Terrorism And Cucumbers


Nursery school workers go insane, report four-year-old child for terroristic threats over mispronounced word

Remember the good old days, when school officials overreacted to things that could actually be reasonably considered a threat–albeit a far-fetched one–like the little girl whose father packed a steak knife in her lunch to make it easier for her to cut a chicken breast?

It might at least seem plausible that someone could see fit to take a flimsy steak knife away from a six-year-old, sure.

And then we graduated to the looney zone. There were the kids–little kids–who were suspended for drawing a picture of a gun, then the ones who were disciplined for making a gun shape with their forefinger.

And now a nursery school in the UK is under fire for yet another overreaction to an innocent child’s mistake, this time suggesting that a four-year-old boy who mispronounced the word “cucumber” was saying “cooker bomb.”

The school suggested the boy be referred to a counter-terrorism project, according to the child’s family, who is of Asian descent. The family also said the school raised concerns over a drawing he did depicting a man wielding a large knife–and you get one guess as to what the man was cutting.

I’ll give you a clue: it wasn’t a “cooker bomb,” whatever that might be.

Nursery staff in Luton told the child’s mother they believed he was saying “cooker bomb” when he was asked about the drawing, and suggested that they might refer the case to the “Prevent” deradicalization program.

The “case,”–honestly one shudders to refer to this absurd situation with such a word–was eventually referred to police and social services. At that point sanity intervened for a brief shining moment, and no further action was taken.

“I was baffled,” the boy’s mother reportedly said. “It was a horrible day.”

Well, yeah. Imagine how it was for the four year old.

And this is not the only recent attack of the brainless heebie-jeebies at a UK school. In January a 10-year-old Muslim boy was visited by police after it was reported that he wrote “terrorist house” instead of “terraced house” during a class activity.

To offer just the tiniest bit of defense for the school workers, since legislation called the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act passed in July, teachers and other workers are obligated to report any “suspicious activity.”

The questions that that mandate raises are myriad:

  • Are elementary school and pre-school teachers really the best people to be determining what constitutes a “threat?”
  • If so, what kind of training are they undergoing and how often is it updated?
  • Are some people using the new law as a means to harass Muslims and immigrants?
  • Do people in the UK want to live in the kind of country where everyone is constantly watching everyone else to determine if they are a “threat?”

That sounds remarkably like a country called Oceania from a little book by a Brit named George Orwell–and I can promise you it wasn’t meant to be a blueprint, but rather a warning.


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