Bedlam by Design
There Goes the Neighbourhood



Good job he wasn't using his Darth Vader choke hold.


Good job he wasn’t using his Darth Vader choke hold.

While at primary school, aged six or so, I smuggled in a Marvel comic, at the time a prized possession. Inevitably, there followed a playground battle of ray guns, fireballs and atomic annihilators. Oddly enough, all of my friends survived this exchange of imaginary firepower. So far as I can recall, no-one went out looking for radioactive spiders or bombarded themselves with gamma rays in the hope of turning green. But I can’t help wondering how that kind of thing would be dealt with today among teachers who hyperventilate at the sight of a 10-year-old going pew with his laser blaster fingers. Presumably our juvenile imaginations, in which disintegration was an everyday hazard, would be a cause for concern.


The solution for his victims is simple and aligns with my experiences with imaginary death rays



Attacker: NO WAY, I GOT YOU!



That’s the trouble with playground ray gun battles. They’re so hard to referee.


I was at primary school in the late 70's.

At break time when the weather was good, lads would form a human chain, each arm round the shoulder of the boy on either side of him while chanting "All join on for war! War! All join of for war! War!"

This would go on until the chain was deemed long enough, at which point the lads would break up into two groups, grab a stick or ruler as a gun and then spend 20 minutes running and screaming "killing" Jerries or Tommies (i.e. German and British soldiers, not the cartoon animals), depending on what side you ended up on.

I'm afraid it's beyond the powers of my imagination how the swooning principals of the schools in those reports would have coped with such forms of play.


And don’t forget that playing with Lego must only be allowed in a Marxoid mental context. For “social justice,” obviously.

Richard Powell

The threat of suspension seems quite mild compared to the transatlantic approach of shooting on sight:


"All join on for war! War! All join of for war! War!"

I was at primary school in the mid-80s and this sort of thing was the norm. A particular favourite was spending our mid- morning playtime gathering as many pine cones as we could for our armies (England vs Russia) and depositing them in armouries at opposite ends of the playground.
Later in the day, during the longer lunch breaks, we'd charge around pelting each other with said pine cones. The girls would either act as quartermasters or scurry around the battlefield gathering up the spent ammo to be re-used.

I often think that if only I'd had a progressive teacher that recognised the microaggressions in all of this, that I'd have been sent home in shame and would not have developed into the heteronormative, militaristic, racist oppressor that I am today.

R. Sherman

This is deer and turkey season where I live. It was not unusual for the boys (and some girls) in my high school to come from hunting directly to school and then leave to back to their hunting stands when school was over. Our student parking lot had enough rifles and shotguns in racks in pick-up trucks to equip a reinforced infantry company. Total casualties during my four years of high school:


Of course, maybe that's because our parents provided us with a moral compass in addition to the 30-30 or 12 gauge.


And don’t forget that playing with Lego must only be allowed in a Marxoid mental context.

Holy crap.


This is deer and turkey season where I live.

In my haste I misread that as “deer and monkey season,” which, momentarily, had me very confused.

In my defence, I do have a cold.


Spot the difference!

Here is a description of a self-criticism session for children at the North Korean gulag of Yodok, as described by Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulout in The Aquariums of Pyongyang:

    The atmosphere was strained. You could feel the fear and hatred spreading through the room. The kids were not as adept at controlling their emotions as adults, who knew the wisest thing to do was to accept whatever criticism they received. The adults understood that it was just a routine [ … ] Soon enough, the criticized person would have to criticize his criticizer. Those were the rules; there was nothing personal about it. Yet the faultfinding of peers was hard for kids to accept, especially if it struck them as unfair.

Now here is an extract from Why We Banned Legos (see David's link above, for anyone interested), with added emphases:

    Several times in the discussion, children made reference to "giving" Lego pieces to other children. Kendra [Kendra Pelojoaquin, the teacher] pointed out the understanding behind this language:

    "When you say that some kids ‘gave' pieces to other kids, that sounds like there are some kids who have most of the power in Legotown — power to decide what pieces kids can use and where they can build."

