Guns: A Tale of Two Traditions

Guns: A Tale of Two Traditions

For a special day at school, a Rhode Island 8-year-old decorated a hat with patriotic themes, including camouflage, an American flag, and tiny plastic toy soldiers. The school banned the hat. “Why? The toy soldiers were carrying tiny guns.”

Hey, I'm just surprised they didn't object to the flag.

The Rhode Island principal explained that "the hat would be fine if the boy replaced the Army men holding weapons with ones that didn't have any." (Post-modern soldiers, holding copies of U.N. sanctions, are available at enlightened toy stores.) The school felt that the toy soldiers were the equivalent of wearing images of marijuana leaves on t-shirts.

The director of the Rhode Island National Guard gamely stepped in and tried to talk some sense to the school: "The American soldier is armed. That's why they're called the armed forces," he said. "If you're going to portray it any other way, you miss the point." I imagine him speaking very slowly and calmly.

Here’s another approach to guns, inspired by news reports of a Presidential Internet “kill-switch” to be triggered by an “emergency measure or action" announced by the Department of Homeland Security. Glen Reynolds responded: “If they shut down the Internet, I’m getting out my gun. And I think everyone should take it as a signal to do the same — because one way or the other, it means the country’s under attack.”

My solution to the boy’s hat? Use a razor blade to cut the plastic weapons loose, and replace them with tiny nerf bats. But as Bruno Bettelheim noted, the reason boys play with tin soldiers is that it’s not much fun to play with tin pacifists.

Update: Once again, embarrassment works. This gives me hope for November.

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