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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Save Farris

(A commentary update where I clarify my opinions on the Farris Hassan situation)

Generous and hyper-canny commenter/blogger, Reader_Iam, links to my post, after first giving me the compliment of compliments in the intro. Smuack!

She clarifies her position, and in the comments section of that post and the previously related post, I clarify mine. Allow me the same here.

It's curious, firstly, that in her post she links to a piece where young Farris is likened to the Columbine killers, since I referenced them in my post, however unrelated to what all parties actually did.

That journo's point, strained it must be said, is that somehow what he did, is similar to what Farris has done.

How silly is that?

It's in no way related, save for the rather rich-hating allusion of spoilt, selfish kids who come from wealthy backgrounds believing they can get away with "stuff".

But since I've mentioned wealth and privilege, I will confess that THAT is my primary problem with this situation.

But I don't condemn Farris -- he's still a child, no matter what anyone says...I regret his parents' reactions.

Yesterday, his mother was interviewed yet again in her huge, expensively decorated SoFla mini-mansion, and she was asked outright if she will punish her son, or if she is upset with him.

The answer to both, a smiling "no".

The shock of the stunt has worn off as soon as she found out that he's alive and well -- and indeed, where he was and what he did.

My mother had a similar reaction to my having gone missing once, when I didn't want to return to boarding school, aged 12.

I had ran off by myself at Paddington Station, boarding a train to "nowhere".

They found me within the hour, still clutching my school satchel, scared, defiant, but relieved. I didn't know where to go, what to do, although I had a lot of money for a tweenie, on me.

The difference is that my stunt was that of a child, Farris' was that of a would-be adult.

Mine was to somehow escape my situation, which I didn't like; his was to confront the situation, which he was curious about.

Both, however, no matter how we may deny it, was to draw attention to ourselves.

"Hey, look at me! I am independent! I don't need any of you to control me or my actions!"

Of course, I was punished in front of the whole school for my stunt.

My funds were withdrawn from my school account, for the YEAR.

Worst of all, I had to apologise to my parents in front of my Headmistress, with my mother crying, and my father livid, in her office.

And this reminds me of something my child psychiatrist mother told me, which I thought of originally when Farris' mother, Atiyah, was first interviewed.

Atiyah Hassan seemed the more outraged of the two parents. AT FIRST (read above).

It was obvious Dr. Hassan was a bit proud of his son, or at the very least, exculpatory of his actions, and covering for him in some way.

My mother explained once that when the child has a doting mother, and a strict father, the child generally grows up with a healthy regard for authority.

But when the mother is the taskmistress in the household, and the father is weak, or worse, indulgent of his children's faults, psychological tensions are more common in that child.

Now add another component to the story:

What if it had been a daughter and not a son of the Hassans who had pulled off this stunt?

Would their reaction had been better or worse, do you think?

(In our British case, it would've been worse had I been a boy. I was not physically punished. A boy would've been caned by his Headmaster)

I think it would've been far worse.

There are many reasons why Farris is not blame for this situation, but I am afraid I do not like what he did.

I do not confuse it as being admirable bravado, just because it is original and unusual either.

Used to be, young boys would run away to the Navy aged 14-15, claiming they were of legal age to join up (then 16).

Parents would completely lose track of their sons, some grateful that they had one less mouth to feed, it must be said.

Enter modern governmental bureaucracy.

"At-risk" kids are always part of the poor (or underprivileged as the PC-police call them).

Very rarely do you target rich kids for anything.

And this is possibly why that reporter and I came up with the Columbine reference, simultaneously and independently of each other.

Because what Farris did is what only a rich kid who has the resources, mental and monetary, would do.

We, as a society, impose virtually no strictures on how rich parents raise their kids.

We impose every standard on the children of the poor.

To me, this is untenable and wrong.

It's a virtual double-standard that I see in place institutionally, which truly bothers me.

When I did my pediatrics rotation, I had to report on a state database form, whenever I saw "suspicious" breaks or bruises on a child. I found that galling.

