Brave Educators Confront Guns, Vampires

Culture, Education, Politics & Current Events

DATELINE Harmony, Florida

In days gone by, the worst that teachers and school administrators had to worry about was chewing gum, running in the halls, and the occasional skirt that brushed the knee.

Now, however, educators face an arsenal arrayed against them and against the safety and discipline of our nation's schools. Students brandish pistols, rifles, grenades, swords (both steel and plasma), gigantic fighting robots, and occasionally dinosaurs.

Now, to be perfectly accurate, some of these weapons are imaginary. For instance, the Harmony Community School recently suspended eight-year-old Jordan Bennett for making an imaginary gun with his finger while playing with friends at recess. But educators maintain that good order requires zero tolerance of any reference to violence, real or imagined.

Osceolla County School District spokesperson Dol Umbridge bristled at the suggestion that suspending an eight-year-old for imaginative play was excessive. "A gun is a gun, whether you choose to brand it as 'real' or not," said Umbridge. "Imagining violence leads to violence. Past permissiveness about 'games' of 'cops and robbers' are exactly why crime is at an all-time high. And children who imagine guns will go on to imagine other things, which is highly detrimental to our curriculum. Moreover, thanks to budget cuts, many of our professional educators have been deprived of the in-service training days that would permit them to distinguish between 'real' and 'imaginary' guns."

Umbridge added that the district's policy against imaginary items is based on a successful initiative launched by the federal government in 2001.

"The point is," Umbridge explained, "that there have been school shootings in this country. Those school shootings demonstrate that parents should accept the risk assessments of teachers and school administrators, and give them the benefit of the doubt that they only want what is best for our children." Umbridge's defensive comment may have been a reference to a somewhat controversial incident at an Osceolla County school last October when a Vice Principal staked a third-grader pretending to be a vampire at an Autumn Festival. Vampires are on Osceolla County's list of prohibited subjects of imaginative play because of their association with violence, sexuality, and dysfunctional relationships.

Though the no-imaginative-play policy has met some opposition, it also enjoys support. "I can't teach my kid the difference between fantasy and reality. That's what schools are for," said one Orlando father who had recently blamed the popular computer game "Minecraft" for his nine-year-old son bringing a steak knife, bullets, and an inoperative but real handgun to elementary school. "I look to the government to flush this sort of nonsense out of his head. What am I supposed to do about it?"

Last 5 posts by Ken White

94 Comments

94 Comments

  1. RogerX  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:48 am

    "They use hammers to dig and knives and guns to protect themselves from zombies," said the father who couldn't be bothered to be accountable as a father or adult human being.

    FALSE. THERE ARE NO GUNS IN MINECRAFT. They also use pickaxes, not hammers. Assclown.

  2. Steven H.  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:52 am

    And Minecraft is related to guns (functional or not) exactly how?? Swords, yeah. explosives, hell yeah. But no guns to be seen…

    And what the hell was Dad doing leaving even a non-functional gun where his kids could get at them???

  3. Edward  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:54 am

    I once saw a girl charged with a felony for throwing an orange at a teacher. Are real oranges more dangerous than imaginary guns? Perhaps we can charter a study on this issue.

  4. Gus Bailey  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:54 am

    Please, Ken, tell me these sentences are a parody;

    "And children who imagine guns will go on to imagine other things, which is highly detrimental to our curriculum. Moreover, thanks to budget cuts, many of our professional educators have been deprived of the in-service training days that would permit them to distinguish between 'real' and 'imaginary' guns."

  5. stakkalee  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:54 am

    I'm sorry RogerX, but you're simply wrong. Behold, the Minecraft Chicken Gun.

  6. ysth  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:55 am

    I….I think this needs to be clearly labeled as non-parody, if in fact it is non-parody.

  7. adam  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:56 am

    dol umbridge. as in dolores umbridge? from harry potter?

    http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Dolores_Umbridge

    the attitude is a perfect match.

  8. Gus Bailey  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:56 am

    So teachers these days cannot distinguish between imaginary and real guns, and the system would prefer our children not imagine things.

    Oooookaaay.

    quietly unloads the bird shot, fills the tube with slugs.

