September 05, 2013

Paula Deen

Paula Deen

Those of us who can remember the old order know that, on the contrary, it was far more flexible and tolerant than the dreary soft totalitarianism of today.

Around 45 years ago I was teaching Special Ed in inner-city Liverpool. I had things to say about the experience here. My students were not brain-damaged or disturbed”€”there were different schools for them“€”they were “educationally subnormal,” which meant very backward academically at age 11-plus, when 1960s British public education did the Great Sort.

Our students”€”all boys, ages 12 to 16″€”were given IQ tests every year. (Such innocent times! We teachers didn’t administer the tests; specialists came from the city education authority to do it.) Most of them scored in the 70s or low 80s, but there was a scattering in the 60s.

Among that scattering at our school were two identical twin boys, aged 13-14. They were borderline FLK and close to ineducable, though of course we did our best. (Sorry: “FLK” is Special Ed teacher’s slang: “Funny-Looking Kids.”) They were, though, good-natured, cooperative, and no trouble.

The twins went everywhere together and looked out for each other. Their bonds of affection with their parents were also very strong; they spoke and wrote (to the degree they could write the compulsory daily diary) very lovingly of their mum and dad. The dad used to accompany them to and from school, one twin holding each hand. I met him: a warty, unkempt gnome of a fellow with a speech impediment. He was diligent about bringing the twins to school every morning. Over-diligent, in fact: He also used to bring them on public holidays and had to be sent back home by the school caretaker. Dad had weekends figured out OK, but holidays were too much of a cognitive burden.

The school nurse, who visited the kids’ homes, brought back some dire reports of the twins’ domestic arrangements, which were miserably poor and unsanitary”€”poop in odd corners, the occasional floorboard taken up for firewood, that sort of thing. I can’t recall if there was domestic violence, but there usually was down at that level”€”the wife and kids got smacked around some when dad was drunk. None of it subtracted from the twins’ devotion to their parents.

The nurse told us that there was a faction among the city social workers that wanted to remove the twins from their parents and put them “in care””€”for their own good, of course. This faction was always overruled on the grounds that separation from mum and dad would be emotionally devastating for the twins. When I left the school they were still a united family. I hope they stayed that way.

Goodness knows how the twins eventually navigated through adulthood, but at least they had a solid foundation of close family affection, which is more than can be said of some people with much better starts in life.

Nowadays the twins would be “in care” for sure, being felt up by pedophile social workers while the dorm bully steals their toys. Their parents would probably be doing jail time for “abuse” of some kind.

That school is long gone, I see“€”swept away, with the slums around it, for some tidy rows of housing. Well, the slums are no loss. Everything’s neater, cleaner, and more prosperous. But where are our liberties?


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