Hoplophobic Behaviorism: Zero-Tolerance in America

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

I woke up this morning, turned on the radio (ok, it was iHeartRadio on my tablet), and the news happened to be starting. Does that happen to you? You want to hear the show on the station but you always turn it on during the news or a commercial? Happens to me all the time. But this time, it was actually useful, and I didn’t mind, because I found out about this little gem:

The town of Mesa, Arizona was apparently terrorized by this man who insisted on going to a local elementary school with a gun. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh…some parents called the Principal of Entz Elementary School to complain that their children had seen a man with a gun on the premises, and this disturbed and frightened them.

The school responded by calling the man and asking him not to come armed to the school to pick up his daughter. They also asked him not to wear his police uniform.

That’s right, the man is a police officer, and picked up his daughter in uniform, along, of course, with his legally-required sidearm. Officer Scott Urkov of the Coolidge Police Department was aghast, and posted this to his Facebook page:

“Nothing like your kids school calling and asking if I could not come to pick up my daughter in uniform cause parents were concerned when their kids came home telling them there was a man at school with a gun. Are you freaking kidding me?”

The school called his department in response to this posting, and subsequently, the officer was told to keep his big trap shut about such things. But the genie was out of the bottle, and the story went just a TAD viral. The school did, to their credit, sort of backpedal, and said they didn’t mean to offend the officer, and would treat this as a “teachable moment”, and have him come in to a special assembly and tell the kids what a policeman does in the society.

But even though this seems to have been dealt with, they aren’t dealing with the far more insidious problem underneath the “teachable moments” and special assemblies. No, it’s far worse than that, even though telling a cop not to come to school in uniform, armed, is bad enough.  No, this is simply one of a plethora of cases throughout our country where it is clear that teachers and administrators are engaged in behavioral conditioning of children on the subject of guns.

“That’s crazy,” some of you might be saying. “They’re not ‘conditioning’ kids, they’re just…um…uh…teaching them…uh…”  Yeah, um uh.  Look, here’s the deal. When you take someone, anyone, and every time they do something you don’t like, you punish them, you are to a degree conditioning them.  You’re convincing them that the actions you don’t like will result in a negative sanction. The difference between laws that protect us from bad guys, and efforts to convince bad guys not to be bad are, we agreed to such laws ahead of time by electing the officials who passed them in the first place.

But when it’s kids, who don’t have a say in the matter and can’t reject the input, that’s different. There is a practice among schools of “zero tolerance”, which is supposed to be an attitude that bringing dangerous or illegal objects to school is not acceptable, at all, with no exceptions. The original intent was to keep lawbreaking juveniles from bringing weaponry to school, a concept that sounds, on the surface, to be reasonable. We don’t want juvenile thugs bringing weapons to school and terrorizing the other children or harming teachers, do we?  Of course not, and this isn’t about that.  The “zero tolerance” paradigm has been co-opted by a far more disturbing one: hoplophobia. Teachers and administrators are teaching children to be afraid of anything, any object, any speech, any action or practice, that suggests in any fashion the use of any sort of weapon.  This incident in Mesa, Arizona proves that this conditioning is working.

Look at the series of inane and insane zero tolerance prosecutions across the country:

  • A boy in Harmony, Florida was suspended for a day for playing “cops and robbers”, shaping his hand into a “gun shape”.
  • A fifth-grade girl in Philadelphia was scolded so severely for having a piece of paper torn roughly into an L-shape that she has nightmares. Her grandfather had made the “paper gun” for her the night before. The teacher yelled at her for “bringing a gun to school”. Remember, this was a piece of paper. Her fellow students compounded it by calling her a “murderess”.
  • A 12-year-old boy from Rhode Island was suspended for bringing a keychain in the shape of a derringer, only two inches long, to school. He won the keychain at a local arcade in exchange for game tickets.
  • A Maryland school suspended a 7-year-old for biting a Pop-Tart into a vaguely gunlike shape. The student said he was trying to make it look like a mountain, not a gun, but the teacher who saw it interpreted it as a gun.  This prompted the introduction of “The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013” in the state, but this bill has not progressed noticeably since a committee meeting in March.
  • Two students in Virginia Beach were given one-year suspensions for playing with airsoft guns on their own property, at home. The school claimed jurisdiction because “there was a bus stop nearby”. Excuse me, there are bus stops everywhere, I know, if I’m driving in the afternoon, those buses stop seemingly every block, making all traffic stop and start.
  • A kindergartener was suspended for telling a friend about her Hello Kitty bubble gun, which shoots harmless soap bubbles. She was treated as if potentially violent, because she actually said she would “shoot” her friend and herself with this clearly dire destructive device.
  • A 6-year-old Palmer, Massachusetts student was suspended for bringing a Lego gun (one of the tiny plastic guns held by Lego figures) onto a school bus. This plastic toy is barely larger than a quarter. We’ve all played with plastic army men that look more threatening.
  • 9-year-old was suspended indefinitely from the Creative Montessori Academy in Southgate, near Detroit. His crime? Showing a friend a top-launcher that was vaguely gunlike — to me, it looks like a Hasbro “Beyblade” launcher, that spins up little tops by squeezing a lever or pulling a cord. The school claimed the child said “bang bang”, but it’s my belief he was simply telling his friend it was for “Beyblade”. This is a toy that has spawned a television cartoon series for children.  I played with tops when I was young, too — “Whizzers” were the thing then, tops with a friction tip you rubbed on a surface to spin up an internal gyroscope.
  • And, the capstone, a Cobb County, Georgia high school senior was charged with a felony: bringing a deadly tackle box to school. The student, an avid fisherman, had two knives, used for fishing, in the box. He was arrested and released on a $1000 bond.

This is only a selection of the most egregious of these cases. But the message is crystal clear: anything that someone in authority perceives to be any sort of weapon, especially a gun, will get you in humongous amounts of trouble, trouble beyond all scope of reason or restraint. The logical and reasonable response in the mind of a child, subjected to this treatment, is to be utterly terrified of anything resembling a gun, or that might possibly be considered to be a weapon. They won’t want to touch one or be near one, much less own one.  This is the core of the problem.

Children grow up to be adults. Adults have full access to their rights, not being limited by parental or in loco parentis, restrictions. What will be the result when these traumatized and conditioned children get to be older, and finally are accorded their legal rights to keep and bear arms?  They will be too afraid of those arms to take advantage of those rights, that’s what! And when people reject a right, that right goes away. The government will be all too happy to remove the 2nd Amendment, or so hedge about it that it is effectively negated, if the next generation is too afraid of “arms” to even touch them.

Hence this program of terrorizing children over anything and everything remotely gunlike or weaponlike — to inculcate in them an active fear, a fear of the devices by which they secure their liberty in perpetuity. They will also be too afraid of them to consider using them defensively. They may not even realize it’s happening — they’ll wring their newly-adult hands, wondering what they can possibly DO to protect themselves from criminals and other violent offenders, their minds automatically shying away from the obvious choice of arming themselves.  This is behavioristic training that Pavlov would easily have recognized. Ring the bell, the kids get scared. Simple and straightforward — the carefully-installed conditioning, making them terrified of guns, will make that choice unthinkable.

That scraping noise you’re hearing, down deep in your soul?  That’s the sound of the Overton Window slowly creeping from “policy” to “unthinkable”. Once it has done that, there will be no obstacle to disarming America, rendering it just as defenseless and just as subjugated as the rest of the world.  Except for those parts of the world that despise us…those parts seem to be quite able to get and handle weapons.  Some of them from our own government.

The episode with the police officer in Mesa, Arizona is the clear result of such conditioning.  The school wasn’t concerned that the officer’s rights may have been infringed upon, either his 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms or his 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech — they wanted it clear they weren’t trying to offend him. Everyone knows about the 52nd Amendment, right, the one that gives us the right to never be offended?  No? Actually, that’s not in the Constitution. There is no right to not be offended. There’s no right to feel safe. The 2nd Amendment accords us the right to make ourselves safe, but this right is under attack by those who don’t want the substance of safety, because that would also carry the responsibility to practice safety. Instead, they want the illusion of safety, simply the emotions associated with being safe, because no one has to be responsible for anything when it’s just an illusion. The children of Entz Elementary School were well trained by the zero-tolerance teachers — they saw a gun, and were appropriately afraid of it.  Now they have the opportunity for a “teachable moment”, to channel that fear so those kids will forever accept a government authority as the only one who should be allowed to have a gun.

We must develop zero tolerance for zero tolerance in our schools, or our children will have zero tolerance for their own rights. Once that has happened, the zero tolerance some in the world have for America will take its toll, and we will have zero defense against it.

Respectfully Submitted.

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