|La Fleur de Muir|
I have been in Europe recently. In fact, that is where I am writing this. I have been here a week or so, and I expect I will be here four weeks later. That is, of course, unless something happens that derails those plans.
Every night I perform music since the digital camera phone became predominant in our world, I have been filmed, photographed, and uploaded. I am approached, on an average, about ten times a day to pose with a complete stranger for a photograph. Think of it as a digital autograph. It is generally uploaded so that the stranger can show their friends an exotic American chimpanzee. I don’t mind. Much.
Except when they ask for it and I am eating. Or sleeping. Or doing my monkey business at the toilet. I am also video-logged in my chimp environment with other chimps playing rock music. These are also uploaded. Generally with mixed results. Sometimes the audio is horrible. Sometimes the picture is blurry. Sometimes the world gets both. I never really know what is uploaded, who will see it, or what purpose it may serve. I just have to hope it captures me in a semi-reliable light and that I am only coming across as half a wit, and not a complete and total idiot.
It is what it is. Because of that, I have to live with the knowledge that at any time, on any date, I could be called to the mat by any number of people in my professional and personal life to answer for something I have done or said. That means any parent, student, colleague, superior, inferior, fan, or instigator can ask me about my behavior on any given day or time about over ten thousand videos, recordings, photos, interviews, blogs, quotes, and other snippets of my public life over the last 35 or so years. That is a great deal of miles.
I am a public figure, and a public servant. It is part of the territory marked for me by the other chimps. All I can really do is to sniff, shrug, and carry on. Bananas are my target, and I am always finagling how I can find more.
My Collegiate Chimps
Which brings us to the, um, meat of the matter here. Sometime, earlier this month, a teacher at Muir High School in the Pasadena Unified School District was caught with his pants down. Literally.
Now, I am not sure where, or how to continue here because there are so many directions this indiscretion can go. So I suppose I should just shoot straight ahead. From the hip, so to speak. This teacher, a biology teacher I assume, was taking physiology to new heights. And beyond. There he sat, in an - um- handful of sprawling poses, with his number one on proud display.
Now, I’m not offended by such a shot. After all, I had to endure high school locker rooms like everyone else. But I never had to look at anyone’s genitalia like it was put out on display, and certainly not a teacher’s junk.
What I am getting at is this - it didn’t bother me. Just another picture of a dummy who couldn’t keep his pride within his pants. I see that kind of idiocy all of the time.
But this indiscretion had a price tag attached to it. And the cost hasn’t been realized yet. And the Pasadena Unified School District is trying to put a lid on it. Good luck with that.
Groupon, Groupoff, Group Email
So. These five picture get sent from a computer account belonging to the teacher, and are sent to a number of PUSD recipients. Teachers, administrators, top brass, and students. The email was then distributed to others. I believe I have an email of the third or fourth generation.
In other words, it got around. Now everyone knows what the biology teacher is packing.
A Polite Response
The Pasadena Police Department investigation has, to my knowledge, simply delegated this to a computer email hack, and left it at that. As for the Altadena Sheriff, who knows. But the response seems to treat it as a simple hack or revenge porn attack. In other words, someone hacked the teachers computer and account, and then sent it out in a mass mailer.
That is a pretty horrible thing to do to someone, let’s be clear on that. No one deserves to have their personal diary made public. That’s pretty messed up.
Clearly, he may have pissed someone off, and they lumped him up for it. Hell hath no fury like a lover scorned, and all that jazz. He was taught a horrible lesson about trusting the wrong person or people and perhaps left himself wide open. Or maybe he was just stupid and left it on a unsecured computer. Who knows?
But in typical high school form, it spread like wildfire. The police response was, put simply, to be expected. They only use the Internet to troll Facebook in order to catch people like Anaheim James (click here). Investigating the distribution of nude pictures to school employees and minors is not investigation worthy. Hell, it’s hardly newsworthy.
The PUSD response has been equally noteworthy in an indifferent, whatever, sort of way. Former Superintendent Jon Gundry - who has his bags packed and couldn’t zip them up fast enough and get the hell out of Dodge - has released a quick apology to the first recipients of the email.
An inappropriate email message was sent to numerous email addresses from a Pasadena Unified School District account on Thursday, July 10. If you received this email, I would like to apologize for any harm this email might have caused and want to assure you that we are working with the relevant authorities to investigate the matter. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact PUSD Director of Human Resources Jose Alarcon at (626) 396-3600, ext: 88778.
Anyone else who received it doesn’t get an apology. That is beyond the scope of the district’s interest or responsibility, I suppose. Parents of students who may have also received the email have not been notified. This seems to be a more than slight oversight.
I mean I know I’m scarred by this image myself, but not by King Ooopsie’s photo essay and email. I'm scarred by the response, and that typical PUSD "Who's on First?" attitude about it. No apology needed for me. No apologies for anyone else, either. But a reasonable explanation would be nice.
