Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 31, 2014

A look at common sense, and a good-bye to an 'old friend'

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I’ll be discussing two things in this space this week. One is a general observance, the other is a thank you.

Here we go:

For years I have heard that it is difficult, even impossible, to legislate morality.

I’ve also heard the phrase zero-tolerance policy more times than I’ve cared to, and I’ve seen said policies in many instances paint people into corners from which they could not escape.

But by combining the two, I suppose it has become unfortunately necessary to legislate common sense.

That’s just sad.

Over the past decade and a half there have been horrible stories of school shootings. There is no denying those incidents have cast our nation in a negative light. Dating back to Columbine in 1999, all the way through and including the Newtown tragedy last year, we have been bombarded with instances of gun violence involving young people.

So much so that zero tolerance policies have brought about the need to now legislate common sense. Part of it has to do with a Pop Tart.

Evidently, a youngster in Maryland was enjoying one of the squarely delicious frosted delights and chewed it into the shape of a gun, and then pointed the pastry at a classmate. Said youngster wound up suspended from school.

Seriously? Seriously.

Elsewhere in the country another youth made the age old gesture of the thumb up, index finger out — you know, like Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore after every putt he made — and that person was also suspended. There have also been instances where two children were pretending to “shoot” each other with their pencils, leading to the same punishment. 

I could get into the specifics of Florida’s “Pop Tart Law” but the bottom line is that the law gives administrators a chance to get out from under the zero tolerance policies that have lead to such crazy punishments. Even older kids who wear NRA shirts have wound up in trouble.

Keep in mind, in no way am I defending “gun violence” or a “culture of violence.” Far from it. 

But for the hypersensitivity about the subject to lead to a child’s imagination being stifled? That is uncalled for, and this new common sense law in Florida is a necessary, embarrassing step. 

It is up to parents and other responsible adults to reign in that imagination before it gets carried away into a dangerous reality. 

Changing gears to a much more enjoyable subject…

Tonight is the series finale of the popular CBS show “How I Met Your Mother.” The sitcom is on the verge of ending a nine-year run, and there are many pundits and fans who will say it should have ended a couple years ago.

I’ve watched the show from the beginning and while I don’t search for any deeper meaning in the entertainment I choose, this show struck a nerve for me.

Who doesn’t want good friends to keep you on an even keel? Who doesn’t want to be successful in their chosen field? Who doesn’t want to find “The One” and live happily ever after?

The pop culture references within the show were done well, and a few seasons into its run the show itself started being referenced by people. How many of you had ever heard of a “slap bet” before the show started?

Perhaps the funniest references in the show regarded the main character Ted’s home of Cleveland, which is where my family and I lived before moving back to Western New York. In one episode during the early years of the show, Ted asked someone in a throw-away line something like, “So, whadaya think of the Indians? You think Cerrano can win the batting title this year?”

Cerrano, in case you didn’t know, is the slugger in the fictitious movie “Major League.” 

The show also portrayed Ted’s bitter Cleveland attitude toward LeBron James after the NBA star took his talents elsewhere. I was in Cleveland at the time of “The Decision” and this storyline was spot on. Just trust me on that.

Anyway, the show takes its final bow tonight. There are a number of theories floating around about the fate of Ted and the Mother. We’ll find out which one, if anyone, is actually true this evening.

But after nine seasons, I’m just looking for closure on one of the more unique television stories I’ve ever followed. Because no matter how it ends, it’s been a fun ride.




Howard Balaban can be reached at howard.balaban@journal-register.com. He thinks the Detroit Tigers lacked common sense when they extended Miguel Cabrera's contract last week.