Sunday, February 9, 2014

Socialist Public School Alcohol Education, Lying, and Living By Crises

In which I argue a point that nobody else will argue, make lessons in sobriety look decidedly nonsober, and once again malign the idea of combating a problem by raising awareness about it.

Anyway, if you’re reading this expecting me to bash something for being socialistic, psych.  I’ve been meaning to write another of those critiques ever since somebody really close to my heart* requested more, but this, this is not that day.  That title is but an arresting lure to engage you in an issue of public interest that, like most issues of public interest, is utterly dull and idiotically conceived by social engineers who consider government a vital force to shield people from making their own decisions.  In contrast to EV tax credits, the Game of LIFE, hotel newspapers, your morning cup of Starbucks Joe, and many popular songs, the Every 15 Minutes scam can hardly be spun as a component of the vast left-wing conspiracy.  At an estimated $7-10k cost per participating school, what difference, at this point, could it make?  Socialistic power grab, this is not.  It is, however, an incredibly stupid waste of young Americans’ time, so stupid that you’d virtually have to be a socialist in order to imagine and implement it.  Incidentally, the policy did originate in Canada before being imported to the United States along with some other expensive and counterproductive policies, so the author of the E15M more likely than not was invested with socialistic leanings.  Still, there are far better reasons to abolish this annual tradition than the mere circumstances of its genesis, specifically that it’s a theatrical fraud and a solution without a harm, an indulgent vanity project for elitists and attention whores.  Like the notoriously pathetic administration of the DMV which introduces most teenagers to the defects of big government, it is the epitome of bureaucratic inefficacy, perfectly symbolizing every phoney statist answer to a phoney problem that ultimately spawns many more problems of its own.

In case you are among the uninitiated (and you probably are, as my web stats indicate that the Files’ readership is largely insulated from the lunacy of government schools), allow to me explain the basic premise of the Every 15 Minutes program.  According to the website of the organization that helps schools coordinate the events, “Life’s lessons are best learned through experience.  Unfortunately, when the target audience is teens and the topic is drinking and texting while driving, experience is not the teacher of choice. The Every 15 Minutes Program offers real-life experience without the real-life risks.”  The one overarching problem with this claim, aside from the wholly unsupported and airy points about “learning through experience”** and accompanying equation of sober driving habits to something far grander-sounding like “life’s lessons”, is that nothing about Every 15 Minutes can be construed as “real-life” by even the loosest definition of the word.  E15M is about as “real-life” as Santa Claus or the bogey-man whom so many exasperated parents threaten to sic upon their disobedient darlings, with the key differentiation that this bogey-man is aimed squarely at grown 16-18 year-olds instead of toddlers, making him all the more embarrassing a fantasy.

This fantasy, this laughable attempt to scare legally underage kids out of drinking, this false reply to a false crisis engineered by a revenue-hungry industry dependent on falsities to stay above water, is usually conducted over a period of two days and rests on several planks that will vary slightly from school to school.  The first of these is to transform the high-school classroom into a gothic send-up of zombie flicks and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey; in accordance with the event’s title, an actor made-up and adorned as the fake Grim Reaper of pop culture intrudes upon the students’ learning every quarter-hour to yank a pre-selected student from the assembly and escort him away to be coated in white face-paint.   After the departure of the fake drunk driving victim, a real, taxpayer-funded police officer enters the room and reads a fake obituary reiterating that the student did indeed die in a fake “alcohol-related” vehicle collision.  The fake deceased will soon return as one of “the living dead” but must refrain from acknowledging his peers until the next day, at which time he will be resurrected from the fake grave and called upon to recite fake letters to and from his parents at an inspirational school gathering convened to share fake stories about fake people who suffered indescribably fake pain in consequence for their fake actions.

