Sending Insane Signals


While a search is being performed because of something missing from the teacher's desk, a young 10 year old is arrested for having possession of scissors. Children are being suspended from public schools on a daily basis for fighting. It doesn't matter who started the fight; both the victim and the perpetrator are suspended.

A seven year old boy is suspended in the Los Angeles School district for carrying a tiny key fob that looks like a pistol to school. Why? Because the key fob "looked like" a weapon.

Or how about this one? A six year old, Seamus Morris, is suspended for half a day and the suspension upheld under the school's zero-tolerance drug policy. The drug? Lemon drops. Seamus was seen giving another child a lemon drop that was purchased from a health food store. And get this . . . school officials told the boy's mother that a child who brings candy to school is comparable to a teen who takes a gun to school.

Or how about David Silverstein, 13, who was inspired to build a model rocket after seeing the movie "October Sky," a biography of NASA rocket scientist Homer Hickam. David took his rocket, made out of a potato chip canister and fueled with three match heads, to his Glendale , Arizona , school, where it was found in a search of his locker. School officials classified the toy as a "weapon" and suspended him for the rest of the year based on its "zero-tolerance" weapons policy.

Or how about this no-brainer . . . three students at the Union Colony Charter School in Greeley , Colorado , playing with a water gun. (That's a SQUIRT gun, folks.) According to the school's interpretation of the state's "zero tolerance" weapons law--which mandates suspension of students who "carry, bring, use or possess a firearm or firearm facsimile at school"--the unnamed boys have been suspended. According to standard practice in "weapons" cases, those boys had to face expulsion hearings.

Folks, this is only a tiny example of THOUSANDS of these occurrences in the past 10 years. And it doesn't end in the schools. Now it is in the public sector, where a person can have his automobile confiscated because a dog senses marijuana smoke or they find a marijuana seed in the carpet during an unconstitutional search.

And then of course there is the zero tolerance policies for boarding airliners. It is becoming rampant in our society.

Let's take a look at the Merriam Webster's definition of insanity that is found online.


Pronunciation: in-'sa-n&-tE

Function: noun

1. a: A deranged state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder (as schizophrenia) and usually excluding such states as mental retardation, psychoneurosis, and various character disorders. b: A mental disorder.

2. Such unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility.

3. a: Extreme folly or unreasonableness. b: Something utterly foolish or unreasonable.

First let us focus on the third meaning. Can you see how the above mentioned examples of the "zero tolerance" policies of the schools represent "extreme folly or unreasonableness? Something utterly foolish or unreasonable? Do they? And what kind of signals are we sending our children when the adults are willing to blow up people in other countries because we can't talk our differences out? What kind of signals? INSANE signals.

Sorry Johnny, you aren't allowed to have a squirt gun in school. Just wait a few years and you can join the Marines, go to far away distant lands with a government-issued Squad Automatic Weapon and kill people. But right now, Johnny, it isn't ok for you to play "bang, your dead" with a cap gun or squirt gun. You have to grow up first and then you're allowed to use F-16 fighter planes to drop REAL cluster bombs on school yards FULL of kids in Iraq , or who-knows-were next. You just have to be patient, Johnny . . . .

I want to tell a story. It was told to me by a friend. You see, this preacher who had a church in the Boston area every day went to a donut shop before going to work. One day there was a new girl working there. She was a beautiful blonde who walked with a limp. The preacher got to know her and asked her one day why she limped. Here is what she said . . . "When I was an infant and lived in Germany , an allied fighter pilot strafed the street I lived on while I was in my baby carriage. My mother tried to get me out of the street, but one of the bullets from the plane blew off the back of my foot and to this day I walk with a limp because I am missing the back of my foot." This preacher was blown away! WHY?? I'll tell you why . . . because in WWII, he was a fighter pilot; a young lad of about 20 who had been trained to fly P-51 Mustangs. And guess what his superiors gave him the go-ahead to do? On the way back home from a bombing mission, he was allowed to fly over the pastures and fields and strafe the cows. He thought it was so "cool" to see what a 50 caliber machine gun did to a cow. And he was also allowed to strafe towns that he flew over. As he talked to the woman and found out more details, such as the name of the town and when this happened . . . he realized HE WAS THE PILOT who had blown the back of this woman's foot off!

Isn't it grand? We are teaching our children "zero tolerance" when it comes to squirt guns and yet will train them to blow up families or unarmed men on the ground as if they were playing a video game while using the firepower of an Apache helicopter. Think about it . . . and look at the SECOND definition of INSANITY while you're at it.

George Orwell had a concept in the book 1984 called "double think," the ability to keep two opposing views in your mind and at the same time consider them both to be true. Double think is what we are engaged in here, people. Children being taught that using a squirt gun is "bad" and yet somehow using an F-16 or an Abrams tank to get your way is "ok."

Am I missing something or are we sending INSANE signals to our children? And for that matter the whole world? Are we a nation being run by the insane or are we a nation of the insane? Or both?

The problem is . . . what is the cure?

What do you think?

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Mark Reynolds's picture
Columns on STR: 13

Mark Reynolds is a retired plumber and website developer residing with his wife of 37 years and his four grown sons  in the place most folks call Arkansas. Reading the books Letters to Jessica, a Child’s Guide to Freedom of Mind and Spirit  and The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine were  major turning points in his life.