    Kendra's comment sparked an outcry by Lukas and Carl, two central figures in Legotown:

    Carl: "We didn't ‘give' the pieces, we found and shared them."

    Lukas: "It's like giving to charity."

    Carl: "I don't agree with using words like ‘gave.' Because when someone wants to move in, we find them a platform and bricks and we build them a house and find them windows and a door."

    These children seemed to squirm at the implications of privilege, wealth, and power that "giving" holds. The children denied their power, framing it as benign and neutral, not something actively sought out and maintained.

Holy crap.

Yes, I'm rather inclined to agree.

sackcloth and ashes

'"All join on for war! War! All join of for war! War!"'

Primary school in the early 1980s - the playground saw regular re-enactments of World War Two, although for some reason no one wanted to be a German.

There was a phase of Rebels v Stormtroopers inspired indirectly by LucasFilms, though. I remember getting very upset when my mates told me I had to be Princess Leia (it was an all-boys school).

Obviously in today's schooling environment we'd all be suspended.


That journal, (Re)Thinking Schools online really is a veritable cornucopia of social justice.

In the latest edition, VOLUME 29, ISSUE 1 — FALL 2014, there is a focus on race.

In her article, Dear White Teacher / Queridos maestros blancos (which as you can is for some reason in a dual language English-Spanish version, but anyway …) Chrysanthius Lathan seems genuinely surprised at her discovery that:

    I think that many whites [white teachers] live in fear of their good faith actions being labeled as racist.

Although presumably she shouldn't be that surprised given that she also says:

    Another issue is that I am teaching students of color how to navigate a classroom with routines and rules centered in ideals of whiteness, where there is only one “right” way to be a successful student: show in ways recognized by white culture that you respect authority, work to a standard, don’t challenge, don’t make waves, apologize when you do.

Michelle Kenney also describes trouble in school with her contribution, Teaching the N-word:

    My students—black, white, Latina/o, Vietnamese, and Cambodian—all sighed and rolled their eyes in unison when I asked them to write about the n-word. This was not the first time that a middle-aged, white English teacher in sensible shoes tried to get down and dirty over a sensitive subject.

F**k me.


Yes, I’m rather inclined to agree.

At the Hilltop Children’s centre, where any playing with Lego must be corrected until it complies with Marxoid ideology, the staff describe themselves as “heart-centred people.”


And don’t forget that playing with Lego must only be allowed in a Marxoid mental context.

"You didn't build that." Barack Obama.



See, in the average Latino school, they wouldn't take pains to add both endings (holy crap they put the A first) because Spanish has been less eager to drop the conceit that the masculine is used when both sexes are being mentioned.

So by doing that stupid slash thing, she's imposing North American sensibilities onto Latino culture.

For shame…


This is just silly. Pew, Pew, Pew is the sound a ray-gun makes when it is set on *stun*. There was no chance of anyone getting hurt. Idiots!


The one sure way to stop this is to publish the identities of the staff involved and contact details of the school. After a month or so of savage criticism they get a chance to whine in a national newspaper about how shit their life is.

Hopefully their fellow bacteria will take note and think twice before they do the same.

Public humiliation really is the only language they understand.


Call me cynical, but had a girl done the same to two boys nothing at all would have happened.


So everyone knows that boys tend to choose play that involves guns, warfare etc. So one does sense the influence of feminist hostility and control-freakdom in stories like this.

I have a boy at school in the UK and haven't seen too much lunacy yet - except from several parents, aghast and dumbfounded that their daughters play princess games and the boys.

They don't for one moment think their dubious world-view could be wrong - they just persuade themselves that this pesky "social conditioning" is unbelievable subtle, coming from everywhere, against which they are helpless.


… had a girl done the same to two boys nothing at all would have happened.

