there are a lot of times i see news stories that really makes me question humanity’s future, mainly because of the leadership of the present.  i fully understand that the world isn’t a very friendly place, but there are certain times when people just take things way too far.

what prompted this was a story of a nine year old kid in PS 52 in staten island.  the fourth grader brought his favorite lego toy into school and faced serious consequences as a result.  why?  it fell subject to the school’s zero tolerance policy on toy guns at school.

that’s right, the pictured toy, which as you can see measures less than 2 inches, was subject to this policy and young patrick timoney faced suspension for his so-called crime.  the department of education does in fact mandate that no replicas of firearms are allowed in schools, but disciplinary action is left up to the discretion of the school’s principal, based on if it looks realistic and causes alarm.  the principal of PS 52, evelyn mastroianni, decided to go completely by the book and more, pulling timoney from lunch (where he was playing lego with his friends) and sitting him down, considering the gun and accompanying police officer lego figure a threat and cause for concern.  his mother, laura timoney, was understandably enraged when she came to the school, seeing her son in tears.  his father, retired police officer pat timoney (the reason this was his favorite lego toy) was also justifiably angry, stating that he’s dealt with toy gun cases before – where they were used to threaten harm – and that clearly this can’t be classified in the same way.  luckily, the department of education administrator that was contacted for this incident determined that no further disciplinary action needed to be taken.

there’s a certain point where people in positions of authority need to understand where the spirit of the law is what’s called for instead of the absolute letter of the law – TENFOLD when there’s children involved.  i think toy gun policies in school are important – glorifying firearm use in a building full of impressionable children doesn’t exactly foster the greatest of learning environments.  but it’s not like this kid brought in in a replica beretta or desert eagle.  him and his friends weren’t “playing guns” at recess.  it was a lego gun, with lego policeman, less than the size of your thumb.  lego.  a nationally accepted, tried and true children’s toy.  the principal’s decision made a 9 year old kid who loved school (his favorite class is math, all A’s too, i think) afraid to go back to school to potentially face the principal again.  i just can’t see how this alternative is better – taking the love of learning away from a kid is the most destructive thing someone can do.  even if the letter of the law was properly applied, the toy gun was clearly not even close to real, so authenticity doesn’t even come into play.

what happened  to “put those away or you’ll lose them until the final bell?”  i mean come on, this isn’t exactly the warden catching a prisoner with a shank.

this whole thing could have been avoided, if she just tried to apply some common damn sense.

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Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 4:25 pm

As a tutor I was working with an American History student who had to make a visual aid on the "War Hawks" pushing for war against Britain in 1812. He was afraid to _draw_ arrows, part of their symbol on his project because of the school's zero tolerance policy.

That's right, he was forced to be historically inaccurate because he might get in trouble for drawing a simulation of the ammunition of a weapon.

Pathetic.

Anonymous March 4, 2010 at 4:01 am

Well isn't that toy like a gateway drug?

It starts with an inert Lego gun.

Then in a few years, he'll find on eBay some of the long-since discontinued black handled Lego pirate cannons that flick a cylinder a distance of 3.2 inches.

Then he'll buy the (banned in USA) book that lets him build a semi-automatic Lego crossbow pistol completely from Legos and some rubber bands.

I'm on step 2 only because that's what the Black Seas Barracuda came with.

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Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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