In Soviet America, burping in class is a serious crime. Need proof? Just look at the story of this 13-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Cleveland Middle School.
According to George Washington University law professor, Jonathan Turley, the boy was acting like a class clown, doing what many class clowns do: disrupting class. Because of his loud burps, his teacher, Margaret Mines-Hornbeck, reported the boy to Officer Arthur Acosta. The seventh grader was then taken to an administrative office after being searched for drugs, as the assistant principal accused the 13-year-old of participating in a marijuana transaction.
During the search, the boy was asked to remove his jeans and shoes, then flip the waistband of the shorts he had been wearing underneath. This was all in vain considering no drugs were found.
After the traumatizing experience, the boy was suspended for the remainder of the year, all because he burped too loud. But sure enough, that wasn’t the end of it.
Instead of letting this matter go after such a harsh punishment, Cleveland Middle School decided to charge him criminally using a provision that says “[n]o person shall willfully interfere with the educational process of any public or private school by committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.”
Making matters even worse, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit decided to uphold the Albuquerque school officials’ action by claiming police and school leadership were justified in sending the 13-year-old to juvenile jail.
That’s right. The courts ruled it’s okay to send a child to jail for being a class clown.
According to Reason Magazine’s Nick Gillespie, this type of overreaction helps explain why Americans are losing confidence in major institutions “of political, commercial, and civic life.” Instead of believing in their enforcement methods, these authorities act as if they have no “belief in themselves and the things they run,” proving this is a “society in decline … that no longer feels as if it can exercise power at any level except via banishment and extreme action.”
He might be right since this isn’t the first time children have been harshly punished for acting like kids.
Last year, Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after his MacArthur High School teacher called officials over a clock he had assembled at home. Officials at the time alleged that the boy had attempted to cause a bomb scare, but the case was later dropped.
More recently, Professor Turley reports, a series of students have been suspended or expelled over comments they made on social media websites, making us wonder why “[t]eachers and administrators have been criminalizing juvenile conduct rather than dealing with such issues with the students and their teachers.”
Could this be the new norm?