Entertain Me or I\’ll Break Something

Perhaps it’s this lousy coffee.

I wasn’t quite awake when I started the pot and the result is  a thin, pale brew without enough body to sustain caffeine. 1 I’ve finished three cups and my system is still screaming at me – “Caffeine, you dolt! I want caffeine, not hot water!”

Or perhaps it’s encroaching old-fartness: every day I seem to have less tolerance for utter horseshit.

More likely it’s the combination of the two. Add the fact that it’s Monday and you’ve got the perfect storm of impatience. So here it is:

Roving bands of teenagers creating havoc in public venues, whether it be The Plaza, Westport, Thug Alley in Swope Park or Your Mother’s back yard, ain’t owed shit.

You hear me? Nuthin’, not a motherfuckin’ thing.

Wait up. I misspoke. They are owed something. They are owed an old fashioned thumpin’ by their parents, one of those legendary ass whuppins where the teen in question doesn’t even think about messin’ up afterward for at least the next six months but wouldn’t matter if they did as they would also be grounded for the next six months.

And that’s all they’re owed.

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It is the tween/teen years that turn parents’ hair worrisome shades of silver and gray. They have a hard row to hoe – allowing their progeny enough freedom to mature into worthy adults while setting reasonable limits on the inevitable mistakes and attendant pain that come of their choices. Because there is no escaping our culture – the kids plug it into their iEars, Twit it via their various iPhones and consume it via WiFi & broadband. TV may be an afterthought yet it is still the most influential purveyor; always on in the background, the pernicious theme music to many lives

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s human nature; the lure of the illicit is always with teens. Drugs & booze, thoughtless sex, easy access to cars to match their racing hormones, danger for danger’s sake. 2

But for the most part kids turn out fine. They may not become people you or I would normally associate with 3, but they learn to navigate America’s shifting social norms with an unconscious aplomb that makes a parent wonder why we were worried about in the first place.

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However there are some parents who seem not to care what their children get up to outside of the home. Just as these parents seemingly don’t care that their children disrupt classroom settings. Just as these parents don’t know or care that their children have and use handguns. And drugs. Or use violence as casually as I might wield a golf club.

This is incredibly sad.

These parents care so little about their children that they have doomed them to a self-repeating cycle of poverty and violence. It is a waste and a crime but, frankly, none of my business and certainly none of my responsibility 4,  no more than any other unrelated white, Asian, brown, black or pinkish-green child is generally my business.

In fact to take a strange child to task today is to take your life in your hands.

And even if you find that somewhat of a stretch, you have to at least admit that a child of today 5 standing still for a tongue lashing by a strange adult they don’t know, much less attending to said berating, taking it to heart and muttering a sincere apology is absolutely nil.

And that’s all down on their parents.

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So why will one set of parents insist on leading their children through the tangled path of maturity and  another set of abandon their charges at the trail-head? I suspect the answer is that national hair ball resultant of failed social policies. I also suspect we, as a nation, will never cough up that hairball.

What I do know is that nihilism as a response by adults who have borne children is not viable; what those children do are their parents’ moral and legal responsibility.

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I also know idiots yelling “fire!” in a crowded building never help.

Enter now that east-side worthy, Alonzo Washington, and his oafish, blundering sidekick Captain Slow Learner!. Rather than post a article chiding mature (one assumes) adults for allowing their children (reports stated many of the crowd were in the 14 year old range) to run rampant in a public area, what does this gasbag do? He sparks an ill conceived fire:


Black youth have no place to go. They do this crowd thing every year somewhere & get chased off. These gatherings are tolerated more in the hood. Many murders, shootings & fights take place when they occur in the hood. Yet, no one cares! However, let these same kids show up at the Plaza, Westport or the Power & Light District & it becomes a problem…(link)

For pity’s sake, Captain Slow Learner! May we assist?

1.) Black youth have no place to go.

Specious on its face:

Black youth, white youth, brown and yellow youth all have places to go. In fact, off 63rd just west of a KC Zoo entrance there sits an empty million dollar place to go, with gleaming unused workout equipment, a full basketball court (empty), a pool, pool tables, a track, all of it poised on one of the largest parks in America.

The fact that KC’s youth may may prefer to hang out elsewhere is incidental.

Aside from the preceding, what about catching a flic at Bannister Mall?

Oh, right – they razed it. Why was that again? Ah, yes: the mall was deconstructed because crime from the surrounding neighborhood, and in the mall proper, drove patrons away, eventually creating another unsafe eyesore.

2.) They do this crowd thing every year somewhere & get chased off.

Um…yes; rightly so.

3.) Many murders, shootings & fights take place when they occur in the hood.

