Schools are doing their part against guns by punishing children for playing. George Will recounts some of the latest absurdities, while also making a larger point: The government, through our schools, but also in other venues, is becoming our therapist.
Joshua Welch — a boy, wouldn’t you know; no good can come of these turbulent creatures — who is 7, was suspended from second grade in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County last week because of his “Pop-Tart pistol.” While eating a rectangular fruit-filled sugary something — nutritionist Michelle Obama probably disapproves of it, and don’t let Michael Bloomberg get started — Joshua tried biting it into the shape of a mountain but decided it looked more like a gun. So with gender-specific perversity, he did the natural thing. He said, “Bang, bang.”
But is this really natural? Or is nature taking a back seat to nurture, yet again? Is Joshua’s “bang, bang” a manifestation of some prompting in our defective social atmosphere, and therefore something society could and should stamp out?
While some might enjoy dog-paddling around in this deep philosophic water, Joshua’s school, taking its cue from Hamlet, did not allow its resolve to be “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.” More eager to act than to think, the school suspended Joshua and sent a letter to all the pupils’ parents, urging them to discuss the “incident” — which the school includes in the category “classroom disruptions” — with their children “in a manner you deem most appropriate.”
Ah, yes. The all-purpose adjective “appropriate.” The letter said “one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures” and, although “no physical threats were made and no one was harmed,” the code of student conduct stipulates “appropriate consequences.” The letter, suffused with the therapeutic ethic, suggested that parents help their children “share their feelings” about all this. It also said the school counselor is available, presumably to cope with Post-Pastry Trauma Syndrome.
By now, Americans may be numb to such imbecilities committed by the government institutions to which they entrust their children for instruction. Nothing surprises after that 5-year-old Pennsylvania girl was labeled a “terroristic threat,” suspended from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation because she talked about shooting herself and others with her Hello Kitty gun that shoots bubbles. But looking on the bright side, perhaps we should welcome these multiplying episodes as tutorials about the nature of the regulatory state that swaddles us ever more snuggly with its caring.