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74

THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 74, May 29, 2000
Memorial

When Fingers Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Fingers

by Chris Goodwin
archer@nc.rr.com

Special to TLE

Remember when you were five years old. Go on.

Don't worry. We've got lots of time.

There. That didn't hurt, did it?

Five years old. You didn't have a lot of responsibilities at that age. No worries. The hardest decision you probably had to make every day was whether to have grape or orange Kool-Aid with your graham crackers.

When I was five years old, I played a lot of cops and robbers. I imagine most of the subscribers to this worthy publication did as well. Probably one of the most fun games you can play at age five, and it doesn't require equipment any more sophisticated than your thumb and forefinger. (And your imagination, but that's not relevant at the moment.)

Thumb and forefinger. Dangerous weapons? Not likely. Either they were inaccurate as heck ("You missed me!") or they had no stopping power ("Didn't hurt!"). It didn't matter. They were still fun, and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't hurt someone with them. (Well, maybe if you accidentally stuck it in your eye... all right, enough parenthetical comments).

We bring you now to Sayreville, New Jersey. The focus of our attention is on the thumb and forefinger. Or, more precisely, four sets of thumb and forefinger.

And what's wrong with a thumb and forefinger? Apparently you're not supposed to possess them in schools.

Say what?

According to ABC News and the Associated Press ( http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/kinder000406.html), four kindergarten students in Sayreville, New Jersey, were suspended from school for possession of these dangerous weapons. Or, to be more precise, for playing cops and robbers with them.

The principal of the school, Georgia Baumann, "followed school district policy" and suspended the students.

School district policy is zero tolerance on this issue. Excuse me? Zero tolerance on thumbs and forefingers?

"We're very firm on weapons and threats," explains William L. Bauer, the district superintendent.

Sure. We have to stop those dangerous five year olds from bringing their dangerous weapons to school and making their threats. Though, as I recall, at age five "I'm gonna get you" wasn't particularly threatening during the game of cops and robbers. Nor, for that matter, was "Stop or I'll shoot." And, on the subject of weapons, we come back to thumb and forefinger.

Again, remember when you were five years old. If you had been told you couldn't come to school for three days, your big question might have been "Why?"

Does a five year old understand the concept of threats? Good question. Maybe, maybe not. Does a five year old understand the concept of carrying a weapon? Maybe, maybe not. Even if they did, they'd probably deny they were. And they'd be telling the truth.

"Because you were playing cops and robbers."

The problem is not five year olds toting dangerous fingers. The problem is the zero tolerance policy. Zero tolerance is zero intelligence. Zero tolerance means no exceptions. Zero tolerance makes no allowances for toy guns.

Zero tolerance doesn't even make allowances, apparently, for thumb and forefinger.

Zero tolerance doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation.

Zero tolerance is a computer program.

10 IF GUN THEN SUSPEND

20 GUN = { RIFLE, PISTOL, SHOTGUN, MACHINE_GUN, TOY_GUN, GUN_REPRESENTATION }

30 TOY_GUN = { SQUIRT_GUN, CAP_GUN, BATTERY_POWERED_TOY, ACTION_FIGURE_GUN }

40 GUN_REPRESENTATION = { GUN_DRAWING, STICK, THUMB_FOREFINGER }

Garbage in, garbage out.

The solution? We could cut off all of the fingers of every person between the ages of five and eighteen. After all, no one needs a full 10 fingers. Fingers are designed for one thing: pulling the trigger. If you are angry or despondent, a finger just makes it that much easier to kill. The Founding Fathers only meant for the National Guard to have fingers.

Finger Control Inc., anyone?

(I can hear some of you clamoring about things like "rights" and "idiocy" and "irreparable injury", so I'll withdraw that suggestion. I would like to note that the Second Amendment says nothing about thumbs and forefingers, though I suppose they are part of the arms ...)

We could expel every student who comes to school in possession of a thumb and forefinger. That'll teach 'em. At least it would get them out of government schools.

We could, perhaps, make an exception for thumbs and forefingers. Oh, that's right, I forgot: Zero tolerance means no exceptions.

Or, we could admit that the policy is a result of a neurotic, irrational phobia and get rid of it. We could decide that, just maybe, fingers (and guns) aren't quite the nasty things we give them credit for.

Nah, never happen. Not in New Jersey.

Chris Goodwin lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is his first submission to The Libertarian Enterprise. He doesn't have a long string of books to his credit.


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