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Texas 9th Grader Arrested For Building A Clock

Ahmed Mohammed Clock

A Ninth Grade student in Texas was arrested and placed in handcuffs for building a clock:

IRVING — Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.

In the

So he decided to do what he’s always done: He built something.

Ahmed’s clock was hardly his most elaborate creation. He said he threw it together in about 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday: a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.

He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn’t get quite the reaction he’d hoped for.

“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,'” Ahmed said. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.'”

He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.

“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said.

“I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.'”

The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back.

They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions.

The bell rang at least twice, he said, while the officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. The principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement, he said.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?'” Ahmed said.

“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.'”

Ahmed never claimed his device was anything but a clock, said police spokesman James McLellan. And police have no reason to think it was dangerous. But officers still didn’t believe Ahmed was giving them the whole story.

meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving.

A box full of circuit boards sits at the foot of Ahmed’s small bed in central Irving. His door marks the border where the Mohamed family’s cramped but lavishly decorated house begins to look like the back room at RadioShack.

“Here in high school, none of the teachers know what I can do,” Ahmed said, fiddling with a cable while a soldering iron dangled from the shelf behind him.

He loved robotics club in middle school and was searching for a similar niche in his first few weeks of high school.

“We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” McLellan said. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”

Asked what broader explanation the boy could have given, the spokesman explained:

“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”

Police led Ahmed out of MacArthur about 3 p.m., his hands cuffed behind him and an officer on each arm. A few students gaped in the halls. He remembers the shocked expression of his student counselor — the one “who knows I’m a good boy.”

Ahmed was spared the inside of a cell. The police sent him out of the juvenile detention center to meet his parents shortly after taking his fingerprints.

They’re still investigating the case, and Ahmed hasn’t been back to school. His family said the principal suspended him for three days.

“They thought, ‘How could someone like this build something like this unless it’s a threat?'” Ahmed said.

Here’s a video where Ahmed describes what happened:

The school district has also sent home a letter to parents about the incident:

There’s a more readable version of the letter here.

On the surface, this is yet another example of the paranoia that has enveloped society in general and public education in particular regarding potential threats from students. Ever since the Columbine shooting in 1999 and everything that has followed it, schools have increasingly adopted so-called “zero tolerance” policies aimed at anything that even remotely suggests the idea of violence. This has led to extreme absurdities that have been reported in the media over the years, such as schoolchildren being disciplined for playing a schoolyard game and using their fingers as simulated guns, and even a child who was reprimanded for shaping a Pop-Tart into something allegedly resembling a gun. In almost none of these cases have these policies ever actually prevented a violent attack or uncovered a threat that authorities otherwise would not have been aware of. Indeed, most of the successful attacks in schools that have occurred have been situations where there had been no warning at all that the perpetrator would become violent. Additionally, statistics make clear that schools are actually safer today than they ever have been in that reported violence or attempted violence is at an all-time low compared to other times in the past. Proponents of the “Zero Tolerance” policies will claim, obviously, that the increase in school safety is attributable to those policies, but there’s simply no evidence to support that. More importantly, notwithstanding the fact that schools are safer, the rhetoric from school districts, law enforcement, and the media leads one to believe that they are in fact more dangerous than ever before. This leads to paranoia on all fronts, and precisely the kind of absurd situations that would have been dismissed as nothing to worry about decades ago. In this case, it led to a 9th grader with an interest in robotics being treated as a criminal and a terrorist even though there was no evidence that the device he had in his backpack was anything other than what he claimed it would be.