  9. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:57 am

    "I can't teach my kid the difference between fantasy and reality. That's what schools are for," said one Orlando father who had recently blamed the popular computer game "Minecraft" for his nine-year-old son bringing a steak knife, bullets, and an inoperative but real handgun to elementary school. "I look to the government to flush this sort of nonsense out of his head. What am I supposed to do about it?"

    This snark is entirely unjustified.

    The claim "Father Blames Minecraft for Son Bringing Gun to School" is from the headline writer at GamePolitics. It is unsupported by factual statements in the article or by actual quotes from the father.

    The article states "The father said that the boy was just acting out the game in real life". To characterize this explanation as "blaming Minecraft" is an interjection of emotional rhetoric where none was implied.

    To carry it further and suggest, as you have, that the father has neither the desire nor the capacity to teach his child the difference between fantasy and reality, is to buy into the narrative being pushed by the GamePolitics writer rather than sticking to conclusions justifiably warranted by factual reporting. You know nothing about this man's approach to childrearing, his feelings towards Minecraft, his feelings about his son's actions, and his reactions to the punishment his son has received at the hands of officials.

    Stop it.

  10. Ronnie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:57 am

    *thunderous applause for the Harry Potter reference*

  11. ZK  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:57 am

    "Dol Umbridge" should be a hint, guys. I suggest researching her previous employment in the educational and government sector before commenting.

  12. princessartemis  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:57 am

    Those who say there are no guns in Minecraft haven't seen what modders can do.

  13. Dangerboy  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:02 am

    Brilliant, and though parody, entirely too prophetic. I imagine myself using wreckingball diplomacy on Little Danger's school system at some point.

  14. Lizard  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:04 am

    They have a new school district spokesperson every year. It's like the job is cursed, or something.

  15. RogerX  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:04 am

    stakkalee: I stand corrected. Clealry I will not be along in calling for an urgent an immediate ban of Minecraft amongst school-age children before they begin bringing deadly chickens to school en masse to launch at their teachers.

    We must end this awful Chicken-Launching menace NOW.

  16. Mike  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:06 am

    Umbridge sounds just like the Happy Potter character of the same name.

  17. RogerX  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:07 am

    I think eddie missed the snark / satire here. He went full SRS BSNS

  18. Zack  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:11 am

    Poe's Law in full effect. Took me 90% of the article to determine it was satire because we've all seen crap almost exactly like this before, from pop-tart gun suspensions to rules against any contact at all in schools.

  19. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:12 am

    @RogerX:

    I think eddie missed the snark / satire here.

    Did I?

    "This snark is entirely unjustified."

    Huh. I guess I didn't. I think it's possible you may have missed the point of my comment, though.

  20. Xenocles  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:16 am

    According to several notable books, if you imagine something it becomes real somewhere. This is a wise precaution.

  21. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:16 am

    You know nothing about this man's approach to childrearing,

    I know his household leaves ammunition and a non-operative (according to him) but real handgun where his child can get them and use them unsupervised.

  22. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:20 am

    … and what does that have to do with whether the father is "blaming Minecraft" or whether he is failing to teach his children the difference between fantasy and reality?

    Which is what you've accused him of. Without evidence.

  23. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:21 am

    .. but, fair point. That's not nothing. I retract my statement and revise it thusly:

    "You know almost nothing about this man's approach to childrearing"

  24. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:28 am

    Eddie:

    Okay. But, in fact, the school didn't stake a kid at Halloween, either.

    What I know about the father is this: when his kid took items to school, some of which suggest he does not practice good firearms safety, he reacted by saying the kid was acting out a video game. In the context, that suggests to me he was excusing the kid's conduct and placing implicit blame on the video game.

    Your interpretation may differ.

  25. ketchup  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:38 am

    Evidently some of those commenting here missed the in-service training on how to tell "real" blog stories from satire.

  26. Lizard  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:39 am

    This snark is entirely unjustified.

    Those words make no sense in that order.

  27. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:41 am

    he reacted by saying the kid was acting out a video game. In the context, that suggests to me he was excusing the kid's conduct and placing implicit blame on the video game. Your interpretation may differ.

    My interpretation does differ, and I think yours would as well had you not first encountered the situation as framed by the GamePolitics writer's headline and editorial. The assumption that the father was trying to excuse the child's behavior is an assumption that should be supported by some explicit fact, and it simply is not.

    Saying "X because Y" is not inherently BLAMING X on Y. It could also be – and in common occurrence, usually is – merely explaining Y as the proximate cause of X, or providing Y as context to better understand X.

    For example:

    Cop: Mister White, your nine-year-old son here was running around in traffic in his underwear with a cape tied around his neck.

    Ken: Oh, thank god he's okay! Get up to your room, we'll talk about this later. Officer, thanks for bringing him home safely. Sorry about this.

    Cop: Is everything okay at home?

    Ken: No, we're fine, thanks.

    Cop: What was he doing?

    Ken: He was probably just trying to be Superman. Again. Gotta talk to that boy…

    Cop: Trying to be who?

    Ken: Superman. … Superman? You know, from the comic books?

    Media: CALIFORNIA MAN LETS CHILD PLAY IN TRAFFIC, BLAMES COMIC BOOKS

  28. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:45 am

    But, in fact, the school didn't stake a kid at Halloween, either.

    Your satire wasn't implying that they did.

    Your satire WAS implying that the father – whom you know almost nothing about – had abandoned his responsibilities to teach his child the difference between fantasy and reality and had blamed his child's behavior on video games.

    Wasn't it?

  29. Lizard  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:46 am

    @Ketchup: A good way to tell if someone actually has researched all sides of a position, or just knows what they believe and what people who agree with them *tell* them the other side(s) believe, is if they can identify satire of The Enemy's position. If they can't — you know they have never actually studied The Enemy's source texts, and only know what they've been told about The Enemy. (Often, this is excused with "I don't have time to read what a bunch of Rethuglicans/Dumbocrats have to say! I'm informed because I read Daily Kos/World Net Daily, and they tell me how smart I am and how all the other media lies to me!")

  30. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:47 am

    It was more generally implying that the father abandoned appropriate parental responsibility, supported both by the kid's easy access to a gun and ammunition and by the fact the father reacted by telling the media the kid was acting out something from a game.

  31. Lizard  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:47 am

    Media: CALIFORNIA MAN LETS CHILD PLAY IN TRAFFIC, BLAMES COMIC BOOKS

    Dr. Wertham? Is that you?

  32. rmd  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:49 am

    Okay. But, in fact, the school didn't stake a kid at Halloween, either.

    Must you burst *all* my bubbles, Ken?

  33. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:49 am
    This snark is entirely unjustified.

    Those words make no sense in that order.

    I'll be happy to rephrase for the particularly thick and obstinate:

    "The things that you are implicitly accusing this man of by using this particular bit of snark directed at him are not true, or at the very least, you have no reason to think are true. You are merely assuming that they are true based on reading an editorial which framed the situation such that it played to one of your favorite biases, rendering the man in question a suitable target for your favorite brand of discourse."

    Does that order work better for you?

  34. ZK  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:50 am

    I'm all for prevent easy child access to a firearm. That's bad parenting even if the gun is disabled in some way.

    Why is access to ammunition in the same class? What's a kid going to do with just ammunition? Eat it? Hit it with a rock?

  35. Shelby  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:54 am

    In fairness to Minecraft Boy, there are in fact zombies at school. They're the ones in charge.

  36. Chris Simmons  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:57 am

    Reminds of Principal Skinner: "I have caught word that a child is using his imagination and I've come to put a stop to it."

  37. Crusty the Ex-Clown  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:03 am

    When our youngest (now 23) wanted to play first-person shooting games at age ten, we made him take and pass a firearm safety class at the local gun club first. We made damn sure he knew the difference between fantasy and reality.

  38. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:04 am

    It was more generally implying that the father abandoned appropriate parental responsibility, supported both by the kid's easy access to a gun and ammunition and by the fact the father reacted by telling the media the kid was acting out something from a game.

    a) Your snark didn't make any points at all about easy access to a gun and ammunition.

    b) Your snark didn't make any points about parental responsibility in general.

    c) Your snark was very specific about the teaching the difference between fantasy and reality, which was in fact the main thrust of your entire post.

    If your snark was intended to be about parental responsibility in general and access to non-working firearms and ammunition (and steak knives and hammers), then it was terribly written. And you don't write terrible snark. Your snark is ferociously precise.

    Maybe you were having an off day.

    And finally,

    d) What's wrong with saying that the kid was acting out a video game, if that is in fact what the kid was doing?

  39. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:06 am

    @Eddie:

    Actually, in draft, I had the father saying "what am I supposed to do, lock this stuff up?"

