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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Bringing out the big guns

Hey, kid, get rid of that gun before somebody gets hurt:

A fifth-grade promotion ceremony in Rancho Palos Verdes turned into a free-speech battleground Thursday, when students were asked to remove weapons from toys that had been placed on mortarboard caps because of the school's zero-tolerance policy for weapons on campus.

Each year, students decorate wide caps with princesses, football goal posts, zebras, guitars and other items to express their personalities and career goals. Cornerstone at Pedregal School is the only Palos Verdes Peninsula public school to practice the tradition.

On Thursday, before the ceremony, one boy was told he couldn't participate unless he agreed to clip off the tips of the plastic guns carried by the minuscule GIs on his cap. Ten others complied with the order before the event.

Parents reacted angrily, calling Principal Denise Leonard's decision censorship, but the Palos Verdes Peninsula School District defended her.

Cole McNamara and Austin Nakata, 11-year-old buddies who share an interest in all things military, said they put the toys on their hats to support American troops in Iraq.

"I was kind of mad because they just went over and clipped them off and didn't say anything about it," Austin said.

His father, Glen Nakata, said he was disappointed that parents were not approached or consulted on elimination of the "firearms."

I wonder if these people go through the history books the students use to make sure there are no photos of guns. What about the geography books, with all those maps? A map represents a country, and all countries have had wars, which involve shooting. And they shouldn't forget to go through the dictionaries and black out any violent words. If they're really going to have zero tolerance, they should be serious about it.

Posted in: Current Affairs


tim zank
Tue, 06/19/2007 - 12:52pm

You know, the 11 year olds must be scratching their heads and wondering what in the hell is going on.

Soldiers don't use guns?