Saturday, December 31, 2005

Farris Hassan's Day(s) Off

You've probably seen this story already: A 16-year-old from Florida sneaks off to Iraq without even telling his parents. Farris Hassan had recently studied the art of "immersion journalism"--living the life of the people about whom he was writing, in order to gain a better understanding of them. Leaving town on December 11 (skipping a week of school in the process) and using money he'd received from his mother (for giving her profitable stock tips), he hopped planes that took him to Kuwait and Lebanon before finally ending up in Baghdad, being allowed to enter because of his parents' Iraqi birth.

After his second night in Baghdad, he contacted the Associated Press, telling them that he had come to do research and humanitarian work. The AP contacted the U.S. Embassy, who sent soldiers to pick him up, and he's on his way home this weekend. Upon his arrival, he plans to "kiss the ground and hug everyone." (Incidentally, the prep school that Farris attends threatened to expel him because of the incident, but his parents convinced school officials to change their minds.)

While on his trip, Farris completed an essay that he'd started while in school, stating the reasons he wanted to volunteer in Iraq:
"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."

“I want to experience during my Christmas the same hardships ordinary Iraqis experience everyday, so that I may better empathize with their distress.” (source)
Was it a stupid idea? Sure; all kinds of things could have gone wrong. But you have to admire the kid in a way; what he lacks in good judgement, he makes up for in cojones de acero. I don't think this is the last we'll hear from Farris Hassan, though we may have to wait until he's done being grounded...which may well be until he's 25.

UPDATE: Some interesting comments on a post written by a fellow Althouse reader. There's a variety of opinions here, ranging from the "ground him for the rest of high school and take away his computer" variety to "I would've done the same thing if I were in his shoes." I particularly liked this comment; here's an excerpt:

The only solution to this kind of strong-willed cussedness is to send it out into the world, to get knocked around by reality. And sometimes, not knowing what is impossible, such spirits accomplish the impossible. It's youth's biggest advantage, as well as its biggest weakness.

More generally, this indicates a problem with America's treatment of youth in general. We have infantalized them to the point that we constantly hear people talk about people in their late teens and early twenties as kids. Hey, a man in his twenties driving or commanding a tank in combat IS NOT A CHILD!

And a sixteen year-old is old enough to make his own mistakes, and bear the consequences. He might not be old enough to be considered fully mature, but to treat him like a six year-old is stupid. Mr. Hassan, I salute you!
--"Icepick" (another fellow Althouse reader)
Thunder from down under: It's not quite New Year's Day here, but they've already celebrated in the other half of the world. This story has a cool picture of the annual fireworks display over the Sydney Harbour in Australia; hey, James--do you ever go to this?

Pretty frappin' crazy: I was in a Starbucks mood this afternoon, so I went to the one in Firewheel, and confusion ensued when someone else made a grab for my drink when my name was called. We discovered that it wasn't that either of us had mis-heard the barista, but rather that we were both named Kevin and had each ordered a tall peppermint mocha Frappuccino. (What's the chance of that?) We also figured out that I had gotten there before the other Kevin, so I did get to keep the first one.

The best (three) things in life are free: I know that everyone has mixed opinions on gift cards, but the ones from food establishments are definitely pretty cool in my book. A few nights ago, Coop and I went to Frisco for a Trifecta (for the uninitiated, that's here, here and here in the same trip, and they all have to be within walking distance of each other (for obvious reasons). Thanks to the many gift cards I'd gotten for Christmas, my burrito with a donut-and-mocha chaser cost me a grand total of 87 cents; had my Starbucks card not been almost depleted, the whole thing would have been free.


Icepick said...

Thanks, Kev!

James said...

Hey Kev :) Has been a while between visits sorry.

Re the Sydney Harbour fireworks.. I haven't been for a few years. But as I was growing up, for nearly 17 years in a row, I was there every year at one of the various parks on the side of the harbour watching the awesome display.

The display does get better and better every year, and this years was a stunner. But the foreshore of the harbour is just packed every year, and going into the harbour is a lot of effort. So I've just chosen to hang with my mates back at home the past couple of years.

PS: there's a couple of posts on AAF awaiting your reading and/or attention :)

vbspurs said...

I came over to your blog, because I saw on Technorati that you had linked to my Farris piece.

Yet, smite my eyes!, I cannot find the link...

Either way, thanks, Kev, for the link-love. :)

And a big, smoochy greeting to fellow blog-commenter, Icepick.