I know, I KNOW, a child who went to a private hospital would not be reported on, because the message here is that more well-to-do parents are less violent than poorer parents.

The way we in Britain cope with this duality of circumstances is that the duties of a rich child are many.

Actions are tempered by punishments, mostly of a public or physical nature.

Others have to see that you are being dealt with in the same manner they would, no matter your station in life.

In school, this is meted out by the Head, and his or her staff.

In real adult life, the "punishment" is the tabloid press and how they run you through you the ringer at your least misstep (now you know why our tabloid press is so much fiercer than yours).

For Farris to learn that, however interesting and even courageous it was that he did, he must not be patted on the back for it.

Rich parents can freeze bank accounts.

The school can punish a student.

Society can demand the same retribution of his actions that would be asked of anyone else.

It is only then that a child of privilege will learn that he cannot get out of situations, by the same way he got into them -- with money.

Without the $1800 Farris stole from his college fund, which he got from his mother by giving her stock tips...

Without lying to his parents about his future whereabouts, via the computer he was given...

Without having the private schooling which encouraged journalistic techniques in children barely able to drive...

And of course, there is one final component which people rarely point out in this situation.

Without being an AMERICAN kid, this entire situation would not have happened...

Because had he been Farris Hassan of Paris, or indeed, of Baghdad, he would be in very different kind of trouble today.

MORE THOUGHTS: You know why certain news stories have "legs"?

I was thinking about this, regarding my update-commentary above. Rarely do I comment on two posts, about a news topic.

I've stayed away from the Aruba-Natalee Holloway story, but not because it doesn't intrigue me.

And I think it intrigues in very much the same way the Farris Hassan story does, none which includes the cynical reason, "blonde".

For a newsstory to keep going, to keep fascinating one:

1) Something unusual about the story must occur

2) Helps if youth is in some way involved

3) Helps if the family or friends of news target are rich

4) Helps if the family or friends of news target are photogenic

5) Helps if the family or friends of news target are well-spoken

6) Helps if the family or friends have the time to keep talking about it

There must be many more characteristics, but I daresay, Farris Hassan's story fits ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Ergo, this is why we are intrigued, I shouldn't wonder.

25 Comments:

  • Slightly OT: Victoria, are you familiar with the ska band Save Farris? Just curious, based on the title!

    By Blogger Ron, at Sun Jan 01, 05:09:00 pm GMT-5  

  • You covered it all, I think. Nothing left but to say that's what I think too.
    Farris and his parents, I love her golden semi-fleur-de-lis throne, can make additional fortune and fame off this story precisely for the reasons you give and I think generally you are spot on those of lesser means being treated differently. Exceptions given to the child who is beautiful and from an eccentric family. They make good copy.

    Farris needs punished Big Time for his adventure, since he wasn't beheaded, it's left to his parents who, again as you point out seem not about to change their bemused stance and the law seems perfectly willing to smile along too.
    As opposed to you, Farris is about to be the Toast of His School and Oprah too.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sun Jan 01, 11:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Icepick, at Mon Jan 02, 01:23:00 am GMT-5  

  • Farris needs punished Big Time for his adventure, since he wasn't beheaded, it's left to his parents....

    Yeah, a real shame he didn't get beheaded, huh, Paul.

    By Blogger Icepick, at Mon Jan 02, 01:28:00 am GMT-5  

  • One who skilfully (if naively) puts in the balance all his limited resources -- including himself -- for a cause he believes in isn't acting in a Rich Kid mold. He's showing the spirit that brought us here in the first place, and continues to make America what it is.

    Improved foresight doesn't come from punishment, but experience. In Iraq he finally saw the risks at hand all around him. Replacing those memories with those of a thrashing or grounding or whatever isn't going to help -- quite the opposite, I think.

    Used to be, young boys would run away to the Navy aged 14-15, claiming they were of legal age to join up (then 16).

    Indeed they would. They, too, were admirable.

