Editorials, Someone had to die; and Obliterating unspecified ideologies

poor kitty
Animal abuse for kicks. WhatsApp photo by one of the perps.

Someone had to die

Someone had to die for the Ministry of Education’s foolish ban on high schools expelling students for serious misconduct to end. Sadly, the one who died was an innocent little kitten, thrown from the elevated Metro Station in San Miguelito to its death. Those who did it thought it was merry fun, took videos and were caught on video by the Metro. Why they were not immediately arrested is a safety and law enforcement concern of relevance to all Metro riders.

In the hue and cry there was the inevitable observation that the perpetrators should see a psychiatrist. Indeed they should, but not as a substitute for penalties under Panama’s animal cruelty laws, for which a lot of people have gone out of their ways to get passed and enforced. The proper procedure would be for them to been seen by a doctor at the juvie home, both as a matter of developing their case files for the courts and to determine if they need some sort of therapy, and which would be best if they do. Psychiatry as a rich people’s dodge around responsibility for antisocial actions demeans both that profession and society, but studies suggest that certain sorts of animal cruelty by kids are often connected with specific sorts of violent crimes when they become adults. An understanding and response to those sorts of conditions should not be confused with an excuse for crimes.

There are also the predictable calls for draconian punishment. Perhaps if the perpetrators were drawn and quartered in a public ceremony public safety would be enhanced by police and mental health workers taking careful note of just who attends such an atrocity. But severity of punishment is a sop to the streak of sadism in society that doesn’t serve a useful public safety purpose. Reasonable certainty of punishment, though, is an essential ingredient of the rule of law.

Let’s hope that what happened in the public school that these students attended is neither a one-time-only outlier event, nor restricted to just the public schools. For certain serious matters schools should have the right to expel students. This power, however, can be abused and must be regulated to avoid that. Even a crazy kid or one confined in a juvenile detention facility for a crime committed has a right to an education. Racism or other social prejudices must by law not be allowed to intrude into matters of school discipline.

Bottom line? Panama needs serious education reform and one part of that is an end to the “anything goes” attitude that the Ministry of Education has exuded over the years. If that has ended now, then this little orange kitten died as a martyr for Panama’s development in the fields of education and common decency.

Saudi Sunni jihad
The aftermath of the Saudi bombing of a residential neighborhood in Yemen’s capital. Wikimedia image.

Trump and the Sunni jihad

In the Middle East Donald Trump promised more than $400 million to further the Saudi Arabia’s Sunni jihad against the Shiites by, among other things, blowing Yemeni kids to bits with bombs dropped from the air. Then, when the US president was in the Holy Land, a British jihadi of Libyan extraction took his Sunni jihad to the exits of an arena in Manchester, England.

So Trump, in an appearance with Mahmoud Abbas, vowed that “This wicked ideology must be obliterated, and I mean completely obliterated.”

Obliterating anyone in the Middle East, and any and all Muslims, is an idea that plays well with Trump’s white supremacist base. ‘But wait,’ Trump supporters might argue. ‘He didn’t mean….’ And the president probably didn’t himself know what he means, leaving it to everyone else to put his or her own spin on it. But meanwhile, more war to “obliterate” an unnamed ideolgy, an inanimate concept that can’t be shot dead on a battlefield like a soldier or unconditionally surrender like a country. Just like the War on Terror, just like the War on Drugs. Cruel and expensive wars with no exit strategy because victory can’t be defined and even were that done it would not be possible in any meaningful way.

Yet more irresponsible words, and irresponsible actions, from Mr. Trump.


Bear in mind…


Totalitarianism teaches to subjugate; democracy illustrates to convince.
Ricardo J. Alfaro


Marriage probably originated as a straightforward food-for-sex deal among foraging primates. Compatibility was not a big issue, nor, of course, was there any tension over who would control the remote.
Barbara Ehrenreich


If there is no sacred respect for the country, for its laws and for its authorities, society is a confusion, an abyss, a singular conflict of man against man, of band against band.
Simón Bolívar


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