    I rejected that as too insultingly obvious, and decided that "what am I supposed to do about it" conveyed the message I wanted to convey.

    De gustibus, etc.

  40. crankytexanattny  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:09 am

    I am more worried about the fact that each of the things to which Ken cites are real events. A keychain? Really?

  41. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:13 am

    Also, since I am leaping to conclusions totally unfairly about the father "blaming" Minecraft, I'm sure there is some other explanation for why the father, in interviews with local news, says they are throwing out Minecraft and other video games from the house. (Watch video.) Eddie, in his superman analogy, just left out the line where, for completely unrelated reasons and without blaming the comics, decides to toss out the Superman comics.

  42. Ryan  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:26 am

    Ken, you are engaging in a conversation about gun rights which eddie is trying to cloak under different auspices, despite the fact that its pretty clear what he's really interested in arguing. That way madness lies.

  43. Allen  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:27 am

    Oh no, not The Chicken Gun.

    I actually knew a guy who had that job. The FAA would pay him to launch chickens (no, they were not live chickens, live ones are to hard to stuff in a sabot) at various airplane parts to determine how much damage might occur in a bird strike.

    Incidentally, it's where I first heard the term snarge.

  44. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:33 am

    conversation about gun rights which eddie is trying to cloak under different auspices, despite the fact that its pretty clear what he's really interested in arguing

    You got me.

    I guess I need a more powerful Auspice Cloak. This one is only +2 vs. Gun Control.

  45. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:38 am

    I want a Cloak of Displacement so I write a post and people in the comments get incensed at Clark.

  46. RogerX  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:40 am

    Oh man, Eddie's really talking about gun control? Based on "Your satire WAS implying that the father – whom you know almost nothing about" led me to think he was coming here to personally defend a friend or family member.

  47. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:44 am

    @Ken – Yeah, I watched the video a little bit ago (after my last post, before yours). I should have followed all the links to get there earlier. Mea culpa.

    I admit, the father's desire to toss out "all the games" does sound like blaming.

    I am somewhat reluctant to cast it that way wholeheartedly, though, simply because in that entire news report, we've got no more than two sentences of actual words actually spoken by the man in question, neither one of which actually say anything like "I blame video games".

    Haven't your clients ever said a sentence or two that got taken out of context by the media?

  48. lagaya1  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:46 am

    An interesting illustration of how far the pendulum has swung. When I was in 5th or 6th grade 50 years ago, all the students in our class were gathered in the auditorium to watch a video. Afterwards, we took a test to see how well we understood the video's content. If we passed the test, we received an embroidered patch from the NRA declaring us to be "Ohio Safe Hunters". I passed the test, and would have felt pretty confident that I could handle a gun, if I ever came across one.
    Schools need to be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

  49. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:53 am

    Incidentally, it's where I first heard the term snarge.

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing your enlightenment.

    I will strive hereafter to use this term at least once per fortnight.

    "Each day, the Smithsonian Institution's Feather Identification Laboratory receives about a dozen packages from around the country"

    But not today! The Rethuglican shutdown claims another victim.

  50. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:54 am

    @Eddie:

    Yes. It's possible that he told the media that he took responsibility, and that the part of about throwing out the games was an additional statement, and that he modified it by saying "but the games aren't at fault," and they quoted out of context.

  51. Sam  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:55 am

    d) What's wrong with saying that the kid was acting out a video game, if that is in fact what the kid was doing?

    Because the kid wasn't pick-axing and building accurate recreations of Middle Earth, so that in fact is not what the kid was doing?

  52. Shane  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:58 am

    @eddie

    Thank you for coming, you have made hilarity out of nothing. A feat only Clark could try to live up too.

    Nom Nom Nom popcorn.

  53. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:58 am

    [Incidentally, in the middle of a return to Minecraft, aided by a nifty texture pack and a desire to check out various new gameplay features. Achieved powered rails for the first time. Last night lost most of my best equipment making lava beacons, because I'm clumsy and careless.]

  54. Shane  •  Oct 1, 2013 @12:02 pm

    @Ken

    I want a Cloak of Displacement so I write a post and people in the comments get incensed at Clark.

    ROFL!!!

    But don't you see my dear Ken you have shown up the mighty Clark, with the presence of eddie. Maybe … ohhh … eddie … isssss … YOU!!!!

    Plus you have to be level 12 for that cloak.

  55. lelnet  •  Oct 1, 2013 @12:08 pm

    I didn't get it until I saw the _third_ reference to Ms. Umbridge's name. I'd like to think I'd have gone "hey…wait a minute here!" at the reference to a third-grader being staked, but sadly, everything else in there? Yeah, could too easily be real.

  56. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @12:09 pm

    @Sam:

    When I hear that a kid likes video games and has equipped himself with items in imitation of the characters from those games, I think…

    … cosplay.

    Good on the kid. That's a pretty cool instinct for a nine-year-old. He desperately needed some earlier guidance about not freaking out the mundanes (which would include "don't take anything that looks even a little bit like a weapon to school"), but that's not HIS fault.

    So, yeah. I do think he was acting out his video games. And that's great.

  57. Bill  •  Oct 1, 2013 @12:31 pm

    @Ken – if it's any consolation, I suspected Clark just posted this pretending to be you. It was cognitive dissonance on my part, trying to reconcile the fact you've given up your quest to always slip in a cooler word than you did in other posts. So until you come up with some more lulzy then Jumentous, I'm staying mad at you.

  58. Sam  •  Oct 1, 2013 @1:08 pm

    @Eddie

    Cosplay is great. You missed my point though.

    The father clearly knows nothing about Minecraft other than that his son plays it about an hour a day. Which I find problematic.

  59. MEP  •  Oct 1, 2013 @1:13 pm

    When that school administrator made the remark about crime being at "an all-time high" where did he get that? I was under the impression that our current crime rate is actually quite low compared to previous history. I know it went up a bit during the 2008 financial meltdown, but hasn't it essentially been in a steady decline since the last peak ended in the 80s? I don't think most people know what "crime rate" actually means.

  60. MEP  •  Oct 1, 2013 @1:14 pm

    And then I clicked on the link. I should do that before commenting more often.

  61. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @1:45 pm

    @Sam – I did miss your point, sorry. I'm still not sure I get it. That's okay, my bad.

    If your point is about what the father knows about Minecraft, I'm not sure that we know anything about what the father knows. There is a dearth of sourced, reliable, in-context quotes from the father.

    We know the boy plays Minecraft – the WFTV clip explicitly mentioned that game. We know the boy plays other games, because the father said he was going to throw away "all his games".

    That's all we know.

    Anything else is [citation needed].

  62. Lizard  •  Oct 1, 2013 @1:51 pm

    Does that order work better for you?

    Well, yes, but perhaps not in the way you intended.

    Having followed the maze of twisty little hypertext links, all alike, to the news video where the father is quoted directly, Ken's snark is, as usual, entirely justified, and it takes significant effort to interpret the father's words as anything other than "It was them darn video games wut brainwashered mah son!"

    I've never heard Minecraft described as a "zombie killing" game before (usually, I hear it described as a "build a giant golden penis game" (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/2680-Minecraft) — while I understand there are things to kill in Minecraft, it's not the main focus of the game, anymore than WoW can be described as "a having sexy chat in Goldshire game"), and it indicates the father's awareness of what his son was actually doing — a key element of parenting — was minimal, at best. Throwing out the video games as a "solution", as opposed to explaining why you shouldn't bring weapons to school, also indicates a lazy and perfunctory approach to raising a child.

  63. Zemalkop  •  Oct 1, 2013 @2:07 pm

    http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/student-found-weapons-orange-co-elementary-school/nZ8DK/?ecmp=wftv_social_201312470064
    Here's an article that doesn't focus on the video games. It actually makes it more disturbing since it seems that the father dodges all responsibility.
    Sentences like this make me glad I don't live in the U.S.: "The boy was so tiny that his detention uniform engulfed him and he could barely see the judge over the podium Friday."

