Of Fire and Ice

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    Jan 29, 2008 8:01 AM GMT

    "Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice. " - Frost

    For those of you who didn't know, R Frosts VT farmhouse was vandalized New Years Eve; apparently by a bunch of middle class kids from a local high school.

    These were not poor inner city kids. They are the kids of professionals and educators, businessmen and other prominent people within the community.

    Every single kid had to know where they were and what they were doing. Every single class in the state visits the farm at least a couple times during their school careers.

    Perhaps I am just getting OLD. I thought I led a pretty wild life as a kid (the cops brought me home more than once), and got into trouble more quite a bit; but it would never have occurred to me or my friends to vandalize a museum for a night of drinking games.

    Is there such a huge disconnection now between younger people and civic responsibility? or am I truly an old fart who just doesn’t remember or understand.

    One kid in particular stands out, who asked whether he could use his mug shot on his Facebook page. icon_eek.gif

    It bothers me personally because it turns out that one of the kids did a Jr/Sr. summer internship with us last year. We are a very competitive program, only accept a half dozen a year from several hundred applicants, and if you don't have a straight A average don't even bother to apply. I actually met this kid once when he delivered some papers out to my house.

    Now he will be convicted of a misdemeanor, and I can never again even allow him through the front door of our labs. We will not be giving him the expected recommendation to the top tier school he has applied to.

    A very promising kid who apparently burned a lot of bridges in one night. Where were his parents? Where was any sort of self restraint?

    What a waste.

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    Jan 29, 2008 8:24 AM GMT
    I too do not understand and I'm only 22.

    Movies have recently began to glorify 'pranks' that aren't actually funny anymore. This rank disregard of almost everything held sacred by parents and mentors.

    I for one suspect it's Hollywood, the diminishing role of parents in western societies, the relative ease of life in your societies, and public education.

    I have no statistics to prove that.

    I just know that things like that seldom happen here.
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    Jan 29, 2008 6:01 PM GMT
    I know what you mean, IT. I guess that kids have to up the ante to being wild. In Sistersville, a beautiful river town not far from where I live, there is a wealth of history and great architecture from the days when the place was an oil boom town in the 19th Century. Some kids from the same kinds of families broke into the opera house and started a fire. It burned to the ground. It was great old opera house, the likes of which are no longer built. In Martinsburg, a railroad town key to the rail lines of the Civil War, the city had two roundhouses. Roundhouses are huge, round buildings from the Gilded Age in which trains were brought to change tracks. One is rare these days, but no place had two. So of course, well-heeled kids broke in an burned one of them down.

    One could argue that these buildings mean nothing to these kids but clearly they knew to destruct the special places in town to get attention.

    If these kids must creat devastation why is it always to the treasures of a community that could be used to revitalize an interest in the place that would restore the interest and hence would bring some action back to their town, since evidently they are so bored.

    And these kids will all get off because their hardworking parents attachment to them will give them the aura of "good kids." So they will get off easy, while kids from poorer families and neighborhoods will get much harsher sentences for doing far less damage to other places.
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    Jan 29, 2008 7:03 PM GMT
    I thoroughly deplore such wildness and destructiveness, but I am thankful that I have experienced just the opposite activites in young people.

    In Naperville, IL, there is a park, Naper Village, that brings together a number of historical buildings that existed in the surrounding area.

    I was there one warm Saturday in March, after a rather grim winter. As "docents" were young people both boys and girls, ages 10 to 18, who gave tours of the buildings. Some of the younger ones "attended" a multigrade school and did lessons as they were given in the 1860-80s. I felt such a gratitude to these kids who gave up their free time to be part of a living history of their community. It is something I know I will never see in Southern Cal.
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    Jan 29, 2008 7:24 PM GMT

    "I'm Blaming The Parents!" Not the good ones, but the bad ones. And, yes, parents can be bad no matter color, creed, education level, or social standing. Poor kids and rich kids are in general, the same. They both can succumb to social pressures and bad influences. The only differentiating factor, I think, are the parents.

    Parents that are involved in their kids life and offer discipline and guidance usely raise a better kid. I've done no surveys to come to this conclusion, but I have observed a lot of people here in breeder central where I live and the kids behaving badly are pretty much the norm, which is why the good ones stand out so much and thus, so do their parents. Good grades are fine, but around here because of the volume of children, people know better then to assume a child is good because of grades alone.

    Growing up, all us kids made good grades, but we were by no stretch of the imagination, good. My brother was a buffoon, my sisters were and are still very cold and I was a sick little devil. I used to make my little boy peers cry just for the fun of it.

    I should think especially in a wealthier neighborhood a great education and children making good grades would be commonplace, that almost has zero to do with parental influence if the school is good enough.


    What I look for from parents is do they set boundaries for their kids? Do they pay any attention to their child's feelings, know from one day to the next if their child is sad, angry, confused, or happy? Children are not very good at hiding their emotions. Many times it is right there written all over a child's face how it feels. Good parents notice. bad ones don't.

    I should know a thing are two about it, my mother was terrible, not physically abusive; her crime was the crime of apathy. She didn't seem to care or know from one minute to the next what her kids were doing.

