When is a Finger Just a Finger?

Apparently not when it is being pointed in a “threatening” manner, implying a gun, by a six-year old.  Once again, Zero Tolerance triumphs over Common Sense.  A Maryland First Grader was suspended for pointing his finger and saying “Pow”.  He was also forced to pay a visit to a counselor.  Gee, what is the penalty if instead of “Pow” you say “Pull”?  Would you be forced to visit a zoo and watch animals releasing noisy noxious fumes into the air?  Just to be clear, we are talking about the index finger here.

How many of us grew up outside from dawn to dusk, running rampant, playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, war…?  The generation that followed started to get more sophisticated with video games (my generation had Pong).  We are not talking gang-banger teens threatening each other with malice aforethought.  This is an innocent six-year old child.  All across the country, kids are being penalized for playing.  Where do they get these ideas?  Watch any TV lately?

There was a recent case of a three-year old deaf child named Hunter.  The sign for his name looked like two pistols.  The Pre-School wanted the parents to change his name and suspended him for make “gun gestures”.  Really?

Some evolution is good.  Seatbelts have been shown to save lives.  Bicycle helmets protect our brains when we fall off the bike.  However, kids are kids.  To stifle their imagination and play boggles my mind.  I played shoot ‘em up with toy guns, sticks and fingers as a kid running around my little piece of the world with my neighborhood buddies.  We used our imagination, we were creative, and sometimes we poked each other with a stick.  We did not, however, all grow up to be mass murderers or serial killers.  We had a respect for firearms because of our play, not because we were told they were evil.

So, when is a finger just a finger?  Apparently, not when it is being used by a toddler to simulate a gun.

Lynne Finch-Charlesworth

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