    Ultimately it seems you don't like a happy ending being tagged onto this story. But America isn't a tragic culture. It's comic and popular, with neither success nor failure leading necessarily to catastrophe. Be happy here. Triumph. It's not illegal here; you may, if you like, even become a celebrity thereby.

    Because had he been Farris Hassan of Paris, or indeed, of Baghdad, he would be in very different kind of trouble today.

    Ask an Iraqi...

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Jan 02, 02:07:00 am GMT-5  

  • Slightly OT: Victoria, are you familiar with the ska band Save Farris? Just curious, based on the title!

    Kewllllll, as Stewie might say.

    No, I don't actually, Ron!

    I have a confession, which I have made dozens of times to my friends -- thus, making it more affirmation than confession, after a while. ;)

    I don't know a thing about music.

    It's like automobiles, power drills...or cooking -- I draw a cultural blank.

    Interestingly, I do like ska, albeit I couldn't name you one band or one title of a "song" if you held a gun to my head (now why would you do that?).

    Tell me about them! :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 05:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • I love her golden semi-fleur-de-lis throne,

    *LOL*

    Yes. *g*

    Her furniture is what my mother calls Levant Rococco. :)

    The TBN channel is much into it.

    can make additional fortune and fame off this story precisely for the reasons you give

    Larry King's producers are on the phone, as we speak, I am sure.

    and I think generally you are spot on those of lesser means being treated differently.

    Here I may say this to those who disagree:

    My only point about that is scrutiny and retribution for perceived or real miscues, is greater with poorer people than with those of privilege.

    Privileged people, whether or not you want to admit it as a nation, includes middle-class people.

    Exceptions given to the child who is beautiful and from an eccentric family. They make good copy.

    I fit one of two of those characteristics of families. ;)

    Farris needs punished Big Time for his adventure, since he wasn't beheaded, it's left to his parents who, again as you point out seem not about to change their bemused stance and the law seems perfectly willing to smile along too.

    I think your "beheaded" reference was taken much out-of-context elsewhere.

    If I am understanding right, and I think I am, you are saying that something AWFUL like beheading could have occurred to young Farris in Iraq.

    It didn't.

    This is a great thing.

    Now his parents can punish him.

    Right?

    *g*

    As opposed to you, Farris is about to be the Toast of His School and Oprah too.

    Bingo.

    Reinforcing that what he did is worthy of attention, monetary rewards, and to some, praise.

    That, IMNHO, is wrong.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 05:17:00 am GMT-5  

  • Icepick, my blog doesn't allow coarse commentaries.

    Rethink your punchy attitude and your words here carefully, because I don't hesitate to delete them.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 05:20:00 am GMT-5  

  • One who skilfully (if naively) puts in the balance all his limited resources -- including himself -- for a cause he believes in isn't acting in a Rich Kid mold.

    I'll concede the point that he is not some rich playboy out for an itnernational joyride like a Niarchos or Trump heir, etc.

    But limited resources?

    How limited can they be when he is the son of a medical doctor...his mother gave him $10,000 because of a stock tip...and he paid 500 dollars to a taxi to take him across to the Kuwaiti border (it failed)?

    I understand that you mean limited as in he ONLY has $10,000, and didn't steal the money outright from his mother's purse, but come on now.

    A poor black kid hopping the rails to participate in the Selma, Alabama boycott is one thing.

    This is QUITE another.

    He's showing the spirit that brought us here in the first place, and continues to make America what it is.

    But the standards are different, JSU.

    Modern society demands certain oversight over one's child. In different times, people would've turned a blind eye.

    I do believe that a minor running away without notification, is incorrect, no matter the time or place.

    Improved foresight doesn't come from punishment, but experience.

    Question:

    Would you have said that, if he had gone to take part in jihad too?

    Because my stance on what he did is the same, whatever the details.

    I suspect others would change their tune real fast, if he had done something a little more "daring".

    Like John Walker Lindh did.

    In Iraq he finally saw the risks at hand all around him.

