Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

Has a Century of Progressive Education Turned Us into Obedient Sheep?

A vile murderer taunts the family of his victims and everyone in the court just sits there and takes it. This wouldn't have happened 100 years ago.

Paula Bolyard


March 25, 2013 - 10:30 am

Something vile and horrific happened in a courtroom in Ohio last week, and as I’ve reflected upon the event, I’ve been disturbed by the thought that we have become a nation of compliant sheep that no longer produces citizens capable of standing up to injustice.

At a sentencing hearing for school shooter T.J. Lane, who gunned down six high school students, killing three and paralyzing one from the chest down, Judge David Fuhry gave Lane three life sentences in prison, to be served consecutively.

In what should have been a day of closure and justice for the families of the victims and the community of Chardon that suffered so much in the wake of the school shooting last year, a courtroom full of people stood by and allowed T.J. Lane to victimize the families in a base, contemptible way that likely added exponentially to the heavy burden the families already bear.

The courtroom for Lane’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday was packed with families of the victims, students, teachers, and members of the media. As the hearing began, Lane slipped off the button-down shirt he was wearing, revealing a t-shirt onto which he had written “KILLER” with a marker. A collective gasp filled the courtroom. As the families of the victims gave their statements, Lane smiled and leered at the families, almost seeming to enjoy the moment.

After the sentence was read, Lane had the opportunity to make a statement. At that point, he said something so horrific that I’m not even going to write it here, simply to spare you if you haven’t already heard it. (You can read it and watch the video here.) Trust me, you will have to bleach your soul once you hear it. It should be added to The Book of Things That Shall Never Be Repeated. Then Lane flipped the families the middle finger as a parting shot and said, “F*** all of you!” As a mother, I had a visceral — almost physical — reaction. I almost vomited, thinking about the pain his contemptible words caused the families and how they’ll never be able to scrub them from their minds.

People called talk-radio programs that day to vent their anger. Along with vicious prison-retribution wishes, caller after caller said they would have been arrested had they been in the courtroom. They wouldn’t have stood by while Lane visually and verbally tortured the parents.

WTAM host Bob Frantz said: “I would have been shot dead today. I would have leapt tables to get to that kid.”

And yet.

Everyone stood by and let it happen.

WTAM host Mike Trivisonno interviewed several of the main characters in the courtroom drama. Asked what would have happened if he had told Lane to put his shirt back on, Sheriff Dan McClelland said, “I don’t know that.” He continued: “It is the judge’s courtroom.”

After the hearing, the judge issued a statement saying he had not seen the t-shirt.

Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz said he assumed the judge had seen it. At the end of the hearing, Flaiz asked the court to enter into the record the fact that Lane was wearing the shirt and that he had gestured toward the family with his middle finger (for the sake of the court transcript).

Flaiz later said:

I probably, in retrospect, should have done a better job of pointing it out. Again, when he pulled that stunt, what’s going through my mind is he’s just digging himself in deeper here. And I know that he’s going to have appellate counsel that are going to want to challenge his life sentences.

Defense attorney Ian Friedman said:

May no one ever have to sit in a courtroom again and experience what we experienced today. There’s only so much any of us could do in the courtroom. No one in their right mind would want that to happen. And if there’s anything any of us could have done — and I know the sheriff’s a decent guy — Sheriff McClellandd and his entire group, if they could have done something, they would. If there’s something we could have done we would have. But this young man acted on his own.

And yet, he danced around the question when Trivisonno asked if he told his client to put his shirt back on.

Veteran reporter Paul Orlousky from 19 Action News, who was in the press room during the hearing, said:

Somebody should have slipped a note to the the bailiff or something. Something needed to happen. This shouldn’t have been allowed to continue. … I’ve seen people kicked out of the courtroom for shorts, for wearing a hat, for inappropriate t-shirt — come back when you’re dressed appropriately. Much like Sheriff McClellan said, the judge is in his kingdom, or her kingdom, when they’re on that bench and you can do what you want.

