Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Keeping the alligators fed

Stephen King once wrote an article about why people crave horror movies. In summary, and a summary that doesn't do the article justice, is that people need to keep the 'alligators' fed-- we need to watch horror movies so we don't turn into chainsaw welding, hockey mask wearing killers. He thinks we all have this "sick" side to us, sorry Mr. King for the poor paraphrasing, and if we watch horror movies we don't act on these urges; hence, we keep the gators fed.

Okay, I like the premise and I like Mr. King's article insomuch I use it in teaching any time I have the opportunity. Sometimes I even create lesson plans just so I can use this essay of his. Of course, I use it at my film class at Alcatraz. But this time, my thoughts went a different direction.

What happens when the gators are fed but people still do unspeakable horrors to others? Oh, I don't mean killers like in slasher movies type of horrors, the Jack the Rippers and Son of Sams. Yes, they are horrific, but that's not the group I'm referring to. It's the other unspeakable acts of horror people perpetrate on each other.

Sorry for the scattering of thought processes here... stay with me if you will, please.

The kids who are sentenced to Alcatraz all live in houses. They are grouped by their offenses. So for example, if you have kids who were kleptomaniacs, performed B&E, or who are car thieves, they all get put in the same house. Druggies are all housed together. And the kids who are sex offenders are all grouped together. Some of the kids have crossover crimes: he was a druggie who stole stuff to pay for his habit- so where does he go type of issues, but you get the gist.

My problem is my students told me which group of kids live in what house. And the kids who live in houses C and G are the sex offenders: child molesters, rapists, sexual offenses that don't fit into one of these two groups.

Now, I have a problem. A personal problem.

I personally do not think child molesters or sex offenders can be rehabilitated. I just don't believe it. I also think child molesters and rapists are some of the most vile people on Earth because of the acts they've committed. I don't care about the BS that molesters were molested themselves; even a worse argument if you ask be because they know how HORRIBLE it is so why make someone else feel that way? I think child molesters and rapists deserve the death penalty, after a public flogging on the courthouse square, after having been covered in honey and fire ants, after having bamboo chutes shoved under their nails and Chinese water torture for nine days. I'm just sayin'.

Herein lies my problem: I have kids from houses C and G in my classes. Okay. There they sit, every day. I have to treat them like I would any other kid. I have to be as nice to them as I would anyone else. That is very, very hard for me. Very. I even find myself watching the way I do treat the kids, because I don't want to be extra mean to them if they misbehave in my classroom because I think they are the scum of the Earth. Yeah, guess I'm having one of those professional roadblocks. I think it goes a little more than a "personal problem."

Those kids in houses C and G would never know how I feel about them. I find myself watching myself to make sure I smile at them like I do any other kid, that I call on them the same amount, and that I give them the same 'leeway' in discipline as I do any other kid. But it's hard. Oh so very hard.

And to top it off? To make matters worse... my second favorite Alcatraz student lives in house C...

Damn alligators...



Wiley said...

Yikes. That is a tough one. The world would be such a simpler place if it was black and white. Of course, I'd be out of a job, but it'd be simpler.

Then again, life is lived in the shades of grey, isn't it?

Bragger said...

You have to separate the person from the crime. Easy to say ... hard to do. I wouldn't know how to handle it either, but I admire you for working with these kids in the first place.

Maggie said...

Wiley- it is quite the conundrum but I just keep feeding my own gators...

Bragger- thank you for your admiration. I'm not sure it's well placed, but thank you nonetheless. I really like these kids and this job, I really do. I'm just... struggling. Today i had lunch with the C house. I thought I should really try.

baby steps, i guess

Anonymous said...


first let me start with the positive! i love your pretty new pink blog look! it's refreshing! it's you!

okay, now onto the nitty gritty!
i don't know that i'd be emotionally strong enough to handle what it sounds like you have to do each and every day!
do you think it's taking an emotional toll on you? maybe you should consider a change in your life....?
find something that doesn't force you to put a 'fake' smile on your face, i'm just sayin'.....

easier said than done, and maybe you do like all the other elements of your job....

but I know it would be a hard thing for me to separate my feelings from it all.....i would do it though, if i had to....maybe....or not!
glad it's you and not me! hehe

but then again, somebody's gotta do it, right!

thanks for stopping in to see me tonight!

ciao bella
creative carmelina