    Did he?

    He walked into the AP offices after having walked around the Baghdad markets, and streets.

    When questioned, he told the AP reporters he was "fine".

    I think he believes the "commotion" about what he did was unjustified.*

    I see it as the luckiest of escapes that he didn't get kidnapped or worse, as Paul intimated.

    People are very admiring of him because the best possible scenario happened -- he has returned unscathed to the US.

    Like the jihad twist, they would change their tune real fast, if the worst had occured.

    Replacing those memories with those of a thrashing or grounding or whatever isn't going to help -- quite the opposite, I think.

    Youth is impetuous, daring, and splendidly, almost heroicly, naive.

    Age doesn't have to be.

    As they say, someone has to be the parent.

    Might as well be the parents, right?

    (*He'll continue to, until all the papers and news channels try to get a hold of him -- if he or his parents declined to be interviewed, I'll be very positively impressed)

    Indeed they would. They, too, were admirable.

    No. Their impulses were admirable.

    The way they went about it was not.

    And here is the crux of the difference of opinion we...

    ...as in those who concentrate on the causes and not the actions of Farris...

    have.

    Ultimately it seems you don't like a happy ending being tagged onto this story.

    Ahh, the quintessential American ending, eh?

    Whether the story ends with Farris arriving to hugs or jeers is to me, a detail.

    What the story PROMOTES is of very real concern to me.

    But America isn't a tragic culture. It's comic and popular, with neither success nor failure leading necessarily to catastrophe. Be happy here. Triumph. It's not illegal here; you may, if you like, even become a celebrity thereby.

    Yeah, it's not Singapore -- where you get flogged for vandalising cars.

    Didn't stop that kid from getting interviewed by Larry King and Babs Walter, right?

    Let's not confuse notoriety with true heroics, JSU.

    When an 18-year-old signs his/her name to a dotted line on a recruitment contract with the American Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps, at the height of the Iraqi War, that's my hero right there.

    This kid has a dazzling memory to relate.

    I'll be the FIRST to listen to it.

    But I don't admire what he did.

    That too is part of American culture no? Disagreement.

    Ask an Iraqi...

    I read the first 50 replies before I had to turn away in disgust.

    The trolls...the trolls...ugh.

    Mind you, someone did make a very good point.

    Just WHO was Farris going to interview to find out the "facts" about the Iraqi situation?

    He didn't speak Arabic.

    May be, bless him, he thought there would be enough English-speakers that he would just go up to them, and say, "Do you speak English?".

    Or maybe he was there to interview the AP reporters.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 06:00:00 am GMT-5  

  • "Would you have said that, if he had gone to take part in jihad too?"

    I had to read this twice, to make sure you weren't kidding.

    I treat Farris and Lindh -- though truly, a more ridiculous *and* there hasn't been in decades -- in one sense equally: as morally responsible people, who did their (inexperienced) best for their respective sides.

    Farris for good, Lindh for evil. The former needs a lesson in effective methods, the latter a date with ol' Sparky (which, unfortunately, he will avoid).

    This is all the difference in the world, and it pains me that you've -- intentionally, for it's of a piece with the bizarre Columbine reference in your original post -- chosen to gloss over it.

    "No. Their impulses were admirable.

    The way they went about it was not."


    Geez, no wonder you didn't like the Batman movie. All that dangerous, illegal vigilanteism!

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Jan 02, 07:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • I had to read this twice, to make sure you weren't kidding.

    I treat Farris and Lindh -- though truly, a more ridiculous *and* there hasn't been in decades -- in one sense equally: as morally responsible people, who did their (inexperienced) best for their respective sides.

    Farris for good, Lindh for evil. The former needs a lesson in effective methods, the latter a date with ol' Sparky (which, unfortunately, he will avoid).

    This is all the difference in the world, and it pains me that you've -- intentionally, for it's of a piece with the bizarre Columbine reference in your original post -- chosen to gloss over it.


    I'll skip over the fact that you choose not to mention that I clarified the Columbine reference in this post above.

