Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Man, Philadelphia is one tough town

Recently police in Philadelphia arrested and handcuffed a 10-year old girl for bringing a pair of scissors to school in her backpack. They have since apologized. Personally, I think they were right. How proud I am to live in a country where I am protected from children armed with arts-and-crafts supplies. Do you have any idea how dangerous glitter can be in the hands of someone determined to do harm?

Somewhere along the line, America has lost all common sense. OK, scary as it is, I understand that a few troubled kids may try to bring guns and knives to school with them. But a little girl with scissors? Please. What lack of judgement decides that this is an offense deserving of handcuffing and arrest? Take the scissors away, fine. Send her to the principal's office, not jail. Good lord, people, where are your brains? Laws against bringing weapons to school were meant to cover automatic rifles, not some poor kid innocently bringing in scissors with no intent to harm.

Perhaps it's just Philadelphia, a town so tough that they once infamously booed Santa Claus at a sporting event. A town where the previous football stadium had its own holding cell and courtroom. But I know it's not limited to the "city of brotherly love." All across the US people are overreacting. Grandmothers who can't bring knitting needles onto airplanes because they may decide to purl a flight attendant. (Personally, if you're so terrified of knitting needles that you'd rather give up control of the plane rather than be poked by one should pretty much prevent you from being a flight attendant in my book.)

It would all be hilarious if it weren't so terrifying. That hated class of people known as "spokespersons" are notorious for comments like "well, those are the rule and we can't make exceptions." To which I can only ask "why not?" Why not use a little common sense. Why not understand that there's a huge difference between trying to bring a stick of dynamite onto an airplane and someone trying to come on with a manicure set that includes cuticle scissors? And, above all, why not realize that we're more in danger by continuing to foster this climate of fear in which individual rights are trampled on than we ever can be by a 10-year old with office supplies?

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