Express Yourself|By Gnawing Food

     Picture this: A young student gnaws on his pancake until what remains is shaped like a thick L rotated 90 degrees.
     Should the student be suspended from school or does the student need federal protection?
     Is pancake sculpting followed by suspension likely to happen?
     I don’t have answers to these questions, but Texas Congressman Steve Stockman has introduced a “Student Protection Act” that, among other things, would deny funding to schools that punish students for “brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a gun.”
     All right, I understand the motivation here. If you ban food-based items that sort of look like guns, then only criminals will have pancake weapons.
     But there are some serious problems with this proposed legislation.
     What if the food item resembles a gun but wasn’t intended to look like a gun?
     Is sculpting intent the key to legal protection, or is it the perception of third parties?
     Consider that the state of juvenile lunch art is often imprecise and/or impressionist in nature. That L-shaped pancake, or conjoined Twinkies, could be seen (and/or intended) as a pistol or a penis and scrotum.
     Does the pistol deserve protection while the penis and scrotum do not?
     Will clever students use this federal law to avoid penis-and-scrotum punishment by claiming they were creating weapons?
     If a federal law singles out weapon-based artistic expression as opposed to, say, teacher caricature artistic expression, isn’t that unconstitutional content-based regulation?
     Personally, I’m all for protecting the rights of students to express themselves with food they’d rather not eat. All forms of food art should get the same respect.
     By the way, some of you may be wondering why the Congressman was so concerned about protecting fake weapons. The reason is in the proposed bill: “government-sanctioned political correctness is traumatizing children and spreading irrational fear.”
     Because guns are nothing to be afraid of.
     
     More Stockman: I know it’s easy to write off Congressman Stockman as a gun nut. Google the man and you’ll see why.
     But, obviously, there’s more to the man. Here’s a Stockman quote from The National Review explaining his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act:
     “‘This is a truly bad bill,’ he says of the Senate version, which includes provisions regarding homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual victims of domestic violence. ‘This is helping the liberals, this is horrible. Unbelievable. What really bothers – it’s called a women’s act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that – how is that a woman?'”
     The man stands for truth in labeling.
     
     Cultural Update: I made a quick trip to Comic-Con last week to check on the status of the legal profession in pop culture.
     Just kidding.
     I go because it’s the one time all year that anyone compliments me on what I’m wearing. (I won’t describe the outfit – it’s more awesome if you use your imagination.)
     But you’ll be happy to know that the legal world still impacts our culture.
     To my surprise, there was a large “Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney” display in the exhibit hall. Longtime readers with nothing better to remember will recall I told you about this computer game about five or six years ago.
     Apparently, Wright’s practice is thriving. There are new cases and clients.
     “Comic Book Law School 101” seems to be thriving. You can now get MCLE credit for attending, so there’s no reason not to go to Comic-Con.
     On Thursday, there was a 90-minute panel titled “Not Guilty Due to Zombification? Law and Forensic Psychiatry in a Zombie Apocalypse.”
     I would have gone, but it conflicted with a “Comics and Pro Wrestling” panel. One must have priorities.
     By the way, if you’re not familiar with Comic-Con, it’s a lot like a state bar convention. There are lots of educational seminars and a giant exhibit hall.
     The only difference is the toys are a lot cooler.

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