Yesterday (3/3/13) I was guest host on The Jason Mattera Show on WABC in NYC. Joseph Phillips from The Cosby Show was one of my guests. Check out what his son’s school did to this honor school student because of a picture of an AirSoft BB-Gun. Our schools have lost their frickin’ minds. Also, check out me and Steve Pauwels (of ClashDaily.com) yapping about how some churches are setting the next generation up to be steamrolled by bad people and policies.
Here’s the letter Joseph sent to his son’s school:
Principal David Fehte
El Camino Real Charter
5440 Valley Circle Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA. 91367
My name is Joseph C. Phillips. My son, Connor, is currently enrolled as a sophomore at El Camino Real Charter High School. I am writing you concerning a recent encounter my son had with one of his teachers, that is of grave concern to me.
Last Friday, February 22nd, James DeLarme confiscated a camera belonging to my son. Apparently, Mr. DeLarme was alarmed by a photo of a rifle he observed on my sons camera.
My son is involved in the hobby of air soft- war games played with BB guns. Air soft is not a new past time; far from it. Air soft is a recreational activity played nationwide by both boys and girls and men and women of all ages; there are stores all over the city and the internet dedicated to selling air soft equipment. My son worked, saved his money, and purchased a new air soft rifle. On Friday, Connor was showing his friends a photo of his new toy when Mr. DeLarme walked by, saw the photo and snatched the camera from my son’s hands. My son attempted to explain to Mr. DeLarme that the rifle was a bb gun used for playing air soft. It was at that time that Mr. DeLarme exclaimed that he didn’t know anything about that and the police would have to be called. It is my understanding that Mr. DeLarme left the room and shared the photo with another teacher, who was also “disturbed” by the photo, so disturbed apparently that they both felt the need to scroll through all of the photos on my son’s camera. After a time, Mr. Delarme returned the phone to my son, but not before he inquired about Connor’s mental state: “Do you have any animosity towards your classmates?” “Are you angry at anyone at school?” etc.
I am well aware of the sensitivity concerning guns, especially given recent events in Connecticut. However, I am also quite aware of Mr. DeLarme’s political opposition to guns-I believe his quote on the television was, “…Guns are to blame! We have to do away with guns!” It is my belief that in this instance politics trumped good sense and as a result my son’s privacy was violated, his property confiscated, he was needlessly embarrassed in front of his classmates, treated as a mental patient, (by someone unqualified to determine anyone’s mental state), and subsequently threatened with police involvement. In addition, neither my wife nor I was ever notified. I had to discover this during a conversation with my son.
Did I mention that this was a photograph of a rifle? There was absolutely nothing on that camera that would qualify as lewd, illegal, or immoral. NOTHING! As Mr. DeLarme surely knew and learned when he violated my son’s privacy by scrolling through the entire camera.
I am LIVID!
It may come as a shock to Mr. DeLarme, It may even be news to you, but my son is not the only boy in Woodland Hills with a BB gun. There are quite a few boys attending your school who not only own BB guns, but own real guns as well. (Some of them play air soft with my son!) Their fathers, mothers, and brothers also own guns and shoot regularly. Owning a gun is NOT a sign of mental illness. Owning a BB gun is NOT an indication of mental instability! Certainly, showing friends a photograph of a gun is NOT a warning sign that a student is a potential danger to his classmates! I object, in the strongest of terms, to my son being treated as a potential danger and to his being threatened with law enforcement. I further object to not being notified! If Mr. DeLarme truly believed my son presented a danger, both my wife and I should have been notified immediately!
What remains unclear is what other images does Mr. Delarme (and the teacher he consulted with) deem so “disturbing” that such an intervention is warranted. If my son had been showing friends a photograph of a marijuana plant, would Mr. DeLarme have snatched the camera from my son’s hands? What if my son had been flashing a photo of a bottle of Jack Daniels? Teen age drinking is illegal, owning a rifle is not. Something tells me that this teacher and his cohort would have kept stepping- that the only reason for DeLarme’s behavior was his distaste of guns (and apparently his objection to the second amendment).
Mr. Fehte, I suspect that you are old enough to recall a time when most boys owned BB guns; when a .22 rifle was a popular Christmas gift available for purchase at Kmart or the local sporting goods store; when high schools had rifle teams; when a pocket knife in a boys pocket was a sign that the boy was involved in the Boy Scouts. If you do not remember a more innocent, and dare I say, level-headed time, I certainly do. And trust me, I am not that old. Is this what the new world hath wrought? Teachers looking over students shoulders, peeking to make certain they are not sharing any objectionable images? Students threatened with police intervention for having a photo of a gun? Students embarrassed in front of their classmates because they are out of step with the political agenda of their instructor? Is this El Camino Real Charter High School at its finest? Should I expect the rest of my sons’ tenure at Elco to be similarly absurd? What about his brothers, who are also slated to attend Elco? Should I be worried that their dignity will also be subject to disrespect because they have a legal, but politically objectionable photo on their cameras?
It is my sincere hope that this matter is addressed, that my son receives the formal apology he did not receive on Friday, that parents are informed as to the protocol concerning police intervention, and that instructors at Elco are provided some guidance, so they do not over react, thus causing more harm than good.
I thank you for your time and attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
Joseph C. Phillips