I have often written about school authorities who ridiculously overreact were guns are concerned. Children have been suspended from schools for such dangerous terroristic threats as having a photograph of a gun as wallpaper on a personal laptop, or even for having a drawing of a gun, as I noted in 2013 in Tiny Terrorists Caught Up In Anti-Gun Hysteria for PJ Media. In all of those cases, I wondered that people of so little judgment and intelligence should be allowed to be around children, to say nothing of holding “teaching” positions. Now I’ve seen a new low, as Fox News reports:
Less than a week after the Florida high school massacre that claimed 17 lives on Valentine’s Day, police were called to a Louisiana high school after fears were sparked by a student drawing the square-root sign, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.
Detectives launched an investigation on February 20 at Oberlin High School after students expressed concern during a math session that the standard symbol, which refers to a number multiplied by itself to produce a new quantity, resembled a gun.
After several students reportedly made such a comment, one student – who was helping a classmate solve the math problem using the square root sign – said something that they may have interpreted as a ‘threat out of context,’ prompting the involvement of authorities.
Given only this, one might still allow school authorities a bit of leeway. We simply don’t know enough about the supposed “threat” to know what actually occurred, but a hint may be found in the formulation: “threat out of context.” If one has to take whatever was said out of context in order to turn it into a threat, it’s not a threat.
The police did not specify what the comment was, but the student’s home was searched. No guns were found, nor was there any evidence that the student had access to guns or intended to carry out any crimes.
The police searched the student’s home!? Why?
Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert later indicated that gossip among students had distorted the comment to make it sound as though the student was a potential threat, planning to bring a weapon to school with the intent on committing a mass shooting, the Ledger-Enquirer reported. The controversial comment made, according to Superintendent Michael Doucet, ran along the lines of ‘now let’s get to work before I shoot you with a pistol.
Other news accounts suggest that the supposed school shooter and a friend were working on a math problem, when the friend observed that the square root symbol looked like a gun—ha ha ha! The supposed school shooter told him to get back to work before he shot him with that “gun.” In other words, the supposed shooter was smart enough to see the inherent absurdity of the other student’s comment, and in the same vein, tried to get him back on track.
According to the local NBC affiliate:
The student used extremely poor judgment in making the comment,’ read a post on the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. ‘But in light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges.
Back to Fox:
However, further disciplinary action may be imposed on the student, as Doucet emphasized that the school board has since approved stricter guidelines for shooting threats in response to the incident.
‘The first thing we’re going to do is remove that student from the premises with proper authority,’ Doucet told a local ABC affiliate. ‘Then, we’re going to have a home visit done by detectives of the sheriff’s department, and if no charges are filed, we’re going to conduct a threat assessment on the student.
Indeed there was “extremely poor judgment,” but by every account, it wasn’t the student’s. School “authorities,” which would have to be a teacher, a principal, and finally, administrators such as Doucet, would have had to discover the horrific threat, which they admit had to be taken out of context to so much as suggest an actual threat. They would have had to refer it to the local Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies had to so dense as to fail to actually speak with the students involve, or perhaps they did, and still didn’t understand there was no gun, not even on paper, and the comment was nothing more than an off-hand response to an absurd observation by another student.
For some reason, this deputy or deputies determined they had to search the student’s–his parent’s–home. I must assume the parents agreed to the search, because no judge in his right mind would issue a warrant for something like this, and no warrant is mentioned in any of the account’s I’ve been able to find. In any case, it’s difficult to imagine what they could possibly have claimed to use for probable cause in a case like this:
Deputy: Well your honor, one kid joked about a square root sign resembling a gun, and the other kid told him to get back to work or he’d shoot him with the square root symbol…
Judge: Wait a minute–a square root symbol? On paper?
Deputy: Well, yeah…
Judge: And there was no actual gun, and no actual threat against anyone?
Deputy: Well, no…
Judge: And you want to search this kid’s parent’s home? For what?
Deputy: Well, you know, like a gun or evidence of a threat or something…
Judge: Deputy, have you ever heard the term “probable cause?”
One wonders when the deputies got around to considering things “in light of the actual circumstances”? That apparently didn’t happen until sometime after the student was kicked out of school and his parent’s home was searched. Remember, the Sheriff admitted there was no evidence to support criminal charges, which is a good thing because no math class would be safe were that not true. But Doucet said they were keeping the student suspended, and would conduct a “threat assessment.”
I’ll save him the trouble: Doucet and the overwrought “educators” and deputies involved in this case are a threat to any child that comes anywhere near them; the student, not so much. And if there wasn’t already sufficient evidence of that:
As of Thursday, the student reportedly remained banned from the property and is awaiting an expulsion hearing.
An expulsion hearing. I’m sure apologists for the supposed adults involved in this case will try to justify their behavior by citing the Parkland shooting, as though the rare mass murder of kids in another state requires all educators everywhere to abandon any semblance of common sense and reasonable professional procedure. Such people, after a fire that injures or kills students, would probably call the police on students running in the halls, lest they spontaneously combust due to friction with the atmosphere. One can only imagine what they’d do if they overheard a kid listening to Elvis’ “Burning Love.”
Perhaps there are factors about which we’re unaware that would make such apparently overwrought actions reasonable, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to come to light. In the meantime, I’ll never look at a square root symbol in quite the same way again.