Dad of the Month

     Our Dad of the Month award goes to William Brinsdon, a Texas man who gave his daughter a “spy pen” to take to school to record students reciting the Mexican pledge of allegiance so he could complain to Glenn Beck, thereby unleashing a torrent of racist threats, and then sued the school for … well, I’m not entirely sure what he had to complain about.
     (NOTE: If you don’t know who Glenn Beck is, you’re fortunate.)
     Naturally, this dispute went all the way up to the Fifth Circuit capping (or maybe capping) five years of litigation
     Now there’s a daughter who’s gotten a solid legal education.
     What was worth spending all that time and money on?
     You can read the full story in Brinsdon v. McAllen Independent School District. The short version is that the daughter, Brenda, objected when her Spanish teacher told her class to memorize and recite the Mexican pledge as a learning exercise.
     She was allowed to do another assignment instead, but she wasn’t happy with her grade. Then Dad did the spy thing, caused all heck to break loose, and Brenda was taken out of the class to prevent further disruption that, as far as I can tell, Dad caused.
     Brenda still got to study Spanish on her own, and she graduated.
     Brenda — I’m guessing with a little encouragement from Dad — still sued.
     The moral of this story?
     Well, there are a lot of ways of looking at it, but since my wife is a teacher I’m going with this one: Always sweep your classroom for bugs.
     You never know what’s going to turn up on conservative talk radio.
     I’ve been suffering from delusions of grandeur lately — thinking I’d be a great U.S. president. After all, look at the choices we have now.
     But I’ve also realized I’d never get elected. I have great ideas but I have to admit they’d cost me votes.
     For example, I’m in favor of banning all private motor vehicles.
     Just get them off the road and stop building new roads or fixing old ones.
     I’d get rid of guns owned by private citizens too, so the NRA would kill my election chances. I’d have to worry about those “Second Amendment people” too whoever they are.
     Now imagine what the car lobby would do to me.
     But why aren’t we considering car control? We have serious debates about gun control. We ought to have the same debates about motor vehicles.
     One of the arguments for doing something about guns is that there are just about the same number of gun deaths in the U.S. as there are traffic deaths. (See a recent New York Times piece pointing this out.)
     Shouldn’t that also be an argument for doing something about traffic deaths?
     And cars — at least most of the time — aren’t being used to kill people on purpose or to commit suicide. They’re just inherently dangerous.
     We have all those deaths and injuries, by the way, despite requiring training and licensing. So you could argue that cars are more dangerous than guns.
     Yet we barely think about car danger.
     Now imagine a country without private automobiles.
     Lives are saved.
     We end dependence on foreign oil and vastly improve the environment.
     We save all that road maintenance money and put it into mass transit.
     We redesign cities to make walking and biking practical and we encourage cyber-commuting.
     We end stressful bargaining with car dealers and stop wondering whether we’ve been cheated.
     We never have to learn how to change tires or figure out where the stupid jack is.
     We have huge parties on abandoned freeways.
     We set fire to DMV offices just for the heck of it.
     We can have gun battles without all those cars getting in the line of fire.
     And this utopia is possible too — there’s no constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to have cars bear us.
     We can all dream.

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