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A 14-year old Muslim boy was arrested in Texas this week for making his own clock and bringing it to school. As we all know, clocks are a necessary feature of all the bombs we see on television. If it weren’t for the clock part, we would have no idea how much time we have left to run away, or cut the green wire, or hacksaw our arm off.
The good news is that the boy, Ahmed Mohamed, is getting a huge outpouring of support from the Internet, including from President Obama who invited him to bring his clock to the White House. That’s probably not going to ease the minds of the Texas high school administrators, of course, since they probably think Obama is a Muslim, too, and so he probably just wants to examine the death clock to find out how to put them into large-scale production and use them to take away Texans’ guns. Somehow.
This is all reminiscent of Kiera Wilmot, the 16-year old black Florida girl who was arrested and expelled from school two years ago for creating an unapproved small chemical reaction in a science lab. The reaction caused a “pop” and a bit of smoke, for which the girl faced felony charges.
I know it’s a bit of a done trope to say “in my day,” but seriously. When I was in high school, a chemistry teacher let my friends write their names in a flammable liquid on their tables and then set it on fire. And as I mentioned in a previous video, just prior to my day, when kids could drink at 18, my biology teacher would let seniors brew beer for their final project.
Of course, we also had jarts, aka lawn darts, aka deadly projectiles that you were encouraged to hurl at your siblings for a fun summertime activity. And when I say “deadly” I’m not kidding. Children were murdered by them. Even our “girliest” toys were lethal: Easy Bake Ovens may as well have come with a recipe for baked children fingers, and they were especially deadly when combined with flammable Rainbow Brite sleeping bags. Oh, and of course there were those Snack Time Cabbage Patch Kids that looked like they were eating little plastic snacks, which was super cute until they turned on our very children and began trying to consume their tiny fingers and strands of hair.
Chuckie was a documentary, you guys.
I guess what I’m saying is that things weren’t necessarily better before we had safety regulations, and we shouldn’t be fooled into false nostalgia. But we do have to strive to maintain a really difficult balance, between keeping kids alive and giving them room to make mistakes. Or for Christ’s sake, at least room to make something that looks like a pipe bomb but absolutely obviously is not.
I mean, I’m a person who travels with the Quizotron machine, which looks as close to a bomb as you can get without having a clock attached. If I were a Muslim man, I’d never get through security.
And that brings me to the other bit of bad news in Ahmed’s story: the school followed up with a letter to all the district’s parents in which they didn’t apologize, but instead advised them to make sure their kids say something if they see something. Way to make the racial profiling worse, assholes! How about this: if you see something, ask what it is. Maybe you’ll learn something, like how to make a clock and how to not overreact and end up nearly ruining a kid’s life.