In Kermit, Texas, a nine-year-old boy was suspended for telling a classmate that his replica of the “one ring” from “The Hobbit” could make him disappear. This was taken as a “terroristic threat,” it seems.
There was a time, long ago, when this kind of child abuse, cruelly and stupidity on behalf of school administrators would cause my head to do its Mount Vesuvius impression. That was before I was exposed to so many other similar episodes of educator incompetence, from sea to shining sea. It was before I recognized that the educational profession has become infested with frightened, deluded, power-abusing fools who care less about the children in their charge than avoiding lawsuits and converting the next generation into spineless, fearful, unimaginative, submissive puppets.
In a rational, sensible, professional and trustworthy educational system, a story like this would provoke ridicule on every news network. It would be “Believe It or Not” fodder, a story so weird that every TV comic and radio talk show host would be mocking it. In a rational, sensible, professional and trustworthy educational system, Principal Roxanne Greer, who inflicted the suspension, would already be collecting unemployment. If she was not, then every parent with a child in the Kermit Elementary School would pull their child out of it, because a women who thinks suspending a 4th grader for threatening a student with Middle Earth magic is so unhinged that she is capable of literally anything—demanding that all students walk like ducks, wear weasels on their heads, or practice sword-swallowing. Anything. She can’t be trusted.
But you see, the entire public school system can’t be trusted, and nobody has any idea what to do about it, while those who call themselves educators deny that there is a problem.
That’s why the suspension of a child for a threat that was obviously impossible and well within traditional boundaries of fantasy and play doesn’t make my head explode.
One key point that the accounts I’ve read are ignoring, and shouldn’t: it is possible that such a threat warrants some kind of measured response, if the school contained any professionals capable of one. If the suspended child believes his ring can make someone vanish, the object of his spell might believe it too, and that means that the threat may be genuinely frightening. Fine: explain to the little boy that fantasy is wonderful, but that it’s not nice to frighten your friends. That, however, would require prudence, proportion, empathy and common sense.