One might be forgiven for thinking so, but apparently there is no gender bar when it comes to forcing 5 year-olds to sign contracts promising not to kill herself, her teachers or any of her classmates.



That story you linked to is almost unbelievable.

I looked at the psych evaluation questionnaire they made her take - it reads like a parody. How would any system expect an adult to respond to that? For a five-year old it's insane. And utterly meaningless.

For a simple piece of normal childhood play - she is treated as if she is potentially seriously mentally disturbed, and possibly criminal.

There isn't a single part of what she was subjected to that could have made any sense to her. Nor could the so-called promises extracted be thought to be meaningful by anyone with half a brain.

Incomprehensible contracts - which can't mean anything.

Hysteria - and not a jot of commonsense.


Lucky escape for the kid.


I think the questionnaire is a hoax. It's mentioned in only one article by people named Lester and Charlie and that article has been repeated on three different blogs but nobody else seems to know anything about it.


It reads like a hoax - one would dearly like it to be a hoax.

I'm just not sure I'd bet on it.

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

When I was a kid, we played WW II with plastic "machine guns" and rubber knives. The girls were French spies, because we had some vague notion re: Mata Hari (wrong war, but same foes). We attacked one another all over the neighborhood. I imagine nowadays the bunch of us would be locked up for observation.


born in '54 I grew up in the so-called "Stepford Wives" era ... where I played outside after school unsupervised until dinner. On a block where all the kids my age were boys, I played war (dirt clod grenades!), was the best tree climber, endless games of hide-n-seek, Red Rover, cops-n-robbers (who knew "jailing" friends for fun was racist?)and games we made up along the way. I always had a scabbed elbow or knee, and enough bruises to make a contemporary CPS drone swoon.

We fought, we solved we made our own rules without adults hovering by (though, since most moms were home, we knew what boundaries we couldn't cross because Mom-communication & justice was faster than light)

I still don't understand why do many of my contemporaries lost their minds to Leftism.

Patrick Chester

*puts head of "authorities" involved between thumb and forefinger*
*taps thumb and forefinger together*


I think the questionnaire is a hoax.

Well, yes, I think the heading on the questionnaire paper: "Please Complete With The Number 2 In Your Drawers" and questions such as "Q2. When I grow up, I want to be… The last of my classmates still alive / An astronaut on the Challenger" and "Q3. My parents' handgun is… / Not as nice as their semi-automatic" and etc. clearly show the questionnaire - or that one at least - is a satire.

However, the story itself, if a hoax, is a really rather elaborate one.


I still don't understand why so many of my contemporaries lost their minds to Leftism.

No doubt there are as many reasons as there are adherents, but a recurring feature seems to be impatience.

There is apparently a stubborn unwillingness to work through the complexities inherent in complex societies because that would require patience and understanding.

There is no acknowledgement that change in a complex society of 10s or 100s of millions of people can only be achieved slowly, sometimes across generations; often they are impatient for change to happen and to happen now while they are still young (at heart, if not in body).

That they are generally so impatient for things to change makes them seem petulant (issuing strident demands), arrogant (to reach such definite conclusions with unseemly haste takes a surfeit of confidence) and, of course, obstreperous and narcissistic (only they are virtuous enough to have the vision required to push the change through).

I would suggest that V. I. Lenin is the classic archetype here - a prodigious intellect blighted by a lack of patience.


Just to be clear, when I say Lenin was a prodigious intellect blighted by a lack of patience. I don't mean I think he was basically a good egg who did a couple of rum things - he was a f*****g scumbag of the first order. He just happened to impatient as well.


I used to play war in the 80's with my friends. Our various munitions consisted to Sod Clods, known to us as Sod Turds, occasionally water balloons and crab apples. The heavy weaponry came out when someone in the neighbourhood got a super soaker, also rocks and my dad's tennis racket for serious long range artillery (until the string broke).

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