Gaming the City of Columbia Budget

Being a Child in America Today

By Paul E. Gable

Being able to look back on childhood with fond remembrance used to be taken for granted for most people. However, being a child in America today is getting more hazardous by the day.

Here’s a joke for you – did you hear the one about an elementary school child who was suspended for playing cops and robbers on the playground?

It turns out 8-year-old Jordan Bennett from Florida went all Tony Montana at recess and got a little carried away with the pow pow with his fingers.

Bennett’s crime was he did what children have done on playgrounds for decades – he pointed his thumb and index finger into a right angle and mimicked gunfire.

I am unsure if SWAT raided the school to disarm students carrying concealed finger weapons, and I am not sure if Bennett was in a “Finger-Free Zone” when all this took place.

I know what you are thinking – “Go ahead and make jokes about it.”

I plan on it.

And, you know why?

Because it is ridiculous.

It is exceedingly laughable.

And, unfortunately, it is common place anymore.

While Bennett was suspended for using his FINGERS at school, two boys were suspended for possession, handling and use of a firearm.

Their crime?

Shooting an Airsoft gun in their own yard.

That’s right, two 12 year-old boys are out of school for the entire school year for something was done at their own house.

Forgive me for asking, but since when did school districts have jurisdiction over events that happened at home?

Somewhere Sir Edward Coke, who uttered, “A man’s home is his castle,” is rolling over in his grave.

As the father of an elementary school child and someone who was in high school when tragedy hit Columbine, I completely understand, and sympathize with those affected by those events.

I pray I never have to cover one of those events, much less get a phone call that one of those events transpired at any school where I live.

But, come on.

What we are seeing anymore are desperate attempts to protect our kids and stupidity running amok.

Why are we trying to overprotect our kids?

Need more examples?

A 6-year-old in Massachusetts was caught with a toy Lego gun, about the size of a quarter.

And, there’s the best one yet – a 7-year-old was suspended for two days for gnawing a Pop-Tart into what school officials said resembled a gun.

A Pop-Tart.

Two day suspension.

I don’t have a problem with a legit security concern.

If someone were to have a weapon on school grounds, by all means, do what it takes to calm the situation, especially before it becomes deadly.

But unless the kid had an arm like Nolan Ryan and was going to hurl the Pop-Tart, I don’t think anyone had anything to worry about.

It makes absolutely no sense to me why all these children in all the instances I have described are being treated like real criminals and will have their permanent records marked.

If there is any common sense anywhere, will someone please enlighten me?

These children did not attack anyone.

Unfortunately, they are victims of zero tolerance and a clear lack of common sense in legislation, whether it be state law or by school administrators.

I understand the whole zero tolerance mindset.

However, zero tolerance should not mean zero common sense and zero discretion on the part of the school administrators.

Until things change, forgive me for having zero tolerance for stupidity.

Paul E. Gable is the editor of The Shelbyville News, Shelbyville, Indiana. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Gable on Twitter @PaulGableTSN.


  1. On the South end of Myrtle Beach the kids have to play cops and robbers with real guns for their own protection.

  2. That’s because Warren Gall has all the cops on the North end protecting the next generation of the city’s leaders….ah the privileges of the landed gentry.

  3. Well yeah, and the protection I referenced is sometimes protection from the cops!

  4. Is that to keep the cops from taking their pants?

  5. I think a lot of this is just because of 24/7 “news” and so many “news” channels and how people want to only see stuff that has been sensationalized.

    i.e., stupid crap has always happened but you didn’t have 5 channels and a thousand websites reporting on it and shoving it down your throat and everyone making a big deal out of the smallest thing.

    That said, what is Kim Kardashian up to today, has anyone heard????

  6. Hey Sunshine, pour me another glass of that Brad Dean Kool-Aid.

  7. Exactly…. pants, guns, girlfriends, etc. And often it doesn’t work.