Herewith, a sentence that would be quite wonderful were it intended satirically:
The 8-year-old Anne Arundel County boy who was suspended for biting a pastry into the shape of a gun . . .
Alas, it is not intended satirically. That boy is real. His name is Josh Welch and in March he was suspended from his school for two days for the high crime of biting a pop tart into the shape of a firearm. This, the Baltimore Sun apparently feels no embarassment in describing as a “threat.”
Yesterday, as part of a slapstick ceremony, Welch was awarded a lifetime NRA membership:
At a fundraiser for Anne Arundel County Republicans, House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke presented Josh Welch with the membership, which cost $550, during a tongue-in-cheek presentation that involved a Pop-Tart fashioned into pistol and gun safety tips.
Fair enough, if you’re into that sort of thing. The trouble is, it isn’t really funny. The NRA would have spent its time and money far more profitably had it conducted a dogged campaign to hound out of public service whomever thought it appropriate to punish a small child for making pastry shapes. I have read this story, and its various offshoots, in around twenty different newspapers and web journals now, and I am yet to find a single person who has even attemped to explain what Josh did wrong. There are often — not always — two sides to a story. What exactly is the other side to this? What could have happened were Josh’s imigination allowed to remain unchecked and his L-shaped pastry at large? Only the most drug-addled of minds could conceive that there is any harm in boys playing make believe with their snacks; only the most unfireable of teachers could display the nerve actually to suspend a child for doing so.
“Everyone keeps asking me why I did it,” Josh said. “I don’t know why I did it. … I wish people would stop asking me about it. It’ll probably go on for 45 years or something.”
Sort of, yes. Don’t worry, Josh, within a few months people will forget all about your particular incident. But, as I write these words, someone somewhere is fashioning their fingers or their lunch or a pencil into the shape of an inanimate object that currently meets with the disapproval of our educational overlords. They, too, are on the verge of behaving as imaginative children have for hundreds and thousands of years. And in a free country, we certainly can’t have that – can we? Tout abus sera puni!