Update on small children being mercilessly punished for, e.g., gnawing a pastry into a gun shape at school

Kevin at Lowering the Bar updates us on the Lego Gun Incident, wherein a six-year-old boy was punished for bringing a tiny, Lego-sized gun onto his Springfield, MA school-bus. The school initially demanded that the boy write a letter of apology and serve detention because the gun "caused quite a disturbance on the bus and that the children were traumatized." However, the same zero-tolerance-obssessed nutjobs at the school board also put CCTVs on their buses, and a review of the footage therefrom reveals that nothing bad actually happened. This has occasioned a small miracle in the form of the school board simply dropping the matter, rather than doubling down and, say, accusing the six-year-old of using a tiny, Lego-sized computer to hack into the CCTV and swap out the footage or similar.

However, Kevin goes on to note that a child in Baltimore continues to struggle with the permanent stain on his record caused by his taking bites out of a pastry until it was vaguely gun-shaped, thereby traumatising all the other students by exposing them to an approximate right-angle. This kid is having the book thrown at him:

"This is a student-specific matter," the spokesman said, in case anyone thought they had suspended every student in the district, "and our school system is not going to have any comment on it, except for this: This is a matter between the school, a student and his parents. It's not, and it should not be, fodder for a publicity stunt by an attorney who seems to believe that his young client's best interests are somehow served by trying this case in the media." News flash: this has been in the media since long before they ever had an attorney, and that is not their fault.

The next step was said to be an appeal to the superintendent of schools, so the battle continues.

Lego Gun Incident Ends Better Than Pastry Gun Incident



  1. Real assault weapons? An American right. Gun-shaped pastry? Not a chance.

    You Yanks realize you’re living in Bizarro-world, right? The cognitive dissonance must be as thick as pea-soup down there.

      1. Our crazy knows no bounds. I doubt this people are even explicitly anti-gun, so much as pro-crazy. It comes from the same exact place as the pro-gun crazy in my experience.

        1. They are cut from the same cloth as people who watch TV shows frame by frame looking for a hint of skin they can then write hysterical letters to the broadcasters about.

      2.  I’d say it the gun crazies stirring this up to so this get lumped in with legitimate anti-gun arguments.

        1. I have been led to believe that it is a liability thing that has seeped its way into all school districts. My kids are not even allowed point their finger while sticking their thumb vertically (at a right angle) while at their school as it is a threatening gesture. Combine that thinking with the folks who think more guns are the answer to all gun issues and it starts to make your head spin.

          Wait, maybe it is lefties who hate the right and thus are persecuting all right angles.

    1. I’ll have you know John Dillinger once shot and killed three federal agents with a croissant while escaping from prison. 

      1. Not sure what you’re getting at…did I somehow insinuate that all Americans love guns and love punishing children for loving toy guns? Cuz what I thought I was doing was pointing out the HUMONGOUS divide between those two camps. I realize a lot of rational people live in between said camps, and those are the folks I was addressing in my original post. You know, rational American boingers, which make up a goodly percentage of the folks who post here.

    2. God, my fellow Americans *really* are this stupid to allow this sort of behavior from school officials.

    1. That way leads only escalation. Today, a tast gun shaped pastry, but tomorrow? Why, tomorrow, we might have rocket launcher shaped loaves of bread! Could you even imagine?

  2. I wonder what this current generation of kids will behave like once they’ve grown up, and can start legislating or cobbling together arbitrary punishments.

    1. I don’t know, but I’m afraid the legislative process will somehow involve Twitter.

      1. That’s the current generation of teens, where your guilt is determined by your number of Instagram followers, and how many likes you are able to accrue.

        1. I read somewhere a statistic (too lazy to Google right now) on the number of children under 6 who now have access to smart phones or tablets. It was something absurdly huge. So it’s not just the teens, or it won’t be for long.

      2. Bills will be posted to Facebook and only those which garner enough likes will become law.

  3. This is a perfect opportunity for those dicks at the NRA to show some community spirit and help this kid out.  Or maybe that’s a disaster.  They’re still dicks, though.

    1. Funny you should mention community spirit. This is the thing I find most abrasive about the NRA. I’m not opposed to gun rights, in general anyway. It’s their culture of entitlement. Especially in response to the Sandy Hook shooting, when they could have simply called on legitimate gun owners to redouble their commitment to safety and responsibility (and like, y’know, making sure their shit doesn’t fall into the wrong hands) but what we got instead was, “OH NOES, OUR GUNS, WE NEEDZ MOAR!!1!!!1!” followed by a litany of blame on everyone and everything else, from hippies to sunspots.