The fact that student’s name in this case is Ahmed Mohammad, and that his family is Muslim, of course, points to another source of paranoia in modern society. In the fourteen years since the September 11th attacks, there have been numerous instances of law-abiding Muslim-Americans and Muslim immigrants being harassed by members of the public and by law enforcement. Just a few days before the 14th anniversary of the attacks, a Sikh-American was attacked in Chicago by a group of white men who called him a terrorist and told him “go back to your country,” notwithstanding the fact that Sikhs aren’t even Muslim to begin with. According to one report of the incident involving Mohammed, one of the police officers who arrived at his school said  “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” If Ahmed Mohammed had instead been named Davey Smith, how likely is it that the police would not have believed his explanation that he had built a clock, and how likely is it that they would have detained him for hours without contacting his parents, which may well be a violation of his rights? How likely is it that they would have then led him away from the school in handcuffs in front his teachers, staff, and his fellow students? I would suggest that it would have been incredibly unlikely, and that at the most the young boy’s parents would have been contacted and brought to the school to discuss the matter.

There is no justification for how this kid was treated. At the most, perhaps, he should have been admonished over bringing something to school from home that wasn’t part of an authorized school project. He should not have been treated as a criminal, and the fact that he was demonstrates that there is a lot wrong with the way schools handle students and with how law enforcement deals with people with Muslim names.

Update: President Obama had this message for Ahmed:

Photo via The Dallas Morning News

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    15 kids named Bob Smith could have done the same thing and not been bothered.
    Why, oh why, won’t Texas secede?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 4

  2. LaMont says:

    The “great” state of Texas does it again!

    On a more serious note, this is really unbelievable. It reads like something out of the Onion!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    This is more about pure abject racism and cruelty than paranoia. Nobody thought this kid was building a bomb. They saw who he was and decided to mess him up. Nobody thinks a dark-skinned guy walking down the street and attacks him while thinking ‘terrorist’.

    It’s pretty clear to me that white people in general are content to entertain the notion that prejudice is a fact-based system gone terribly awry. As if there was an honest concern with Texas cops and principals and Chicago mobs about security which we can all understand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 4

  4. Modulo Myself says:

    This is more about pure abject racism and cruelty than paranoia. Nobody thought this kid was building a bomb. They saw who he was and decided to mess him up. Nobody thinks a dark-skinned guy walking down the street and attacks him while thinking ‘terrorist’.

    It’s pretty clear to me that white people in general are content to entertain the notion that prejudice is a fact-based system gone terribly awry. As if there was an honest concern with Texas cops and principals and Chicago mobs about security which we can all understand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  5. humanoid.panda says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Why, oh why, won’t Texas secede?

    Yeah, I am sure his family would be better off if the Texas seceded!

    Seriously, this whole “the US would be a utopia if only the mean parts seceded” is a) self-congratulatory to the point of vomitousness, and b) ignores that even in the reddest state Democrats and non-voters and people who vote GOP but are not caricatures, are the vast majority.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 5

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Do I need a Concealed Carry permit for my pocket watch?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Ron Beasley says:
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    On another note, there are a bunch of yahoos running around Texas with loaded weapons, fondling them in public because, they say, something bad might happen and they have to be prepared… And then a 14 yr old brings a clock to school and they all wet their pants. I’m surprised nobody shot him.

    Texas, land of the armed, home of the scarredy cats.

    PS: more snark, “You can have my clock when you pry it from my cold dead hands.”
    “If you outlaw clocks, only outlaws will know what time it is.”
    “The only thing that can stop a bad man with a clock is a good man with a watch.”

    I have to go to town today, I think I am going to strap a clock on my belt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Clinton:

    Assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    ignores that even in the reddest state Democrats and non-voters and people who vote GOP but are not caricatures, are the vast majority.

    The fact of SENATOR Ted Cruz says otherwise

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. C. Clavin says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    “the US would be a utopia if only the mean parts seceded”

    Straw man much?
    Please remember that Republican caricatures are the ones fighting for secession.
    On the flip side…I’m sure there are reasonable moderate Republicans….somewhere.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 9

  12. J-Dub says:

    “We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” McLellan said. “He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”

    When The Onion and reality converge, does that signal the end is nigh?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  13. Franklin says:

    This is the world as envisioned by modern day Republicans. They own this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  14. J-Dub says:

    When will the Mars Colony be ready? I’m ready to leave.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. An Interested Party says:

    This is quite disgusting…a real example of our post-racial society, eh? Those involved should pay for this travesty, but of course they probably won’t…hopefully the family sues the school district and the police and gets a lot of money…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  16. Scott says:

    @Ron Beasley: Ron, you do know that Duffel Blog is the Onion for the military set? I’ve been on their distro for years. Frequently funny, scathing, amateurish, scatological. It’s worth dipping into every now and then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. Scott says:

    There are so many things wrong with this episode besides the obvious that is discussed here.

