When Happy Thoughts Are Valued More Than True


When Judge Standley talked frankly with Clear Springs High School kids about drug abuse, the school administration and MADD got their panties in a twist. So did some kids, but their protestations have an Eddie Haskell sound to them. (See also this and this.)

I wonder if the adults would have felt any differently knowing that this guy and his customers were in the room.

Probably not. Americans are so damn delusional about their kids and drugs (see also “sex”): they think that if they pretend that they never did drugs when they were kids, their kids won’t do drugs. Horseshit. Kids are going to do what they want. If they want to do drugs (like because mom and dad do drugs—and chances are that they do: prescription pills, ethanol, marijuana, nicotine, caffeine) they’re going to do drugs.

I never tried anything heavier than laughing gas (I know, I’m so uncool) and I rarely use alcohol or prescription meds or caffeine and never smoke anything, but I will not be at all surprised if my kids push the boundaries of experimentation farther than I did. Not ecstatic, but not surprised.

I won’t be surprised if your kids do, either (nor ecstatic, if that makes you feel better). Pretending they won’t doesn’t make it any less likely; in fact, by not confronting the unpleasant truth—especially if you’re lying to your kids about your past and current drug use—you make it more likely. Talk honestly with your kids, and maybe they’ll talk honestly with you. Try to bullshit them, and you might as well have left the building.

MADD and Clear Lake ISD wished that Judge Standley hadn’t spoken with Clear Springs High School students as if they might actually decide to use drugs and he knew it. The school and MADD took the “don’t confront the unpleasant truth” approach, which is politically popular, and likely supported by most Clear Springs High School parents. Grownups think that if they don’t do drugs (except alcohol and prescription pills; those don’t count) and have successfully concealed from their children the experimentation of their youth they can expect their children to do what they are told to do. In other words, they’ve forgotten what it was like to be a teenager.

So here’s what all the “let’s not confront the unpleasant truth, and let’s shoot the messenger who does” gets Clear Springs High School:


7 responses to “When Happy Thoughts Are Valued More Than True”

  1. How much do you wanna bet that Judge Standley recognized a couple of the students in the crowd from having seen them in his courtroom? (How many of them has he seen since he gave the speech?)

  2. I think the Judge has seen plenty of parents in denial of the behaviour of their kids. He merely did what parents could do, talk honestly with a measure of respect.

  3. In fairness, though, the coach was apparently dealing steroids. Steroids are dangerous, possibly more dangerous than prescription pills or recreational drugs, but I don’t think that’s what the judge was cautioning the students about.

  4. ” In addition to the Galveston County possession charge, Porter is accused of two counts in Harris County of delivery of controlled substances – including cocaine, according to the Friends­wood police.” Houston Chronicle.

  5. Oh no, I got the point, abstinence-only doesn’t work whether it’s about sex or drugs and alcohol. MADD outs itself as an organization that hates drinking, period, but nobody would support them if they did that, so they just go after the big bad drunk drivers. Otherwise they’d support the judge telling the kids “if you’re going to drink, do it responsibly,” which is essentially what MADD’s message should be.

    On the other hand, it’s hard to have your head in the sand about steroids. If your kid puts on 50 pounds of muscle and goes from JV scrub to starting linebacker over the course of a summer? This being Texas and all, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few football dads were buying steroids for their kids from this guy.

  6. I’ve always thought Judge Standley got an extremely raw deal on this. His statements were not only practical, but completely in line with the common sense approach of Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD).

    There are members of the judiciary who could not care less about the impact cases have on the young, the naive, and those who made a little more than a bone headed mistake. Judge Standley gets criticized because he actually takes his oath – to ensure justice tempered with mercy – seriously.

    Although I have clashed frequently with His Honor, it is always a matter of style. I have never questioned his integrity or desire to balance the needs of society against the needs of the accused. At the end of the day, you leave knowing he has done what he believes is right. That should not be the exception, but sadly it is often the case.

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