By now, I'm sure you've all heard of the San Francisco Zoo's Tatiana the Tiger. You know, the tiger who killed a guy, and maimed two of his friends, on Christmas.
You've probably wondered "Why?" Why would a well-fed tiger wreak such havoc on one of the holiest days of the year? What caused her to reach down deep for the super-feline strength needed to leap over a moat and wall? Well, friends, as someone who works with 18-25 year old males on a daily basis, I am not at all surprised at Tatiana's behavior.
In fact, I am amazed that more young men don't meet this kind of fate. This age group luxuriates in jackassery. This is the population that dies from soda machines being rocked onto them, from snake bites to the hand, from being pushed - while naked - in a shopping cart through busy intersections. They drunkenly climb sculptures, swim in fountains, and sing "Buy You a Drank" loudly and off key. And, you know, I kind of agree that this is a time in their lives when they should push the envelope a little - to discover their personal boundaries/values, to have a little fun, etc. In the past, I've struggled to articulate to students where the line that you shouldn't cross is.
Thanks to Tatiana, I now can. "Would your behavior cause a tiger to leap over her enclosure? Would she quickly kill your friend, and then ignore juicier passerby completely to hunt you down in a nearby cafe?" Tatiana single-pawedly drew the line in the sand.
I'm thinking of printing up a few "What Would Tatiana Do?" shirts to wear to judicial meetings. I could pass out those ugly little rubber bracelets to students to remind them of the far-reaching consequences of their actions. What do you think?