If you’re from outside the country and reading this blog, you probably expect a certain level of stupidity from America when it comes to how we sometimes handle our kids. Don’t you just love how smug and superior you feel when you say, “We would never do it like that.”
Well, I’m going to tell you two stories… one which will fulfill every prejudice you harbor about Americans, and one which can be summed up in just one word: “Gotcha!”
Story #1: A fourth grader—a 9-year-old—in Kermit TX was suspended for making “terroristic threats” after allegedly telling a classmate that he had a “magic ring” that could make the boy disappear.
According to Kermit Elementary School officials, 9-year-old Aiden Steward told a classmate that he possessed a magic ring forged in Mount Doom—a fictional location from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series.
Aiden’s father, Jason, said his family had just watched The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies earlier that week, and that his son “didn’t mean anything” when he told his classmate he was in possession of the “one ring to rule them all.” He added: “I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence.”
But Kermit Elementary Principal Roxanne Greer, a manifestly brilliant and imaginative woman, said that any and all threats to a child’s safety—including magical ones—would be taken seriously by the school.
Now, just to demonstrate that stupidity is not confined to the New World, here is Story #2 from France.
An 8-year-old boy from Nice claimed to support the men who attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and was detained and questioned by police for “defending terrorism.”
Fabienne Lewandowski, deputy director for public security in the Alpes-Maritimes region, said last week that the boy declared “I am with the terrorists” and refused to take part in the national minute of silence for the victims. The child had allowed that the journalists had ridiculed the Prophet, and the boy does have an Islamic-sounding name.
A lawyer for the child says the decision to question the child at a police station shows a “collective hysteria.” (Dozens of people have been arrested and accused of defending terrorism since the attacks.)
“These laws are inherently vague and open to abuse—the abuse being the prosecution of the expression of sympathy rather than incitement to a crime,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia director for Amnesty International.
It seems clear that in both cases, neither child could have understood the meaning ascribed to their words by the adults around them. It is the adults who should have their heads examined.
Groove of the Day
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