What can pierced people do for the mutants of the future? [The Publisher’s Ring]



What can pierced people do
for the mutants of the future?

“Humans are ends in themselves, but that does not rule out the use of oneself as a tool to achieve oneself. In fact, one of the best ways of preventing humans of being used as means rather than ends is to give them the freedom to change and grow.”

- Anders Sandberg

From a talk at TransVision 2001, Berlin

Tori Swanson, 12, wanted a nostril piercing. Her parents both supported her in this wish, and, wanting to ensure that it was a safe and positive experience,

Want to give your feedback on the abuse of power going on? Here’s some contact addresses for you. Sadly this is far from a unique incident, but we have to tackle them one at a time. Please let them know what you think.

Dr. Judy F. Pippen, Principal at Bailey Middle School

jpippen@escambia.k12.fl.us or 850-479-6479

Jim Paul and Norm Ross, Superintendent’s Office
850-469-6131 voice, 850-469-6479 fax
Norm Ross told me that feedback could be faxed to this number and it would be passed on to the appropriate committee.

Dr. Allen Scott,
Director of Secondary Education

ascott@escambia.k12.fl.us
Scott is currently chairing the committee that is setting the dress codes for secondary students.

Her father took her to a professional studio where he signed the release forms and she was pierced. However, when she returned to Jim C. Bailey Middle School in Pensacola, Florida, the principal, Dr. Judy F. Pippen, suspended her and told her she would stay suspended as long as the jewelry was in her face. The school argued that Tori’s nostril piercing was so destructive to the other students’ ability to learn that they had no choice but to expel her.

It took a bit of bouncing around — no one wanted to take responsibility for the act or even explain it at first — but eventually I managed to talk to Norm Ross at the superintendent’s office who confirmed the story’s veracity (I’ve put various contact addresses in the above/right sidebar if you’d like to comment after you’ve read this).


BME:
I don’t entirely understand why she was suspended. What exactly was the issue?

ROSS:
The principal must have thought it was a distraction.

BME:
So that really was the only reason? Not health or safety?

ROSS:
No, it was a distraction.

BME:
Does the school have other problems with other students that are a distraction because of the way they look?

ROSS:
Of course.

BME:
What about minority students? Will you be getting rid of them as well?

ROSS:
You’re reaching with that.

BME:
Am I? How many minority students do you know that have been in fights because of their skin color? Do you know of students with piercings being such nexuses for problems? Am I really reaching, or am I just being too objective?

I may have been comparing apples and oranges, but I wasn’t “reaching”. Suggesting that one student becoming so mentally unfocused that they are unable to learn around a student with a nose piercing is the pierced student’s fault is ludicrous. Of course, when the victim is a minority, even a self-imposed minority, they are often changed from victim to culprit when the mainstream is the one telling the story. Norm Ross then switched the subject, asking me, “You know, if you really want the real story, you should talk to Tori. She doesn’t even want this piercing.


BME:
What? Are you saying that the parents forced her to get a nostril piercing?

ROSS:
That’s not what I’m saying.

BME:
Well, the articles make it sound like she wants to have a nostril piercing.

ROSS:
When we told her she was going to be expelled, she sounded like she regretted it. I don’t think she wants it any more.

BME:
Well, I’m not sure that’s a fair way of looking at it?

ROSS:
She doesn’t want the piercing any more. It’s that simple. It’s her choice if she wants it or not.

BME:
Yeah, but don’t you think you kind of forced that by offering to expel her if she kept it?

ROSS:
I don’t see how, this was all her doing.

It was very odd, actually, but I tried to imagine how my own thinking would be if I was utterly unable to wrap my head around the idea of piercing as a good thing… If you thought of it that way, I suppose banning it would become a non-issue, and attempts to protect it would seem quite bizarre. Ross was quite clear that he considered this the fault of the parents and the student.


ROSS:
Are you calling from the media?

BME:
Yes, in Canada. International news really finds it fascinating watching America systematically remove its civil rights, so we cover stories like these.

ROSS:
Well, I don’t see how this is taking away anyone’s rights.

BME:
Didn’t you just expel a student for a nostril piercing that her parents gave her permission for?

ROSS:
For eight hours a day we are that child’s parents, and what we say goes. We have a responsibility to not allow things like this. This isn’t up for negotiation. In any case, we haven’t taken away anyone’s rights — they don’t have to come to school if they don’t want to.

BME:
That seems a little harsh over a nostril piercing.

ROSS:
If you want the real story, talk to the parents. This is their fault.