No reprimand - or if there is one - we’ll never know. Union politics, no doubt. No moving the teacher to another school. Probably for the same reason. He has done nothing wrong, technically, so why move him involuntarily.
One district spokesperson likened it to teen sexting. I beg to disagree here. The teacher is not a teen. Teens who sext one another are generally willing participants. When they’re not, then it could be considered a crime. Willing, or not, transferring images of minors is a crime, and one that minors can also be prosecuted for.
Transferring images of an adult to a minor is also a crime. The person who sent this email should be vigorously pursued and prosecuted for more than just hacking into a computer or an account.
The only crime the teacher himself is guilty of is being an idiot. Either he was stupid for leaving these images in his computer, or he was stupid because someone he may have trusted made public some personal information. He was an idiot for taking the damn things and leaving them accessible to whomever did this. Those aren’t prosecutable crimes. Just something that shows foolishness, a lack of discretion, and some really bad luck. On his part.
The crime is that someone did this to him. That someone accessed his private life and made it public. That someone intentionally spread anarchy into and through the district mail chain- and that the district filters didn’t catch it. Whether this was a viral hack or an act of intentional hatred is moot. The outcome is the same.
What was done to this man is wrong, and it needs to be vigorously pursued and denounced. That can be done without accepting any liability or blame on the part of PUSD.
Pussyfooting around, or trying to play it down is not enough.
|Source: Transparent California|
The Pasadena Star News (click here), local television affiliate KTLA (click here) and the L.A. Times (click here) have all covered the story. Hell, even the journalist Renatta Cooper keeps in her political back pocket over at the Pasadena Weekly has covered it (click here), and with the aptly titled double entendre, Junk Mail. Here is something from the Pasadena Star News article:
Pasadena Police Commander John Perez said several people who received the email called the Police Department that day, which prompted an investigation.“We don’t have anybody in custody. We do have leads,” Perez said. He didn’t say who they suspect as the culprit. Perez said Rosa is not a suspect.
“We did talk to him, and we determined he was likely not the sender,” Perez said.
Police don’t know the motive and haven’t narrowed down from where the email was sent. PUSD spokesman Adam Wolfson said district officials notified police when they learned about the message.
“We let Pasadena PD know because of the content of the email and because minors were on the distribution list,” Wolfson said.
Perez said he knows the sheriff’s Altadena station also got calls from email recipients.
From the Pasadena Weekly
A California “revenge porn” law passed in 2013, made it illegal to distribute sexually explicit photos that belonged to another person who expected the images to remain private. The crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If the victim, including the recipient of the images, is under the age of 18 or the defendant has a previous conviction for revenge porn, then the crime is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
The incident has left district officials scrambling to resolve the matter.
The computer and smart phones have become today's digital gossip machine. I would call that bullying myself, and I would go one further as to say it is rampant at the PUSD. I know first hand, my family were victimized too. The district’s response was that it wasn’t under their control what people in the community do.
That’s the problem here. No one there is ever responsible for anything. People are chewed up and spit out at the PUSD, and the general response is so ineffective and weak that there is no right or wrong any more. It is the wild west, and everyone is armed except the sheriff.
This teacher has - rightly or wrongly - been turned into a total buffoon. His gear will be drawn and distributed every time he annoys a student or colleague. There will be no reprimands for this behavior as the bullying enters the next ugly, ugly phase. And it will.
The reason? There is no clearly stated position on bullying and the consequences associated when it occurs. It will be hushed up, swept under a carpet, and will remain the elephant in the room.
The Community’s Responses
The responses from the community came pretty quick. The students seem mostly concerned that he will be fired. That isn’t likely form the district’s response to the matter.
One Petition titled Save Mr. Rosa: To help Mr. Rosa have a fighting chance to save his job is at Move On.org (click here) and had over 489 signatures at the time of this writing. The background given there is rather vague:
"Mr. Rosa is one of the most professional teachers I know and I would hate for a great teacher to lose a job based on a mistake that may have been an accident. He's taught me so much and I don't want a teacher who has impacted lives to be turned down because of a mistake. Considering John Muir High School has a bad reputation, he's one of the best teachers who cares about the students and actually shows that he wants to be there."
Now, granted, there is nothing to indicate these signatures are 100% reliable, and in fact I found a few repeats, as well as a few that would be hard to verify as legitimate. Then there were some just plain funny signatures. I am sure that Olaf the Snowman and Fistum are probably not their real names. Tina from Pasadena probably is.
In any event, there were many positive responses. Certainly Rosa is a teacher who is loved and honored by his students. He is clearly respected, though the level of understanding regarding the pictures, his job, and the quagmire this teacher has sunk into, is varied. Some of the more quotable:
"This a personal and embarrassing attack taken against Mr. Rosa not to mention evil. DO NOT FIRE this man. This is also an invasion of his privacy."
