Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Snitch on a classmate, win a prize!

With thousands of high schools implementing random drug testing and canine drug search programs across the country, I thought that school boards and administrators couldn't possibly stoop any lower in their willingness to sell out students to the Drug War.

I was wrong.

Today I stumbled across this January story about a new program in Fernandina Beach, Florida that pays high school students to spy on their fellow classmates. That's right folks, for a hefty $100 per snitch, students are being bribed into tattling on others who bring drugs to school.
Spearheaded by the Nassau Alcohol, Crime and Drug Abatement Coalition, the program has tentatively been titled "Safe Schools," and it's planned to start in every high school and middle school in Nassau County in August if approved by members of the Nassau County School Board.

"This program empowers the child to create a safe environment for themselves," said Susan Woodford, vice-president of NACDAC.
A safe environment, Sue? So, when a student rats out his classmate, and then tells a few friends about the iPod shuffle he bought with his reward, you're telling me that he just created a "safe environment" for himself?

Get real. In most places, rats get severely roughed up. In some places, they get shot.

Apparently, this isn't the only school district that has allowed the Drug War to subcontract students as intelligence gatherers.
Woodford said the program is modeled after similar programs in other school systems.

"We've seen other reward systems," she said. "There is the 'be safe' hotline (already in Nassau County schools), but kids don't seem to utilize that."
It seems like an appropriate time for the upcoming release of Richard Linklater's science fiction flick, A Scanner Darkly. The film, based after the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, imagines a future in which two out of every ten people are hired to spy on the rest, largely as part of the War on Drugs.

FUN FACT: In 1898, a man named Morgan Robertson wrote a book named Futility about an enormous British passenger liner, which, deemed to be unsinkable, departs on an April voyage, hits an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic, killing most passengers aboard due to an insufficient number of life boats. Futility was published 14 years before the Titanic sank under incredibly similar circumstances. The name of the doomed passenger liner in Robertson's book? The Titan.

I sincerely hope that A Scanner Darkly does not become our generation's Futility.


kaptinemo said...

It never ceases to amaze me that an educational institution can be so ignorant of history.

In the Soviet Union, the forerunners of the KGB were involved in the same kind of endeavor. And they were only too happy to use children against each other, and of course, children against their parents. The partly apochryphal story of Pavel Morozov is indicative of such supposedly 'well-meaning' attempts. That Morozov was later murdered by those he snitched on should be a warning to those who wish to use children in this fashion.

800 pound gorilla said...

Most people think this is a good thing. After all, it's "somebody else" who pays the price. And besides, if they only behaved properly, they would be all right too. If you don't use "drugs" then you have nothing to worry about, right?

So they came for homosexuals and since I wasn't one I didn't stand up. They came for unionists and since I wasn't one of these I didn't stand up. They came for the Jews and since I wasn't Jewish I didn't stand up. They came for the Gypsies and since I wasn't a Gypsy I didn't stand up. Then the came for me. By that time there was no one left to stand up.

I would love for people to take the initiative to do the right thing. However, it seems so easy for people in power to demonize "someone else" without any scrutiny from a so called "free press". And this lack of oversight by the fourth estate isn't something recent either. They demonized native americans, hispanics, and people of oriental descent as readily as they demonize "druggies" today. What I find hilarious is hearing an "anti drug" diatribe by someone who suffers multiple drug dependencies - many of them arising from health problems caused by smoking and/or chronic alcohol use. Now, if only I could laugh.

Jonthon said...

You forgot about another book with seeming applicability:

To train the citizens of Oceania for complete submission and devotion to Big Brother and the Party the family bond has been completely devalued, as "No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer."(220) The Junior Spies are an organization in which children have become the police and denouncers of their parents in the name of Big Brother. By this means, the Party has managed to wedge itself between one of the most powerful instinctual bonds to turn parental devotion into fear and children into faithful machines of the Party as an extension of the Thought Police. Parsons' remark "In fact I'm proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway"(193) in response to his daughter's betrayal, clearly portrays the Party's influence in the family institution. Not only does the daughter value the Party's approval more than her father's life, but also Parsons' appropriate response is to be grateful for the betrayal and to those who enforce it.
~George Orwell, 1984

Micah Daigle said...

Didn't forget about that one, Jonthon... just thought it might be a tad cliche. ;-)

My birth certificate says "1984".

Kris said...

Where is the evidence-based research to demonstrate that such an inherently controversial program such as "Safe Schools" will work? These people are going out on a very weak limb with its implementation. It is so severely flawed, not to mention illegal.

Sometimes I wonder how such short-sighted, ill-informed people become decision makers and hold public office.

It makes me consider my unemployment a badge of honor. Moreover, the fact that as a felon I am barred from holding public office means I walk not in the counsel of the Idiots.

I guess I prefer to be oppressed than an oppressor.

800 pound gorilla said...

Let's see what message we're sending kids.... If you tell embarrassing secrets about foreign intel to the press you get your butt canned but if you rat out your best friend you get promoted? What would the reaction be if the NY Times start offering rewards to government employees who blew the whistle on misconduct in the executive branch? What a mixed message the Bush regime sends about snitching about misconduct.

Anonymous said...

In commenting on this topic, I start off with what might seem like an off point. I work for Satan, a/k/a, lawyers. We secretaries have a rule of thumb which is, we do not break "the code" by telling the lawyers anything about stuff that goes on unless we absolutely have too. That being personal situations or things connected with work that they do not really need to know, inasmuch as, they will SIMPLY TAKE THAT KNOWLEDGE AND NAIL OUR TAILS TO THE WALL IN ANY WAY THEY KNOW HOW.

SO THAT POINT SAID, I find it very very sad, that pathetic Government in all their brilliancy is attempting to pay off children and neighbors, as we all know, there are campaigns for that as well, to rat out one another. It is simply deplorable to want to watch someone that you see everday suffer for financial gain. The minute that you take even 1 penny from those window lickers, that is when your true moral decay has begun, not when those drugs entered that other person's system.

Though shall not judge, lest he wants to be judged himself.

(Sorry people I am like our Prez with the analagies!)