Wednesday, 04 February 2015

Little Boy Suspended for Pretending to Have Lord of the Rings Magical Powers

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Nine-year-old Aiden Steward told a schoolmate he could make him disappear with his magic ring. It was an idea the wee lad got after watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies the weekend before last. But the only one who disappeared was Aiden.

His unauthorized exercise of imagination inspired school officials to suspend him last Friday for, as OA Online reports, making a “terroristic threat."

Now some observers lament that many educators need to disappear — from their roles molding young minds.

The scene of the crime was Kermit Elementary School in Kermit, Texas. Aiden’s father, Jason Steward, said his son was influenced by the Hobbit movie — which, although I haven’t seen, I’ve been assured is not an ISIS training film — and then, writes OA Online, brought a ring to class “and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear.”

And “Poof!”

Steward reports that the school principal, Roxanne Greer, “said threats to another child’s safety would not be tolerated — whether magical or not,” continues OA Online. It is not known if Greer had previously threatened Aiden with “I’ll get you, my pretty!” or if she disappeared in a puff of smoke afterwards.

Steward alleges that his son doesn’t possess the requisite magical powers to effect the disappearance of another corporeal being, writing in an email to the school, “I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence. If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back.”

Unwilling to comment for confidentiality reasons, the school would not weigh in on whether Aiden has exhibited said powers in the past. Moreover, writes the Telegraph, reporting on the specifics of the magic ring, “It is currently unknown whether or not Aiden really is in possession of the One Ring,” which, the paper informs, in Hobbit is “an object of fearsome power, forged in Mount Doom by the Dark Lord Sauron.” The New American can confirm, however, that Dark Lord Sauron did not attend school in Texas.

“Ringgate” isn’t the first run-in the boy has had with the school, either, though the others were a tad more mundane. Writes the N.Y. Daily News:

The family moved to the Kermit Independent School District only six months ago, but it’s been nothing but headaches for Aiden. He’s already been suspended three times this school year.

Two of the disciplinary actions this year were in-school suspensions for referring to a classmate as black and bringing his favorite book to school: "The Big Book of Knowledge."

“He loves that book. They were studying the solar system and he took it to school. He thought his teacher would be impressed,” Steward said.

But the teacher learned the popular children’s encyclopedia had a section on pregnancy, depicting a pregnant woman in an illustration, he explained.

While what this story says about our country could make a citizen wonder if he should laugh or cry, I’m not the only one to illustrate absurdity by being absurd. For example, Cnet.com’s Chris Matyszczyk — who, one should hope, possesses the magical power of being able to pronounce his own last name — covers Ringgate and assures us, “Only the rarest child has the destructive powers of, say, Damien from ‘The Omen.’” He then reports on the course of action Steward is taking and writes, “Aiden's dad told the Daily News that he's waiting for a written explanation. And if that doesn't satisfy him, he will wave his wand and have the school magically lifted into the air and taken to a remote part of central Florida.”

And if that doesn’t scare Principal Greer and Kermit Elementary, I don’t know what will.

Having said this, it is always possible there’s more to the Ringgate story, as school confidentiality rules prevent the disclosure of much information (of course, they also provide a convenient way for politically correct officials to duck and cover).

For example, the 2013 case of a seven-year-old Baltimore boy who was suspended for chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun was widely reported in the media. Last year, however, the student’s punishment was upheld after hearing examiner Andrew Nussbaum reviewed the action and wrote, “As much as the [boy’s] parents want this case to be about a ‘gun,’ it is, rather, a case about classroom disruption from a student who has had a long history of disruptive behavior,” reported the Washington Post. The paper continued, “Nussbaum said he was convinced that ‘had the student chewed his cereal bar into the shape of a cat and ran around the room, disrupting the classroom and making ‘meow’ cat sounds, the result would have been exactly the same.’”

The parents claim the suspension was not due to past behavior, but was an overreaction to the Pop Tart incident. The explanation could be, however, that the suspension was the consequence of a history of disruption and that the school unwisely emphasized the “gun” aspect of the story to justify its action.

Whatever the case, there appears no reasonable explanation for the suspension of a 10-year-old Ohio boy who pointed his fingers like a gun in 2014. The pupil, Nathan Entingh, was accused of having a “look-alike firearm” on school grounds by his Columbus School District. The action against him was also upheld, as his principal, Patricia Price, seems to believe it’s warranted for packing a hand. She has unabashedly said that under no circumstances are students “permitted to make any gun jokes or gestures, and has sent home letters to parents,” wrote the Daily News in 2014.

So while some could think the beginning of this article smacks of satire, the truth is that we’re becoming a satirical civilization. Not only are our “zero tolerance” policies on gun symbolism as fruitless and counter-productive as they are comical, but their application suggests a Pharisaic mentality. Disconnected from Truth in our relativistic age, people so often lack the connection to the deepest law, the spirit, that would temper an unbending adherence to the letter of man’s law.

As I wrote in 2009 while reporting on a six-year-old suspended for bringing a Cub Scout tool to school, “Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, common sense is worth a thousand laws.” If a child out there really does manifest some magical powers and insists on flaunting them in school, at least put them to good use:

Conjure up some common sense among educators.

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