BME:
But don’t parents have a right to give their kids permission for this? I mean, it is legal…

ROSS:
This isn’t up for negotiation. These are the school board rules. Some things are policy, and just the way things are. We have rules. If parents don’t like it they don’t have to bring their kid to school.

BME:
I suppose that explains why over two million kids are being home schooled right now in America… OK, so let me ask you who decided on these rules and why?

ROSS:
I don’t have to tell you that.

BME:
What? Why? Is this a private school?

ROSS:
No. It was decided. This is what the parents want.

BME:
Isn’t the mother threatening to sue you?

ROSS:
This is a big district. Lots of people threaten to sue us. It’s not a big deal, and it’s no reflection on what the parents want. These rules are the way they are for a reason.

This continued briefly in a circular fashion. I assume Ross simply didn’t know, rather than it being a conspiracy. I figured it was best to move on.


BME:
OK, so how does someone change those rules? Who do they talk to?

ROSS:
These things have already been decided. It’s the way things are.

This conversation was going nowhere. It took a surprising amount of hounding — there was a lot of “this is a closed process” type stalling — but eventually it was revealed that meetings are currently being held by Dr. Allen Scott, the director of secondary education, and those will be continuing over the next week or two. As to this year’s policy and the fate of Tori? It’s not up for debate according to Ross. The rules, he claims, will stay as is, and Tori is not welcome at that school as long as she’s wearing jewelry in her nose.

Let’s be clear about some things. Tori’s nostril piercing has not harmed her. Her parents support it, and she wants it (or at least wanted it). It’s not hurting anyone else, and any fool knows that a nostril piercing is a distraction so minor that a student that can’t behave around it is a problem student with or without proximity to body jewelry. Let’s also be clear about the damage it does to a child to be told that who you are is so vile that you don’t deserve an education (and then having to live without an education if they stand up for themselves) — not many people are strong enough to survive something like that. This is about people being told what to think and who to be, not about protecting the student or the education process.

Jim Paul, Norm Ross, Judy F. Pippen, and the rest of the school board bigots around Pensacola, Florida are making one simple statement when you remove all the bullshit mumbly justifications:


“If you have a piercing, we will try and destroy you.”

People say I’m nuts, that I overreact to stuff like this. That it’s not a big deal — after all, “life isn’t fair”. But how am I over reacting? Tolerating injustice as normal seems a worse crime than overreacting. The simple truth is that young people are being told that they have no right to take part in society on any level if they choose even the most minor forms of self-expression. This is dangerous.

Let me tell you a spin-off story as to why. It’s fun and it gives me an excuse to include mutants in an otherwise repetitive article.

Evolution, in simple terms, works on “punctuated equilibrium”. What that means is that everything stays the same for a long time, and then — BOOM! — all of a sudden you’ve got a whole bunch of new species in a short time period. When we talk about this evolution, it’s also important to note that it starts with a single lifeform. Evolution doesn’t happen en masse. It happens with a single animal first. If the mutation is successfully passed on, that animal will increase its population (from one animal to three or four animals) as it has children. Because this snowballs every generation, a single successful mutation can spread from one animal to the entire planet’s population over several hundred years.

If and when humans evolve into something more than human, it will happen in the same way — with a single person. One day, one person will be born the One*.

The one who is not homo sapiens sapiens, but homo sapiens superioris. Problem is, we’ve so removed the concept of only the strong and interesting surviving that when this biological Messiah is born, they’ll probably be kicked out of school and die in a gutter because we’ve set such a strong “punish difference” foundation for ourselves.

All biological improvement on this planet has come from those who are freaks. Normal lifeforms contribute little to progress (in fact, when you look at the big picture “normal” and “will become extinct” are synonyms). Only the modified can bring humanity to the future by engendering a culture that equates change with goodness. Morphological freedom is the most important right for us to defend in the 21st century. Be More.

And there you have it. By supporting Tori Swanson’s right to have a little piece of metal in her nose, in a very small but important way you are helping ensure that humans will become super-humans, rather than staying the pigs we are, wallowing in the slop pile of the mundane. It doesn’t mean that a person with tattoos will be superhuman — that’s silly of course — what it means is that by being less physically constrained in your definition of “what a good human is” you help build a much-needed foundation. It sounds nuts, but the taller a skyscraper you want to build, the bigger a foundation you need to put in place.

I think humans can build a very tall skyscraper if they’re allowed to.


Shannon Larratt
BMEzine.com

PS. Yes, I realize I’ve just described the modified as a cult of people waiting for a living god to be born. Sorry about that. Have a sense of humor about it please.


Next column: The application of tattoos in modern magic (sorry I’ve been slow on that one, I’ll try and get it posted by the end of the week).

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

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