Here's one little news story from this week I find more than a little disturbing:
7 Year Old Maryland Boy Suspended for Nibbling His Pop-Tart into the Shape of A Gun
A 7-year-old Baltimore boy was suspended Friday for two days after he shaped his breakfast pastry into what appeared to be a gun, his dad said. Josh Welch, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, told Fox Baltimore that he was trying to shape the tart into a mountain. “It was already a rectangle, and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t,” Josh told the station.
“All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain.”
Josh said his teacher was “pretty mad.”
Josh’s dad, who was not identified, said he received a phone call from the school, notifying him of the suspension. “I would almost call it insanity,” he said. “I mean with all the potential issues that could be dealt with at school, real threats, bullies, whatever the real issue is, it’s a pastry. … Ya know?”
A letter was sent home with Park Elementary School students Friday explaining that “a student used food to make an inappropriate gesture,” the station reported.I wish this was some sort of weird isolated instance, but it's not. It's happening again and again, all over the country.
- Feb. 8, 2013 - Yep - That's just yesterday, A student had his Birthday Party Cupcakes confiscated because they were decorated with small toy soldiers.
- Feb. 1, 2013 - A 9-year-old student was suspended for bringing a 2-inch toy gun on a key fob to school.
- Jan. 29, 2013 - A 5-year-old student could be suspended for crafting a Lego gun during an after-school program. We're told by school officials he is a repeat offender.
- Jan. 22, 2013 - Yet another 5-year-old is suspended because, well, those damned 5 year old's are so dangerous. And there is certainly no sex discrimination in suspensions because this one's a girl. Her crime was talking about her Hello Kitty bubble gun.
- Jan. 2, 2013 - A 6-year-old in a Washington D.C. school was suspended for making a gun gesture with his hands. Fingers and six year old's don't mix.
- August 28, 2012 - A deaf 3-year-old preschooler has been asked to change the American Sign Language hand gesture used to signify his name, Hunter, which he signs by forming a gun with his hands. Apparently, "saying" his name violates the school's weapon policy.
Part of what bothers me here is that our society in caught in a double think mentality that makes George Orwell's most nightmarish scenarios seem tame. One minute we heap unparalleled praise on Director Quentin Tarantino for his bloodbath movies that glorify gratuitous violence and make heroes out of murderers and terrorists.
The next minute we praise Kevin Bacon's new television series "The Following" whose hero, Dr. Joe Carroll, is a psychopathic mass murderer with a cult following of hundreds of like groupies who murder upon command. Each week this new hit series has multiple graphic murders with maximum blood and gore in every episode. Some murders are actually so graphic they are sickening.
Even shows and movies aimed at children like the Transformer Movies, are filled to overflowing with gratuitous violence.
Ahhhh, but the very next minute next we suspend 7 year olds from school for chewing their breakfast into a gun shaped biscuit.
When I was eight years old there was a hit television series called "The Restless Gun" that starred John Payne. In this western Payne played a retired law officer, Vint Bonner, with great patience and restraint who always sought a non-violent path out of any confrontation. Sadly, at least once each week, Payne was forced to use his signature gun, a pistol that could be transformed into a rifle. it was the original assault weapon."
Since Payne's character, Vint Bonner, was a hero and the gun was so fantastic, I wanted the toy cap gun version! And my parents bought me one!! It was the neatest toy ever, at least for an eight year old in 1957.
Sadly I no longer have this toy. Sadly because these incredibly rare toys sell for many hundreds of dollars at auction, often as much as a thousand dollars for what was, no doubt, a ten dollar toy. There are none available on ebay today or I'd post a link for you.
My point is that children always imitate their heroes from televison and movies. It's called "playing," Doing so is called "using your imagination," a skill once highly prized and cultivated in children. In fact, John Payne's most famous acting roll was playing the young lawyer, Fred Gailey, in the classic movie "Miracle on 34th Street." In that movie Payne and the wonderful Edwin Gwenn, who plays Kris Kringle, try to teach a very young Natalie Wood to use her imagination.
Back in the day I watched an old black and white television. Today's 8 year olds sit before large screen, 3-D color televisions, especially good at portraying blood red. Why do we think children won't imitate what they see in TV, good or bad?
One last note, in 1958, when Vint Bonner always stood for up for what is right and always tried to avoid violence and every child had a toy cap gun, the murder rate in the United States was only about 4.3 murders per 100,000 people. Since that year the murder rate in the United States has never been that low.
One last, last note, on April 23, 2013 all 78 original episodes of The Restless Gun: The Complete Serieswill be released on DVD.