    Instead I will ask you to promise me one thing, JSU:

    That whatever this boys says about his trip to Iraq, that you will show the same cheery goodwill about his actions, that you do now.

    That say, if he comes out as being very anti-US presence in Iraq in his no-doubt, future interviews on television, you will support his motives, in a spirit of good ole American derring-do, just the same.

    And especially, if in so doing, he gets appropriated by certain factions, all too ready to champion another Cindy Sheehan to their cause.

    Shake?

    For my part, if he comes out all pro-US presence on Iraq, I promise all who read this, that I shan't suddenly make him the second-coming of MLK Jr.

    *spits on hands*

    Geez, no wonder you didn't like the Batman movie. All that dangerous, illegal vigilanteism!

    Dude, it was gay.

    *g*

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 07:55:00 am GMT-5  

  • Farris needs punished Big Time for his adventure, since he wasn't beheaded, it's left to his parents....

    Yeah, a real shame he didn't get beheaded, huh, Paul.


    Oh, lighten up there icepick, a little humour. There was a real chance he could have ended up sitting blind-folded and cross-legged before us. I'm so happy he didn't. So, can I kid about it? Yes, I can.

    Your observations on being a poor boy are correct for you, I suppose, at least the ones that were there early this morning. Mine were different growing up. But let's not trade I was poorer than you comments.
    I have another viewpoint also from law enforcement and our judicial system too and that backs up what I said and what Victoria said. It is not an absolute by any means.

    By Blogger Paul, at Mon Jan 02, 09:26:00 am GMT-5  

  • I think your "beheaded" reference was taken much out-of-context elsewhere.

    If I am understanding right, and I think I am, you are saying that something AWFUL like beheading could have occurred to young Farris in Iraq.

    It didn't.

    This is a great thing.

    Now his parents can punish him.

    Right?


    Exactly, thank you. It's good to see him smiling into the cameras. I knew you were used to my (attempts at) humour.
    Now it's time to pay for not receiving your parents permission to do what you did. If he did receive his parents permission, it's time for them to be punished.
    Two more years, he's on his own and they're off the parental hook. I'm not sure they were ever on it.

    By Blogger Paul, at Mon Jan 02, 09:53:00 am GMT-5  

  • Fine, Victoria, your blog, your rules. But you have posted something that is absurd, and I called you on it. Sorry I offended your delicate sensibilities. Us poor kids just don't know how to deal with you privileged sophisticates.

    By Blogger Icepick, at Mon Jan 02, 11:44:00 am GMT-5  

  • Two more years, he's on his own and they're off the parental hook. I'm not sure they were ever on it.

    Yup.

    (I LOLed in real life after I read this though, Paul, but I always post an LOL after your messages, since you have a certain comic timing which has me in stitches -- I decided to vary today)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 01:04:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Fine, Victoria, your blog, your rules. But you have posted something that is absurd, and I called you on it.

    Are you dense? You're getting my hot temper to rise, and that's never a pretty sight.

    One more time, I'll type slowly:

    I object to your coarse language, and punchy attitude.

    Repost your reply in a civil, mature tone, and hey presto! we're cool.

    Sorry I offended your delicate sensibilities. Us poor kids just don't know how to deal with you privileged sophisticates.

    Enough. This sickens me.

    I post that a child of privilege like Farris won't have Child Services after him like working-class kids do, about being outraged that poor kids in hospitals get spied on and middle-class kids in private hospitals don't, and YOU take offence?

    Pathetic.

    You are projecting an attitude of snobbism unto me, in a manner which is willful and unfair.

    Apologise or explain. Your choice.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 01:10:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Oh, dear, Victoria and Icepick, you're bringing out my Inner Beth (think "Little Women").

    (Tiny voice) Pretty please make up?

    (Running away to hide in the linen closet.)

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Mon Jan 02, 01:56:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Vic, have you been following this story mostly via TV coverage? Because this was in the very first AP article I saw on the case:

    Aside from the research he wanted to accomplish, he also wrote in an essay saying he wanted to volunteer in Iraq.

