18 February 2010

American authoritarianism

The amount of power given to low-level officials in this country to terrorize us and even electrocute us constantly amazes me. (I know the person in the first link was punished-however, as a supervisor, it's still sad that someone could go on for that long with a "practical joke" that likely traumatized the poor woman.) Add to that the fact that we are debating torture and the rule of law, and it makes me seriously wonder about our "land of the free."

The latest bit of crazy authoritarianism from low-level officials comes from a Philadelphia high school. The school issued laptops to students with webcams...and software allowing the school officials to remotely turn on and observe the students through the laptops. Oh, and they did not bother to inform anyone of this.

Guess what? Officials watched students at home engaging in private acts, like undressing and "other compromising situations". The whole plan was revealed when an unnamed student was punished for "inappropriate actions" at home. As in, the place were in loco parentis cannot possibly apply.

And no, this is not a case of giving up liberty for safety. This was one of the top schools in PA, not a terrorist hive. But it is, unfortunately, the logical outgrowth of too much power and not enough oversight. And, because students have overwhelmingly been denied all rights in schools, principals are probably tied with prison officials for most power over those assigned to their care.

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