(In fact, wearing a t-shirt is a violation of Geauga County courtroom rules.)

I am perhaps willing to cut the lawyers some slack for being lawyerly and not wanting to give this guy any infinitesimal chance at an appeal. But what about everyone else in the courtroom? There are certain moments in time where decent people need to stand up. I am just stunned that there was not one person in that courtroom who was willing to speak up and say: “This. Must. Stop!”

Images of the packed courtroom show how many people were in close proximity to Lane. They all merely stood by, allowing the attack on the families to continue. That hearing screamed for a Rep. Joe Wilson “You lie!” moment.

YouTube Preview Image

I’d like to suggest that 100 years ago someone (or several someones) would have “leapt the table” to defend the honor of those families and those slain teenagers. They’d have at least risked being removed from the courtroom to make sure those families and everyone in the room knew exactly how offensive the “KILLER” shirt was. But I fear a century of progressive policy — in particular, progressive education – has turned us into a nation of obedient zombies, unable to question authority and unwilling to stand up in the face of injustice.

John Taylor Gatto, a “radical” education reformer who spent 26 years as a public school teacher in Manhattan — three times as the New York City “Teacher of the Year” — wrote:

[S]lowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior.

[T]he structure of schooling is held together by a Byzantine tapestry of reward and threat, of carrots and sticks. Working for official favor, grades, or other trinkets of subordination; these have no connection with education — they are the paraphernalia of servitude, not freedom.

Consider the control exerted upon students by school authority figures. Students are told when they must arrive and when they may leave according to state compulsory attendance laws. They’re told when they may sit, stand, move about, use the restroom, eat (and even what they may eat), speak, and socialize. Worse, many modern schools have the feel of prisons, complete with metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, and guards roaming the hallways. Is it any wonder that when students graduate after spending 13 years in this environment, they have little desire, let alone any skills, for questioning authority?

Ayn Rand, who also had some “radical” views on education, wrote a book called The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, with a chapter titled “The Comprachicos.” She began with an excerpt of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs, describing “Comprachicos” — a Spanish word meaning “child-buyer.” The Comprachicos were 17th century nomads who bought and sold children and turned them into freaks used to amuse the public. They placed young children in oddly shaped pots and as the children grew, they formed to the shapes of the pots. Rand uses the practice of the Comprachicos to describe compulsory education:

The students’ development is arrested, their minds are set to respond to slogans, as animals respond to to a trainer’s whistle, their brains are embalmed in the syrup of altruism as an automatic substitute for self-esteem. … They would obey anyone, they need a master, they need to be told what to do. They are ready now to be used as cannon fodder — to attack, to bomb, to burn, to murder, to fight in the streets and die in the gutters. They are a trained pack of miserably impotent freaks, ready to be unleashed against anyone.

While we’re not quite at the point of potted Bonsai children, we see paraded across the news nearly every day reports of American adults who grew up in the stifling, obedience-demanding factory-model schools. Otherwise intelligent, successful Americans bow to the most outrageous demands of government officials and school personnel. A school disciplines a child for wielding an assault Pop-Tart in school and parents cheer protective school officials. The state of Massachusetts mandates that boys who identify as girls must be allowed to use the girls’ locker rooms and restrooms. Parents who disagree are told it is imperative in order to “foster understanding of gender identity,” and parents silently comply, subjecting children as young as five to a confusing social experiment. A nanny governor tells adult citizens (in the most illiberal liberal city in the country) how much salt, fat, and soda they may purchase, and there are no marches in the streets. The government forces religious employers to violate their beliefs by making them pay for contraceptives, and half the country yawns.

A twisted murderer strips off his shirt in court to flaunt his “KILLER” t-shirt, and though everyone gasps and everyone understands at that moment the cruelty being inflicted upon the families, not one person simply speaks up and says: “Put your shirt back on, young man.” Was everyone waiting for someone else to step up and do something — waiting for the adult in the room? Was it fear of the judge? Respect for the court? Yes, they would have broken the rules of court decorum and yes, there may have been consequences, but if ever there was a moment for a small act of civil disobedience for the sake of justice, this was it.