As if that deception wasn’t already intricate enough, students are also provided the opportunity to observe a fake car crash on campus around the middle of the day, complete with comically unrealistic quantities of fake blood and fake broken bones courtesy of a professional make-up team that watches too many slasher D-movies.  However, it’s worth noting that all the police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency vehicles wheeled on scene to assist the fake injured parties and arrest the fake drunk teenager are anything but fake, are mostly paid for by you, and are irresponsibly shirking their duty to prevent or answer real accidents in the process of attending to a fake one.  For every law enforcement officer who sullies his badge to appear in this heavy-handed stage production, society has one less officer monitoring the streets for incapacitated drivers who might wreak severe injuries on themselves and on others.  For this reason alone, Every 15 Minutes has probably done more to exacerbate the United States’ fake drunk driving epidemic than to alleviate it.

In any case, the point of bringing all these real emergency responders to answer a fake emergency is ostensibly to make the fake situation portrayed look as realistic as possible.  In fact, the California Highway Patrol cites “realism” as one of the E15M’s most important goals, describing at great length how to make the scene look as credible as possible.  Among other things, its 120-page manual on the subject recommends that organizers:

* “Wash the vehicle.” (so as to more effectively contrast the drunk’s violent disorder with his sober vehicle’s relative cleanliness… or something like that.)
* “Remove layers of dust and dirt.” (again, because cars involved in accidents are never dirty; this is rather like correcting the make-up of an actress playing a dying character in a movie.  A glamorous dead corpse is no less a dead corpse than a plain one.)
* “Vacuum any glass from seats to avoid unforeseen injury.” (as important as realism is, it’s a secondary priority to safety in this lame excuse for a “simulation”.)
* “[ensure that] each major action, i.e., extrication, DUI investigation, helicopter landing etc., take ‘center stage’.  Center stage should be an area where the view is not blocked by personnel, equipment, or vehicles.  Make sure the crash is close enough… if students are too far away, they will lose interest and may become disruptive.” (in order to more fully witness our stunning realism, students must be provided an unrealistically clear view of everything that proceeds.)
* “Provide ample audio equipment.  You will need at least four large speakers.  Stage the crash so personnel are not talking over one another.  Students should hear conversation between officers, victims, rescuers, dispatchers, etc.” (again, to appreciate the realism of our display, students must temporarily be endowed with unrealistically acute hearing and have an unrealistically near proximity to the events as they play out.)
* “Do not plan the crash during lunch.” (someone is purported to die every 15 minutes by this program’s doctrine, but hey, even drunk drivers have to take lunch breaks. Perhaps we should revise the moniker to “Every 15 Minutes Except ‘During Lunch’”.)

Regardless of all its proponents’ vain and contradictory measures to dress up a patently unrealistic scene as something that merely resembles reality, there’s nothing remotely realistic about Every 15 Minutes, and the make-believe doesn’t even stay at school, as the student actors are eventually whisked away to real hospitals and jails where they’ll be treated or detained according to whatever fake pre-existing conditions brought them there.  Meanwhile, budding high-school filmmakers will have documented the whole fake catastrophe as it plays out, often prefacing shots of the actual wreck with fake footage of a fake rowdy party where good kids succumb to that well-known monstrosity called peer pressure and drink fake alcoholic beverages, subsequently faking their own drunkenness and careering headlong into a fake collision.  In a way, this conceited, “awareness-raising” festivity is exactly like an amateurish, teenage-produced message movie, embodying a shallow fiction and a sham, but its faults go far beyond even that lowly form of community organizing.  Unlike all the obviously scripted short films that are produced in association with it, Every 15 Minutes presents itself as an accurate recreation of reality and deliberately uses tactics of shock and awe to manipulate and misinform teenagers.  The whole program, in principle and execution, is a sickening lie, however extravagant, sensory, and entertaining it may be to pull together.

Disregarding the total dishonesty of all the imaginary proceedings, it uses statistics that are either entirely false or flagrantly misleading.  Its title is an archaic construct, harkening back to a time several decades past in which studies erroneously showed that someone died in an “alcohol-related” accident every 15 minutes – and not even that, as Wikipedia states that the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration had approximated the rate at one fatality every 30 minutes back in 1996, when E15M was first being rolled out.  In the most recent data available for the year 2012, the NHTSA sets the same empty number at approximately one death over 51 minutes, more than thrice the value touted by the institution, and so we see that the overseers of this charade are intentionally feeding students outdated and factually incorrect numbers for dramatic effect, twisting reality in order to garner a more emotional response.

