Abusive bureaucrats ultimately lead to an angry, embittered, skeptical, and frustrated populace. The current issue hitting the Supreme Court is a case where a thirteen year old girl was strip-searched by school authorities. This is exactly the sort of case that gets all of the attention – it is great headline news – and the Rednecks For America will never let it go. Actually, this is a case where the NRA and the ACLU will join at the hips to fight for the rights of children. But the residual affects of this behavior by authority figures continues to haunt our country.
Some excerpts from a CNN report to bring us up to speed on our case-in-point:
The case of a 13-year-old Arizona girl strip-searched by school officials looking for ibuprofen pain-reliever will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this week.
The justices in January accepted the Safford school district case for review, and will decide whether a campus setting gives school administrators greater discretion to control students suspected of illegal activity than police are allowed in cases involving adults in general public spaces.
The case is centered around Savana Redding, now 19, who in 2003 was an eighth-grade honors student at Safford Middle School, about 127 miles from Tucson, Arizona. Redding was strip-searched by school officials after a fellow student accused her of providing prescription-strength ibuprofen pills.
The school has a zero-tolerance policy for all prescription and over-the-counter medication, including the ibuprofen, without prior written permission.
Here is a video report:
The problem with drugs on our school grounds ultimately led to the loss of common sense by the school officials in this case. The problem speaks to the abuse of authority – and to the response of an angry America. Ronald Reagan launched his political career in 1964 by addressing this very issue:
People in my family are enraged about the strip-search, and justifiably so. We don’t live in Arizona and we don’t know the participants – but we are no less enraged. The case is so emotionally charged that people are ready to go to the school and lynch the Principal. Any school will do and any Principal will do – the people want justice.
We have witnessed a long line of unjust government sponsored events in the past fifty years. Ronald Reagan generalized a problem that is really case specific. But he sure enough got the attention of the angry populace. Reagan was at the head of the lynch mob – and all the mob needed was a well spoken leader.
There are legitimate examples of abuse; perhaps less dramatic than the strip-search, but no less frustrating for the receivers of the injustice. Down the road in St. Joseph, Missouri, a small business man in 1979 was beginning to reap the fruits of his labors – employing about 16 people with good wages and benefits. OSHA came along and shut the business down until the business could have an exhaust fan installed in the employee restroom. Just another errant bureaucrat abusing his authority.
These abuses of authority are generally the exception rather than the rule. And that is exactly why they garner so much media attention – they are so blatantly egregious that the populace is infuriated. We have written some articles recently about gun control – advocating limits to extreme weapons in the hands of Joe the Plumber. The response was an example of the anger Americans feel about abusive authority. People actually wrote comments suggesting that our government is corrupt and the only way to defend ourselves is to arm ourselves. A strip-search of a thirteen year old girl for the potential of hidden ibuprofen is jet fuel on this fire. This is where the insanity gets ramped up and the mob mentality emerges.
We are in no way advocating for the school authorities who conducted the strip-search. But the obvious is being missed in the tirade of anger. The obvious is that the case is working its way through the courts. That is what is supposed to happen in America. CNN did a good job of defining the opposing positions of the case:
At issue is whether school administrators are constitutionally barred from conducting searches of students investigated for possessing or dealing drugs that are banned on campus.
A federal appeals court found the search “traumatizing” and illegal.
Some parents say older children deserve the same constitutional rights as adults, but educators counter a school setting has always been treated differently by courts, and a ruling against them could jeopardize campus safety.
While a federal magistrate and a three-panel appeals court found the search was reasonable, the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Redding last year.
“Common sense informs us,” wrote the court, “that directing a 13-year-old girl to remove her clothes, partially revealing her breasts and pelvic area, for allegedly possessing ibuprofen … was excessively intrusive.”
Our court system is the last bastion of common sense. This is the one place people of America can go to get justice. But even in the courts we see the frailties of human endeavor. Tort Reform has been a hot political button for years. John Grishom has made a fortune writing about unjust and corrupt lawyers. Lawyers jokes have taken the lead over old ethnic humor.
The case of the strip-searched girl is critically important to our national psyche. By God, we want justice! That is the rallying cry of parents across America. And our minds are already made up as to what justice is. Don’t you dare put your hands on my child! These are the types of cases that have served to define the use of ‘corporal punishment’ in our schools. The Rednecks of America want a return to the days when a teacher could use corporal punishment to discipline school children. I am in the camp of authorities keeping their hands off my child.
The difference between the NRA and the ACLU is in the solution to the problems. The ACLU believes we should use the court system to pursue justice. The NRA might suggest that if the strip-searched girl had been armed she would not have been abused. That might be a little extreme – but we should at least arm the parents so they can protect their children.
When bureaucrats are the bullies we are infuriated. And justly so. The greatness of America is in our system of government. Our government is self-correcting. Bureaucrats make common sense mistakes. The courts stand ready to serve justice and correct Legislative or Executive abuse of authority. When the courts make mistakes, and they do, our Executive and Legislative branches stand ready to correct.
We have changed our head of government 43 times without bloodshed. I believe that the court will decide on the limits of power of school administration. And I believe that the decision will be just and fair. And I am mad as hell that this strip-search ever happened.