Clock blocked

by Guest Blogger Gail Z. Martin

I know there are good public school teachers and good principals. My kids have had some great teachers over the years, and I have friends whom I know are fantastic teachers.


Do you think the fact that this was a Muslim boy named Ahmed instead of a freckle-faced blonde kid named “Skippy” might have made a difference?

And then there are the paranoid idiots. We’ve had some of those through the years, too. My two oldest daughters, both straight-A, Advanced Placement students, were so excited that when they went to college, they no longer had to have an armed guard assigned to them in order to use the bathroom.

Yeah. We call it ‘partner peeing’. Even the guards seemed to be embarrassed about it, but it was school policy because…..bathrooms.

As a parent, you have to protect your kids by anticipating how idiots think. I warned my kids not to turn in any creative writing assignments that might be interpreted as violent or depressed because there’d be a teacher out there speed-dialing DSS unable to believe someone could have imagined something not real (see definition of ‘imagined’). My son wanted to wear his trench coat one day when it rained and he had to wear a suit for a presentation. I didn’t let him because I didn’t want to run into some teacher who thinks trench coats are evil (google ‘trench coat mafia’ if you don’t remember). Ditto doodling. When I was in high school, the boys used to doodle all kinds of weapons, explosives, and …ahem…anatomically correct elements on the covers of their notebooks. Now that would be a fast-track to the front office, with a paddywagon waiting.

One year, the school district banned the wearing of plain white t-shirts because….gangs. (Apparently gangs with absolutely no fashion sense.) Last year they sent home threatening letters promising to suspend any kid who didn’t wear his/her school photo ID to school (and then didn’t actually issue the photo IDs for two months, and dropped the whole thing by January). There’s plenty of crazy to go around.

The White House response

So here we have it, a smart kid who will probably end up founding the next Apple or Microsoft or inventing a break-through artificial organ or building some kind of amazing new technology, not only arrested for building a clock, but facing a police chief who made this statement: “Chief Larry Boyd said that the teen should have been ‘forthcoming’ by going beyond the description that what he made was a clock.” (CNN). HOW, exactly, can you be forthcoming about saying a clock is a clock? Perhaps a thesaurus listing of synonyms?

We need not only more money to hire better teachers and retain good teachers, but also a shift in our culture to value smart people instead of seeing them as someone to be mocked or frightened of.

I hope this kid and his parents sue the school and the cops and win a big enough settlement to send him to the best engineering schools in the country. And they’d better get that ‘arrest’ expunged from his record while they’re at it.

Gail Z. Martin is a novelist who writes thrilling fantasy and science fiction adventures. Her latest novel is the steampunk adventure “Iron Blood.” Read my recent interview with her here!

One thought on “Clock blocked

  1. Thankfully it appears the police were smart enough to drop all charges. Having worked 911 in Fort Worth, right next door to Irving, these were the kinds of calls you dreaded. On one hand you look to each other and say, it’s just a science project. On the other, you have to react to it because it could be the one time that it really is a bomb. It’s pretty awful all around. Did this kid deserve to be placed in handcuffs or arrested? Heck no. Officers should have gotten on scene, cordoned the area off and gotten bomb squad to look at it. Then when asked why he brought it to school and the kid says “It’s a clock I built because I like electronics.” You congratulate the kid on doing a good enough job to scare people who don’t know a thing about electronics, maybe give him a soda, and tell him to get back to class.

    What you don’t do is escalate everything even higher.

    You have to check it out, but now that you’ve checked it out bomb squad, you have to defuse the ticking public bomb. Tell the hyper-scared teachers that they were right to call it in, but it’s just a clock, and praise the kid publicly. Had they done that, it would have been nothing but a little “ha-ha” light-hearted fluff piece in the local news.

    I don’t know that it was because he was a black muslim. I suspect it, pretty heavily given what I witnessed in my time as a police dispatcher, but I don’t know it. I do know that no matter the race or religion of this kid they let things spark, and it’s all blowing up now.


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