TTAG reader guy 1 writes:
As I watched A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve, I savored the film’s greatest moment: Ralphie’s joy and wonderment at receiving his Daisy Red Rider Lever action carbine BB Gun. Before that, Ralphie goes to ridiculous lengths to let his parents know his heart’s desire – only to be shut down by his mother with those dreadful words, “you’ll shoot your eye out.” The same words uttered by his homeroom teacher after reading his “what I want for Christmas” essay. While watching these series of events I can’t help but wonder . . .
would Ralphie even be able to write about his desire for having a BB gun if he was a child in a 21st century American school?”
Instead of getting a C+ and a warning from his teacher, Ralphie would be referred to the principal. Even without chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, his desire for a “violent and dangerous weapon” would fall afoul of the modern public school’s “zero tolerance” policy on firearms. Ralphie would face detention, suspension and/or mandatory psychological counseling.
Any further talk of guns or Heaven forfend “violent” writing would be forever banned. Ralphie’s parents would be notified and warned. His dream of righting wrongs with a gun, his boyhood wonderment and desire to defeat Black-Eyed Bart by force of arms would be crushed.
In today’s PC-obsessed hoplophobic schools, teachers and administrators regularly punish students who express any interest in anything firearm-related. In a recent case, a school banned a seventh grade student for wearing a Star Wars shirt – with a blaster on it! The reaction was symbolic of the systematic conditioning of young boys to fear and loathe firearms. The idea that boys – and girls – could fill their imaginations by enacting pretend shoot-outs and military conflicts – on school grounds – is beyond the pale.
I don’t see this anti-gun crusade as a violation of childrens’ Second Amendment rights. They are, after all, children. But it certainly runs against the spirit of the First Amendment-protected right to free expression (i.e. without government infringement). Children of all ages should be able to play cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, and war, without being condemned by teachers and administrators hell bent on promoting passivity (masquerading as tolerance).
Ralphie ends up getting his new BB gun for Christmas. Despite the warnings of lost eyes, Ralph’s father – and mother – indulged their son in a vital right of passage. To deny boys (in particular) the chance to explore the limits of power and morality with pretend guns and, yes, BB guns and firearms too, is to stunt their ability to tell right from wrong.