07 February 2013

Child suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade

The story is at Fox News:
LOVELAND, Colo. — A 2nd grader has been suspended from school in Loveland for a make believe game he was playing. The 7-year-old says he was trying to save the world. But school administrators say he broke a key rule during his pretend play.

“I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended,” says Alex Evans, who doesn’t understand his suspension any better than he can pronounce it.

“It’s called ‘rescue the world,’” he says.

He was playing a game during recess at Loveland’s Mary Blair Elementary School and threw an imaginary grenade into a box with pretend evil forces inside.

“I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go ‘pshhh.’”

The boy didn’t throw anything real or make any threats against anyone. He explains he was pretending to be the hero. “So nothing can get out and destroy the world.” But his imaginary play broke the school’s real rules. The school lists “absolutes” designed to keep a safe environment. The list includes absolutely no fighting, real or imaginary; no weapons, real or imaginary.
Via Boing Boing, where the comment thread includes a delineation of the school's "absolutes" rules and this salient comment:
Sometimes, for children, a weapon isn't a sign of violence; it's a sign of power.  Banning weapons tells children that they have no right to even imagine being powerful, that in the Oedipal struggle, it is their duty to lose.


  1. I'm unclear who was being quoted, but probably the kid, and he nailed it: “It’s called ‘rescue the world.’” Dammit, we can't protect everybody, all the time. Too many times, situations devolve to zero-tolerance, zero-intelligence administrators protecting their assess from threats of their own imagination.

    The BoingBoing commenter is right too -- robbed of our power, we're no threat to whatever authority (and paranoia) is imposed on us.

  2. I don't understand the Oedipal reference, but that commenter is right. This is also why, I suspect, the UK so vigorously prosecutes people who defend themselves against criminals. There's a great desire by statists to teach subjects that they are utterly lacking in value.

  3. The Fox article links to the Mary Blair Elementary document of "ABSOLUTES". The actual list of rules states "No weapons (real or play)". I don't think that an imaginary grenade is either real or imaginary. Real grenades are (understandably) prohibited and I could even make a case for plastic toy grenades but making a throwing motion and shouting 'pshhhhh!' is an offense?

    Someone should tell the little boy that the next time he gets caught throwing an imaginary grenade he should claim it was a baseball. The motion's the same. It only differs in interpretation.

  4. If we start getting punished for imaginary things I have dibs on the top bunk in the cell.

  5. Reminds me of the time when my very young son's school had dress up for Purim day. The rules included no violent characters (including superheroes) but Israeli Army uniform costumes WERE permitted. My son dressed as Clark Kent with a Superman tshirt under his ubuttoned dress shirt and an old pair of his dad's glasses.

  6. I live about ten miles from there. The thing to remember is that Loveland's only fifty miles from Columbine, and every school in the Front Range Corridor had their weapon-related rules thoroughly overhauled in the face of gun control inaction from President Clinton. As a result, any school in the Denver area that hasn't had a good reason to change the rules still has the original post-Columbine one-strike-and-you're-out rules. It may be time to loosen the rules.

  7. Principal needs to be fired for having an imaginary job.


  8. Agreed. A perfectly reasonable explanation about childrens' need to feel more powerful as they age spoiled by reference to long debunked Freudian Oedipal Theory.


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