Advocates of E15M might dismiss this ‘little lie’ with the claim that 50 minutes is still far too frequent a period and that their minor distension of reality is true ‘in spirit’, but where do they draw the distinction between an acceptable falsehood and a wrongful one?  When does lying infact cease to be justified with delusions of planting a deeper knowledge inspirit?  What is the brightline?  Or has speaking honestly and supporting your statements with hard, verifiable evidence fallen out of fashion?  Heaven forbid that public policy makers should be permitted to spew whatever ideological BS they want and never be held accountable to the truth.  And yet that’s exactly what the NHTSA and, by extension, E15M champions do out of practice, for even the 1 fatality/50 min statistic is a poor reflector of the actual death rate due to drunk driving. 

On the one hand, the NHTSafety Administration – one of way too many – used to assess the quantity of “alcohol-related” deaths by counting any collision in which a driver or non-driver had any measurable alcohol in his bloodstream, whether or not the ability of the driver involved in the accident was at all compromised or whether the dosage was substantial enough to constitute drunkenness.  The institution once said that it “defines a fatal crash as alcohol-related if either a driver or a non-motorist had a measurable or estimated BAC of 0.01 g/dl or above.”  According to a member of the National Motorists Association (which doesn’t mean anything, but he makes sense), “For their own reasons, NHTSA has chosen to define an alcohol-related crash as an accident in which a driver, passenger, bicyclist or pedestrian had any measurable alcohol in their system… cause, fault or circumstance are not considered.  For example, a winter chain reaction crash on black ice on I91 involving 10 cars and three deaths would be considered alcohol-related if one of the drivers had taken some cough syrup medication that morning… refer back to the May 5 OLR study that uses the same example.”  Wikipedia elaborates on this premise by explaining, “If a person who has consumed alcohol and has stopped for a red light is rear-ended by a completely sober but inattentive driver, the accident is listed as alcohol-related, although alcohol had nothing to do with causing the accident.  Furthermore, if a sober motorist hits a drunk pedestrian, the accident is also listed as alcohol-related.”

In other words, for the purposes of gauging how large a factor alcohol plays in traffic casualties, the NHTSA’s non-discriminating, all-inclusive methodology was essentially worthless, signifying absolutely nothing, but the Every 15 Minutes executives long persisted in deferring to it as if it reliably modeled fatalities due to intoxicated driving.  The NHTSA appears to have thankfully abandoned this approach in recent years, shifting to a more concentrated and illuminating model of “alcohol-impaired crashes”, which it defines as “any crash involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher… The term ‘driver’ refers to the operator of any motor vehicle, including a motorcycle.”  Even this method, being based on an arbitrary legal statute that doesn’t intrinsically prove drunkenness and ridiculously presumes all human bodies react similarly to the same stimuli and substances, is imperfect by the administration’s own admission that, “The term ‘alcohol-impaired’ does not indicate that a crash or a fatality was caused by alcohol impairment.”

The already exaggerated data look even more insignificant and contrived when one notes that only 758 or 18% of the 10,322 “alcohol-impaired drivers” fell under the 16-20 age bracket, which should in theory be the object of the high school program’s discussion.  To cite the larger, scarier number of driving fatalities instead of the more specified and relevant one is roughly the same tactic that Democrats employed to ram Obamacare through Congress, when they continually peddled the completely unfounded assertion that 48 million Americans or however many hadn’t purchased health insurance, an unspeakably deceiving calculation which entailed among other things hordes who weren’t permanent or legal residents of the States, the young and physically stalwart who had no need or want of insurance, and any high-earning people who had decided they would be more financially secure without making such an expense.  Cranking out the numbers for teenage casualties alone, we arrive at a rate of one death for every 693 minutes, which is only 4620% of the rate at which students are yanked out of their classrooms to play zombie dress-up in this solemn and deeply moving funeral rite organized for since departed people who most certainly will never rise from the grave.

