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Bad-mouth bullies are nothing

By DON ADDIS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 3, 2001


Some schools have decided to get tough on bullies, instituting new "zero tolerance" policies, including punishment for just speaking rudely to other kids.

Where were these rules when I was a kid, forced to walk two miles after school in the opposite direction from my house because Floyd Trout had me in a headlock for 20 blocks?

Speak rudely? In my day, school bullying meant getting the what-for whupped out of you by the big kids. If they had merely spoken rudely to me, I would have thanked them.

And so what if the big kids spoke rudely to me? So did the teachers. And if we're going to crack down on rude speech, there were some Army sergeants I knew who could have used some intensive remedial sensitivity training.

This zero-tolerance inquisition is raging out of control. Did you read about the Oldsmar fifth-grader who was cuffed for drawing pictures of guns? The senior who was denied participation in her graduation because a steak knife was found in her car? The wee lad who got in trouble for having a gun in his pocket -- an inch-long toy pistol that was part of his G.I. Joe action figure's gear?

No offense, school officials, but it looks to me like the zeros here are the ciphers in charge. I'd rather face an old-fashioned school bully any day than these mindless, judgment-resistant, tunnel-visioned, clue-deprived, blinder-accessorized, fairness-impaired, reason-free grown-up bullies. At least my old school bully buddy had the excuse of being too young to have learned much yet.

Hello, Spudshine, or, what hath sod wrought? This item sent me by the lovely and talented Ms. Jackie May: Scientists have created a genetically altered "superpotato" that glows in the dark. They injected a regular spud with a fluorescent gene from a luminous jellyfish.

Ugh! Let's be careful with those genes, guys. I'd hate to see my fries or Idaho baker arrive at the table with the same consistency as a jellyfish. Or the same tendency to pulsate. Hmmm. Maybe these scientists ought to be looking at glow-in-the-dark Jell-O.

Anyhow, these tubers aren't for eating. Their luminous look, say the wizards in lab coats, will tell farmers when the other, glowless potatoes in the crop need watering. After that, their mission completed, the radiant taters could be used as Christmas tree lights, laid-back tonga torches or whatever.

I think luminous food is a good idea. We all could watch what we eat, even during rolling blackouts.

I also think it's a great idea they've come up with to teach police officers the rudiments of foreign languages, the better to communicate with our residents from other nations. Someone finally figured it out: When a language-limited crook asks a cop to let him go just this once, the response of "No way, Jose," isn't always sufficient.

By hooker by crook: I've reported quite a few dumb acts by really dumb criminals in these pages, but here's a change of pace. In fact, investigators in Bonita Springs called it one of the most clever crimes in years.

Four armed robbers waited inside the door of a house of prostitution, picking off customers as they came through the door. The artful muggers bagged at least a dozen would-be Johns, tying them up and filching their funds.

So what's a victim to do? That's the smart part. It's like buying a stolen TV set that doesn't work or having your drug stash stolen. Who you gonna call?

Says here 7-Eleven is selling drunk test kits for customers who may not know for sure if they're blotto or not. I think they're right over there by the beer and fortified wine display.

Can't get over the county issuing licenses for "psychics" and requiring annual background checks on them to protect customers from fraud. Isn't that a little like requiring background checks on foxes to protect chickens?

Janet Reno for governor? Now wouldn't that be a first! I think she'd be the tallest governor Florida ever had.

Nitrous oxide versus carbon monoxide? Says here that laughing gas may be a useful tool in quitting smoking. Why not? Even if it doesn't work, you can laugh all the way to the oncology clinic.

Not to carp on the political correctness theme, but I see somebody decided that the jewfish (so dubbed since at least the 17th century) was inaptly named, PC-wise. (Well, it took somebody long enough to get offended.) Someone further decided that an appropriate new name for the super grouper would be the Goliath fish. That's fine -- until those easily-offended Philistines get wind of it.

Until then, let's all try to think of new, more polite terms for French fries, Polish sausage, Belgian waffles, Dutch ovens, Turkish taffy, Japanese sandmen, Irish stew, African violets, Indian summer, the Portuguese man-o-war, Asian flu, English muffins, Spanish moss, Mexican jumping beans, Welsh rarebit, Italian bread, Scotch broth, Maltese falcons, Canadian bacon, Hungarian goulash, Russian dressing, Siamese cats, Gypsy moths, Swiss chard, Norwegian woods, Roman meal, Grecian urns, Danish pastry, Brazilian peppers, Chinese checkers, Eskimo pie, German measles, Swedish meatballs, the Yugo and, I dunno, Czechy cheese.

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