Saturday, June 08, 2013

There's Something A Little Fanatical About This

Some people are just plain crazy, and they seem to congregate in my chosen profession:

An elementary school will hold a toy gun exchange Saturday, offering students a book and a chance to win a bicycle if they turn in their play weapons.

Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill maintains that children who play with toy guns may not take real guns seriously.

"Playing with toys guns, saying 'I'm going to shoot you,' desensitizes them, so as they get older, it's easier for them to use a real gun," Hill said.

Is there any evidence that all those kids with their Daniel Boone caps and play rifles in the 50s grew up to be mass murderers?  How about my generation with our cap guns?

Perhaps Mr. Hill and the gang at Strobridge Elementary should be focusing on academics and not the firearms bugaboo.  After all,  a quick search of the California Department of Education web site shows Strobridge to be a 1/1 school.  The first 1 means that, in terms of academic performance, their school is in the lowest decile of all schools in California.  The second 1 means that if, instead of being compared to all schools in the state they're only compared to schools with similar demographics, they're still in the bottom decile.

Actually, given this information it's now obvious why they'd rather focus on toy guns.

Hat tip to Instapundit for the original story.

Update, 6/10/13: Instalanche!  (Thanks, Glenn).  Check my Stat Counter (at left) to see what an Instalanche looks like on a small blog like this!  Since you'll only be able to see it for a couple days, I'll post a screenshot later.

Update #2, 6/12/13:   Screen shot here.


pseudotsuga said...

Next step: buying back all those shooter video games. Why, everybody knows that playing shooting video games desensitizes kids, making it easier for them to use real guns...[/sarc]

allen (in Michigan) said...

Maybe some especially bright kid will gnaw a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun and get a bike for it.

Mrs. Widget said...

Toy gun march in DC. Can't wait to see what the press says.

Darren said...

Allen, that one made me laugh!

maxutils said...

On the other there anything wrong with offering that trade? If the child wants to keep the toy gun they can. I, myself, would gladly make the trade, get the book, the chance at the bike, then go out and get another toy gun, and perhaps repeat the cycle as many times as I could. Seems like capitalism to me..I don't really care if the school's motives are ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Maxutils: "On the other there anything wrong with offering that trade?"

There might be something wrong in the "lessons learned" area.

How would you feel about a voluntary book burning sponsored by your local public school?

Totally legal, not a 1st amendment issue, and yet ... it would bother me.

-Mark Roulo

allen (in Michigan) said...

What's wrong with making the offer? Among other things it trivializes education, or at least the public education system, by making it a vehicle for whatever groups holds sway.

But the trivialization doesn't end there.

Even relatively small children know there's a significant difference between toy guns and real guns. At the very least one is called a toy and one isn't. You don't need an EdD to understand the differing terminology indicates other differences.

But if the people who run the schools can't seem to differentiate between the two are they, and what they claim to offer, worthy of respect?

maxutils said...

Mark, your comparison is ridiculous. It would bother me, as well, but one case is a trade; the other is destruction with an overtone of censorship. And potentially dangerous.

Allen, are you really arguing that offering kids books trivializes education? I would think that any encouragement for them to read would be a good thing. I have absolutely no problem with kids playing with toy guns, and I know they know the difference. I think when you have an EdD, you become LESS able to differentiate. All the recent cases of suspensions for using fingers as guns, or having water pistols ... ridiculous. And, if the school were to try to bias people towards making the trade, I would have a problem with it...but, if you just put it out there as an offer? I see nothing wrong with it.

Anonymous said...

When I was a lad, I played with Star Wars figures.

When I was 24, I destroyed the planet Alderaan.

Let this be a lesson to you all.

SDN said...

max, a voluntary trade cannot be called censorship, which requires government coercion.

And exactly why should the civil right of self-defense protected by the 2nd Amendment be treated worse than the civil right of freedom of the press protected by the 1st?

Anonymous said...

Are these the people who are supposed to be teaching critical thinking?

My grandson summarized this program in three words:

"That is dumb!"

Leroy O.

rhhardin said...

Those were Davy Crockett caps, not Daniel Boone caps.

Brian Macker said...


Why trade a perfectly good poptart for a book on gender studies?

Anonymous said...

Why are schools permitted to assume a responsibility on behalf of society to disparage guns per se? Let's say my child wants to grow up and become a policeman or serve in the armed services. Those are honorable careers, right? Yet, even pretend-playing a cop or soldier at recess is enough to get him expelled from some of these loony schools. What's the message there -- cops are bad? Soldiers are bad?

This serves as another illustration of why government at all levels needs to be keep as small and unobtrusive as possible. People in positions of public authority are for the most part simply too dumb to be entrusted with the power they wield.

Anonymous said...

" case is a trade; the other is destruction with an overtone of censorship. And potentially dangerous."

What do you expect to happen to the toys? Given to poor children? Donated to Salvation Army? If it makes my hypothetical better, you can imagine that the kids get a (non-gun) toy in exchange for the book to be burned.

The *intent* of the toy-for-book exchange is to destroy the toy guns. With, I would suggest, overtones of gun confiscation [just like my hypothetical book *donation* has an overtone of censorship]. Is it gun confiscation? No, of course not. Because it is voluntary. But my book burning is voluntary, too, and this seems wrong as well.

-Mark Roulo

Brian Macker said...


