Archive - Jan 19, 2007

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Memo to Patrick Agin: BE A BETTER NERD.

Time for another installment in the now-famous series. And for a change, I'm going to be uncharacteristically kind to Mr. Agin. Because while he does need to Be A Better Nerd, there's plenty of time. He's young. High-school nerd.

And as I mentioned in a previous installment, nerds get a pass on getting their shit together up until age 25. Which means Agin, a senior at Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island, has eight more years to learn. Ergo, we will not be calling him a fucking wanker, a pathetic geek, or any of the terminology that would apply if he were, say, 31.

But Agin is a classic case study in What Not To Do As A Nerd, and there's other mockable stupidity in his tale, so we'll move forward in the spirit of constructive criticism.

Patrick Agin is a member in presumably good standing of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval re-enactment group considered by some to be a bunch of tree-hugging druid freaks, by others a non-profit educational organization, and by yours truly as a decent group of folks to hang out with on weekends, as long as you correctly identify and avoid the inevitable douchebags and Worse Nerds that flock to this type of thing.

As a member of the SCA, Agin owns armor. And a sword. And likes to wear them. All fine. Except when he wanted to wear them in his yearbook photo. And that's when you all heard the needle being dragged across the record of your mind. Because you know what wearing armor and carrying a sword in a yearbook photo gets you? It gets you lying ten years later about not having kept your yearbook. Because Wearing Armor isn't who you are, it's what you do for fun.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, wearing armor and carrying a sword for your yearbook photo also gets you... in trouble. And here's where Agin gets to step aside while the full force of You Are Dumb derision bears down on Portmouth High School administrators, who wouldn't let the photo because it violated the school's zero tolerance policy about weapons.

And that, as they said in ye olden days, is the purest shite that flows like a river from the fundament of a bull. Agin didn't show up to school packing four feet of steel. He just brought in the fucking picture for the fucking yearbook. If zero tolerance for weapons includes zero tolerance for graven images of prop weapons, then the zero tolerance movement has now lapped "up its own ass" one more time than even I thought was possible.

His nerdy photo denied, Agin and his family took the next logical step. They sued the school. And now that record in your mind is COMPLETELY RUINED.

This is where we get back to Being A Better Nerd. Better Nerds do not call in the ACLU to get their goofy armor pic in the yearbook. And you know why? Because the instant the principal went Douche Factor Nine, you had the definitive, ultimate out for Better Nerd cred. You have a yearbook with a normal photo, and you have a STORY. A story that works now, and a story that'll work ten years from now with minor modifications.

You were all set to be in the yearbook in your chain mail and helmet, but you were denied by stupid, tight-ass rulemakers! You're slightly oppressed! That's a much better story than "I got a bunch of lawyers to make THIS happen!" And when you're a little older, you can throw in the fact that without even meaning to, that balding asswipe principal saved you from yourself without even knowing it. And either way, you can tuck the sword picture into your yearbook as a visual aid.

It was golden. GOL. DEN. And you had to go fuck it up with a tenous free-speech argument about a "right" that's borderline on the best of days, and downright comical six years into Bush, Gonzalez and Gitmo. Remember this mistake, learn from it, and odds are, someday, you'll BE A BETTER NERD.

Which is a lot more than I can say for your hidebound, zero-tolerance-for-logic principal.