Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

Grand Island Nebraska too crazy for satire?

Jerry Stratton, August 29, 2012

This is why the Walkerville Weekly Reader stands empty so often. The reality, especially in public schools, is crazier than anything I’d ever write. I’m a little surprised that I don’t have anything specifically pointed at zero tolerance policies on the Reader already, but it’s difficult to satirize zero-tolerance policies. They’ve gone off the deep end more quickly than even I imagined they would. I thought the plethora of kids suspended for pointing their fingers was too crazy. I should have thought of having a deaf kid suspended for using sign language. But reality was too quick for me:

Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.

“He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer.

Grand Island’s “Weapons in Schools” Board Policy 8470 forbids “any instrument… that looks like a weapon,” But a three year-old’s hands?

“It’s a symbol. It’s an actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E.,” Brian Spanjer said.

S.E.E. stands for Signing Exact English, Hunter’s sign language. Hunter’s name gesture is modified with crossed-fingers to show it is uniquely his own.

“We are working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child,” said Jack Sheard, Grand Island Public Schools spokesperson.

Grand Island Public Schools have since released a statement that tries to pretend Sheard never said this, that they are not trying to get the kid to change his name because it looks too much like a gun when signed.

It’s awesome that they recognize that this isn’t going to fly now that it’s been reported, but how could they ever have thought “working with the parents” to help them change his signed name was ever right? You can see the sign in the video. There’s nothing remotely objectionable there.

How would you write a satire about this situation? I can’t think of one, not one that’s further from reality than Grand Island Public Schools already are.

In response to Satire isn’t comedy: Satire isn’t comedy. It can be, and often is, but that isn’t what makes it satire.