Willfully and unapologetically the sponsors of E15M lie to the youth of America so as to trap them in a state of fear and ignorance.  Don’t misread my argument here as an endorsement of hedonism and debauchery; far be it from the duty of public educators to encourage drunken stupors among their protégés.  Schools should no more deny the risks and moral shortfalls of imbibing alcohol to excess than they should deny the same of committing adultery or of poisoning one’s minds with drugs or of doing anything that might lead one astray from the righteous path.  Nor should schools teach students to justify lying under pretenses of protecting the vulnerable or conditioning the young for virtue, for virtue cannot be instilled by example of vice and well-meaning deceits are the favored tool of tyrants.

This – more than the $10,000 cost to local taxpayers (which is itself a low estimate postulated by some random internet person, discounting expenditures for the wages of teachers and public workers who effectively take a day or two off), more than the negligible increase it might precipitate in traffic injuries, more than the 13-some hours lost to students who must undergo this lunacy, more than the repulsive theatricality of the whole affair, more than any other factor – is why we should commission Grim Reaper to escort the E15 Minutes theater away to the inferno of ideas which is its lot.  A fanciful tragedy masquerading as an actual one, it belittles the losses of real drunk driving victims, making their stories look like Hollywood melodrama and desensitizing onlookers to true disasters of the past and future.  An invention of overprotective liberal nannies dressed up as an educational experience, it propagates data that’s both grossly exaggerated and scientifically baseless, inciting teenagers to dread specter dangers while imbuing them with false senses of awareness.  Like any visually flashy mainstream propaganda film that emphasizes messaging over storytelling, be it Avatar, The Day The Earth Stood Still, White House Down, etc., it’s a fiction on at least two accounts, firstly because it’s a made-up scenario controlled by a director and secondly because its premise is a total crock.

To be fair, the advocates of Every 15 Minutes probably have the noblest of intentions and sincerely believe they’re taking necessary steps to resolve a genuine crisis.  Every generation wants to feel that it’s leaving an indelible mark on history, that it’s changing the world for the better.  Humans naturally long to be remembered, more so perhaps than they long to live, for death eventually claims us all, but time, the masses think, only claims those who stood by idly when evils reared their ugly head.  Hence we revel in manufacturing false crises and ethical battles, applauding ourselves for electing a (half-)black president in an unjust and racist country, taking immense and poorly considered strides to repair the nation’s “broken health care/immigration system”, begging our wise and compassionate rulers to relieve our neighbors of deadly, military-style assault weapons that altogether comprise less than 2% of all murders by firearms, assuming in paranoia that terrorists roam all about us and that every citizen poses an equal threat to the public peace, and framing the agenda to legalize homosexual marriage as a “civil rights” movement, comparable in gravity to that led by Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and other figures in the middle of the 20th century. It’s petty and narcissistic and fatuous, lessening the accomplishments of real heroes and blinding people to the presence of real travesties elsewhere in the world, where people are more likely to be run over by an armored tank than a rebellious young adult.

Now that I’ve finished the 150th page of this 150th or thereabouts post for the Files, I must return to writing a fake screen story about fake teenagers wrestling with the realization of their fake existence and braving first love in a fake dystopian society that feeds the populace fake drugs to ensure that everyone is basically fake.  I really should be honing it more than this blog since my friends and I could actually make some money on it, whereas anyone can read this mattress for FREEEEE.

* Closer to me than anybody else, actually.  As in me, though I earnestly wish it was somebody else.
** Should young adults try to learn the value of maintaining their purity by engaging in impure acts?  Should high-schoolers learn the dangers of gang association by joining a gang?  Should we give communism a chance and learn of its fiscal and moral costs the hard way, through ‘experience’, before using our brains and studying history to arrive at the same conclusions?  Should… ach, the stupidity!


  1. At this point, what does it matter if this highly successful program has saved countless lives or even NO lives, the tears shed are evidence that it's clearly making a difference. Your blog has saved NO lives while this program has saved millions or at least made them cry. I remember when my son Briety was chosen to play the role of the valedictorian who was killed in the back seat ON the way home from the Senior All-Nighter. I cried for hours as he sat watching the American Idol finale from season 5 in white face paint and deafening silence. The experience made me treasure every child as if they were MY own (except the ones that bully other kids, they should all be thrown in a camp somewhere far away) and know exactly how an orphaned parent feels...if only for a few hours. Some parents aren’t willing to have the uncomfortable discussion of the how horrible the scene of a car crash can be or how to put on a condom so we have to do something as a society to get the message out to all children. The experience has made me treasure them in my HEART more than their own parents.

