by Mel Griffith
I'm beginning to think that it may be time to replace the eagle as America's symbol. It appears that Chicken Little has become the role model for our government officials on all levels, so he (or is it she?) should receive the honor due to his/her importance.
For example, New York City recently went berserk, adding all kinds of security, calling out the national guard, and invading privacy by checking purses and briefcases, all based on a totally unsupported tall tale told by a nobody in Iraq. He is probably still laughing. Even the super cautious federal government said there was no cause for alarm, but New York acted as if a new chapter of the Gospel had been revealed.
Closer to home, McMinn County High School, along with law enforcement, went into fits over a threat scrawled on a restroom wall. Is anybody dumb enough to think that if someone really planned to shoot up the school, they would post a notice in the restroom? That's about as realistic as thinking that a bank robber would notify the bank ahead of time of when they planned to rob it.
Then there is the recent events in France. The French government's response to a wave of arson and vandalism makes Chicken Little look recklessly brave. While hoodlums ran wild and burned everything in sight, the government did little except announce occasionally that wasn't a nice thing to do. The French have obviously forgotten Napoleon's observation that "there is nothing like a whiff of grapeshot for keeping the rabble in line." Grapeshot may be a bit out of date but the principle that putting a little hurt on the riffraff will encourage better behavior still applies. In defense of the French, they just aren't used to having to solve problems. Usually when there is a problem, such as Iraq for example, the French wait for someone else to solve it and then criticize the solution. That is the French concept of leadership.
In addition to all the government paranoia, every nutcase tries to find a terrorism angle to try to promote their favorite cause. The gun control fanatics even promote getting rid of guns because of terrorism, despite plenty of evidence that the more strictly guns are regulated, the higher the crime rate. Criminals never pay attention to gun laws, so they are always armed, and the less likely that law abiding citizens are armed, the bolder the criminals are. We shouldn't be surprised that the response to terrorism is frequently irrational. After all, our school systems haven't fully regained their sanity after the Columbine incident. One of the most outlandish responses to this event has been the absurd dress codes which have swept the country, including Bradley County. They are based on the peculiar notion that regimented clothing styles will make people behave as they are told to. Of course, if this were true, there would be no discipline problems in the military. It should occur to anyone of normal intelligence that a unreasonable dress code is not only counterproductive to the goals schools are supposed to be achieving, namely, the ability to make decisions, but is actually counterproductive to school safety, by concealing those who think differently and might be dangerous in a sea of uniformity. It is often claimed that having everyone dressed alike enables officials to spot those who don't belong on campus, but since codes are widely known, anyone who is serious about not being detected would not have any problem blending in.
There are sensible things that can be done to make us safer. But we ought to remember Mark Twain's advice to learn what we can from our experiences and stop there. He observed that a cat which has once sat on a hot stove will not sit on a hot stove again, but it won't sit on a cold one either. We frequently seem to be like the cat going too far in our efforts to be safe.