Archive - 2015

December 13th

The Nature of Intent

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Memo to Shiloh Middle School: INTENT IS ILL.

The last months have inextricably linked the concepts of "Paris" and "climate change" in my mind - partly because of the reasonably successful climate change talks that just concluded, and partly because of how the climate in America has changed after the Paris attacks.

Now, the climate in America doesn't change because attitudes change. The climate changes because attitudes towards attitudes change. And in America, when terrorism changes the climate, what that means is that it becomes more acceptable to be a dickwad to everyday American non-threatening Muslims.And that's true whether you're a GOP presidential candidate, a Democratic congresswoman like Loretta Sanchez, or a Georgia middle school teacher.

This middle school teacher is, at least at the time of this writing, unidentified, but certain facts about her are clear. She teaches middle school. Her class includes a 13-year-old Muslim girl who wears the hijab. And the teacher asked her if she had a bomb in her backpack.

We also know that the teacher thought she was making a joke, because she pulled the girl into the hall and explained that her joke had gone too far. But what I want to focus on is the results of the school's investigation, which is inexplicably in partial quote form. ACTUAL PARTIAL QUOTE TIME!

"'The remark was not appropriate, but based on their conversation and investigation,' school officials don’t believe it was made with 'ill intent,' Roach said." - District spokesperson Sloan Roach, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

What, for fuck's sake, would have constituted "ill intent"? Just because she didn't actually think the girl had a bomb in her backpack, just because she was allegedly joking, doesn't mean there wasn't ill intent. The automatic association of the hijab with terrorism, the basis of the joke, is basic shitkicker bigotry. Shitkicker bigotry is ill intent. Defining it as well-intentioned and harmless, albeit inappropriate, is how the attitude towards the attitude is changing right now.

Of course, this is Georgia, a state that just ordered all its human services employees not to process any requests for benefits, even federal benefits, for Syrian refugees. So this teacher isn't the only shitkicker bigot in the state, nor is she the one doing the most harm. But she's part of the problem. And her bosses are a bigger part of the problem for letting this bullshit slide.

It's really not that difficult. Don't be a dick. Don't be a dick to children. Don't be a dick to people who haven't done anything wrong. And especially don't be a dick to people because you're unhappy with other people, and some of those other people wear the same clothes as the people you're being a dick to. You can either grasp this basic, simple content, or you can be a Republican presidential candidate. Your call.