  2. Righteous Tory,

    I appreciate your concern for the youth of America and resolve to raise them all according to common, federally delegated standards and curricula as if they belonged to the community instead of to their rightful parents. You flaunt your compassion and nurturing empathy like an open book; it's written on your heart for all the world to see.

    With that said, I agree that my blog hasn't saved any lives, precisely because this blog has nothing to do with saving lives. Here at The Author's Files, we concern ourselves only with giving people the truth. Unlike public schools, we'll never dress you up as a zombie/skeleton/ghost or lie to you about drunk driving in order to make you feel more secure; we just relay the facts as recorded in the official data. But if playing dress-up or setting up a fake car crash makes you feel better about yourself, by all means go ahead with your expensive educational campaign that hinges on un-educating people about the real risks of alcohol consumption.

    In any case, the latest season of American Idol has the best judging panel yet with Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. There's a lot of talent too that wasn't good enough for Youtube. Your son would really get a kick out of it if he wasn't, you know, dead. My condolences for your tragic, 24-hour loss.

  3. Whoa guys, whoa. Let's slow down a moment. Remember to be respectful to one another. Ms./Mr. Tory, I wholeheartedly agree. Raising awareness is one of the best methods of bringing about a change in society. The tears and tragedy that the people put through this program experience are some of most potent stimulants one could give these up-and-coming drivers. However, the program is not without its drawbacks. Many of the children and teenagers exposed to the intense course are traumatized by the saddening tragedy. Despite the realization that the presentation is fake, children are shocked by the realistic set and bloody staging. There is a certain degree of mercilessness in the program, but it is worth it to save the life of someone each fifteen minutes.
    Mr. Author, I understand that your blog reports only facts and statistics, but true reporting involves so much more. An effective reporter tries to capture the human side of the story as well as the cold hard facts. Emotion is so much more a part of life than just what scientists and scholars tell us. Every story has so many angles and so many opinions and viewpoints, that just giving the "facts" of the story doesn't even begin to encompass the true tale. I've read the pieces by George Pallas, and I believe those are true headlines. I understand that E15M does twist the statistics of alcohol related deaths, but exceptions had to be made in order to save lives.

  4. Dear, Mr. Author,
    Im'ma still not sure why you so dislike the Every 15 Minutes program. You have to realize that people rarely expect to be involved in a car accident or intend to get drunk. It's something that no one is prepared for. At least, not unless they've been a part of the 15 minutes experience. 15 minutes no only makes one ready for such a disaster, but teaches them to avoid such a catastrophe. People have to be enlightened to the accidents and deaths that occur each day. This journey gives people a taste of the tragedy that would occur if their child would be in a crash like that, even if it is just for 24 hours. People have to come to grips that they might lose a child or loved one whether they're ready or not.

  5. Oh, Author, I'm so glad I was able to change your mind. I think we're all saying the same thing here. This has become such a sensitive issue for me. Some people might 'pretend' to care or even 'fake' caring to impress someone but I think if one REALLY cares they take every chance they can to write about their cause on like blogs, message boards, bathroom stalls, etc. After our experience with E15M and coming SO close to losing my son I pledged to post something at least once a day on his facebook page and text up to the maximum number of texts included with my limited Sprint Friends and Family plan begging him to talk to his teachers or like a school counselor or social worker if he ever felt pressured into crashing the car that we gave him (we've always done everything we could to do what's best for our children, certified nannies, blue ribbon public schools, organic meals, Apple MacBook Pro, a new car with five star crash rating, get the picture). He has a lot of respect for me and his father and so Briety means to give up drinking and partying altogether.

  6. Thanks for following up, Tory. I think. I honestly don't know what the heck you said just there, but you sound like a truly responsible parent. Keep up the Sprint Framily texting and Facebooking.


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