I graduated from high school, went into the Air Force, came back out and went to college, taught for 22 years, and at long last, retired up here in the Rim Country.
But while I was at it, someone either changed all the rules. Or else they transported me into an alternate universe.
Where did all the laws and ordinances, and fussy little rules come from? Who in blue blazes thought them all up?
Truthfully, I can name a couple of dozen things I have done in my life that would land me in jail if I did them today. Or get me sued. Or definitely get me frowned upon.
And gee! I’m a nice guy.
Actually I’m no different from the folks I grew up with. In fact, now that I think of it, there are lots of things that were done by those folks that would land them in deep doodoo today.
It’s as though the world has been taken over by overzealous, politically correct, legal-minded boneheads with nothing better to do than point their fingers at each other — and us.
When they’re not watching porno films on cable, that is.
I miss my world. It was a nice world. A great place to grow up in. And an even better one to be an adult in. We did our thing whatever it was, earned a buck, stayed out of each other’s hair, went to church (usually), got married, had kids, brought them up to respect their God, their elders and their nation, died with a smile on our face, and got buried in a suit that was new because it hadn’t been worn more than a half dozen times.
But these days I see things that are such legal overkill you couldn’t have put them in a dime novel when I was a kid. You’d have been laughed out of town.
And told to stay out—along with your dumb ideas!
Recently, some kids let the air out of school bus tires. Had that happened in my high school days, those same kids would have spent a lot of time pumping up bus tires with a hand pump. About the time they had blisters on their blisters they’d have decided that letting air out of tires was a bad idea. End of story.
But these kids were charged with criminal trespass, a felony!
Now, I am no more for mollycoddling kids than I am for lining my shorts with poison ivy. But come on! Give me a break! How does charging kids with a felony over a basically harmless prank help anybody?
Does it correct the problem they caused? No.
Does it help them sweat off some of that baby fat? No.
Does the punishment even come close to fitting the crime? No.
What it does do is cost the county thousands of dollars, waste the time and energy of dozens of adults, including a busy judge, and treat a bunch of dumb kids like criminals.
How does that solve anything?
Answer: It doesn’t.
Another kid points a BB gun he found at a school bus stop at his classmates — doesn’t fire it, mind you, just points it — and the question raised is whether the families of the poor traumatized little angels are going to press charges.
For what? For being a kid?
Let me tell you a story. At 8 months of age I was lying in a baby carriage on my front porch. A kid down the street who didn’t like my brother Charlie, age 4, came on the porch and tried to beat my brains out with a big old wooden spoon.
What came of it?
Well-l-l. Let’s see ...
Mom came out the front door, saw the blood running down the noggin of her youngest offspring, and let loose a scream that outdid the noon whistle at Bethlehem Steel down the road.
Charlie knocked the snot out of the kid who did it, who after that always walked across the street whenever he passed our house.
The kid’s mother applied the same wooden spoon to the kid’s backside with such great energy that she yanked half the hair out of his head trying to keep him within arm’s reach.
And that was that.
But what would happen today?
The kid would be charged with a felony, tried in juvenile court, and end up with a record. If he did anything else really dumb he would be charged again and be shipped off to a place where he could mix with folks who could teach him how to use something more dangerous than a lousy wooden spoon.
The kid’s mother, and mine, would be charged with negligence, would probably lose custody of their kids, and might even spend some hard time in prison. Not to mention the fact that it is almost certain that someone would sue someone over what happened.
How would all that help anything?
I would still have had the same knots on my head. Mom’s scream would still have deafened the lady next door. And nobody would be any better off for all the time, and trouble, and megabucks wasted on legal bushwah! Except a bunch of lawyers rubbing their hands in glee as they pocketed their fees.
In my day, I might add, we knew what was important.
There was a bookie joint in the back room of the candy store up the street.
Our comment? So what? Who cares? Who’s it hurting?
Once a week or so the neighborhood kids lit a big bonfire on the corner and roasted mickeys (potatoes) in it. Our comment? So? Kids like to eat, and roasted mickeys are good —after you get through the solid charcoal exterior.
But when one of the kids on our block stole a 10-cent lead soldier from the 5- and 10-cent store and the other kids in the neighborhood found out about it, all hell broke loose!
We turned the kid into his parents, who dragged him down to the store, paid for the lead soldier, made the kid apologize, yelled at him for 12 straight hours, and turned his rump such a bright red you could see the glow through his bedroom window at night.
We knew right from wrong back then, you see.
We didn’t need the county attorney to explain it to us.
As if any attorney knows right from wrong!