    The indifference of the engineering teacher: Why would he tell the kid not to show it any other teacher?

    If the administration believed it could be a bomb, why was the school not evacuated immediately? Why was a bomb squad not called?

    I wonder if the police were School District police; not always the sharpest.

    I sincerely hope a bunch of these idiots get fired.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  18. jim says:

    Kafkaesque

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. gVOR08 says:

    The only good I see in this is that I’m going to retire to Florida, and for once it wasn’t Florida.

    @Scott: I doubt Ron B was serious, but Poe’s law is definitely in force here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. John Peabody says:

    No one has pointed out the proofing errors…usually someone has yelled at Doug by this point (cutting and pasting the original article, as well as last paragraph of text).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. gVOR08 says:

    James Blake, the retired tennis player, had a pretty good response to being slammed to the ground by NY cops who said he matched the description of a robber. When asked if he had been racially profiled he responded that he didn’t know, but it didn’t matter, no one should be treated like that.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  22. Tony W says:

    I simply cannot understand pants-wetting red-staters who are so afraid of everything.

    This is why we can’t have nice things in America. We actively try to suppress kids being creative and smart and inventive because some moron teacher watched too much Fox News that morning.

    ‘Murica – we’re afraid, and you should be too.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  23. C. Clavin says:

    @Tony W:
    Well it’s Texas…so clever is a foreign concept…and a clever Muslim is definitely something to be feared.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  24. C. Clavin says:

    I bet this Muslim kid was just getting ready for martial law under the Jade Helm military exercises.
    Oh wait…that was crazy mother-fwcking white folk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  25. Argon says:

    Hers the part that gets me. ..
    “He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning …”

    So, somebody at the school knew exactly what it was and the administration still went apeshit. Worst case they could have held the clock and returned it to the student at the end of the day, telling the kid that boxes with counting digits might not be the best thing to bring to school. Still, it would make a cool countdown timer for launching Estes model rockets!!!

    All this in a suburb of Dallas where a number of computer and semiconductor companies are based.

    At least the nerds are on this, taking names and kicking butts. Don’t mess with the Maker community.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  26. John says:

    @Franklin:
    Bull doodie.

    This is the result of your leftist Zero-Tolerance policies. Kids have been suspended for bringing Nerf bullets to school, for having plastic knives in their lunchboxes, and for making a gun out of their hands.

    Given zero-tolerance policies and those incidents above, the reaction to a ticking apparatus seems perfectly reasonable. Well, perfectly consistent anyways. “Zero-tolerance” and “reasonable” don’t really belong together.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 47

  27. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @humanoid.panda: Yeah, but point “b)” is hard to see sometimes. (I did upvote your commentm btw.)

    At the most, perhaps, he should have been admonished from bringing something to school from home that wasn’t part of an authorized school project.

    Doug…really? Even your “at the most” is way outside the parameters of reasonableness. I’m sooooo relieved that I got to spend the last years of my career in Korea where I didn’t see insanity that even vaguely resembled this (and they’ve been at war with their neighbor for 65 years, now).

    In other news, the chief of police of the small town across the river from my adopted retirement home has been terminated for acknowledging that when he looks at black people, all he sees are animals–capping his statement with a gorilla imitation and a stirring rendition of “Dixie”–and the husband of the mayor has been arrested for public obscene behavior and threats against the subordinates who filed the complaint against the chief of police. This town is nowhere near Texas but within 50 or 60 miles, I would guess, of where Ron Beasley lives.

