The Corner

Have We All Gone Mad?

Some ugly news out of Pennsylvania yesterday, in which state a five-year-old girl was suspended from school for talking about a bubble gun that she had left at home, a reference that was interpreted by the school as a “terrorist threat.” Per ABC:

Her weapon of choice? A small, Hello Kitty automatic bubble blower.

The kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania, caught administrators’ attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.

“I think people know how harmless a bubble is. It doesn’t hurt,” said Robin Ficker, an attorney for the girl’s family. According to Ficker, the girl, whose identity has not been released, didn’t even have the bubble gun toy with her at school.

The kindergartner was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation during her 10-day suspension, which was later reduced to two days.  The evaluation deemed the girl normal and not a threat to others, Ficker said.

The suspension comes one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which has created a heightened sense of alert at schools across the country.

Have we all gone mad? It certainly looks that way. Sandy Hook has not just created a “heightened sense of alert,” but has also ushered in a lot of hysterical nonsense and mawkish self-indulgence. Children so much as pointing their fingers at one another are being treated as criminals. In Maryland, CBS reports:

There’s controversy at a Talbot County school after two 6-year-old boys were suspended while playing cops and robbers during recess and using their fingers to make an imaginary gun.

“It’s ridiculous,” said parent Julia Merchant.

This is the second time a Maryland child has been suspended for such play. Earlier this month, 6-year-old Rodney Lynch was suspended from his Montgomery County school after pretending to fire an imaginary gun more than once.

“Just pointing your fingers like this and then she did the pow sound and I just went like that and then I got sent to the office again,” Lynch said.

The school reversed its decision after Rodney’s parents appealed.

Amid all the asinine calls to “do something for the children,” it would be nice if a few adults took the reins. What happened at Sandy Hook was unspeakably awful, but it is no reason for us to turn ourselves into blithering fools. Or is it? New York’s State Assembly isn’t so sure. Last week, it rushed through an astonishingly rash piece of legislation that, among other things, has put mental-health professionals in a tough spot, called into question the right of cops to carry their duty weapons, and almost certainly violated the Constitution as defined in D.C. v. Heller. Not to be outdone, the president of the United States stood in front of the world’s cameras and read out letters written by children, praising their great wisdom and making them the centerpiece of his push for new legislation. He was serious.

It is not beyond the wit of man to recognize that children’s letters could be put to propaganda use in support of almost any policy position you can imagine. How about a letter from a child that said, “Dear Mr. President. New York State has just made my Daddy’s gun illegal. We live in an area with a lot of bad men. I am really scared at night. Please don’t take away Daddy’s gun”? Or: “Dear Mr. President, I find it really gross when men kiss each other. I don’t like seeing it because it is icky. Please make it illegal, Mr. President. Thank you.” Or, perhaps: “I love everyone in the world, Mr. President. Uncle James tells me that in Pakistan little girls of my age are being killed by flying death robots. Uncle James says that you have the power to stop it. Please stop little girls in Pakistan being killed by flying death robots Mr. President!” And so on and so forth. As Brendan O’Neill pointed out in the Telegraph

The use of children to front a potentially big overhaul of Americans’ constitutional rights is really about silencing dissent, exploiting the wide-eyed innocence of worried children to try to shame those adults who still dare to say: “But what about my constitutional rights?” Indeed, it is normally only the most censorious, authoritarian regimes or groups that use children to front or follow through political campaigns. Who can forget the Child Spies in George Orwell’s 1984, those “ungovernable little savages” whose simplistic moralism made them the perfect monitors of adult behaviour? Today, all sorts of fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-masses campaigns – from Green efforts to guilt-trip us over our carbon use to Mary Whitehouse-style demands to censor wicked art – exploit or evoke children to get their message across. And that message is: “It doesn’t matter what you adults believe or want or desire – the feelings of children are way more important.”

That America has not rejected this trick outright and demanded to be treated with a little more respect by its employees in the government is not a good sign. Likewise, that the teachers responsible for suspending or punishing children for pointing imaginary guns at each other or for talking about Hello Kitty bubble blowers have not resigned or been fired in disgrace is an indication that our common sense is being overridden by our emotions. (“If it saves just one teacher . . .”). After all, if the children are so wise, then perhaps they should be running the schools instead. Raise your hand if you agree . . .


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