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Whittling Away: News junkie


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

I will admit to being a news junkie. 

I like to be up to date with my knowledge of the world in which I live and frequently it makes me remember the past or try to think up solutions to the problems I see people dealing with. It helps keep my brain exercised and helps stave off mental mush.

There are items on the news that they wouldn’t consider showing on The Cartoon Network or on The Comedy Network because they’re just too silly.

Like the guy who called the police and reported that he had been robbed, someone had pilfered the drugs he was planning on selling and he thought the police should do something about it. Not the sharpest pool cue in the rack! 

Then there was the guy who stuck up a liquor store one night and ran down the street with the owner chasing after yelling bloody murder. A policeman on the beat took up the pursuit, the felon dodged into the neighborhood park, figuring to lose the policeman in the dark bushy area. He twisted and turned, doubled back and tried every trick he could think of and still couldn’t shake his pursuer. He finally just stopped and surrendered. As he was being taken away, he asked the officer how he was able to track him in the dark. The officer laughed and reminded the young man that he was wearing those sneakers that light up with each step. Sounds like the shoes were brighter than the guy wearing them!

It was recently reported there were two cases of 7-year-olds being handcuffed and removed from school by the police. The poor little kids were crying, obliviously traumatized by the big, mean officers — then they showed the behavior that had led to the incident, the kids were out of control completely! These were two separate incidents but a temper tantrum is a temper tantrum, they were jumping on desks, throwing things, kicking and hitting teachers and aides. In both cases the classrooms had to be evacuated for the safety of the other children. Bet there was a lot of learning going on that day! 

Being a well-known problem solver with a well-established intellectual approach to things, I asked myself what I would do in these situations since in both cases the parents of the little darlings involved are talking lawsuits. 

The first solution I came up with was that since the kids were already handcuffed, handcuff them to their parents until they taught their children some anger management techniques or at the very least some manners. I realize this is a short-term solution, so I suggest that along with the friendly police officer that now inhabits most of our schools, we add someone from the Conservation Department, like maybe a forest ranger. The police officer teaches safety and usually runs the D.A.R.E. program, the forest ranger could teach about conservation, Smokey the Bear and other nature stuff. They’d be a great team. 

What has this to do with unruly children, you may ask? Remember that conservation officers are trained to deal with out-of-control animals, bears in trees, rabid raccoons and such. Best of all, they have those tranquilizer dart guns! 

Consider the possibilities — a little one goes wild in a classroom, call Ranger Rick. Pssst… and the little one goes peacefully to sleep. No trauma, very little disturbance to class time and the kid gets a much-needed nap. It’s win-win all the way. 

Most teachers or aides who have playground duty could probably speak to the usefulness of having a highly trained person with a dart gun on call to minimize rough play.

Yup! I enjoy the news, it’s thought provoking! 

(To help head off the nasty emails, I don’t REALLY believe that tranquilizer darts should be used on children, although I can remember a few that…).

Thought for the week — The way my mind runs, I think I’ll make a sign to hang around my neck that reads “DO NOT DISTURB. ALREADY DISTURBED!”

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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