    There are days on which I understand why a running joke in Korea is that American don’t like to admit where they come from. This is going to be one of those days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @John:
    So you’re saying that the school has a policy against clocks?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  29. John says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Hey, it’s Zero-Tolerance. I made a point of saying there was nothing reasonable about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  30. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @J-Dub: As a hint for the administrators and police–who apparently are unwilling to admit they blew this one–bombs can usually be recognized by having quantities of explosives attached to them. And to the best of my knowledge, explosives so powerful that a single gram can demolish a city block are stillin the province of Nick Fury–Agent of SHIELD and other locations in the Marvel universe.

    What I really need to know is how to make them un-converge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @John:
    You compared a bunch of incidents that fall under established policies…with one that doesn’t.
    I’m just trying to understand your point…if you have one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  32. DA says:

    I think the scientific illiteracy aspect of this is pretty disturbing, even beyond the bigotry aspect. To see anything with wires and immediately jump to “it’s a bomb!” is just so pathetic. A similar thing happened in Boston some years ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Boston_bomb_scare

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  33. Ben Wolf says:

    Is there a racial aspect here? Almost certainly. I think this also demonstrates the abysmal science education Americans get in some states. From the original article I gathered the police and teachers were specifically freaked out by the clock’s circuit board; apparently unaware this technology (though always the centerpiece of bombs in bad action movies) has no explosive capability.

    But we’re much better off teaching students to pray and their great-grandfathers had dinosaurs for pets.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  34. Tillman says:

    @Franklin: No it’s not. Public schools exist in this world.

    @John: It’s not exactly leftist. Zero tolerance grew out of the same intellectual movement as broken windows — they’re descendants of our latent war on drugs. Most examples of its application, contra your weapon examples, are related to drugs and, interestingly, dress codes. Zero tolerance doesn’t take off in schools until Columbine in ’99, also near the peak of our “tough on crime” legislation and the post-9/11 consensus that we won’t allow pocket-knives on airplanes.

    It’s a tad too complex a development to be rendered partisan easily.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  35. Gustopher says:

    Was this a well liked kid with lots of friends, or is he more of the alienated-loner type? Have the teachers been getting a lot of “if you see something, anything, report it and call the cops” training before the school year started? Did the kid bring his suspicious object to school on 9/11?

    I like jumping on a good bandwagon as much as the next guy, but there may be things here beyond racism.

    It sound like the engineering teacher didn’t think it was a threat, but that it could be interpreted as one (he gave the boy back his clock, and told him not to show it to anyone), and then realized he was obligated to report it.

    And, each step of the way, as the process unfolded, everyone was required to take it more seriously than at the previous step.

    I don’t that being a brown muslem helped, but I think this is probably more about our culture of fear and paranoia than our culture of bigotry. It’s not even a Texas thing — I could see this happening anywhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  36. C. Clavin says:

    Obama:

    Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  37. Nikki says:

    @Gustopher:

    this is probably more about our culture of fear and paranoia than our culture of bigotry.

    Bigotry is the foundation for our culture’s fear and paranoia.

    The bigotry drives the fear and paranoia, not the other way around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    @Gustopher:

    I don’t that being a brown muslem helped, but I think this is probably more about our culture of fear and paranoia than our culture of bigotry

    Um, those aren’t two separate cultures. Our fear and paranoia informs our bigotry, which bigotry then strengthens our fear and paranoia. They’re inextricably conjoined.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  39. Scott says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Well, one of the cops did say it looked like a movie bomb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @DA: One of my friends while in high school managed to spook an entire group of Lufthansa gate agents with what he carried around in his kit bag.

    And another of my friends really freaked out the security types when dragging an x-ray condensing system through security, which caused them to see bright white spots on their screen. They flipped out.

