John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and God that America is on the road to righteousness. It’s about time that America had an energetic executive and omnipotent judiciary to haul off, incarcerate and pummel any citizen. Equal Opportunity Oppression.
Take the case of an eleven-year-old Minnesota boy. Let’s call him "Billy." The son of Kristie Lee Davis-Deyhle and a member of the Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe, young Billy was the alleged victim of an assault by a thirteen-year-old classmate. And now, the thirteen-year-old classmate sits in the dock waiting for Billy to fink on him.
Assault? Does this mean one kid beat up another like the scene from that wonderful movie, A Christmas Story, when Scut Farkus terrified Ralphie Parker? And Ralphie Parker found his inner Rambo and settled the score? Remember To Kill a Mockingbird when Scout Finch picked a fight with Walter Cunningham at school? Tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this also called bullying? And isn’t bullying one of the, er… joys… of childhood?
You know, while it’s not fun to be a victim, learning to stand up to bullies may be a necessary part of healthy individuation. Too bad our elected representatives missed out on this experience during their formative years.
And let’s not forget the virtues of bullying. Hey, if grade school kids don’t learn how to bully and throw a few punches, how are they going grow up to serve the Neocon Empire, which entity just put out a call for 30,000 more troops to bully Iraq.
Looking back through the mists of time, I recall my schoolyard scuffles. Usually some adult came along and laid down the law. I can hear the dulcet tones of my junior high P.E. Coach Scravano now: "What the hell’s goin’ on here! No fighting on the football field! Both of you drop and give me fifty!" Thanks to Coach Scravano I learned how to count by twos. I wonder if Karl Rove had him too?
Case closed. Right? Well… not always.
Now, what went askew with Billy?
You see Billy may not have wanted to appear in court to testify against the bullying thirteen-year-old. So, Billy may have failed to respond to a subpoena issued by the court. But then, look at this way: the county may not have been "diligent in making sure subpoenas are served."
You wonder, suppose he did get served, how dare Billy ignore a subpoena! I guess Dick Cheney is his pin-up?
Could it be possible that the incident between the two boys was not all that serious? Could it be the parents and school handled it? Oh shucks, who am I kidding! Of course not! Why do we have such a bombastic federal system if not to license a bunch of busybodies to intervene in everything and anything?
Eleven-year-old Billy probably hasn’t a clue what a subpoena is. In fact, I’ll be willing to bet he doesn’t have a driver’s license or a car to get to court. He might even have had school on the day he was asked to appear. And then, like I said, there seems to be some question of whether he even received the subpoena.
Well that’s no excuse! One must not ignore the commands of The State! By order of Mille Lacs County attorney Jan Kolb, our eleven-year-old friend was "escorted" out of his classroom and taken downtown for a good lesson in Who’s da Man! On went the handcuffs and into the Juvenile Detention Center, went Billy, our little assault victim… And all of this was done for "his own security." In a pig’s eye!
After a "comfortable" night’s sleep… probably surrounded by uh… bullies… little Billy was hauled into court wearing the currently fashionable orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg shackles. It makes you wonder what sort of outfit the accused "criminal" was wearing. Do you suppose anybody in the courtroom might have been confused? Uh… which one is the defendant and which one is the victim? The guy in orange?
Well… the root cause of this particular incident is a simmering ill-feeling between Mille Lac County and the Ojibwe tribe over a little matter of some disputed "legal decisions dating to the early 20th century." In the past, the tribe and the county have failed to sit down together to smoke the peace pipe. The Ojibwe have a point, too. American law has never exactly been on the side of the indigenous population. But that’s the subject of another rant.
Now the Ojibwe are hopping mad and hissing the "r" word.
Stuck in between all the screaming, yelling, and finger pointing adults sits an eleven-year-old child who has become collateral damage in the struggle between the Tribe, the school district and the state of Minnesota. Time to call in the ACLU.
Whatever happened to common sense? Silly question huh?
Slapping the silver bracelets on a child and dragging him to the slammer for failing to squeal for the State is a punishment that is a crime. Most people would call that child abuse. The authorities should be referred to the… uh… authorities. Oh… never mind.
For failing to rat on a bully, Billy has been bullied by the State.
What will Billy learn from this episode? Well… most likely in twenty years he won’t even remember the name of the thirteen-year-old schoolyard bully.
But he sure as hell will remember the real bully: The State as represented by the Mille Lacs County Court and its strong-arm criminal justice system.
For those of you who read my previous story: Dear Dubya: You’re Stylin’ Now, please note the accompanying photo of President George W. Bush Wearing a Purple Heart appears to be doctored. The assumption that the photo was genuine is entirely my error. The facts of the story remain accurate.
Elizabeth Gyllensvard contributed to and edited this story.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.