At the risk of sounding uncaring, many murders, shootings & fights take place in the East Side even if the youth aren’t hangin’ en masse in the ‘hood. Or is that Mr. Washington’s point; the parents can’t control their kids and these kids are responsible for the outrageous crime rates east of Troost? For heaven’s sake people, drop a dime on them! Start taking responsibility for your neighborhood – you are adults; act like it!

Either way, why should the public at large allow that behavior? That’s one of the things a police presence is for – to forestall murder, shootings and fights.

4.) Yet, no one cares!

That’s also false. We do care, we just don’t know what to do since the people most affected by the mayhem almost universally decline to cooperate with authorities. If even the victims’ families refuse to assist the cops, you get what you get.

5.) However, let these same kids show up at the Plaza, Westport or the Power & Light District & it becomes a problem…

Damned skippy! See previous comment about terrorism…

Captain Slow Learner!‘s entire post was one blatant excuse after another for piss poor behavior by kids who should have been better raised. It’s that stupid and that simple.

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I’m somewhat liberal.

I don’t believe in supernatural deities; I believe in supporting public safety nets for those who need them, to include universal health care; I believe that the federal government should be as large as it needs to be to administer those safety nets; I believe we need to cut “normal” defense spending in half and walk away from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately; I believe the entire Bush clan should be banned from ever holding public office; I believe there should be no green fees on any public golf course; I believe that any religion introduced into government is a large evil; I believe Dick and Tommy Smothers were high as kites and good on them; I believe a woman has an inherent right to do as she chooses with her body; I truly believe all people are born of equal worth and value.

Where I perhaps hold common ground with nominal conservatives is in the arena of responsibility. I believe that, short of mental defect, you are always responsible for your actions. That as a parent you are responsible for your minor childrens’ actions. Period.

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Decades of ignoring the city’s infrastructure, of tossing good TIF money after bad, of grasping Mayors with laughably incompetent city councils and a school district allowed to devolve into a 19th century patronage machine totally unconcerned with its charges,…all of this has turned most of KC proper into a festering mess.

Worse, there has not been, nor is there now, a thoughtful and detailed plan by City Hall to combat the degradation. There is just the endless and senseless chatter of pols more concerned with their ego than the body politic.

The results have been as consistent they were predictable – exodus. JOCO’s tax base climbs while KC’s diminishes. The quality of everything in KC slowly erodes. And those of us who remain behind 6 perpetually fight a rearguard action against poverty, crime, lack of basic services and even the City itself.

Kansas City is roughly where Detroit was 10 brief years ago. Should we continue on our current path of offering easy excuses for piss poor behavior while pointing accusatory fingers at the past; should we not resolve the poverty that grips a portion of our citizenry and abets crime; should we continue to allow children to run wild because we are afraid of how it might appear to arrest and punish them; should we keep on turing a blind eye, KC may find itself 10 years hence talking about razing whole sections of the inner city.

Because there is no magic bullet – manufacturing will not save us 7; the vaunted “service economy” will not save us ($10-15 an hour? Who the fuck do you think you’re kidding?); technology will not save us 8 and Superman is as big a fraud as any deity.

We will have to save us. And no small part of that is giving a shit and not letting your kid run the streets without direct accountability.

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Show 8 footnotes

  1. Yes, I DO know it’s almost bedtime: you rise when you want and I’ll do the same.
  2. Yeah, yeah, I know. However, I’m an adult, willing and able to pay whatever consequence. More importantly, I understand that there must be consequences; tweens-teens understand the word consequence only as an ACT/SAT answer. If then.
  3. Christians, Republicans, most lawyers or investment bankers.
  4. And here is where the “Racist! You be a motherfuckin’ racist!” card normally gets played. Well, that’s also none of my business or responsibility: when the first slaves started hitting America my ancestors were busy licking their wounds from the ass-kicking known as the Battle of Kinsale; it wasn’t until the 19th century that both sides of my linage had had enough and immigrated to America. Irish, clear and through, as you can tell by the red moustache that still embarrasses my silvery hair. Your race troubles were never any of my own, I’m sorry for you but there it is. I also don’t want to hear any shit about not knowing what I’m talking about; unlike an undoubted 90% of this site’s readership my high school was one of the first to be integrated in KC; and I also actually did march with King’s people, numerous times. I also spent time in the Big Green Machine when it was 90% black so I’ve experienced prolonged bigotry first-hand. Is all that comparable to an entire race’s history? No. But then that race hasn’t been enslaved in well over a century; the argument doesn’t hold water any more.
  5. Because let’s remember that – they are children we’re talking about here, not adults.
  6. Mostly, I’ll grant you, out of sheer cussedness.
  7. Order an iPod and track its progress from China should you disbelieve me
  8. If anything, nano-technology and quantum computing will erase whole new sectors of manufacturing.

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