Every so often, a story comes along where everybody involved in the story is just plain stupid. The Maryland Pop Tart Gun incident is a classic example.
Seven-year-old (now eight) Joshua Welch was awarded a free lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association after being suspended by his elementary school in the Baltimore area. His crime: At lunch, he chewed his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun and aimed it at another student.
Now, by saying that everybody is stupid, I don’t mean the kid. Joshua is merely a kid doing what kids do. At least, he’s doing what kids used to be allowed to do, which was to goof off once in a while. God knows we can’t have any of that anymore.
Imitating about half of what’s viewable on TV (including the news), Joshua aimed his half-eaten Pop Tart at another student as though it were a gun, and school administrators reacted to this clear threat to society by kicking him out of school. What I will attempt to do is simulate the thinking of the school administrators in deciding on this course of action:
“Hmmm. We’ve got a seven-year-old student aiming a Pop Tart at other students and yelling “bang”. In this post-Columbine world, we can’t allow children to indulge in whimsy that includes guns. We have replacement activities for that, like playing keep-no-score soccer. It doesn’t matter how harmless the Pop Tart is, and it’s obvious that correcting the child on-the-spot is an insufficient response. Frankly, there’s no page in our manuals for a situation as critical as this. How are we going to save this kid? I got it! We’ll suspend him until we figure out a better course of action. That’s the answer! Subject him to isolation, stigmatization, and ridicule, and deprive him at least temporarily of an education. If that doesn’t sour his attitude on guns, by gummy, I don’t know what will!”
If you ask me, that’s pretty dumb reasoning. Essentially, you’re suggesting to a seven-year-old child that a Pop Tart is every bit as dangerous as a loaded pistol, and that he’s a very, very bad boy for pointing such an item at another child. But if you think that’s the limit to faulty reasoning in this story is stupid, just wait. There’s more.
Here’s where our good friends with the National Rifle Association enter the picture. Naturally, the National Rifle Association is famous for asserting the rights of all responsible American to own firearms. But instead of focusing on such messages as the sanctity of the Second Amendment right to bear arms and/or the importance of the practice of utmost safety and proper judgement by all gun owners, they swoop in to represent themselves through the exploitation of a child whose already victimized by politically-corrective thinking. At a recent fundraiser Wednesday night for Anne Arundel County Republicans, the NRA granted this eight-year-old child a lifetime Association membership, a value of $550. The official bestowing of the membership drew a standing ovation at the event.
I expect better judgement from an organization as venerable as the National Rifle Association. When you weigh their messages — swearing to protect the rights and freedoms of every American; and then using an eight-year-old child as an implement to advance their political message — , there’s a rather obvious morality conflict.
So here’s a quick assessment of this situation: A kid eats half a Pop Tart, acts like a kid for a minute, and then becomes a thoroughly-disposable pawn in a chess game between two political rivals motivated almost purely out of self-righteous self-interest. Meanwhile, a growing percentage of Americans feel more and more disenfranchised by their nation’s political process. Gee. I wonder why? And yet, people ask me why I’m so cynical about the future of our beloved country. This news item contains a rare balance of stupidity in fairly equal measure from both the liberal and conservative excesses in this country. We hope you enjoyed today’s program. Tune in next time, same time, same station, for another episode of our weekly focus show, “Your Country Is Dying From Its Own Stupidity.” Take care, everyone.