    Smart kid, Ahmed. Hope he decides to apply to my alma mater, the home of the piano drop noise volume unit (one Bruno) and the measurement called The Smoot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  41. Jim R says:

    @An Interested Party: Unfortunately it will be the taxpayers who pay, not the idiot teachers and cops responsible for the harassment of this poor kid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  42. jukeboxgrad says:

    Someone should mention Obama’s tweet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Rafer Janders: Ok, sure. Perhaps I should have written that I think this has more to do with a fear of Columbine than a fear of 9/11.

    The policies are in place not because someone fears Islamic Jihad in the Heartland (some people do fear this, granted), but because they fear a maladjusted teenager tying to kill his classmates and teachers.

    Have there been any mass killings at a school where the attacker wasn’t a white kid?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Smart kid, Ahmed. Hope he decides to apply to my alma mater, the home of the piano drop noise volume unit (one Bruno) and the measurement called The Smoot.

    I spent years walking or running across the Mass Ave Bridge measuring out my progress in Smoots….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Mu says:

    For the real “how I made my self look like a fool” reaction
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CPC5R4GU8AACkFj.jpg:large
    The major of Irving “adjusted” her statement after the outrage broke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  46. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Making a joke about Texas / Texans / secession here is easy but misplaced. This is a post 9/11 reaction. Any brown kid with a funny name in any public school in any state could have ended up in handcuffs here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  47. humanoid.panda says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The fact of SENATOR Ted Cruz says otherwise

    You do realize that between people who are immigrants, non-voters, and Democrats, Cruz got mahybe 30% of the adult Texan votes? That even among that number, many probably voted for him because of the R after his name, not because they know who he is exactly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    I’ve never heard of anything like this happening in California, or Oregon, or Washington or in New England, or Minnesota. It’s always Texas, Florida or Arizona, the fever swamps of Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  49. CB says:

    And now for a different take, over to you, Ms. Geller…

    Muslim teen blames his bomb hoax on islamophobia

    Don’t read the comments. Seriously, you guys, DON’T READ THE COMMENTS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  50. Stonetools says:

    Obama’s tweet once again justifies why I voted for him twice. He passes the good citizenship test with flying colors as did NASA , Steve Zuckerberg and Hillary Clinton. Not a single Republican Presidential candidate has responded on this and conservative media has mostly maintained radio silence. Says it all, really.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    You do realize that between people who are immigrants, non-voters, and Democrats, Cruz got mahybe 30% of the adult Texan votes?

    Yes I do. And what does that say about them? They don’t matter. They do of course, but they still saddled the rest of us with tail gunner Ted, so fwck ’em.

    ps: any comment I submit gets sent straight to spam hell and will continue to for the foreseeable future, so I am unable to engage in any kind of back and forth except in once every 24 hr bursts. Doug and James are kind enuf to rescue my comments, but I try not to bother them more than once a day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. Tyrell says:

    That’s the problem in schools today. There used to be show and tell, science experiments, and science fairs. Now it’s a b c d multiple choice testing. This is the result of politicians running the school instead of educators.
    This will go down on the “That’s Outrageous !” list of the school absurdities, which includes: primary grade student suspended for bringing a water squirt gun, student suspended for making a gun shape out of a toaster pastry, middle school student suspended for a power point presentation that had photos and sketches of Revolutionary War weaponry. (Some schools are dropping any history that mentions guns, bombs, artillery, knives, or missiles).
    Sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

  53. gVOR08 says:

    @CB: Took me awhile to remember who Pam Geller is. “Ground zero mosque”, speaker in TX where the cops shot the lone nut Muslim gunman, professional anti-Muslim bigot. I read the comments. How do you run a democracy with people like that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  54. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: Jade Helm officially ended September 15.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  55. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: That’s what they told you.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  56. Modulo Myself says:

    What’s scary is not only what happened to this poor kid and his terrifying clock. Strip away the anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice and you have basically people who are ethically null. They’re completely dead. The police and the mayor and the teachers and all of the right-wing morons who find time to go after dark-skinned teenagers are finding time to perform tons of idiotic acts against their families, neighbors, employees, and so on. As long as they can go to sleep at night, point to General Jesus and success and someone poorer and less fortunate, it’s all good.

