Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quelle duh, # deux.

Usually when I read an article about some parent suing the school, I think “Oh, great, what are they blaming us for now?”

But as I read this article in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning, my thought changed from “Here we go again…” to “Why the hell did they need a real gun as a prop in a school play anyway?”

The school was doing the play “Oklahoma!”  They needed the sound of a gunshot to come from offstage and the administration let them use a real gun with blanks in it.  They had safety procedures in place, the gun was kept in a locked box.  It was only to be handled by an adult, during transportation and for the actual shots.  Good for them, but frankly it would scare the hell out of me to even have a locked gun around teenagers.  They are notorious for doing stupid things, even the ‘good’ kids.

You could argue that the kid is really to blame.  He broke into the locked box, he handled the gun when he knew he wasn’t supposed to and he was stupid enough to shoot it off.  And all that is true.

But why even take the risk when there is absolutely no need to?  The gun would never be seen, they were going to fire it off stage.  It would have been a lot easier, and safer, to just use computer sound effects.  I Googled “gun sound effects” and got over 13 million results in .14 seconds.  I clicked on the very first link, and they had about 75 free downloadable MP3 files.

I’m sorry.  Normally I’m on the side of the educators, who usually are doing their best to provide a safe environment for all their students.  But in this case, in an attempt to provide authenticity to a play, it was a stupid risk to take.


Karen S. said...

I totally agree. Especially when there are so many fake/play guns that look really, better than really REAL! Some even come with pretty darn good sound effects themselves! Luckily it sounds like nothing happened, but why take that chance. I have to wonder if they're really into such authenticity, I hope they won't be making any plays will real live dead bodies! I'm just say, in the name of authenticity, what will they come up with next? :)

Lisa Shafer said...

I agree with both sides. It was stupid. They could've had a cap gun and used sound effects. But, when it comes right down to it, it was the kid who went overboard here.
The school could've been MUCH safer, but I still don't think it's their fault that the kid did this.
I mean, I had a kid climb onto my relo roof once. I chose to talk him down rather than calling in the fire dept when he panicked. If he'd jumped and broken his neck, would it have been my fault for not calling in the authorities?
But, yes, a gunshot sound effect would obviously be better in a stage situation -- even with adults. Why mess with a real gun when it's not needed?

Max Sartin said...

Karen - Tragically, the boy shot himself and he did die from the wounds.
Lisa - You would have in no way been at fault, but the difference is that you did not create the dangerous situation. You were reacting to something that had already occurred, they acted in a way that they should have known could cause a problem. At least that's the way I see it.

Karen S. said...

Max, that has to be the worst ending, and loss so undeserved. I'm just speechless. I'm not one to run about and sue over things ...but I don't believe I could leave any of my children in a school where their leaders stole the very life of one of their own.

Max Sartin said...

Several years ago there was a group of boys that climbed onto the roof of a local Junior High and one of them was running across a skylight above the gymnasium. He fell through and was seriously injured, I can't remember whether or not he died, but it was serious. His parents were up in arms, demanded the district do something about such a dangerous situation.
I was disgusted with the parents. They expected the district to spend tons of money to idiot proof all the skylights in the district because their son made the stupid choice to climb the side of a building, get up on the roof where he knew he didn't belong and then make the ultimate bonehead maneuver by walking on a skylight. I thought, and still believe, it was absurd for them to blame the district when their son chose to ignore common sense and go somewhere he knew he shouldn’t be.
This case with the gun has some of the same components. The kid shouldn’t have even touched the gun, and he knew he wasn’t supposed to. He should have known, and heeded the advice, that you never play with guns, regardless of whether or not you are positive they are not loaded. Certainly there is some responsibility on his part.
But the big difference, for me, in this case is that the gun shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I’ve spent several years of my career involved with Stage Crew and the behind the scenes workings of school productions and I can’t even imagine asking the administration for permission to have a real gun (loaded with blanks or even unloaded) backstage. That’s something that I wouldn’t have let past the first kid saying “Hey, what about…”.