Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Power of the Ring

In Texas, zero tolerance for Sauron fantasies:
Tolkien lore led a Texas boy to suspension after he brought his “one ring” to school.

Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the 9-year-old boy, Aiden Steward, in a playful act of make-believe, told a classmate he could make him disappear with a ring forged in fictional Middle Earth’s Mount Doom. “It sounded unbelievable,” the boy’s father, Jason Steward, told the Daily News. He insists his son “didn’t mean anything by it.”

The Stewards had just watched The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies days earlier, inspiring Aiden’s imagination and leading him to proclaim that he had in his possession the one ring to rule them all. . . .

“I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence,” the boy's father later wrote in an email. “If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back.”
Sometimes you have to wonder what school officials are thinking.


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G. Verloren said...

Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!

G. Verloren said...

Seriously though, I do not understand how "Zero Tolerance" policies continue to be tolerated. They're so completely absurd and irrational that their usage is almost literally insane.

Oh, and they're hypocritical too. Back in my high school days, I ended up with a zero tolerance suspension for making a sarcastic remark. I kept a literal dram (0.125 fluid ounces) of mild liquid adhesive in a pocket of my backpack for small everyday repairs. One day someone thought it would be funny to "flip" my backpack - empty it, flip it inside out, and stuff everything back inside again - and swiped the glue in the process.

The teacher somehow didn't notice them going through my bag, but managed to notice them snickering over their stolen prize a short time later. The glue was confiscated and the thief passed the buck, pointing out that it actually belonged to me. So when I arrived on the scene I got a talking to.

"Is this yours?"

"Yes? But it was in my bag. Who was rummaging around in my stuff?"

"That's not important, and don't try to change the subject! You know you're not allowed to have dangerous chemicals at school!"

"Dangerous chemicals? It's craft glue!"

"I know what it is! Don't you talk back to me! You're still not allowed to have it! You could hurt someone with it!"

"Oh, sure. I'm gonna blow up the school with it."

Bam, zero tolerance. I had, in fact, said that I was going to blow up the school - nevermind the context or intent of the statement - and that got me just short of arrested. Thankfully the SRO was a sane and reasonable human being who felt it would be entirely inappropriate to arrest me for making snide remark, and who was far more concerned with the fact that I had been the victim of petty theft.

But, of course, I still suffered a suspension for having said I would blow up the school, and there was zero tolerance for such language.

In the course of the proceedings I asked the dean if anyone had recorded my actual statement. Naturally there was no actual recording of the encounter, but they had the teacher's report. I asked the dean to read what the teacher reported I had said aloud. When she did so, I asked the various administrators present what they planned to do about the dean's threat to blow up the school. Confused silence.

I pointed out that if all that matters is speaking the words aloud, without any regard to context, then under a zero tolerance policy the dean was just as guilty as I was. They didn't take that very well at all.