Clown Award: Kermit Elementary School, Kermit, TX
Finally for this week, we have our other regular feature, the Clown Award, given for an act of meritorious stupidity.
This week the Big Red Nose goes to the administration of Kermit Elementary School in Kermit, Texas.
A 9-year-old boy, Aiden Steward, had recently seen the movie “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.”* He came to school with a large blue ring which he said was "the one true ring" forged in Mount Doom. He told a classmate that he could make that classmate turn invisible if he put the ring on their head.
The school called that "a terroristic threat" and suspended him.
The principal, one Roxanne Greer, said threats, real or imagined, to another child’s safety would not be tolerated. So now even imaginary "threats" are "terroristic" even when they aren't threats - because remember, putting on the ring turns you invisible, but all you have to do to be visible again is take it off. Hey, Greer, the invisibility is the point. It's a feature, not a bug.
Greer refused to comment on the suspension, citing confidentiality policies. Right. The suspension isn't confidential, the claim it was a "threat to another child's safety" is not confidential, but the logical reasoning for it, when challenged by the local newspaper? Oh, that's confidential.
When did we become such a frightened people? When did "Be afraid, be very afraid" become our new national motto? Yes, I know, 9/11 and all that but this actually predates that. The wrong side of our society just took 9/11 and ran with it as a way of intensifying our already-existing inchoate fears and focusing them on a chosen enemy-of-the-moment. But the fear is constant, generalized, and is especially so when it comes to children, to the point where being a parent is almost guaranteed to make you a criminal at some point:
A woman in Chicago is charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" for leaving her 4-year-old safely locked in her car, playing with his iPad, for literally four minutes while she ran an errand.
A couple in Maryland is being investigated by child services, with the risk of having their children taken from them, for alleged "child neglect" for letting their 10- and 6-year-old children walk on their own the one mile from a local park to their home.
A mother in South Carolina was charged with “unlawful conduct toward a child” for leaving her 9-year-old daughter alone to play in a park where there were a number of other children around.
A man in Ohio has been charged with "child endangerment" because, unbeknownst to him, his son skipped church to go play with friends.
This is insane. I expect most anyone my age could come up with a similar story, but I can recall that when I was about the age of about 8, my brother, who would have been about 10, and I would walk a mile to the bus stop, take the bus into town, walk to the train station, take the train to another town, and then walk a mile to our grandparents' house where our parents would pick us up after work. I shudder to think how many years in prison my parents would have spent if it was like today.
But let's leave that aside for now to get back directly to our clowns, who did even more to earn the Big Red Nose than simply to wet their administrative pants over a child's fantasy.
The Steward family moved to the Kermit Independent School District only six months ago. This is now the third time Aiden has been suspended this school year.
The first was for referring to a classmate as black. The second was for bringing his favorite book to school: "The Big Book of Knowledge." This is a popular children's encyclopedia. But the teacher discovered that the book had a section on pregnancy which included an illustration of a pregnant woman. That got Aiden suspended.
The administration of Kermit Elementary School: clearly, undeniably, a bunch of clowns.
*Personal note: I have not seen "The Battle of Five Armies," but I have seen "An Unexpected Journey" and "The Desolation of Smaug" and I have to tell you that the original Lord of the Rings trilogy was waaaaay better.
Sources cited in links: