Peak Anti-Gun Paranoia: Ohio School Suspends 7th Grader for Liking Instagram Photo of Toy Gun

The anti-gun paranoia in public schools is getting ridiculous. A 7th grader in Ohio was issued a 10 day suspension from school because he liked a photo of an Airsoft gun on Instagram. The “like” occurred outside of school hours.

An Edgewood Middle School student was handed a 10-day suspension for “liking” a picture of a gun on Instagram with the caption “ready.”

The parents of Zachary Bowlin posted a picture of the intended suspension notice which read, “The reason for the intended suspension is as follows: Liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”

“I was livid, I mean, I’m sitting here thinking ‘you just suspended him for ten days for liking a picture of a gun on a social media site,” father Marty Bowlin said. “He never shared, he never commented, he never made a threatening post… anything on the site, just liked it.”

The picture in question is of an airsoft gun, and according to the students’ parents, their child didn’t comment on the post but simply liked the picture.

“I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock I liked it,” Zacahry said. “The next morning they called me down [to the office] patted me down and checked me for weapons.”

This raises two problematic points.

The first is that knee-jerk zero tolerance policies about guns, toy guns, finger guns, half eaten pastries vaguely resembling guns, etc. have made public schools a parody of themselves. It’s understandable in the age of school shootings to be vigilant, but someone couldn’t have simply made a phone call to this kid’s parents to see what was up before frisking him like a criminal and kicking him out of school for two weeks?  Clearly we’ve stepped beyond vigilance and into full blown paranoia.

The second is that it implies that public schools are seizing the authority to punish  students for social media activity that occurs outside of school hours and off school grounds. I wrote earlier this week about a lawsuit in California over students being punished for liking offensive and racist posts. This is a disturbing trend that is probably conditioning people to accept more and more violations of their personal liberty.

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

After the publicity, the school lifted the suspension, but here’s what the school emailed to all parents.

“Yesterday evening school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school. We act on any potential threat to student safety swiftly and with the utmost importance. This morning, the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal. Thank you”

Someone will probably get a commendation for their bravery in the face of danger.

School superintendent Russ Fussnecker issued a media statement that looks like it was written by Barney Fife.

“Concerning the recent social media posting of a gun with the caption “Ready”, and the liking of this post by another student, the policy at Edgewood City Schools reads as follows:

The Board has a “zero tolerance” of violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students. 

Furthermore, the policy states:  

Students are also subject to discipline as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct that occurs off school property when the misbehavior adversely affects the educational process.

As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious including those who “like” the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.”

Posting or liking a photo of a toy is now “violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, or bullying.” It’s no wonder that kids get to college and need therapy puppies to deal with the stress. Public schools are teaching them to be afraid of their own shadows.

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