Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What a Strange World We Live In

In the past few months I've had time to think about a lot of things.  One of the things I've thought most about is our society, and how it hardly resembles the one I grew up in.  Things I used to take for granted, or things that I never even bothered to worry about are now big issues.  I thought I'd share some of these observations.  

Fire Marshals wearing bullet proof vests: It happened during one of the various festivals that happen around WVU, but I ran into a Fire Marshal that I have known off and on for a number of years.  Talking to him about his job at one of these festivals I was shocked to notice that he was wearing a tactical vest underneath the outer garments of his office.  

I was rather shocked because this is the FIRE MARSHAL.  This is the guy that walks into a building and buzz kill though it might be prevents a major disaster from happening.  Too many people at the party could lead to a panic in the case of a fire.  I was absolutely shocked to learn that in the course of his duties people had actually tried to attack him.   Apparently in the state and around the country several people in his position have been killed in the course of doing their duty to prevent death by fire. 

What happened to the days when we recognized that indeed, getting into a fight with someone that was trying to save your life was a bad idea.  What happened to the respect we used to hold for the people whose job it is to save us from our own stupidity?  This isn't a police officer trying to bust up a drug ring.  The reality of this, that now even EMS are wearing stab proof vests leave me feeling that we've crossed some invisible line, and our edifices really are crumbling.  As a child I'd never even heard of a person attacking fire or EMS, now it seems like this is a common occurrence. 

Local courthouse is now a prison: I got the full on TSA treatment the other day when I went to pay my taxes on my car.  They stopped just short of feeling me up, but I went through the whole nine yards.  I couldn't understand this.  It's not like this court would heard weighty cases this is a minor (though growing) municipality, the majority of cases they see are DUI, and underage intoxication.  What was even more alarming was outside of the actual entrance checkpoint which had several officers and a camera system that would make big brother jealous, there were actually checkpoints in every hallway of desks with armed officers.  

After asking one why the increased security, wondering aloud if a specific threat had been made, he related to me that in fact this was a statewide program, because people were entering the building with guns, and apparently there had been. . . incidents.  I was flabbergasted at first but as he explained it, the situation made more sense.  Courthouses are places people are typically not happy.  The court is a target of ire, and anyone running around in high emotions with a loaded gun could be a recipe for a really bad day for all involved.  What I didn't understand is why people could have possibly thought that there would be any different outcome.  

Contracts about social media: recently, I was talking to a friend who had graduated from the law school here at WVU last year.  I was asking him about what it was like practicing law in the state of West Virginia, and he related to me something that I thought was absurd at first.  Apparently every new client that his firm takes has to sign a contract with the law firm basically saying they won't go on social media and talk about the case.  At first I thought this was absolutely laughable.  Do you seriously as a lawyer have to tell you're client to stay off Facebook?  

Unfortunately my friend related to me in the same details I would give about patient care that in fact it is very much a requirement.  Apparently at some point a case my friend was working on went belly up when his client got on social media and rather foolishly bragged that they were going to get a big paycheck from their employer.  Choice words were said to describe their boss, and in a rather spectacularly bad idea actually named names, and said very unpleasant things.  The case was going to settle out of court, but, well the short version is the case died a very spectacular death.  I thought this was a hilarious incident of indiscretion.  

This couldn't possibly be a common occurrence I said, but then he showed me posts from Reddit, and Facebook groups that went from hilarious to positively sad.  Apparently its a real thing.  Lawyers, have had to deal with both civil and criminal cases where their clients have let loose an epically stupid tirades on social media.  In one case a lawyer related that their client was bragging about how good they (the lawyer) was, then proceeded to admit to the very crime she was accused of.  I have to say that I have a new found level of respect for those that practice law.  Much like the medical profession, they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with the stupidity of the people their working for.  

I wish I could say that this is more than just random musings but it seems like our society really is stuck on stupid.  As we seem to drift ever closer to a precipice, I wonder what new insanity will emerge to show us how much we as a society are decaying.  What new mundane thing will suddenly need to be spelled out?  What new safety measure will become mandatory when even five years ago it would have been laughable.  I don't know, and I really don't want to find out.  

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