      Yeah, yeah, there are plenty of normal people in the NRA who are just along for the ride because they like having their guns. I reiterate, I do not object to that. But the actions of the organization’s leadership demonstrate that the strings are pulled by people who don’t care about anything but gun sales. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll start pushing to legalize murder, just to make sure there are no restrictions on what anybody can do with a gun, ever.

      1. As far as I can tell, the only thing the NRA does that you can’t fault them for is promote gun safety education.  They sponsor educational initiatives at all age levels in every state.


        I agree with you about their leadership’s total insanity, though, and actually I also find a lot of their membership insufferable.

          1. I’d argue that that isn’t exactly accurate.

            The NRA seems to be wholly sincere about their desire for a world where every firearm related death is an intentional firearm related death. They just aren’t nearly as interested in what the overall level of such deaths is. 

          2. Wrong.

            To put it more accurately, we believe that every crime should be punished based on the deed not based upon tool chosen.  Would you be any less dead if you were beaten to death with a baseball bat or stabbed with a kitchen knife than if you were shot?  It’s silly even to think about.  Statistics still show gun deaths lower than bludgeoning and knives all of which are lower than drunk driver vehicular homicides.

          3.  replying to lemiarty…..

            “Would you be any less dead if you were beaten to death with a baseball
            bat or stabbed with a kitchen knife than if you were shot?”

            Yes.  Literally.

            Speaking as someone who endured an extended period of time being attacked by a family member using EXACTLY those two weapons (most of the time; there were others), I can say with absolutely no doubt that I would not be here today typing this response if he’d had access to a gun.  Period.

  4. And so the country’s steady descent into a morass of irrationality and panic-based authoritarianism continues. And I wonder too, Supernumerary – kids learn from nonsense like this just as much as they do from formal instruction in the classroom. If we’re very lucky we’ll end up with some new Hellers or Vonneguts who can create something vital and important from their experiences of official absurdity, but I’m not optimistic.

  5. Can you still buy bananas in the states? Has every small child’s index and middle fingers been amputated to prevent them pointing them at another child and saying “bang, bang, your dead”?

      1. You NEED a real gun to protect yourself from the bananas, pastries, fingers and crazy six-year olds…

  6. Is the issue that he brought a toy gun to school, or that people thought it was a real gun? If the school has a policy against toy guns, then I say bravo for their policy, even if the enforcement in this case went overboard. If the issue was that people thought it was a real gun, then yeah, a bit silly, assuming someone isn’t leaving out some detail about the incident.

    1. The enforcement is so far beyond overboard that the adults involved are clearly unfit to be educating children.  Perhaps they can get trained into jobs as carpenters’ levels – when the drool comes out both sides of their mouths the workpiece is level.

      1. He got a little detention where he had to write an apology. Its kind of like having to write “I will not bring toy guns on the school bus” on the blackboard. How is that “so far beyond overboard”? 

        The only thing overboard that I see here is calling grade school detention “a permanent stain on his record”.

        1. Sure…easy for you to say. You probably never had to undergo the psychological torture of cleaning blackboards and erasers, mopping floors, and sitting silently while your pals are outside scoring points with the cutest girls in the school.

          I’m scarred…I tell you. Scarred!

          1. I wish! Where I went to school we had to copy short stories by hand when we got into trouble. Sure wish I could have lawyered up, those blemishes haunt me to this day!

        2. If school administrators cannot differentiate between lego guns, GI Joe guns, “gun shaped bread” and actual firearms, then they need to be fired and replaced with people with brains inside their skulls.

        3.  Because punishing small children like that for bringing tiny plastic toys into school is fucking sadistic and insane?

      2.  Are you kidding?! Do you realize how many ‘gun shaped’ tools are used in carpentry?! 

    2. The people who run schools and school boards believe in a total abstinence policy concerning guns.  It is very important to them that no child should understand anything about weapons.  They particularly oppose all forms of information and education involving firearms.  My son’s Boy Scout troop has a yearly meeting in which the boys are thoroughly trained never to mention gun-related activities (such as gun safety training or target shooting) in the presence of any person who might conceivably be a school official of any sort.  I am totally not kidding.  Mentioning that you have seen or handled a firearm can be the first step in the school-to-prison pipeline, especially for children of color.