"I hope they catch the person or people who did this. What a horrible nasty thing to do to someone. Good Luck."
"Everyone has a personal life and should be respected always. People from all walks of life take nude pictures and have an intimate life."
"Mr Rosa was there for me when I was attending John Muir High school. he help me through my sickness and for that I thank him. everyone makes mistakes and he deserves a second chance"
"He was hacked and someone was trying to ruin his life.""Mr. Rosa is one of the best science teachers John Muir High School has ever had and it needs to stay that way. Without him there is complete inconsistency in the science department but with him there is consistency in the science department. John Muir high school students need him to succeed in our high school career."
"SAVE MR ROSA. Best teacher out there. Just because of a mistake doesn't mean he has to loose his job. He was always sarcastic in class but he was the best. SAVE MR ROSA!!"
"He's a great teacher and he does care about the kids. The indecent is very unfortunate but that is not what Mr. Rosa is about and I am sure he did not do it himself."
"He's a great teacher and he does care about the kids. The indecent is very unfortunate but that is not what Mr. Rosa is about and I am sure he did not do it himself."
"From what I know & believe about Mr. Richard Rosa, the recent event it is out of character of for him. I've known him as a co-worker for 1 1/2 year and my daughter was a student in his class for 2 semesters. He has never behaved in any way but respectful and professional towards students, staff and parents. As a former parent of a John Muir Student I'm asking that he be afforded fair treatment and that there us NO rush to judge who I believe to be is a terrible and cruel act at the hands of someone other than Mr. Rosa."
"The general sense of mistake often plagues our very existence on an every day basis and while it seems to be greater for others Mr. Rosa is a man that has been part of this and I believe that this is proof of that, he touches the lives of many of his students and it's a shame if he were let go by a mere rule of everyday life as making one mistake."
"Please keep Mr. Rosa and save his job. A mistake like that is unacceptable but it was not his fault. One mistake should not affect a life, a career, and a whole platoon of people who loves and believes in him. He changed the lives of his students positively."
"All my life hated Biology! All my life I failed anything related to science and since then I believed that science will never teach me anything. But I had Mr.Rosa as my Biology teacher on my first year here in United States and he changed my prospective of Science. He was passionate about his class and teaching his students. I loved and enjoyed Biology! He was a great teacher and I believe he still is. He will touch his students heart and he will help them and teach them to become a better student. Keep him and let him have his job! We all make mistakes, we are human being. It is part of life and I really hope and pray he gets to keep his job!"
"I graduated Muir in 2012 I was one of Mr. Rosa's first students, and I can truly say he has impacted my educational career . He is very good teacher because he is easier to talk to and relates more to the student cause there's not a big age gap. I was in his pre-calculus class and even with such a tuff subject he was able to teach very well. I don't think he should be fired because other people thought it would be funny to play a prank on him."
A Class Trip to the Zoo
Over the years I have taken my class to the zoo. Granted, my students are in elementary school, so my discussion here may be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, when you go to the zoo, you have to be prepared for the things animals do. And, yes, they do. If you are a professional you handle the situations discreetly and quickly. If you don’t, or can’t, you will lose control of the class, and the conversation quickly. If that happens, believe me, you are toast.
So you get on the tightrope, and you balance.
“Oh, you heard that?” when the rhino let’s roar a rhino fart. “That was loud, and yes, it is funny” and you move on. All the while trying to keep a straight face because, you have to admit it. Rhino farts are funny.
The pooping giraffe. “Oh, I know, all animals poop. But I don’t see a toilet in there, and I know there aren’t any in the wild. That must be how they take care of their businsess” and move on.
Every single animal in the zoo that licks itself. And licks itself. And licks itself. And licks some more. “Oh. That. That is grooming. Animals sometimes do that to keep clean” and move on.
The ambitious flamingo. “Huh. Well. That is mating. It’s part of the life cycle” and you move on.
There was one particular adventure I recall where I made the decision to sit thirty five kids across from the chimp enclosure. It seemed like the logical thing to do. After all, they were tired, and if I had to hear “I’m hungry” again in the hour, I think I would have invited a lion over for lunch. So I made an executive decision, and sat the kids on the nice amphitheater style benches facing the chimpanzees. It was designed, after all, for snacking, resting, and watching our simian cousins.
Everything went fine. For a while. The chimps socialized, goofed off, and generally made monkeys of themselves, The children laughed, ate, socialized, and generally made monkeys of themselves, too.
Then it happened.
First, one chimpanzee decided he was Inspector Gadget, and started to play with his gear. And to share this with anyone, man or monkey, who cared to observe. It was getting to the point of obnoxious when a second chimp screeched at the exhibitionist. Only then did the chimp on display come to the conclusion that it was time to move on.
Sound advice from one chimp to another. Sometimes a fresh start is a good idea.