Monday, February 09, 2009

Death of Common Sense, Part 1

Around the time I was 16 or 17, I brought a spent M72 LAW casing to school with me and used it in a skit in, if memory serves, English class. I also played the role of Miss Piggy, but that’s probably not relevant at this point.

A LAW, for those unfamiliar with the weapon, is a disposable, single-shot anti-tank weapon. It’s one short tube inside of another short tube and to fire it, you extend the tubes, put the thing on your shoulder, site through a pop-up site, and push down on a rubber-covered trigger on the top of the weapon. It fires a dumb, 66mm anti-tank rocket towards whatever it was that you were aiming at and, hopefully, killing an armored vehicle at the wrong end of the tube.

Once fired, the LAW is a couple of empty tubes with caps on each end, a trigger mechanism, and a pop-up site--suitable for not much and too rickety to make it any good for bashing.

Well, in the middle of class, I pulled it out of the trash bag I had wrapped it in and the class gasped in a pretty fun way. There was a bit of disapproval and I’m pretty sure the teacher told me to go put the thing in my locker as soon as our presentation was done, but we got big laughs to go with the gasp of surprise and the skit was a success. The applause for Miss Piggy was especially gratifying.

If I tried that little stunt today, I would most certainly be suspended from school, my spent LAW would have been confiscated, and I would have had a serious conversation with a cop or two. It would have made the news, the school would have been evacuated, and bloggers would have been searching for scary messages on my MySpace page.

All because of a harmless, spent bit of military trivia.

My teacher showed a bit of common sense, though; while she obviously disapproved of the thing (and possibly of me in a more general sense since I wasn’t the nicest student you were likely to find at Overland High School back in ‘86 or ‘87), she also recognized that it wasn’t something that I could or would use to harm anyone in the school. She treated it more like bubblegum than a scary monster. Smart teacher.

It’s a little different now.

A local school district has suspended a member of the Young Marines youth leadership group after students saw drill props in her vehicle.

Marie Morrow, a 17-year-old senior at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, is serving a 10-day suspension. Her punishment could be extended at an expulsion hearing later this month.

Morrow is a student leader in the Douglas County Young Marines, a group dedicated to teaching leadership and life skills.

Cherry Creek Schools suspended Morrow after other students reported seeing guns inside her SUV, which was parked outside school while she was in class.

The school also called police, who seized the three drill team guns made of wood, plastic and duct tape. Police told Morrow to claim them in time for her after-school drill practice off-campus.

School administrators, however, were less understanding. The guns were declared “authentic representations of genuine weapons,” triggering a mandatory expulsion statute in state law.
Chris Proctor, commanding officer of the Douglas County Young Marines, was rebuffed in his attempt to explain the props to school leaders.

“There’s no mistaking that these are not real rifles,” said Proctor. “I think somewhere along the line, logic has to take over and they have to be able to make exceptions to the rules.”

“Marie is one of the best kids that you could ever imagine,” he said.

“I could see where the school could be freaked out about it,” said Morrow. “But I think there should be some leeway with the law based on situations and realize this is just an honest mistake.”

A little common sense and a little reasonable perspective wouldn’t hurt when dealing with things like this--unfortunately, both seem to be in short supply especially in relation to anything that even smells a bit like a firearm in a public space. Even if I were to agree that it was a mistake to bring the drill “rifles” to school, the talk of suspension and expulsion is ridiculous and says far more about the judgement of the administration than it does about the judgement of the student.

Read the rest.

Hat tip to Jed who, in turn, pointed me to Dave Hardy.

Update: And check out what Combs has to say on the subject.


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