    He said he wrote half the essay while in the United States, half in Kuwait, and e-mailed it to his teachers Dec. 15 while in the Kuwait City airport.

    "There is a struggle in Iraq between good and evil, between those striving for freedom and liberty and those striving for death and destruction," he wrote.

    "Those terrorists are not human but pure evil. For their goals to be thwarted, decent individuals must answer justice's call for help. Unfortunately altruism is always in short supply. Not enough are willing to set aside the material ambitions of this transient world, put morality first, and risk their lives for the cause of humanity. So I will."


    If subsequent MSM accounts have been suppressing this element, I'm not surprised.

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Jan 02, 02:17:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Oh, dear, Victoria and Icepick, you're bringing out my Inner Beth (think "Little Women").

    (Tiny voice) Pretty please make up?

    (Running away to hide in the linen closet.)


    This reminds me of a man who, when he sees two women (wasn't that a Sophia Loren vehicle?) have a fight, he goes:

    Meow! Cat Fight!

    Trust me, RIA, I'm cool about this.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 03:15:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Vic, have you been following this story mostly via TV coverage? Because this was in the very first AP article I saw on the case:

    Wow! I just read your link.

    Yes, you got it -- I was MOSTLY following it via the local SoFla news channels, since I like their more accurate reporting style, than the opinion-laden MSM.

    But actually, the local news reporters said the kid spent $500 on the taxi ride, and this article contradicts that saying $100 for one, and $250 in total.

    The thing that throws me though, is that the link says it was published on Dec. 29th, but it seems an updated story.

    It shows him as already arrived home, which happened last night.

    Farris Hassan says he thinks a trip to the Middle East is a healthy vacation compared with a trip to Colorado for holiday skiing.

    "You go to, like, the worst place in the world and things are terrible," he said. "When you go back home you have such a new appreciation for all the blessing you have there, and I'm just going to be, like, ecstatic for life."

    His mother, however, sees things differently.

    "I don't think I will ever leave him in the house alone again," she said. "He showed a lack of judgment."

    Hassan may not mind, at least for a while. He now understands how dangerous his trip was, that he was only a whisker away from death.

    His plans on his return to Florida: "Kiss the ground and hug everyone."


    Good.

    That's ALL I wanted to hear.

    I don't begrudge the lad this life-growing adventure -- I question how he did it.

    Cutting classes. Hadn't been reported on local news either...

    P.S.: I'm glad he didn't go there for jihad. The local news said he had gone to a mosque to interview people, and had been "talking politics" with them. Whew.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 03:26:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Nah, I misread it. It was from before he arrived home. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 02, 03:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria, I wasn't referring to you and me ... of that, I had no doubt. I suspect that you and I could go at it hammer and tongs and then argue over who should pick up the Happy Hour tab.

    Nope, not referring to that ...

    ; )

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Mon Jan 02, 05:09:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria, I wasn't referring to you and me ...

    Heck, neither was I!

    I meant that what you said, reminded me of the oft-knee-jerk reaction men have about seeing two women argue.

    Instead of "allowing" them to, without interruption, they make a little remark which is in part condenscending, and part ironic.

    Not that you were being either, but I do believe when two people have a disagreement, let them go at it.

    Adults can argue. It's okay.

    You and I did, just fine. So did JSU and I.

    of that, I had no doubt. I suspect that you and I could go at it hammer and tongs and then argue over who should pick up the Happy Hour tab.

    You're very sexy when you argue, though, Reader_Iam.

    Want to mud-wrestle with me?

    Nope, not referring to that ...

    ; )


    It's Ladies Night on Wednesdays on Sundries.

    First 2 Ladies to enter the blog beeatch-slap for free.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Jan 03, 12:01:00 am GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Paul, at Tue Jan 03, 12:38:00 am GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Paul, at Tue Jan 03, 12:39:00 am GMT-5  

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