The vast majority of Americans were educated in the progressive school model, and it’s worth some introspection to consider how that experience now influences our response to the world around us. Those of us who have encountered the schools through our children and don’t think twice about calling much younger teachers “Miss” or Mr.” and have felt intimidated at parent-teacher conferences may begin to understand the extent of the authoritarian influence our school experience exerts on our adult psyches.

I’m no card-carrying libertarian. I support reasonable restraints on behavior in civil society and appreciate and respect the rule of law. We have raised and “radically” educated two sons who respect authority and are polite, law-abiding citizens. But we have also raised them with a Reaganesque “trust but verify” attitude toward authority. And I hope that means they understand that at times it is appropriate to stand up for the defenseless when the authorities won’t — to do what they know is right even in the face of ridicule, scorn, or legal action.

Would you have the courage to stand up in a courtroom and say, “Put your shirt on, young man,” or would you be counted among the obedient?

If you’re not sure what you (or your children) would do, it might be time to question the near-universally accepted education paradigms and consider a radical makeover.

In addition to writing for PJ Tatler and PJ Lifestyle, Paula also writes for Ohio Conservative Review,. She is co-author of a new Ebook called, Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children’s Future. Paula describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third. She is also a member of the Wayne County Ohio Executive Committee.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I dunno; "High Noon" didn't come from nowhere. The mass of the citizenry, especially in towns and cities has always been pretty docile. As far back as I know anything about History, town and city dwellers have used their money to have somebody else do the dirty and dangerous work and it takes utmost provocation to get John Q. Citizen to grab that musket over the door, if he has one at all these days. That take care of it yourself or saddle up the posse mentality is almost exclusively found in the rural areas of the Country.

The real problem here isn't the families and spectators in the courtroom, it is the judge and baliffs so cowed by the ACLU, liberal politicians, and political correctness that they didn't dare respond to an outrage.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The judge had several options available to him. He could have ordered him to put the shirt on. He could have ordered him to change into an orange jumpsuit. He could have ordered him shackled and bound if he really got out of control (or even ordered him to sit in a separate room and participate via video feed). Granted, all of those may have been more disruptive and prolonged the agony for the families.

Still, don't you find it shocking that no one in the audience reacted when (either because he really did not notice the shirt or because he was indifferent), the judge did nothing? People have no problem screaming at the McDonald's employee when he forgets the pickles on their Big Mac. Yet they do nothing when a killer does something like this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I was following this TJ Lane court appearance when the news broke, and to be perfectly honest I was completely shocked that the judge allowed his courtroom to get this out of control. All this did was inspire the next generation of killers. But I digress.

But to the bigger question of sheeple - yes. I am somewhat of a political activist, and it is appalling to me how many people are perfectly willing to sit back and let their rights get destroyed by politicians and courts because they don't even know who their own reps are. But, they can tell you every single thing that happened on American Idol and Survivor, what Justin Bieber said every day for the last week, and where Lindsay Lohan and Snooki are right now. The mind-numbing media choices now make people simply take the path of least resistance, and politics isn't it.

Killers like Lane, Lanza, Cho, Loughner - they are scum. Nothing more than domestic terrorists and should be labeled and prosecuted as such. Our judicial system has become weakened because we the people have let it be weakened. But hey, Dancing with the Stars is on.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (54)
All Comments   (54)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
John Dewey and his followers are not responsible for sheep-like behavior, but rather innovations supported by liberal foundations during the 1960s. They were not intellectuals or philosophers, but political strategists. Their latest moves, the Common Core curriculum, is described here:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The rantings of a weak, pathetic, coward trying desperately to appear defiant, but really hoping to be killed by an angry parent so that he could claim just one more victim and be spared from having to face his greatest fear: Becoming the prison f*ck boy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do you find evil offensive? I agree that the judge should have done something in this case, but I have to say that after what he DID, what he SAYS could have very little effect on me. The best thing that could have been done would have been to laugh in his face. Because words is all he has and it is up to us to make sure they have no power.