    And contra the idiots who are worried that liberal prudence has created a MONSTER, this has nothing to do with prudence or oversensitive caution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  57. Tyrell says:

    @Modulo Myself: Look at my earlier statement. There is a trend of school systems making these dumb nut head decisions: suspended a primary age child for having a water gun on the bus, suspension of a kid for making a gun shape out of his breakfast pastry, suspension of a middle school student for showing images of rifles, cannon, swords in a history report. These were white students, but the student’s name in this case may well have been an influence.
    The big.issue is these up tight school administrators. And what gets me is that any science teacher would know that thing was not a bomb.
    School officials: get a life !
    That is my 3¢ worth (2¢ base + 1¢ cost of living).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  58. Grewgills says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Yup, it’s a positive feedback loop of stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  59. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: Well, as I have already pointed out, there have been many idiotic similar outrages by some of these nutcase school administrators (non-educators who are getting a fat salary for telling teachers what to do) who have suspended students for things like having a squirt gun, a gun shaped toast pastry, or a student’s history project that showed images of colonial rifles and artillery. These students were not Muslim, and they did have the common Smith, Jones, Johnson, and Taylor names (sounds like a prestigious big shot law firm). However, in this case the name may well have a factor. And that police officer sounds like that Chief Gillespie (played by the incomparable Rod Steiger) in the “Heat of the Night” movie, one of the greatest ever.
    That is my 3¢ worth: 2¢ base + 1¢ inflation
    “They call me Mr. Tibbs” “I got the motive which is money and the body which is dead”

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  60. jukeboxgrad says:

    there have been many idiotic similar outrages by some of these nutcase school administrators

    And in almost every instance, the result was suspension, not arrest. A key difference.

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  61. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Do you know something about this that I may not have heard ? Is something else coming down ? Have you heard some kind of chatter over the air waves ? No one is saying anything. Something is going to happen !
    The next six to eight weeks are not only important, they could very well be the most important days in the future of this country. Things could start to change quickly, while the people’s attention is diverted to “issues” such as “e mails”, names of mountains, phony debates, flags, “Caitlyn”, and flat footballs.

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  62. Hal_10000 says:

    I do think racism played a role here. But racism has a tendency to spring up when we give authorities way too much unaccountable power. Doug makes a good point: we’ve created a system where panic and over-reaction aren’t punished, but rewarded. We have politicians telling us that we’re constantly in danger and under siege. We’re told there’s a War on Cops and that our children are under siege and that we can’t walk outside without being kidnapped (despite all violence being way way down). We can’t be surprised when this “do anything as long as we’re safe mentality” results in this sort of thing.

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  63. Pete S says:

    Did the school administration just hate the poor kid? They kept the clock, kind of strange if they really thought it was a bomb, but called the cops anyway. That cannot be innocent stupidity or incompetence. Somebody had it in for a kid smarter and more creative than they are.

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  64. Argon says:

    This seems to be headed to a better ending. Ahmed will be spend time at an astronomy night at the White House later this fall with a bunch of enthusiastic kids and probably some top flight scientists. The down side is that the stargazing will be from the lawn of the White House. So, maybe the scientists can describe what could be seen if they weren’t viewing from one of the most light polluted cities in the world (D.C. is in the top ten). At least the moon will be waxing near its first quarter on that night.

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  65. Franklin says:

    @gVOR08: I had never heard of James Blake before. But I read a lot of what he has said in response to the incident, and he now has my respect. In addition to apparently being decent at tennis, the guy is incredibly thoughtful.

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  66. Franklin says:

    @Tillman: Thank you for your post. I was mostly considering the fear of Muslims that those on the right are mostly responsible for. I would agree that the zero-tolerance BS is not as easy to pin. It’s partly due to fear (which the right embraces), and partly a sad sack attempt to make sure we treat everybody equally (which sounds more left-ish).

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  67. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CB: Different take indeed! It’s not even the same story. Wa!

