A fourth grade boy in the US was recently suspended for “allegedly making a terroristic threat,” the local Texas newspaper reported. Kermit Elementary School took swift action after the now-suspended student told a fellow classmate he could make him disappear with the magical powers of his replica One Ring from the Lord of the Rings series.
Nine-year-old Aiden Steward is fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical tales, and had just seen the latest film in The Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies. He was so inspired by the film that he bought a toy One Ring to wear to school. He placed the ring over a classmate’s head and said he could make him “disappear.” The administrators at the school took his “threat” seriously and had him suspended.
Jason Steward, the boy’s father, sent an email to the New York Daily News calling the situation “unbelievable.” He writes: “I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence. If he did, I’m sure he’d bring him right back.” Steward stands by his son, pointing out that kids like to use their imagination and act out the movies they watch. “When I watched Superman as a kid, I went outside and tried to fly,” he says.
We don’t know the full context of the incident yet, but obviously someone felt that there was an implied threat here—as silly as that sounds. Aiden has been in trouble before—once for commenting on the colour of a classmate’s skin and another time for bringing his favourite book, The Big Book of Knowledge, to show his classmates. The teacher found a drawing of a pregnant woman in the book objectionable. Aiden has only been at Kermit Elementary School for six months.
Claiming a child uttered a “terroristic threat” is a heavy burden to bear in this day and age. The current political climate—with the wide-reaching abilities of the government to track, listen and watch people they consider terrorist threats—makes this story particularly unsettling. Something tells me that this won’t be Aiden’s last suspension, but I hope some magical wisdom transcends over his teacher and the school administration. Kermit Elementary School sounds a little like Mount Doom and Aiden may need the insight and aid of the great wizard Gandalf to help him out of this situation.