  64. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @2:39 pm

    I'm willing to bet fifty bucks on each of the following propositions:

    Should we ever learn the full context of the father's remarks today, or should the father have the opportunity to clarify his remarks, or should he have the opportunity to make similar remarks, it will be obvious that:

    Proposition One:

    When he said "They use hammers to dig and knives and guns to protect themselves from zombies" (assuming he did in fact ever say such a thing) he was not MERELY referring to Minecraft, but rather to the variety of games which his son plays, and in that ensemble of games "they" do in fact do things which can reasonably be construed as using hammers, digging, using knives and guns, and protecting themselves from zombies – making allowances for the fact that probably no game uses hammers to dig, but such a characterization is not unreasonable for an off-the-cuff statement,

    and,

    Proposition Two:

    When he "said that the boy was just acting out the game in real life" (assuming he actually ever said such a thing) he was not attempting in any way to avoid responsibility as a parent.
    Honestly, I'm not especially confident in the second. I think it's maybe 70-30 against me. But I'll offer even odds on both, if anyone wants to take me up on it.

    Ken gets first dibs should he so desire.

    My point, which I'm backing up with money, is that the media are a pack of worthless idiots who couldn't accurately report their own names if you gave them a nametag. Almost nobody refers to actual facts from actual sources; they only repeat someone else's interpretations of context-free infobits while adding their own interpretations for someone else to repeat and interpret.

    And this is what passes for "news".

    Pfeh.

    And many of the commenters here aren't discriminating enough in their news intake to recognize this pathetic game of telephone when it's taking place right in front of their eyes.

    Pfeh upon pfeh.

  65. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:09 pm

    Unlike so-called "news" outlets, I'm going to explicitly label what I'm about to say here as speculation, unsupported by anything other than my own wild guesses, but to the best of my knowledge not contradicted by any known facts and to the best of my ability reflecting what I consider to be the most probable scenario:

    a) The comments attributed to the father on pages such as this Daily Mail article, both direct quotes and paraphrases, all ultimately source to this WFTV local text story. That story no longer contains any of the quotes or paraphrases reported by the other sites. Presumably it did earlier but has since been revised.

    b) The WFTV text story probably originally heavily drew upon the court proceedings. The WFTV video spot shows the boy in court. It also shows two other people, adults, whose faces are blurred out; I presume that these are his parents.

    c) Regarding the statements attributed to the father in the tertiary sources (taken from the initial local news story which was focused on the court appearance), statements such as:

    " “Well, the gun was stored in a drawer but the firing pin component had been removed,” the father affirmed. "

    "the boy’s father claimed that he was just “playing a character he learned from Minecraft,” "

    " “They use hammers to dig and knives and guns to protect themselves from zombies,” he continued."

    All of these statements were made in court, by a father who was doing his best to explain to a judge why his son should not be charged with a felony and sent to jail.

    d) I submit, as speculation no less valid than your own, that the father made these statements not in an attempt to avoid his parental responsibilities or to identify the root cause of his child's actions (aka "blame Minecraft"), but rather in an effort to demonstrate that his child was not a danger to anyone, had committed no wrongdoing warranting felony charges and imprisonment, and should be free to return home.

    But by all means, keep looking for a bad guy to fit your story. It's a good story. Sells lots of pageviews.

  66. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:20 pm

    Here's an article that doesn't focus on the video games. It actually makes it more disturbing since it seems that the father dodges all responsibility.

    Which sentences in that article make it seem to you that the father is dodging all responsibility?

    Why?

    Might there be some other way to interpret those sentences? If so, why did you choose that one interpretation over any others?

  67. Zemalkop  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:24 pm

    @Eddie: You're right that the father probably is talking about multiple games. I don't see how that excuses him for being a bad father.
    He may not be singling out Minecraft, but he still blames the games for his own lack of supervision. Also, I'm pretty sure that any games other than Minecraft that he's putting the blame on are more violent and more realistic than that. There aren't all that many PG-rated zombie shooters.
    We may never know what games they were, but we do know that a 9 year old boy shouldn't have them.

  68. Dragonmum  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:26 pm

    Ken, When I read "occasionally dinosaurs", I immediately thought 'Calvin & Hobbes'. Thus I was forewarned and totally prepared for satire. Thanks for a non-"OMG No Govermunt Wah!" laugh.

    On the more serious side, not only did that father screw up with his "it's OK to leave out the gun and ammo as long as I hide the firing pin" tactic, but he was also letting a 9 yo child (probably starting much younger) play video games aimed at an older audience. Shouldn't he be playing "Pokemon Diamond" on a Gameboy Super Fantastic 3D Brain Controller, or whatever passes for that now? The boy obviously hadn't moved from concrete thinking (totally appropriate at that age) into the ability to abstract, which is needed to understand what happens in a video game stays in the video game. (and when we take it out, we call it "cosplay", and take our carefully crafted pretend plastic & foam toys to play with the other geeks, not to school.)

