Paul Jacob

When I was a kid, my parents made pancakes in various shapes: Clowns, wagons, Mickey Mouse.

My mother may have made a gun-shaped pancake for me once. If not, certainly my father did.

According to the latest “thinking” amongst “educators,” that gun-shaped pancake was child abuse.

And they should know. They are in the child abuse business.

The latest nonsense from our public school establishment is a certain hysterical over-reaction to guns. Not violence as such, but the mere image of guns. Take the recent case of a 7-year-old Maryland lad named Joshua, who, according to a Fox affiliate,

was suspended this morning from Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park. Joshua says he was eating a pastry during snack time and trying to shape it into a mountain, the teacher said it looked like a gun and took him to the principal's office. Joshua’s parents were called, he has been suspended for two days. Joshua's father says it’s ridiculous since no one was threatened or harmed by the pastry.

Now, I don’t know just how truthful young Joshua is, in this case. There’s every chance that the youngster has been so hounded by the hysterical adults in charge of his “education” that he’d say anything to get out of the dread responsibility for making a gun-shaped pastry.

And yes, that I could write the above sentence with a straight face shows just how crazy things have gotten.

How crazy?

“In schools,” the Washington Post headline warned, a few weeks back, “a pointed finger or a toy gun can spell trouble.” The front-page feature detailed a far too extensive and growing list of zero tolerance, zero commonsense punishments meted out to children as young as five at various “educational” institutions.

A ten-year old boy in Alexandria, Virginia, showed kids on the bus his new toy gun, which sported a bright orange tip to let even the most dense person know its essential toyness. Police arrested him the next day.

His mother points out that her son did not threaten anyone. Or pretend to. Nevertheless, he has been “fingerprinted and photographed,” writes the Post. “He now has a probation officer, lawyers and another court date.”

In my Virginia county, Prince William, an 8-year-old boy contorted his hand and fingers into an apparently loaded pistol and through insidious manipulation of his mouth and lips may have imitated the sound of firing hot lead at a classmate, while said classmate was, in an evil orgy of violence, simultaneously pretending to be shooting arrows from an invisible bow.

The finger-slinger was suspended for “threatening to harm self or others.” He did neither, of course, but his offense is equivalent to having waved a loaded gun. (No word on the whereabouts of the silent-but-deadly pantomime archer.)

A five-year-old girl was interrogated by three school staff members, summarily found guilty of issuing a “terroristic threat,” and suspended for ten days for allegedly attempting to murder her friend and then commit suicide. She offered to unload her weapon all over her friend and herself. The weapon? A Hello Kitty gun, which fires bubbles.

The Post suggests the schools are jumpy after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But this zero tolerance insanity didn’t begin last December.

My grandson was suspended from his public school more than a year ago. He was six and playfully shot his finger at several fellow students.

Educators, who long ago abandoned the distinction between play and reality, must have been shocked at the lack of fatalities.

Discussing this in my daily Common Sense column, I asked: “Does the crusade against crime really require public institutions to reject, utterly, common sense?”

But there are other issues looming here, too.

This anathemization of gun images is not merely part of the fight against gun violence. It looks like indoctrination against guns themselves, and perhaps even the Second Amendment.

Further, it rubs up against the grain of an elementary distinction, a distinction that kids learn quickly, but our “educators” have apparently forgotten: the above-mentioned distinction between reality and play.

These educators, who have been to college and taken courses in psychology, must realize that play, along with laughter and fiction (which includes tragedy as well as comedy, and hybrid arts that Polonius famously listed), is what people — including youngsters — engage in to cope with the stress of violence and . . . tyranny . . . and absurdity.

Like the tyranny and absuridty presented by stern adults who see icons of weapons in half-chewn pastries.

No issue shows the utter poverty of thought in modern public education than this insane war on fun, fantasy, fingers and fake guns.

Thankfully, most kids are probably learning a different story than the one taught. They are getting their first lesson on the need to question authority.   [further reading]


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.