Thursday, May 20, 2004

Rio Rancho

You know, sometimes, I feel that this is a thankless fucking job. It's bereft of any kind of traditional compensation whatsoever. I go out there and expose myself, as it were, to all kinds of short-bus escapades in order to keep you, the reader, well-stocked on daily time-killing comedy content. I listen to the complaints of some that cannot make it through a day's entry without the assistance of a lingualexicographical tome. And now, New Mexico has to go and fuck with me.
I mean, I went to all this trouble to make a comedy map on Monday. It went well, I thought. And being unable to think of anything specifically dumb about New Mexio, I lumped it in with Arizona as part of "Bleak Wasteland (Hot)". And a short time later, I learn of New Mexico's iniquity, forcing me to start over from scratch and remake the whole damn map.

Arizona, I'm keeping my eye on you. I don't trust you to just sit there and be barren and hot, so you're on probation.
So. New Mexico. This is how under the radar New Mexico is. All the crazy stuff I'm about to tell you happened last year, the lawsuit about it was filed in September, and I'm only telling you about it this week because a commentary about it by a friend of one of the victims is making its way around the Internet.
Oh my goodness, he said VICTIMS. Another school shooting? Stabbing? Pencil-to-the-eye? Do we need to expand our zero-tolerance policy to include writing implements? Actually, at Rio Rancho High in New Mexico, it seems like they already have. Writing implements lead to words, and words are exactly the kind of dangerous things we can't have floating around our nation's educational system.
Rio Rancho had a poetry club. The students would write poems, perform them in public venues, and even read them over the school's closed-circuit TV network. And while admittedly, one of my own personal rings of Hell would involve being forced to sit through any performance by a high school "Slam Poetry Team", anything that gets it out of their systems before they hit college, or HBO, is fine by me.
So a student writes a poem called "Revolution X". Which, in addition to being a poor title choice to anyone who remembers the Aerosmith arcade game, featured anti-war and anti-Dubya sentiments. And performs it on the closed-circuit TV. Can you, gentle reader, guess what happens next? If you picked "teacher fired, poetry club disbanded, lawsuit filed", you would be right, although you would be missing some of the fun details that make this extra-fucked.
Details like the fact that it was the school's military liaison that made the first complaint. The school has a MILITARY LIAISON. I hope it's some ROTC bullshit, but even so, the ROTC guy's job is to sit in his office and trick jocks into killing for their country. Anything outside those parameters, such as, say, writing your own poem telling pacifists to shut their faces, and reading that poem aloud while the principal hoists a battleship flag, is PROBABLY A BAD IDEA.
Oh, and the school wanted the poem. So they could check for obscenities and "inferences of inciting violence". I'm sure, as classically trained educators, they'd train a very narrow definition of THAT on the poem. And the student's mother, who is a teacher, was also fired. Why? Because she apparently refused the principal's request to destroy the poem.
It's also alleged that following this incident, art teachers were ordered to tear down any student-made posters with political (aka anti-Bush) content. Those that refused were not rehired for the next school year.
So congratulations, New Mexico! Thanks to Rio Rancho high school, you've managed to differentiate yourselves from the average fuckitude of even the American public school system. You've really put the little town of Rio Rancho on the map.