    Of course, I much favor the draconian rules my miserable children had to live by… No Video Game Consoles In My House. (Handhelds OK for long car rides) However, I allowed their minds to be disturbed by copious amounts of anime, manga & steampunk, dooming myself to producing cosplay attire and accessories for the rest of my life past 16 years and counting.

  69. Steven H.  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:29 pm

    @Eddie:

    "All of these statements were made in court, by a father who was doing his best to explain to a judge why his son should not be charged with a felony and sent to jail."

    So, it's not about a stupid father, it's about a stupid Judge?

    That makes it all better….

  70. Zemalkop  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:31 pm

    @Eddie: All the allegations are against the NINE-YEAR-OLD-BOY! A small child got dragged into court because of his father's negligence. After that the father throws away a lot of stuff that his son hold's dear to his heart.
    He did go on camera to say he threw away his son's stuff, the part where he admits responsibility must have slipped his mind. Even if he realizes what went wrong, he still doesn't have his priorities straight.

  71. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @3:41 pm

    @Steven H: The judge appears to be smart. The news station reported that charges will not be pressed. Or maybe it's merely that felony charges will not be pressed – I don't recall the exact wording now, and the reporter probably got it wrong anyway.

    Anyway, the judge let the boy go home, so hooray for the judge. Although he is being confined at home, so not as hooray for the judge as it should be.

  72. Asher  •  Oct 1, 2013 @4:39 pm

    Imagining violence leads to violence. Past permissiveness about 'games' of 'cops and robbers' are exactly why crime is at an all-time high. And children who imagine guns will go on to imagine other things, which is highly detrimental to our curriculum.

    I'm trying to construe this sentence in a manner that *doesn't" interpret "which is highly detrimental" as a reverence to imagination. I mean, imagining guns leads to .. imagining other things.

    Nope, the only possible meaning to this sentence is that it is the official policy of the school in this story to oppose imagination.

  73. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @4:42 pm

    Yes, there are clearly problems with our education system.

  74. Asher  •  Oct 1, 2013 @4:46 pm

    Obviously, it's underfunded. All you need is love money.

  75. jdgalt  •  Oct 1, 2013 @5:22 pm

    This situation, and presumably this post, are a lot less about gun laws than about paranoia on the part of authorities and the desperate need for somebody (Sheriff Andy Griffith comes to mind) to handle the problem by allowing Barney Fife to carry at most one bullet.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the next similar situation leads to a SWAT raid on the school, probably involving several gunshots by the cops at innocent children or pets. Janet Reno would be proud.

  76. Lizard  •  Oct 1, 2013 @6:01 pm

    @Eddie: Your interpretation is, thus, "You honor, my son is not a danger to society, because those video games warped his mind. I threw out the video games, so, all better now, right?"

    And this is more charitable towards the father than Ken's interpretation?

    At this point in our national descent into madness, I'm marginally pleased this case involved an actual, existing, weapon which might, once upon a time, have been capable of causing injury. Children have been jailed over far more insubstantial "threats". (However, the description of a non-functioning gun, a small hammer, and a utility knife as "an arsenal" by the media is surely some sort of new high (or low) in mindless hyperbole.)

  77. Ken White  •  Oct 1, 2013 @6:04 pm

    He also had a hammer. Don't you know what can be done with a hammer? There's a song about it.

  78. Mike  •  Oct 1, 2013 @7:04 pm

    "Why is access to ammunition in the same class? What's a kid going to do with just ammunition? Eat it? Hit it with a rock?"

    Well let's see. My brother used to take the bullet out if its shell and see what other use he could find for the powder.

  79. Xenocles  •  Oct 1, 2013 @8:03 pm

    "He also had a hammer. Don't you know what can be done with a hammer? There's a song about it."

    My fists are not the hammer.

  80. eddie  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:03 pm

    Your interpretation is, thus, "You honor, my son is not a danger to society, because those video games warped his mind. I threw out the video games, so, all better now, right?"

    No. I'm sorry I'm doing such a poor job of communicating my interpretation.

    My interpretation is thus: "You honor, my son is not a danger to society, because he wasn't taking weapons to school to threaten or hurt people, he was merely play-acting as the characters in the video games he plays."