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  68. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Stay away from the dounts at the diner, Tyrell, they’re messin’ with your mind.

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  69. anjin-san says:

    Build a clock, go to jail. It’s Texas.

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  70. Lynn says:

    @grumpy realist:

    My brother went there, too, and has described some pretty clever hacks.

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  71. george says:

    @C. Clavin:

    @John:
    You compared a bunch of incidents that fall under established policies…with one that doesn’t.
    I’m just trying to understand your point…if you have one.

    I figured he meant the established policies are nuts to begin with – which is true.

    There was definitely a racist element here, but over reaction at school doesn’t need racism, it runs wild all the time. Zero tolerance is simply garbage.

    Take a look at the things kids are suspended, expelled, and arrested for – 95% of my elementary school (back in the 70’s) would have been banned for school under those rules. Its insane.

    Obama’s reaction was perfect – invite the kid for a visit. He should do the same for some of the other cases as well – gun shape with hands? Seriously?

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  72. Blue Galangal says:

    @Gustopher: Well, there was the comment by the cop when he was brought into the room: ‘Yep, that’s who I thought it was.’

    This is bigotry, plain and simple. They were bullying and intimidating this kid because he was other – from the teachers/administration to the cops.

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  73. Tyrell says:

    @george: When I was in school, it was common for kids to bring pocket knives to school. Whittling and wood carving were popular. The high schools had rifle clubs. There was no danger or inappropriate behaviors. The Boy Scouts would wear their knives on their belts during scout week. Our history teacher brought a genuine (not a replica) Confederate officer’s sword for a history lesson: we were literally transfixed. Now a days the teacher would be fired for even mentioning the Confederate army .
    What have our schools come to ?

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  74. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Now that the initial hysteria has died down and a few facts have emerged, let’s look at this a little more carefully.

    1) He didn’t “build” or “invent” a clock, he took a Radio Shack clock, took it out of its casing, and put it in a new case. This was no great experiment.

    2) I’m seeing a lot of “herp derr Texas” comments. No one seems to want to notice that the first person to hit the panic button was the public school English teacher (who is probably a proud union member), and the administrator called in the police, in full accordance with the “zero tolerance” policies that also gave us kids suspended for chewing a pop tart into the shape of a gun.

    3) What is it about this case that drew President Obama’s personal attention to this case, to the point of inviting the kid to the White House?

    4) Why did the clock alarm go off in the English class, after his other teacher specifically warned him to not show it around?

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  75. Lenoxus says:

    Belated answers to previous:

    1) Taking things apart and putting them back together is pretty much how every engineer will tell you they started out. Yes, some have used terms like “invent” out of economy, the telephone game, whatever. But whether there’s been any exaggeration there is kind of irrelevant. He’s not up for an engineering award, and we don’t normally have national conversations to demean a high schoolers’ science project.

    2) Stepping outside the culture war completely, it’s interesting to me, in general, how people try calculating the percentage of someone’s cultural-clique affiliation: on the one hand, she’s a union member, but on the other, a Texan. Either way it’s a pretty obviously stupid way to score points; I’m not about to make an inane argument that “Texan trumps teacher” or something. And the silliness of that may well have been your point.

    3) My guess is that Obama invited him in as part of some kind of Secret Muslim plot. The first phase of the plan is to get right-wingers to find it wildly suspicious that the president would invite him.

    4) Back to serious mode. “Why did the clock alarm go off in the English class, after his other teacher specifically warned him to not show it around?” Because technology doesn’t always obey its creators, or high schoolers don’t always obey their teachers, take your pick. Either way, not exactly worthy of national-news hoopla, until it lead to the stupid behavior by the school…

    … behavior which you admit is stupid! How is it so many people try to have it both ways on this — “Just goes to show the absurdity of zero tolerance, but also, that kid’s behavior was really fishy and the school’s authority is being terribly put upon by the liberal media for doing nothing wrong with regard to that fishy, suspicious Muslim kid — he played those jackbooted unionized thugs like a fiddle, what a jerk.”

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