I gotta stop reading the news, because this made me want to vomit.
Capsule version: two high school football players in some town in Ohio decided it would be funny to swipe a deer decoy, stick it on some road somewhere, and then watch as cars swerved to avoid it. Except one of the cars swerved too much, lost control, and ended up in a ditch. Neither of the passengers in that car died, but both were seriously injured: one has endured ten surgeries, still awaits another, and spent three months in a neck brace.
The two idiots who pulled this stunt were sentenced to sixty days in a juvenile detention center, with those sentences to be served after they finish their football season.
Yup: they get to play football before they serve time for a crime that could well have ended up in manslaughter.
Unbelievable. In the judge's words: "I shouldn't be doing this, but I'm going to. I see positive things about participating in football." And in response to some outcry that the two idiots were treated leniently because they're on the football team, one of the fathers opined: "I don't know why it's about football players. Why isn't it about student council or track?"
Well, gee whiz, let's just give that a little thought, shall we? Does anyone out there think for one second that if a student council member pulled a stunt like this, and nearly got someone killed, that that student would be allowed to postpone serving his sentence because of some student council business? What if this happened not to a couple of football players, but the "equipment manager" (i.e., the kid in charge of picking up the pile of shoulder pads after practice)? What if a member of the marching band had pulled a stunt like this? That father sounds utterly clueless, probably because he is utterly clueless. The judge even admitted it, for Christ's sake: "Here's what I should do, but you're football players. So I'm setting aside what I know that I should do." And kindly stuff the crap about "positive things" about participating in football. I love football too, but there's nothing uniquely special about it that doesn't happen in any other kind of team effort, be it the baseball team, the swimming team, or the drama club, or the concert band.
The article notes that this is a town of 8000 people, where the stadium fills with 4000 people on football night. We're also told that this team has recently been to the state championships. We're not told how good this year's team is, or what positions the hooligans play, so it's not clear if this is the star QB and RB on a team that's angling for another title, or just two benchwarmers on a .500 team. But that shouldn't matter, should it?
When I was a kid, teachers and adults understood the discipline that could be meted out via peer pressure. It went like this: one kid goofs off, the teacher pulls the plug on recess for the whole class, and then come the inevitable words of wisdom, "It only takes one person to screw it up for everybody."
Now that would have been a life lesson for these two idiots. They could have been the jerks who cost Anytown USA its shot at the championship. I doubt they'll learn much of anything, now, except that if you're one of the "cool kids" and you play on the team everybody loves, you'll get treated differently than anyone else. Instead of really having to come to grips with their actions and their real consequences (as well as the knowledge of how much worse the consequences could have been), these kids know that they almost killed someone but hey, it'll be all right because they get to play under the Friday Night Lights.
And after they get out of their 60-day jail terms, they both get to write an essay entitled "Why I Should Think Before I Act". An essay. Why not just make each one stand at a chalkboard and write out sentences 500 times? It would be about as effective a punishment. I'd love to be able to read those essays when they're done. I wonder if they'll pay some nerd to do it for them. Maybe the afore-mentioned hypothetical kid from the marching band.
(But hey, at least I can be reminded that Buffalo Bills fans have nothing on the lunacy that exists out there in some locales for high school football.)
UPDATE: Goodness! Welcome, all you heathen readers of PZ Myers. Feel free to stick around and see what I do here; it's rarely the kind of spittle-flecked rant you've just finished reading, but usually a lot of geekiness and the occasional "tsk, tsk" descent into political comment.