You are confused. You seem to think this is toy gun for books trade is a market trade. You said it was capitalism. In a market trade a person trades something they value less for something they value more. As a market trade the teachers are sending the signal they value books less than toy guns. Obviously it isn't a market trade and in fact they will be making the decision about which books to hand out. You can be sure none of the books will be on hunting, shooting, gun rights, etc. So the "overtone of censorship" is present in this trade also. .They could even burn books that the taxpayers buy just like they are handing out ones on the taxpayers dime. The book burning was an appropriate comparison.

Note that book burning is perfectly appropriate if you are the one who paid for and own the book. It is free speech. I find the Quran an appalling vile criminal and genocidal document, and if I burn a copy to express my distain there is nothing wrong with that. What would be wrong is if I was a librarian and took it upon myself to burn copies of the Quan, Mein Kampf, or any of the other disgusting works on the shelves.

I could continue detailing your confusion but I have other things to do.

Constable Barrios said...

@maxutils: You are being intentionally dense when you say "..., your comparison is ridiculous. It would bother me, as well, but one case is a trade; the other is destruction with an overtone of censorship. And potentially dangerous.
". First of all they are both trades AND destruction. What happens to the collected toy guns? Are they re-distributed to OTEHR kids? No, they are err, what is word... destroyed. If it is just putting the offer out there for the books to be turned in, without asking for any specific titles, how does it have overtones of censorship? Assuming they are not singling out specific types of toy guns, who is that different from the book scenario? It bothers you because the scenarios are similar, but you want to make the discomfort go away by claiming some distinctions that make no difference. State some first principles and stick to them. Mine would be: stop with the silly "voluntary" turn-ins of otherwise legal products. There. (I put the dread quotes around voluntary as we all know children in a school setting will do what authority figures deem as good citizenship.)

Mannie said...

This has nothing to do with Zero Tolerance idiocy, nor with hysteria after the Sandy Hook shootings. It is not idiocy. It is deliberate. It is a tactic. Idiocy is just the smoke screen. This is a program to condition, to terrorize, to brainwash our children into fearing and hating guns, patriotism, and Americanism. If the Liberal scum can ruin our children, they have won.

Counterattack. Buy your child a gun, as young as he or she can operate one, and take them to the range. Let them talk it up with their friends. Spread the Good News. Spread the Good News in school.

Μολὼν λαβέ

Brian Macker said...

Why don't they cut to the chase and pile the toys up for an instructive publicly financed burning? That way we get a more effective communication of the values we are financing. I'm all for government efficiency so I can't object on those grounds.

Brian Macker said...


Off topic, aren't both coasts the left coast? I'm not sure which you are located at.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Oh come on max, if you have to rewrite what I wrote so you can make a what may appear to be a worthwhile response then you really don't have much of a point, do you?

If getting kids to read is the goal then there are more direct means - teach them to read and make books available. But that's not the point of this program. The point of the program is for those who dreamed it up is to put their deep and abiding concern for the safety of children on very public display even if they don't actually give a flying fig about the safety of the kids.

The unintended, and unimportant, consequences from the point of view of the folks who dreamed this up, is to make the public education system, and by extension education, a subject of ridicule.

Ridiculing the idea's warranted but those doing the ridiculing aren't just adults who understand the ridiculousness of the exercise. It's also many of the kids who, rather more insightful then Principal Charles Hill, understand that there's a substantive difference between toys and the real thing even if they don't know how to use the word "substantive" in a sentence.

maxutils said...

Let me clarify my point. *Obviously* if a school is offering a toy gun-for-book trade, they are advocating the idea that toy guns are less good than books. Or, are even bad. I'm not an idiot. But it's an OFFER --not a mandate. If the school starts a campaign against the proper use or ownership of guns --I'll be right down at the office to complain. Allen, I know promoting reading is not the point of the program. I just don't see it as being a big deal if they just announce it and offer it. But suppose I'm a kid who is tired of his toy gun and wants a good read? Suddenly, I have a good trade. If I'd rather go out and pretend to shoot people, I still can. The end result of the toy guns is irrelevant-- if the school wants to destroy them, that's the school's choice (Mark:they could toss them in a dumpster); if they want to pass them out to teachers and let them play cops and robbers after class, that would also be fine. Unlikely, but fine.
I understand the argument against this, and I actually agree with those of you who have been tearing me apart. We really only differ on a fine line. If a school puts out an announcement that we will offer this, I see no problem. If they go beyond that and promote it, I do.
I assume, in this, that the books come as donations ...if the district must buy them, I change my position entirely...but I don't know how you could get this through a school budget if they weren't donated.

SDN -- I agree, but a boo burned for nothing gained is LIKELY to be censorship oriented.

Brian--it is a market trade. The school values kids not having toy guns more than the kids value the toy gun, or the transaction doesn't occur. I'd enjoy hearing you try to give an example of a transaction not involving government coercion (which is by definition not capitalism) that does not involve supply and demand.

Darren said...

Brian, I'm in Sacramento, CA--on the coast on the *left side* of a properly oriented US map.

malclave said...

Why only toy guns? Shouldn't we be concerned with other weapons?

Years ago, I bought a couple of Star Wars action figures to combine into a Gungan Jedi figure (don't ask)... shouldn't that lightsaber be worth a shot at a bike, or do we turn a blind eye to all the little kids growing up thinking it's okay to dismember people with a laser sword?

neko said...

Let's say my child wants to grow up and become a policeman or serve in the armed services. Those are honorable careers, right?

Not according to the people who usually end up being teachers and school administrators...