Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Can We Opt In for Once?

This column shall serve as adequate public notice that you (yes, you), as a citizen of the world, are hereby required to send me five hundred dollars (500 USD) immediately. If I do not receive five hundred dollars from you, postmarked by March 7th, 2016, your primary bank account will be debited, and/or your wages will be garnished to collect this mandatory fee.

You may opt out of this fee by sending, via FedEx overnight priority, a notarized, handwritten letter on 7-1/2” x 13mm, 32# bond, seafoam green paper, sealed in a #10 string and button manila envelope with a red wax seal securing the string. The seal shall consist of fifty percent beeswax and fifty percent carnauba wax, be on the chromatic scale between cardinal and chestnut red, be no smaller than a nickel but no larger than a drachma at its widest dimension, and be embossed with a round stamp containing my initials in Comic Sans font.

Your opt-out letter must be in both English and Spanish, must make grammatical sense, and must not contain any vowels. It must be received by close of business tomorrow.

Please include the five hundred dollar fee with your opt-out letter, which will be refunded to you if you have met the opt-out criteria. You must also include a self-addressed stamped envelope with the same envelope and sealing requirements as above to be eligible for a refund.

Thank you,

While you’re making out your checks, let me tell you a little story. We received an email from our school district here in California telling us that unless we mailed opt-out letters to a judge in Sacramento, all of our children’s personal information would be sent to the court, due to a lawsuit not involving our district in any way. It seems a group cleverly named ‘The Concerned Parents Association’ sued the California Department of Education, claiming they weren’t doing something or other correctly.

The United States District Court, which is apparently staffed entirely with stupid, stupid, stupid idiots, decided that because someone somewhere was concerned, every single student in the state of California should have to hand over their personal, confidential education file - complete with their name, social security number, address, date of birth, etc., etc., etc. - to another group of stupid, stupid, stupid idiots.

So here is the “opt-out” form that I had to fill out three times by hand and mail in an envelope with a stamp, because doing this sort of thing online in this day and age makes no sense:

I, the undersigned, being a parent/guardian, or an adult student who is eighteen (18) years of age or older, object to the disclosure by the California Department of Education of protected personal information contained in records of my/my child’s student records in the lawsuit entitled, Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et al. v. California Department of Education, USDC-Eastern District of California, Case No. 2:11-cv-03471-KJM-AC:

First of all, how did you idiots write the word “protected” with a straight face? If it was actually protected, we wouldn’t be doing this. That’s like a bank telling me, “Your money is totally protected here. Unless, you know, like, someone comes in and asks for it. Then we just totally give it to them.”

Second of all, this letter I’m sending you isn’t really an ‘opt-out’ at all, is it? It says that I object to you disclosing my children’s information. Nowhere in this letter does it say you can’t do it if you want to. Last time I watched Making of a Murderer, objections could be overruled by judges. Especially idiot judges.

After the information I had to fill in, you included a comments section with the hilarious parenthetical “optional,” as if commenting on this inane failure of sanity and reason was actually optional for me.

Here’s my comments: To the ‘Concerned Parents Association’ - If you were actually concerned parents, you wouldn’t be asking for other people’s kids’ private information.

To the courts - How about an opt-in form next time? “Yes, I would love to release all my sons’ personal data so that you folks can figure out why Hayden failed geometry after his parents so helpfully ignored an entire school year’s worth of  progress reports and emails from his teacher until the last week of school.” Laws are written by people. Stop doing what you think is legal and start doing what you know is right. This is wrong and you know it. Don’t hide behind a lawsuit.

And I’m talking to you, too, California school districts. The email I received from my district urged me to send in my not-really-an-opt-out “opt-out” letters because “the release of this information is completely out of our control...” I would argue that. You and the courts are all on the same team, and it’s supposed to be my team. If you all stood up to the court and did what you know is right, instead of what they’re telling you is “legal,” they wouldn’t be able to get away with it.

“Give us the information.”
“But you have to. We said so.”
“Bite me.”
“What now?”
“Why don’t you put away some criminals?”
“OK. We haven’t been focusing on that. Good call.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I know you have a check to mail to me, and I have to get back to hand-writing my comments on these forms. I need to go look up how to spell ‘asinine’ and Google whether I can be held in contempt of court for calling a judge a dumbass on paper.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. I hope you actually sent in your comments. As I become a crotchety old man I seem to push back more too. It feels good to put people in their place when they're used to just doing what they please.

  2. My comments were scathing, and hand written! Don't give them an inch. Cheers!