A seven-year-old boy was suspended because he chewed his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. Now, really, why would you suspend a kid for that? A gun-shaped Pop Tart isn’t a threat to anyone. Nor does chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun suggest violent tendencies. Meanwhile, a 5-year-old girl was charged with “terroristic threats” for talking about her pink toy gun that shoots… bubbles. The school suspended her for 10 days and required a psychological evaluation. And in Maryland, boys were suspended for playing cops and robbers and using their fingers as imaginary guns. Who is frightened by this sort of thing? People who can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. […]
A Pop Tart gun, a finger gun, or a toy gun -- even a pink one that shoots, gasp!, soap bubbles! -- isn’t any danger to anyone. Nor is playing with toy guns a sign that a kid is mentally ill or dangerous. It’s a sign that a kid is a kid. When schools and teachers react hysterically to such non-threats, they’re telling us one of two things: Either that they lack the ability to respond realistically to events or that they recognise that there’s not any sort of threat, but deliberately overreact in order to stigmatise even the idea of guns. The first is educational malpractice; the second is educational malpractice mixed with abuse of power. Neither inspires confidence in the educational system in which they appear.
When I was maybe five or six years old, I took to school a Marvel comic, which, naturally, led to a playground battle of ray guns, fireballs and atomic annihilators. Oddly enough, all of my friends survived this exchange of imaginary firepower, and even the toppling of entire imaginary buildings. So far as I can recall, no-one actually bombarded themselves with gamma rays in the hope of turning green. Still, I can’t help wondering how that kind of thing would go down among teachers who hyperventilate at the thought of a single pink bubble gun. Presumably our juvenile imaginations would, for some, now be a cause for concern, possibly correction.
Related, George Will:
Government is failing spectacularly at its core functions, such as budgeting and educating. Yet it continues to multiply its peripheral and esoteric responsibilities, tasks that require it to do things for which it has no aptitude, such as thinking and making common-sense judgments.
Mr Eugenides feels the pain of the Chavistas:
The Guardian has this week been a newspaper in mourning. The death of Hugo Chavez has hit morale hard, with the newspaper all but running a black band around its website in deference to the passing of the man it clearly regarded as the leader of all progressive forces south of the Equator, if not the Watford Gap. […] Tariq Ali’s piece… was a masterpiece of its kind, a full-throated encomium of praise that made Chavez sound like a world-historical colossus, a one-in-a-million fusion of two parts Gandhi, one part Bolivar and a dash of Han Solo, instead of the vaudevillian punchline that he was by the end. No mention was made of the gigantic failures, the petty thuggery and intimidation of opponents, the contempt for the constitution or the rule of law. Why should there have been? To these people, everything is about speaking so-called truth to power, even if it means singing the praises of dickheads like Chavez one week and then with a straight face labelling Rupert Murdoch a horrifying threat to democracy the next.
And Heather Mac Donald on teen pregnancy and what mustn’t be said about it:
Less predictable was the charge… that the [teen pregnancy] posters “perpetuate gender stereotypes.” Even the most seasoned observers of the academic-advocacy-victimology axis might not have seen this one coming. Presumably, the ads “perpetuate gender stereotypes” by pointing out to “Dad” the costs of child support and to “Mom” that when the father takes off, as he likely will, she’ll be left holding the diaper bag. It appears that we have a new politically correct fantasy: unwed teen fathers are as likely to be the sole provider for their child as teen moms.
As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.