The Excuse Note of the Beast

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6/6/06 prompts a panic in suburban Maryland:

Seven times as many students as normal were absent yesterday at Liberty High in Eldersburg despite the presence of uniformed and plainclothes officers stationed at the Carroll County school amid rumors that warned of "Columbine-like violence" planned for June 6, 2006—a date being linked to satanic references because it translates to 666.

On a typical day, about 3 percent to 7 percent of Liberty's students are absent, said Florence Oliver, principal of the nearly 1,200-student school.

Yesterday, 259 students—21 percent—were absent, she said.

Carroll County officials also "increased police presence at the county's six other high schools yesterday to ease anxieties among parents, students and staff," and "planned to patrol middle schools sporadically." In addition, "students were prohibited from wearing trench coats for the rest of the school year."

Let me say that again:

STUDENTS WERE PROHIBITED FROM WEARING TRENCH COATS FOR THE REST OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.

The rumors took off after a student allegedly overheard two teens planning a massacre. The police duly investigated, and they concluded the fears were unfounded. The rumors didn't disappear, though, perhaps because of this:

Because students are scheduled to take exams this week, school officials agreed that any student too distressed to attend because of the rumors would be excused with a parent's note and allowed to make up the tests, Oliver said.

NEXT: Is the Surgeon General a Liar or an Idiot?

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  1. In high school I was one of thos kids with a long trench coat. It was a London Fog, dammit, nice coat. Did I wear it to be all SPOOOOOKEEEYYY? No, but in the Northwest it rains a lot and sopping wet trousers are no way to go through the day, especially if those trousers are wool.

    After Columbine, they hired three “security guards” and started harassing everyone with a rain coat. Because the kid in the London Fog coat, wearing loafers and wool trousers with a dress shirt is TOTALLY dangerous.

    I did learn a valuable lesson, though. High school principals don’t like it when you stare them in the face and say, “The only reason I’m sitting in this office right now is that you’re paranoid in the wake of Columbine and think I’m dangerous for some reason.” They’ll make you see the school shrink for that.

  2. We really need to start holding companies like London Fog and their ilk responsible for the actions of those wearing their products.

    Honestly, though, I can at least understand the desire to ban types of clothing with “bad” messages on them, but I could never figure out the fear of completely neutral trench coats. Granted, immediately after the Columbine tragedy there was a lot of absurdity, but I had thought by this point we would be beyond paranoia about outerwear.

  3. Jack the Ripper killed his victims in a London fog.

  4. Jack the Ripper killed his victims in a London fog.

    In that case London Fog clearly owes some serious retroactive reparations as well.

  5. STUDENTS WERE PROHIBITED FROM WEARING TRENCH COATS FOR THE REST OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.

    Yeah, that’ll keep em safe. The killers at Columbine sported trench coats with a group of students known as the “Trench Coat Mafia”. So the school administrators at Liberty High, with minds undisciplined by market forces, try this nonsense…

  6. increased police presence at the county’s six other high schools yesterday to ease anxieties among parents, students and staff

    I usually try to avoid any area with an increased police presence. Not because I’m planning on doing anything illegal, just because I don’t want to get caught up in the middle of any shit going down.

    The funny thing is the same shit happened when I went to high school Rumors of “race riots” were started just to see what kind of panic the administrators would get into. It worked, too. They closed the school one day. The next day you saw black and white kids joking with one another like never before.

  7. Can anyone explain why “the beast” needs a number? Does it need to be distinguished from beasts numbered 1 through 665? Is it the result of some satanic attempt at Social Security or numbering runners for the Hell 10K?

  8. So, what’s the weather like in Carroll County this week? I would think the possibility of rain or heat in excess of 90 degrees would determine whether or not to wear a trench coat.

  9. I’m pretty beastly but my number is irrational (it’s pi) so I wasn’t recognized as such since that class of numbers was not recognized in Bilical times. That’s how I’ve managed to stay under the radar for so long.

    Side note: I attended Liberty HS (Class of ’83 – Go Lions!) and there is a HUGE London Fog Office and Distribution facitiliy pretty much right behind the school. I wonder if this will hurt their business – I suspect that many Eldersburgians (?) are employed there.

