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Jason Rantz

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Rantz: Radical ACLU-WA fights to make schools unsafe for ludicrous reason

North Central High School in Spokane. (Spokane Public Schools)

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department wants to help schools deal with emergencies, particularly school shootings. While rare, tensions are perennially high, particularly after mass shootings, like the ones in El Paso and Dayton. Unfortunately, yet again, the radical ACLU-WA is getting in the way with a disingenuous, fear-mongering public campaign.

The sheriff’s office has an agreement with area school districts to access their security systems during emergencies. They’ll be able to see live footage to better assist law enforcement arriving on scene.

But the ACLU doesn’t like this technology because they always assume the absolute worst, using situations like this to highlight how incredibly radical they are. Per the Spokesman-Review:

Shankar Narayan, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the Washington ACLU, said mass shootings are sometimes used by law enforcement and other agencies as a way to increase surveillance without accountability. He said this proposal is concerning, because the definition of what could be an emergency is extremely broad.

It’s not concerning, according to parents. The idea is popular with one school district, citing 92 percent of parents surveyed being in favor of the technology, according to the Spokesman Review.

“A health-related emergency could be a student choking on a sandwich,” he said. “(And) property damage is included. What happens if a student breaks a chair or acts out in some way that teenagers often do? Suddenly that has gone from being a disciplinary issue resolved within the school to a law-enforcement issue.”

Yes, they could notice a student choking on a sandwich. I’d hope, if they did, they’d call someone at the school to help the student. This is what the ACLU is mad about? They might save some kid or staff member from choking to death?

No one would reasonably conclude that the sheriff would consider a broken chair an emergency-in-progress that would get them to review live footage. And, let’s say they did, the student was breaking the law. ACLU-WA, like local Seattle politicians, doesn’t want any kind of punishment.

To be clear, there’s no indication this could even happen. The Spokesman Review says the agreement makes clear that “in non-emergency situations, law enforcement would have to subpoena video footage or work with the school resource officer.”

This is simply a campaign by the ACLU-WA to make you suspicious of all government action, which is something that used to exist only in far, fringe right-wing circles.

Narayan argued that law enforcement being able to tune in to what were once internal discipline issues could cause an increase in the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Students, especially minorities, could be referred to law enforcement when school discipline would have been better for their situation.

There is no such thing as “school to prison” pipeline; that’s imagery activists use to ignore the reasons why kids are being suspended and/or arrested to begin with.

If a kid is getting suspended, it’s because they did something wrong. They broke a chair, perhaps. Well, why? Could it be that they have a problem in their family that could use addressing? Perhaps a conversation about the importance of family and strong role models should take place.

Does the student conduct deserve suspension or expulsion? Maybe. Maybe not. But who is kicking them out of class and who is suspending or expelling them? Teachers and principals. They’re either doing it because they’re flat out racist (which could address racial disparities in who gets suspended), they’re ignoring the root causes of the behavior, or the kids deserve the punishment. Whichever you pick, it’s a teacher and administrator making the decision, not the cops. You can blame cops all you want, but they’re responding to a school’s call.

I suppose the sheriff’s department could abuse the camera system, as the ACLU speculates. But if that was their intent, they could have just hacked into the system and done the surveillance unlawfully. Isn’t part of what the ACLU does is respond to abuses, rather than Minority Report us to death? A cop might arrest someone in error. To prevent mistaken arrests, do we stop arresting people?

No doubt, folks like Narayan would defend his position as principled – someone has to be willing to be the bad guy to ensure no government overreach. How selfless! Only, they’re not consistent and, instead, driven by a fringe progressive agenda they’ve decided to adopt, push aside decades of nonpartisan history. As Reason Magazine points out, the ACLU doesn’t defend our right to own guns. But sure, the ACLU is principled on constitutional rights.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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