    My two sisters and brother, could do whatever they wanted without fear of punishment or acknowledgement from her. I'm not trying to bash her, but it's true. She tried to get more involved in their lives and be an attentive mother once they hit their teens, but it was too late by then. The connections had been made by then.

    Now as adults, they think they are invinsible and that the rules that govern the rest of the world do not apply to them. They didn't get this mindset from someone teaching them it. Quite the contrary, the way they act is because of assumptions and misunderstandings they made about the way the world works.

    That sounds like the case with these vandal kids, everything on a silver platter, great education, but zero parental guidance and grasp of reality. Kids do not have x-ray vision.
    They cannot see the result of actions especially when being prodded by peers who are just as lost. The kids need to be told about what might be waiting down the wrong road by someone who's been there before.

    If you couple apathetic parenting and parents who want to rely on the school to educate and enligthen their kids (as if that is possible) with what kids are watching on t.v and in video games--



    -- no wonder you get a bunch of socially ignorant little twerps who have completely lost their grasp on reality.

    Ok, i'm done. In closing, I know it sounds like I am stereotyping the parents of these vandal kids, but that's all I can really do without knowing them. I'm judging them based on the product of their parenting. If the proof is in the pudding then what i'm tastin is pretty nasty, which means the cooks didn't know what the hell they were doing.

  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Jan 29, 2008 9:09 PM GMT
    I am soon off to bed and will therefore be brief (and possibly in need of clarification in the morning); this reminds of why I fail to find Jackass funny...at all:

    I think that there may be a number of aspects, including:

    • the apparent removal of history education as part of current generations' public education, including a focus on how, through the efforts of persons past and persons present, our current lives are damned much better now than they were
    • the disposablility espoused within our current consumer culture, where constructed objects are partly bereft of meaning
    • the parents of the teens in question and the extent to which they approve / tacitly approve of their children's destruction; Damarco's point on the teens' needs for attention comes in here and also applies with regards to peer attention
    • our overall cultural disregard for history and historical relics / remnants
    • a kind of, in my opinion, bullshit sense of having "lived" by partaking in destruction and irreverence
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    Jan 29, 2008 9:27 PM GMT
    I am happy to report that Robert Creeley's old home is a few blocks from my house in the second most impoverished city in America and it stands without a mark.

    Way to go inner city kids!
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    Jan 29, 2008 9:32 PM GMT
    Dumb things that teenagers do have nothing at all to do with educational opportunities and socio-economic standards.

    In fact it is the suburban ennui choked upper middle class kids who have the capacity to wreak the most havoc.

    When I first read this story in the NYTimes I thought it was obvious that these kids did this because it was Robert Frost's farm house.

    They picked a target that was visible, obvious, and culturally important (at least that is what the adults told them).

    Of course some dumb fuck wants to put his mug shot up on Facebook because it is a badge of honor.

    I too did stupid things when I was a kid. It never would have crossed my mind to desecrate a monument to free thought and literary expression, but that was because counter-culture identification was the badge of honor for the outcast kids in my school.

    I don't know if that same restraint would have been felt by the Winston Churchill High School Football Team and their molls.

    The other thing is that it never would have occurred to us to show up at school with an AK47, it wouldn't have occurred to us to torture Iraqi prisoners of war and call it interrogation, and so forth.

    IT you are a man of science, you know entropy is the law. We are on the declining side of Republic (or so it seems to me) and well on the road to something else.

    The more passive we are (statistically as 300 million plus people Americans are extremely passive) the more shocking each act of violence (cultural or physical will be). I mean, honestly, it is a slippery slope from American Idol to Human Sacrifice (admit it you have thought about it).

    My mom grew up in Llano Texas in the 1930's without a penny. This was a town of 600 or so people. She said it was a really slow Saturday night that someone wasn't gunned down on the main street. When Bonnie and Clyde came through town they were heroes.

    I don't say the things are comparable. I just say that comparative levels of social violence are lower (statistically) and that the incidence of violence are more shocking and globally visible (I knew about this in Italy at precisely the same time that you did in Burlington).

    Fuck, that really sucks. That is really a blow to the national spirit, as if it needed another blow.

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    Jan 29, 2008 9:48 PM GMT
    Granted, kids get into trouble in inner cities as well, but it's somehow different.

    Stuff like this seems to happen in places described as "nice, normal, quiet communities". Yeah...for the parents. Meanwhile the lack of stimulus or social interaction with anyone but "The Joneses" (as in keeping up with), has these kids stir crazy and acting out without conscience. You cannot starve a growing mind that feeds off of near constant information and learning (including social). They're little suppressed powderkegs. Some open fire on their schoolmates, others tip over gravestones, still others spraypaint neo-nazi graffitti, and some do what happened in Vermont.

    It is uniquely American to isolate ourselves from the rest of society, or to segment ourselves into little monocultures. A gated, deed restricted, or planned community to a parent is a nice hiding place from brown people who talk funny. For kids, it's a prison. Kids get a raw deal as a result.

    My $0.02.