We can all agree that when it comes to ranking despicable people, bullies are pretty high on the list. Beating on or harassing those weaker than you is scummier than anyone needs to be.
We also can all agree that when it comes to dealing with the problem, there are probably better groups to turn to than the Texas legislature. Still, that hasn't stopped the lege from stepping in.
Two bills have been introduced in the hopes of ending forever the scourge of bullying. In one, anyone found to be a bully will be transferred to another school in the same district. Which really comes closer to moving the problem than solving it.
Another, by Representative Ruben Hope, will transfer anyone who is the victim of bullying. "I wanted to make it easier for somebody to ask to have a kid transferred to another school of their choosing without any problems," says Hope, a Conroe Republican.
The bill defines bullying as "written or verbal expression or physical contact" that would cause emotional distress, which certainly covers a lot of ground. No age limit is mentioned.
Call us cynics, but we see nothing but trouble.
Say you're a stud football player stuck at perennial doormat Austin High. You want out in the worst way, but rules designed to limit coaches recruiting from other schools are in your way.
What do you do? Simple: Get some poindexter from AP English to turn his rapier wit on you.
"Sir," you somehow manage to say to your principal, "I -- I -- I always was proud of playing football, but Simon keeps quoting George Will to me, saying, 'Football combines two of the worst features of American life: violence and committee meetings.' I really can't take any more."
So off you go to Lamar, where they know how to treat football players.
Hope says he doesn't think there will be any abuse of the law. "The school districts have got to apply a little bit of discretion when they are examining these requests," he says.
Like we say, we expect absolutely no problems with it.
The ultra-trendy 002 Magazine features a column called "The Insider," by HPD officer Thomas Nixon. It offers, as you might expect, an inside look at what HPD folks are thinking.
In the current issue, what they're thinking is that "Rats Love Cocaine." Nixon wrote of rats breaking into evidence boxes and gnawing their way to free coke.
Which led to this riff: "I can only imagine that there was a burgeoning drug trade in the inner-city rat community. I won't be surprised if I ever find a gang of rats all wearing Nike jump suits, Rolex watches, gold teeth and carrying a nine 'milli.' Of course they'll all claim that it's not their cocaine and that I'm just a species-ist Of course I'll have to fill out a 'species' profiling card, just to prove I'm not prejudiced towards rats."
HPD would then, he wrote, suspend him for "something trivial I did that was wrong so they can prove their sensitivity to the rat community."
And the relationship between HPD and minorities takes another giant step forward.
We couldn't reach Nixon, a ten-year HPD vet, but 002 managing editor Carla Valencia says they've received no complaints.
She says HPD did call to "investigate" the column at one point, but not because of possible racial overtones. Instead, she says, the department called after Clear Channel Communications complained about an earlier effort, where Nixon said pot-smoking was rampant at the Verizon Wireless Theater.
Valencia says Nixon's going to law school; it looks like he may need the training.
Just Killing Time
Stuck yet again staring at a computer on the cube farm, typing up TPS reports and waiting for five o'clock?
Forget about the latest time-wasting game making the e-mail rounds. Be a man. Go kill yourself some deer.
John Lockwood, owner of www.live-shot.com, is offering Web surfers the chance to maneuver a remote-control rifle and fire away on his ranch in Rock Springs near San Antonio.
Right now, you can only shoot at targets, both the little metal ones you see at carnivals and balloons filled with flour, if you want to re-create that thrilling look of exploding brains.
Come April, though, you'll be able to go after live game from the comfort of your home or office.
It'll cost you. No price has been set yet for the live-game shooting, but firing away at targets costs $5.95 for a ten-shot session. You can get a month's membership for $14.95. And, just to show that there are some people who will purchase things you would have thought to be unsellable, live-shot.com offers a DVD of your session of remote-control blasting of targets for only $9.95 plus shipping.
Lockwood says about 300 people, from all over the world, have done it so far.
You can't just go all Lee Harvey Oswald from your keyboard, however. A ranch employee is positioned next to the rifle, and he does not remove the safety to allow a shot until he's sure everything's okay.
"We've got a lot of illegal aliens who come through our area, and you don't want somebody who doesn't know any better to sight on a person and pull the trigger," says Lockwood, whose naïveté about at least some of his audience's attitude toward illegal aliens is charming.
The first customer to shoot at a live animal will be a quadriplegic who's (obviously) been forced to give up hunting. He uses his tongue to control the gun and blows into a tube to shoot.
It brings a tear to the eye, we're tellin' ya. For so many reasons.
Rules Are for Suckers
Harris County prosecutor Kelly Siegler, she of the stabbing re-enactments and other theatrical productions (see "Talking Turkey," November 25), has got courthouse tongues wagging again.
Siegler is handling the high-profile case of former Katy High football star David Mark Temple, charged -- after six years of investigation -- with killing his wife.
Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin says he (and apparently Siegler) received a letter from a prison inmate who said a fellow jailbird had bragged about killing Temple's wife. When DeGuerin tried to track the inmate down, he found he wasn't in TDCJ -- he was in the Harris County Jail.
Siegler had gotten the inmate transferred for questioning under a bench warrant, a not-unusual move -- except she filed the motion in a completely unrelated case.
"She did it so it would be secret from me," DeGuerin says.
Siegler didn't return calls, but DeGuerin says she had an explanation when state District Judge Bill Harmon had a hearing on the matter March 2.
Asked about getting a "bogus bench warrant" by citing an unrelated case, DeGuerin says, Siegler just shrugged. "We do that all the time," DeGuerin claims she said.
It's a good thing they're developing a TV series about Siegler's exploits. It'd be a shame to waste a real-life scene of "Rules? The book? I don't play by no damn book!"
Spur 527 is closed! Try these alternate routes:
1. Take Milam or Smith south to Gray. Take a right and go approximately one mile to Stanford. Park, enter PJ's Sports Bar, drink for three hours. Continue on Gray to Shepherd, take a left and get back on 59.
2. Take I-10 east to Beaumont. Take U.S. 69 north for 167 miles to Henderson. Take State Highways 79 and 84 for 159 miles west to Waco. Take State Highway 77 and I-10 for 185 miles to Houston. Driving time: approximately the same as taking the designated Spur 527 detour.
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3. Take any downtown street to Webster, the officially recommended way to now get to 59. Stop after ten feet of driving. Wait one half-hour. Drive additional ten feet. Wait half-hour. Inch behind mammoth SUV sporting "W" sticker. Wait 45 minutes. Listen, for the tenth time, to Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be" on the radio. Kill yourself, causing an even more massive traffic jam.
4. Instead of 59, take the Katy Freeway if you're heading west. It's a modern, efficient roadway easily able to handle any traffic load.
5. Take light rail to the Fannin Park & Ride. Travel time: approximately the same as taking the designated Spur 527 detour, considering the constant stops to collide with pedestrians and cars, and the subsequent investigations.
6. Move to Austin for the duration. Buy Birkenstocks first.