Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie, and “Aren’t they cute?”

Summer is a great time to be thinking about how the country is doing.  We’re getting close to the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and we should be checking up on how we’re doing keeping a country free and a government of, by, and for the people.  (For anybody checking, that anniversary isn’t coming up this July.  It’s still 4 years away but thinking stuff like this can take a while.)  Those few weeks between Flag Day and Independence Day are good days to look about at what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s uniquely American.

Last week we got to see the best and worst of Americans all wrapped up in one convenient incident.  Although it happened earlier, by mid-week it hit the national news.  Four middle schoolers, 11 and12 year olds, decided it was going to be not only a good day to taunt their bus monitor but to record and post it to the Internet for all the world to see.   So they hurled insult after insult, poked and pointed, swore at and about a 68 year old grandmother, former bus driver, and guardian of the good children on the bus.  It wasn’t the first time that they aimed their low sights at her, and it wasn’t the first time that she sat stoically taking it.  It was a horrible example of how miserably some American youth are raised and how much of their disgusting behavior is tolerated.

And then in an amazingly disgusting example of wretched behavior, one of the feeble four decided they should share their offensive conduct with the rest of the world and thus the recording was posted to the Web.   But instead of thousands of viewers sending them accolades for a bullying job well done, hundreds of thousands instead sent sympathy to the abused woman.  Tangible sympathy.  Five hundred thousand dollars worth of sympathy.  A half million ways to say we’re sorry for the incredibly stupid behavior of incredibly stupid children.

Perhaps it was the world’s way of providing one of those auto corrections that our planet does without our knowledge to keep us from hurling into space away from the safety of our solar orbit.  Maybe it’s the first step in the world’s recognition that not all children are cute and impulsive and they don’t mean anything by it.  Maybe somebody is finally realizing that if the parent’s aren’t going to handle their children, if the schools aren’t going to discipline the children, and if the police aren’t going to punish the children, that at least someone is going to see that the victims will be compensated for being a bully’s target.

Maybe the most disturbing part of the week’s news was that now that the children have been exposed and have even attempted too little too late apologies there are some who are upset that others are expressing their dismay at the miscreants’ behavior.  Again, in a remarkable worldly auto correction, the bullies have become the targets.  Even targets of death threats.  Don’t worry kids.  Those old people saying you should be expelled, fined, imprisoned, or maybe even executed are just so cute, but a little impulsive, and they don’t really mean it.  Maybe.

Now, that’s what we think.  Really.  How ‘bout you?

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