  10. Timothy-

    That made me smile. Was the shrink hot at least?

  11. Yup, it isn’t that some kids have bad parents, or a Nazi fetish. It’s London Fog, id Software, and miscellaneous purveyors of Heavy Metal. Where’s Dave? We need to file a suit! It will all come out in discovery!

  12. That made me smile. Was the shrink hot at least?

    Yogi: I dunno, I’ve never been that able to determine the hotness of guys, and that was like six years ago so I don’t remember what he looked like. I seem to recall he was an all right looking dude, I guess. Pronounced me “decidedly not a sociopath” and “bored with school” in about 10 minutes. Got me out of English class, though, that was a plus.

  13. And, BTW – at my daughter’s middle school, they’re not even allowed to carry backpacks once they go their lockers. So the kids have to lug around 42 lbs (~19 kg, for those of you in the metric system) of books from class to class. The justification for the rule, implemented in the wake of Comlumbine, was so that students wouldn’t be able to carry weapons in the hallways. To date, no one with the School Board seems to recognize that this doesn’t prevent students from bringing them into the school in the first place. Hmmmm…

    When backpacks are outlawed, only outlaws will carry backpacks.

  14. Back in 88, my locker was searched by a deputy sheriff and a principal due to “anonymous tips” that I was a satan worshiper. When we confronted the principal about it (we thought they were looking for drugs) we litterally laughed in his face when he told us why they searched it. Never underestimate the idiocy of school administrators. Gotta love growing up in BFE.

  15. Timothy-

    That sucks, back when I was in high school, our guidance counselor was a mid-20s bombshell blonde. I had lots of questions about how to get into the best colleges my senior year, and so did most of my friends.

  16. Not to brag or anything, but when I believed in God, my God was powerful enough to prevent Satan from taking over the world without requiring the help of school administrators.

    Self-promotion: I’m still doing that guest-blogging bit for another couple of days, and last night I posted a piece called “My God Was Way Better Than Theirs.”

    http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2006/06/06/5176

  17. Timothy-Sounds like your counsellor was a bit brighter than the norm. Most would have taken being bored with school as evidence that you were a sociopath.

  18. The guidance counsellors were useless, but my high school actually had a licensed psychologist in addition, that guy was pretty cool so far as those things go.

  19. So the kids have to lug around 42 lbs (~19 kg, for those of you in the metric system) of books from class to class. The justification for the rule, implemented in the wake of Comlumbine, was so that students wouldn’t be able to carry weapons in the hallways.

    • Other than they can hit each other with 42 pounds of books.
    • Anyone ever heard of sticking a handgun or folding knife in your belt?
    • I routinely carry a concealed .45 under a tucked-in shirt.

    The year I graduated from high school virtually every high school in New York City had a rifle team. Students used to carry their .22s back and forth on the subway. But back then schools didn’t have shrinks, the counselers were there for college information. If you caused trouble you reported to the vice-principal, who introduced you to the board of education. (The wooden one, not the one with elected members.)

  20. I went to high school in the wake of Columbine and, later, 9/11. If you want to talk absurdity, try this one on for size.

    A few months after 9/11, our school had a Silly Hat Day where one could, as you might imagine, wear silly hats. A few of my friends wore fezzes as their silly hats. Our principal made them take the fezzes off. When asked why, she said something about them being disrespectful of Middle Eastern cultures (?) or mocking terrorist acts (???).

    Except that Fezzes are Turkish. None of the 9/11 hijackers were Turkish. Score one for incompetent administration.

  21. “Except that Fezzes are Turkish”

    The principal was clearly honoring Turkish tradition by banning fezzes: http://www.freedomdomain.com/freemasons/fez_1.html

  22. I just read in the local paper that a lot of kids skipped school yesterday in a rather upscale community. More fears of a Satanic panic.

    Or so they said; I think that maybe “I skipped school for fear of being killed at the hands of Satanists” sounds mildly better than “I wanted to sleep in.”

  23. Creech – perhaps Satan was developed by Microsoft and it took 666 tries before they produced a version whose software didn’t crash constantly. (v 665 was awfully close, but it had to reboot every time a new peripheral was connected, which was rather inconvenient and below the dignity of the Lord of Hell)

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