      OK, Antinous, I’ll stop.

      1. Zero Tolerance has got to be its own worst enemy. As I’ve expressed, I think there’s some irresponsibility of gun-entitlement that needs to be reigned in. But one way to make sure that will never happen is to go instituting anti-gun hysteria in an environment that will feed into the other side’s narrative of victimhood. 

        Not to mention that any time the Though Police come marching out, whether in regards to guns or anything else, the results are never desirable.

  7. If you add any hot-button topic to school administrators, the effect is always like gas to a flame.  I’ve often pondered what prompts this kind of thinking within the educational system authority hierarchy, and the only explanation I’ve been able to arrive at was found in the results of the Stanford prison experiment.

    1.  A rigid zero tolerance policy is an effective way to disavow your responsibility7 for your students’ safety instead of carrying it out.

  8. Well, these bat-shit-scared-of-everything school perfunctories have managed to pull off a most difficult feat: making the NRA loons look sensible by comparison.

    Nice going.

    Why doesn’t someone just eat the evidence so we can all pretend this never happened….

  9. So, any bets on how much actual bullying these admins were too incompetent or apathetic to prevent, while stamping out the traumatic toy gun menace? Or how many allegedly ‘traumatized’ students (once they had recovered from their shock) went home and honed their headshot skills in CoD2 or something?

  10.  When this sort of nonsense comes from the police, I can at least understand how they might be acting in their own perceived best interests. More paranoia, more fear, more boots on the ground. But these are the people who are supposed to be teaching our children? A functional democracy would never allow this kind of stuff to happen.

  11. My friend Tom was suspended from middle school for 3 days for using a spoon. The “charge” (or whatever the term is) was something to the effect of  ‘Possessing an item which could be used as a weapon’. He had to go to an expulsion hearing and everything. This was in southeastern PA, just outside Philadelphia metro.

    It was probably about 2000. His mother sent him with a metal spoon for his yogurt. We had music class right after lunch, and while sitting in music class, he took the spoon out and was playing with it, not paying attention in class. I was like five seats away in the same row. The teacher (female, white, late 30s) saw the glint of the metal of the spoon and asked him what he was playing with. He held it up and said “its a spoon”. She said ‘DONT THREATEN ME LIKE THAT’ and kicked him out of class. We didn’t see him for three days but we heard about what happened. Also he was a family friend so that’s how i know what they charged him with.

    Ever since i first saw this pop-tart-gun story here on boingboing i flashed back to this moment. It always had stuck with me anyway, even as middle schoolers we all knew what ‘zero tolerance’ meant… it was only a couple years after columbine…and how it had affected our friend. Its a fckn shame that a decade later, kids are still being subjected to this sort of bullsht.

    PS: later on, in high school, they banned us from possessing water bottles in school, because kids were putting vodka in them. So they gave us water dispensers (like with the 5 gallon jug on top) in each hallway to use instead. On day someone went around to each one, took the jug off, and poured in rubbing alcohol. A couple kids drank it and had to have an ambulance come and get them. Zero Tolerance didn’t stop that weapon!!!!!

  12. I heard the letter “L” is soon to be outlawed. Or at least redesigned to look less like a pistol. And of course the letter “i” could be a rifle with a bullet leaving the barrel and should be on the chopping block too.

    1. And O looks like a bullet hole. Maybe shooticons will be the next big thing.

  13. Because punishment after the fact clearly equals prevention and playing with gun-shaped pastry clearly equals shooting real guns.

    I think pastry ought to be outlawed. Think of the children.

  14. Geometry class at that school must be fascinating.  What’s the range of gun-like angles that must be banned?  90-100 degrees?  Or do you push it out to 85-110, just in case?

  15.  The NRA’s recruitment campaign would like to thank these school officials.

  16. Before passing judgement … i would have to know  …………….Did the gnawed pastry have an extended ammo clip ?    99guspuppet

  17. “This is a matter between the school, a student and his parents.” How often have I heard that in my own school carreer?
    The question is: are hermetic microsocieties like schools really the places to give children the right conditioning for life in a society guided by ideals of common, equal rights?

  18. Why aren’t the children traumatized by cupcakes? they are vaguely boob-shaped… and don’t get me started on bananas!

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