  81. wgering  •  Oct 1, 2013 @9:03 pm

    Looks like the spam filter ate my last comment.

    For those who say there are no guns in Minecraft, you've clearly never faced a TNT Cannon (Google it, I think my Minecraft-wiki link triggered the spam filter).

    OT: I've been pondering starting a Popehat Minecraft server for a while. Maybe now I'll actually get around to doing it.

    @Ken: Please tell me "Osceolla" is a Fallout reference.

  82. Doctor X  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:27 pm

    The child learned an invaluable lesson: Being an adult does not mean one is not an idiot.

    "Hope I die before I get old older"

    –J. "Talkin' 'bout My Generation!" D.

  83. mud man  •  Oct 1, 2013 @10:54 pm

    lizard: the maze of twisty little hypertext links, all alike

    Xyzzy!!

  84. mud man  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:09 pm

    Why is access to ammunition in the same class? What's a kid going to do with just ammunition? Eat it? Hit it with a rock?

    Before actual handguns were just everywhere, the kids used to improvise, known generically as zip guns. Not reliable, accurate, or any such thing, of course. a video of an improvised shotgun. Really hard to improvise a working primer, OTOH.

  85. Sami  •  Oct 1, 2013 @11:28 pm

    This is another satire, right?

  86. Anony Mouse  •  Oct 2, 2013 @12:04 am

    Why is access to ammunition in the same class? What's a kid going to do with just ammunition? Eat it? Hit it with a rock?

    When my grandfather was a wee little ankle-biter, he and some friends found a live bullet. They did what any group of rough-and-tumble boys would: they propped it up and took turns whacking it with a hammer.

    Luckily, he wasn't injured when it went off, as I rather like existing.

  87. darius404  •  Oct 2, 2013 @1:13 am

    @Sami:

    No, I'm pretty sure eddie is serious. Sadly.

  88. Tice with a J  •  Oct 2, 2013 @2:00 am

    Before reading Eddie's comments, I would have written the dad off as just another inattentive parent, but Eddie raised an important point: the kid was in court, and the dad was trying to protect his child. So yes, he skirted blame for his own foolishness, and used a game as a cheap scapegoat, and took away his son's favorite game…and if he hadn't done all that, his little boy might be sitting in juvie jail right now, for completely spurious reasons.

    Some of this is conjecture, but we have every reason to believe that the court was as dumb as the dad, to say nothing of the media. So let's give discredit where discredit is due.

    Also: thanks, Eddie.

  89. Tarrou  •  Oct 2, 2013 @5:13 am

    Ammunition detonated on its own usually isn't that dangerous. This is because unless one immobilizes the case, physics dictates that the lighter portion of the cartridge is the one that moves. If you throw cartridges in the fire, it's the brass cases that come flying out. The lead is too heavy. You might, if you are very unlucky, injure an eye, but minor scrapes and burns are the only likely events.

  90. Gus Bailey  •  Oct 2, 2013 @8:22 am

    Gah! Shame on you Ken. I completely blew past the Dol Umbridge in my first reading.

  91. Erbo  •  Oct 2, 2013 @9:27 am

    There actually are guns in Minecraft, but only if you're using a mod like Balkon's Weapon Mod, which offers muskets and blunderbusses.

    (Then again, stock Minecraft does have TNT…and the IndustrialCraft mod goes that one better, offering nuclear explosives…)

  92. Resolute  •  Oct 2, 2013 @9:52 am

    "I can't teach my kid…" is just about the strongest argument I've ever seen in favour of mandatory training and licensing of potential parents before they should be permitted to conceive.

    Also, Dol Umbridge appears to be saddled with low intellect to go along with a terrible name. I feel bad for him, and worse for the children whom he holds power over.

  93. TPRJones  •  Oct 2, 2013 @10:05 am

    There's also some mods with hammers that you can use to mine 3×3 at once. So sometimes you do mine with a hammer in Minecraft.

  94. Michael Price  •  Oct 8, 2013 @12:06 am

    "I can't teach my kid the difference between fantasy and reality. "
    Yeah and I can't teach anyone about advanced magnetohydrodynamics because I now nothing about it. You should probably have found out about the difference between fantasy and reality before you became a father. Or an adult for that matter.