The phrase, "First they came for X" might be used as shorthand for fear of insurgent totalitarianism, but until now, probably no one thought that the phrase "First they came for the Pop Tarts" would be one iteration.
Maryland second grader Josh Welch apparently had a love of the well-known toaster pastries, which his mother had packed as a lunch for him. He also may have had an active imagination, because while eating one of his Pop Tarts, he either consciously or unconsciously managed to eat the object such that it ended up being shaped to look like a gun by his bites. Then again, it may have been his teacher who had the overactive imagination, because the question of whether the pastry actually did look like a gun is an open one. The Daily Caller reports:
Josh Welch, a second-grader at Park Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, was suspended for two days because his teacher thought he shaped the strawberry, pre-baked toaster pastry into something resembling a gun. WBFF, the FOX affiliate in Baltimore, broke the story.
Welch, an arty kid who has reportedly been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said his goal was to turn it into a mountain, but that didn’t really materialize, reports Fox News.
“It was already a rectangle. I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top of it and kind of looked like a gun,” he said.
“But it wasn’t,” the seven-year-old astutely added.[...]
According to the boy’s father, school officials say Welch also said “Bang, bang” while holding the breakfast pastry.
Reportedly, the sight of a Pop Tart was deemed so traumatic by the school that other children were offered counseling. Welch himself was subsequently suspended, to great public outcry -- such great public outcry that a Maryland state legislator has proposed a bill called "The Reasonable School Discipline Act," forbidding suspension in response to such trivial offenses. The Easton Star Democrat reports:
In light of recent headlines highlighting more incidents of administrators removing students from school for seemingly harmless acts of childish imagination, state Sen. J. B. Jennings, R-7-Baltimore and Harford counties, said he thought the time was right to introduce a bill he hopes will put a dent in "zero tolerance" discipline policies in Maryland public schools.
"We really need to reevaluate how kids are punished," he said in an interview with The Star Democrat Friday.[...]
The bill, entitled "Education [-] The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013," proposes what Jennings called in his press release clear, straightforward guidelines on what is and what is not acceptable when handling matters that amount to "children being children." The bill describes appropriate discipline that must be adhered to during counseling students of all grade levels in any Maryland school that uses public funds, stated Jennings. The bill includes a counseling and disciplinary protocol for violations by school administrators.
According to Jennings, another of the bill's provisions makes it impossible for minor incidents, such as those in the recent news, from being entered into the students' permanent academic record, unless it involves an upper-school student intent on repeatedly violating school policies with regards to firearms and/or violence.
No opposition has been forthcoming yet, but Jennings reportedly expects it from school boards anxious to preserve their autonomy, and to keep their classrooms safe from the scourge of gun-shaped toaster pastries. Little Josh Welch's father, however, may have comforting words for them.
"It's a pastry, you know," Welch's father told WBFF, the local Fox affiliate.
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