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Posts tagged Lakewood

School’s out forever

In Lakewood, Ohio, Stephanie Milligan, a 16 year old high school student, fell down a flight of stairs and hurt her back. She wanted to get back to school after Thanksgiving break, but the principal wouldn’t let her. He wouldn’t let her because she needs to wear loose clothing — sweat pants, in particular — because of her back injury, but the school’s dress code bans Oversize, saggy, baggy or tight fitting clothing. Her doctor wrote her a note asking that she be allowed to wear sweatpants. That a recommendation from a licensed physician is necessary to be allowed to wear sweatpants to school is obviously insane in and of itself, but the school’s principal, William Wagner, is both a medical expert and a scholar, and he questions the severity of Stephanie’s injury and her need to wear sweatpants.

Armetta Landrum wrote about it for the Lakewood Patch (2010-12-20). Here’s the headline and subtitle for the story:

Student on the Hot Seat for Wearing Sweatpants to School

Sophomore at odds with school’s dress code, missed nine days of school.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the school’s dress code is at odds with the sophomore’s health.

Here is Lakewood High School Principal William Wagner’s explanation as to why not even a doctor’s request is a good enough reason to consider making an exception to his interpretation of his saggy/baggy dress code clause:

They don’t understand what the dress code is all about or how it is imposed.

–Quoted by Armetta Landrum, Student on the Hot Seat for Wearing Sweatpants to School, Lakewood Patch (2010-12-20)

Indeed. A doctor’s advice is, usually, about helping people, and he no doubt wrote his note on the common, but mistaken, assumption that school policies exist to help students learn. But that assumption is a complete misunderstanding: the dress code is not about helping students; it’s all about controlling students, and a reasonable exception is the last thing you want to make if your aim is to ensure that you, as the controlling authority, will continue to be able to keep young people in line with even the most insane and petty of requirements.[1]

On a related note, Principal William Wagner is probably, like most high school administrators, a very stupid man, and intellectually negligent to the point of being functionally illiterate, especially when he is trying to defend his petty exercises of petty authority. I am fairly certain that what he meant to say is not that doctors don’t understand … how [the dress code] is imposed (as if that were some sort of mystery) but rather that they don’t understand how it is construed, or perhaps that they don’t understand the reasons by which it is justified. However, I will say that he has unwittingly highlighted the real issue here: how this sort of idiocy is imposed on perfectly innocent young people and well-meaning doctors and parents, because bellowing blowhard bullies like Principal William Wagner are appointed by politico-bureaucratic means, are supported by a political structure that crowds out any viable alternative and so insulates them from either popular voice or individual exit, and thus gives them the authority to insist on even the most insane policies, in the interest of protecting their disciplinary turf from any possible encroachment — even encroachment by minimal concern for innocent students’ education, comfort or good health.

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  1. [1]To be fair, the original purpose of the saggy/baggy dress code requirement itself was, no doubt, not to impose an insane and petty requirement on students, just for the sake of making them comply with insane and petty requirements. Like most such dress code clauses, the original purpose was no doubt to uphold institutional racism by selectively targeting ghetto styles of dress. Sadistic authoritarianism is always spilling over its original boundaries, so in this case an idiotic policy written with the purpose of racist social regulation now is construed and applied in an especially rigid way, with no clear motive for the rigidity other than a general defense of turf and disciplinary command-and-control.

The Police Beat: The first sign of a sociopath is torturing animals

Patrolman Terry Lowther. Lakewood Division of Police. Lakewood, Ohio. Otis, a white boxer, got loose from his owner’s house in Lakewood, Ohio early in the morning about a month ago. Now a loose dog can be a problem — for the owner, for the dog, and for innocent bystanders. So when responsible people see a loose dog in their neighborhood, they’ll usually keep their distance, try to keep an eye on it, keep it out of the road, shoo it away from anyone who passes by, and, while they have an eye on it, find the owner to get them to bring the dog to heel and take it back to its home.

Unfortunately for Otis, the first people to encounter him were not responsible people but rather a couple of heavily-armed police officers working for the Lakewood city government, who had made their way into the neighborhood on an unrelated call. So, instead of trying to keep anyone from getting hurt, the cops decided that the situation needed controllin’. They surrounded the dog and started yelling at it and waving their weapons around. After being surrounded by these complete strangers barging into his neighborhood, Otis started barking and backing up defensively. A couple times he tried to run off. The dog posed a threat to exactly nobody, but since it wouldn’t stop barking, and since twitchy government cops have been trained not to consider themselves safe as long as anyone or anything in the vicinity is moving without their permission, rather than waiting the literal 90 seconds that it took for the dog’s owner to get out there, they decided instead to close in on the dog and try to get a noose around its neck. When the dog barked and bristled at the complete strangers moving in to grab it, Patrolman Terry Lowther decided to blast Otis with a 50,000-volt electrical charge from his taser. After the dog tried to stagger to its feet — while it already had a noose around its neck — they blasted him again with a second 50,000-volt electrical charge. Just to be sure, I guess. Then they dragged the senseless dog along the ground over to their patrol car.

Trigger warning. Graphic footage of a dog being tortured and dragged by police officers.

When Otis’s owner showed up — a whole 90 seconds or so after the first taser blast — they hollered at him and gave him a citation for having a dangerous animal and for letting the dog run loose. I guess he’s lucky they just tortured his dog instead of killing it; according to the police report, the only reason consummate professional Patrolman Terry P. Lowther Jr. didn’t just whip out his handgun and shoot Otis dead is that he was afraid that the bullet might ricochet off the blacktop and harm a bystander.

When the story hit the local news, the cops tried to defend this electrical torture of a helpless animal that was already surrounded, did nothing more than bark, and posed no physical danger to anyone, in two ways. First, they made up lies about the dog’s breed — first they claimed it was a pit bull; when the owner contradicted their claim and put out photos of the dog, they claimed that it kinda looked like a pit bull and musta had some pit bull in 'im. Then they tried to spin the story back their way by releasing the video from Patrolman Terry Lowther’s taser-cam — video which they claimed showed the dog acting aggressively and threatening the cops. This seems to have been a serious miscalculation on the city government’s part — since the ideas that twitchy government cops have about what counts as aggressive and threatening is very different from the ideas that civilized people have, and the video didn’t show the dog doing much of anything more than barking. Also, presumably, since most people react poorly to hearing a helpless animal howl in agony and seeing it writhe on the ground while a cop shocks it twice in rapid succession. After the police released the film, it quickly spread through the Internet, and public outrage over the case intensified rather than petering out.

In any case, the city government responded to the situation by using the vicious animal charges to exile Otis and his owner, Daniel Kier, from the city: the city agreed to drop the utterly bogus vicious animal charges against Kier only in exchange for an agreement that he would not sue the Lakewood city government for torturing his dog, and that he would move with Otis out of the city limits (to the city of Cleveland, as it happens). None of the news stories I’ve read on this case have mentioned it, but the vicious animal charge is just a misdemeanor rap for Kier; but since the same law also provides for the impounded vicious animal to be humanely destroyed, I suspect that the reason he was so ready to get it dropped, even if it meant moving out of the city, is because the city government was effectively threatening to kill his dog if he didn’t shut up and accept their terms.

So who are the real vicious animals running loose here? I’m pretty sure it’s not the poor son of a bitch that got tasered.

(Via Brad Taylor 2009-08-04.)

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