The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Fourth grader suspended for "threatening" classmate with magic ring


Texas fourth grader Aiden Steward was recently suspended for "threatening" a classmate with a magic ring based on the one he saw in the movie version of The Hobbit [HT: Joanne Jacobs]:

Tolkien lore led a Texas boy to suspension after he brought his "one ring" to school.

Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the 9-year-old boy, Aiden Steward, in a playful act of make-believe, told a classmate he could make him disappear with a ring forged in fictional Middle Earth's Mount Doom….

The Stewards had just watched "The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies" days earlier, inspiring Aiden's imagination and leading him to proclaim that he had in his possession the one ring to rule them all.

Aiden's father has already offered a more than sufficient defense:

"I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence," the boy's father later wrote in an email. "If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back."

But just in case, let me offer the following free expert testimony on his behalf:

As the author of several published works on fantasy and science fiction literature, let me take this opportunity to assure Texas school officials that there are no Rings of Power in the real world. Little Aiden's classmates are in absolutely no danger—except perhaps from the Ringwraiths who work in public school administration. Ridiculous zero tolerance policies like this one pose a far greater threat to our children's education than magic rings do.