As far as school training us to be sheep: wha? Schools are far more out of control than they were a hundred years ago. Teachers have been neutered from enforcing discipline in classrooms for ages. What you see as a laboratory for good little soldiers I see as an environment conducive to learning. I don't have a problem with the structure. I have a problem with the message. Children aren't taught how to think, but what to think. It is THIS that results in sheep, but that leads to my next point...

As others have pointed out, and has been apparently to social scientists for a long time, it is human nature to behave like a sheep. It is human nature to bow to authority. Experiments have shown that people will kill based simply on the order by authority. Very few people are proactive, everyone wants someone [else] to do something. How often do you find yourself thinking "someone should do something about that"? How often do you realize that "someone" is you?

Have you ever taken CPR? You don't yell "Somone call 911!" you pick out a person and tell them to do it, because otherwise it won't happen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A long time ago (I'm close to 75 in age) I "invented" the term "overcivilization" as meaning those who are no longer mentally capable of resisting evil, even if they had the means to do so. This is the situation we find ourselves in today. Another term might be "A Society of Sheep". I fear that our problem is due to having become too "civilized". An overly civilized people are no longer capable of even thinking of resisting evil, even if they were given the means to do so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Very nice piece. While I agree that the educational system has produced many people who function in a morally vegetative state, I am not sure that this applies directly to the courtroom passivity. That is, the judges rule criminal courts. The deputies warn the assembled that even speaking in the room carries criminal penalty (misdemeanor), and this tends to make lots of fairly outspoken people behave like mice in the presence of Tom the cat (Jerry?).

What I think has changed is that murderers are much bolder and prouder these days, the products of a culture that is simultaneously shallow (often) and promotes selfish displays. This killer kid was on a narcissistic rant, no doubt very annoyed that he is to spend his life in prison, and seizing on his opportunity to taunt the extended pool of victim. It was the judge's responsibility to shut him up forthwith, and the judge did not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The judge should have sentenced him to sixty days in solitary for that stunt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The light is starting to come on, for some of you.

If you're a product of over a century of progressive/socialist education in America -and you are- may have some issues that need to be dealt with, yourselves. I'm talking to you Mr. and Mrs. Conservative.

If you've always been lied to by our traditional institutions, it means that nothing you think you know is true. Your own knowledge base needs to be scrutinized and rebuilt from the ground up.

Careful, there Mr SoCon. The christian socialists infiltrated the churches and seminaries of of our nation beginning in the 1830's. Your book may not be subject to change, but your doctrines and teachings about that book are another matter.

All of your assumptions and preconceptions need to be re-examined.

When many of you believe that government should be used to limit the freedoms of others? When you think that freedom is another way of saying 'anarchy'? The left is no different in this attitude towards freedom, but you condemn it in them, but praise it in yourselves?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ordered Liberty, look into it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I fear you would have to go back beyond 1913 in many cities to get the kind of reaction his behavior would dhave elicited in many rural areas of the country. The east coast in particular became "wussified" long before that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You lost me when you quoted Ayn Rand. I know she is the darling of the Libertarian set but any honest and careful examination of her life reveals that she was sociopath. (See the Passion of Ayn Rand) You are seeking to blame the education for people sitting in setting where violent emotional outbursts have always been forbidden. This story isn't about the education system; it's about the failure to impose the death penalty. When you know you aren't getting out all restraints are removed. If you are on death row there are incentives to try to behave because there is a chance that the sentence will be commuted.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Its not that they are sheep; its that the system has failed them.

In the good old days, that freak wouldn't have made it to the station. There would have been some faulty stairs or resisting arrest.

And why did he get 3 life terms? Death penalty was made for guys like this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 4 Next View All