Thursday, September 17, 2015
Texas school district goes over the edge over student who brings home-invented clock to school; our intolerance of "risk" raises questions about social resilience
The media is ablaze with outrage concern what seems, in hindsight, the obvious overreaction of school officials in Irving, Texas when ninth grader Ahmed Mohamed brought a home-invented clock to school. The latest Vox tweet is here.
Vox links to a statement from the school official and police department that it says is appalling. Texas law requires detention of any student presenting an object intended to provoke alarm.
Is this a case of Islamophobia? It may be hard to maintain that, when one considers that school districts have suspected elementary students for toys that remotely resemble weapons. Apparently the invention was for a science class project and should have been anticipated by the teacher.
The latest news is that the student has not been charged and seems to have been allowed to return to school -- but follow the media on that.
It seems a simple matter of common sense, that we all pay for the crimes of a few. It doesn’t take many domestic gum rampages, or much violent extremist rhetoric (that doesn’t have to be about Islam) to force people to become intolerant to give others any slack at all. When I was working as a substitute teacher in 2004-2007, school districts were just beginning to come to terms with the idea that material founded in social media, written either by students or teachers, could be interpreted in many ways. I had my own episode with this kind of intolerance with my own “screenplay” being found online in 2005, as I have reported here before.
This sort of thing has an impact on our total “collective” social resilience. I don’t accept door-to-door sales calls – partly out of time issues, but partly out of concern of a remote threat of security issues (home invasion). I don’t have a big family social support system, so if something happens to me, the buck stops with me, even if it is because of someone else’s fault or crime. But think what this means if everyone thinks this way. A lot of people can’t make a living, and a lot of local causes can’t raise money.
Terrorists know this. So “socialization” has a moral component.
As for Ahmed, President Ohama and Mark Zuckerberg (who perhaps has more influence on the world than the president and, for that matter, than Donald Trump) want to meet him. Jack Andraka started a discussion about this on Twitter today, link. Jack reports that something similar happened with his equally gifted older brother, Luke, at his Maryland high school, in his book "Breaktrhrough" (Books, March 18, 2015).