Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can we have a war on idiots? Please?

We have a war of drugs. And a war on terrorism. And on child porn. Can we have a war on idiots?

I don't have much of an opinion on drugs. Don't know much about the balance between the individual rights and the public interest, especially since it is quite different for different substances, don't have any ideological stance, don't know enough about long term effects, etc. Don't know whom to trust, either, what with so many people having very strong feelings one way or another.

I do, however, know a real idiot when I see one. Especially if the idiot has enough determination and drive to make his or her idiocy known to the Supreme Court of the USA, and a number of major news services.

In their infinite zeal to fight drugs a number of schools in the US have banned, well, drugs. Not the illegal kind that you (well, some people. Not me, perish the thought!) used to buy from the three kids hanging out behind the library - those have always been banned. The kind that you buy from a pharmacy.

This started back in the mid-nineties. Since then nobody has ever managed to explain with any degree of coherence what this bright idea is meant to accomplish and why.

In 2003 the Safford Middle School in Arizona has received an accusation that a 13-year-old girl named Savana Redding had been distributing prescription-strength ibuprofen.

For those who don't know, ibuprofen is an over-the-counter painkiller. Prescription strength, in the US, is anything with more that 200mg in one pill. A person of any age can freely buy a bottle of 500-1000 200mg pills, usually for $10-15. There is no recreational opportunity, but taking too much of them might irritate your stomach. Or not. And yes, most normal people offer those to a friend if they have the pills and the friend has a headache.

In any case, Savana Redding was called to the vice principal's office, where the little criminal denied the accusation. Her backpack was searched with no results. Then the school officials in their infinite wisdom decided to strip search her.

The strip search found no ibuprofen, either. The young yet hardened criminal had surely hidden the terrible drug up her ass, and the school official wisely decided not to go down (or up) that road (now I understand what all those zero-tolerance policies on touching children are really for).

Anyway, the girl took the school district to court, last year the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor, and now the school district is appealing this decision in the Supreme Court.

"School officials said the court was "wholly uninformed about a disturbing new trend" -- the abuse of over-the-counter medication by teenagers," says the article.

So explain to me, Einsteins: how does one abuse ibuprofen? Except by taking a ten-kilo bag of it and beating insane school officials over the head with it, I mean.

Moreover, even if some over-the-counter medication were really usable recreationally, what's the point of banning it in school? We ban illegal drugs in school - I assume - because if we don't, the school can become an easy distribution point, where the people who don't otherwise have access to a drug buy it from the ones who do. What is the point of the banning a drug to which everyone has easy access in any drugstore and foodstore? Are the school officials afraid that people will start using it recreationally during the lessons? Not that some lessons couldn't benefit from that.

Can we have a war on idiots? Please? I promise to bring a heavy bag of ibuprofen as a weapon.

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