Friday, October 12, 2007

Silence, Please

Today, a new law goes into effect in Illinois. In a nutshell, students have to do what teacher’s have been begging them to do for decades, shut the fuck up. OK, maybe not in those exact words, but something pretty close. All schools in Illinois are required to start the day with a moment of silence. Students can use this time to pray, meditate, mentally undress their classmates, imagine midgets playing Parcheesi, or rebuild the alternator in a 1979 Chevy Malibu Classic. Their choice.

There’s a lot of problems with the law, the biggest of which is that there is no set punishment in place for students who don’t comply with the law. But the main problem I have is that no one has stopped to ask the basic question, “How long should a ‘moment of silence’ last?” 30 seconds? A minute? Theoretically, it could last all the way through the school year.

I’ve always wondered about the “moment of silence.” You’ll be at a sporting event and the announcer will ask for a moment of silence for whatever the cause du jour is. For the most part, people comply, but eventually the cheering starts up. Slowly at first, then building to a roaring crescendo before the announcer says, “Thank you,” and everyone goes back to ogling cheerleaders.

I want to know what goes through the guy’s head who starts the first cheer. Does he feel like a martyr? Does he say to himself, “Screw it, I’ll be the asshole and get this party started right.” Or, does he tell himself from the get-go that this is total b.s. and he’s not going to shut up for anyone? I want to know!

If I were a team owner, I’d keep a guy on payroll specifically for breaking the moment of silence. I’d give him all the beer he can drink plus a foam finger of his choosing. Then, I’d tell him to do everything in his power to disrupt the moment of silence. Why? Because if you give people too much time to think, they’re going to wonder why they just forked out over a hundred bucks for tickets and parking and then they’re asked NOT to cheer for the team or make any noise at all. I’m sure people really like paying money so you can tell them what not to say.

And, if I were a teacher, I’d do the same thing. I’d find the weirdest kid in the class and say to him, “Johnny, when the moment of silence starts, I want you to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ in your head. When you’re done, just start clapping and hollering and I’ll give you some fruit snacks before lunch.” Because, if I were a teacher, I wouldn’t want that moment of silence cutting into my workday. I’d want to get out of there ASAP before the sickening smell of young learners starts to get fetid.

Yeah, this law is pretty stupid.

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