Iím so very lucky to have made it through schools emotionally intact.

Iím so very lucky to have made it through schools emotionally intact. Back in the 1940s and í50s, they didnít "know" what they do today and just plodded blindly along teaching reading, writing and arithmetic without concern about horrible things happening on their playgrounds.

Everybody knew kids played games during recesses and cutup during lunchtimes but apparently were too focused upon teaching to bother checking for overbites. Things have changed.

Recently a kid was suspended from school for two days because he bit a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. Thank God it didnít look like a nuclear weapon and cause the evacuation of the city. You canít be overly careful with Pop-Tarts.

Another school punished a child because he formed his hand into a gun on the playground. Rumor has it he said, "bang- bang." I almost fear to admit to having thousands of "bang- bangs" in my past. Amazingly, I canít tell you the last time I shot somebody in real life so I sort of wonder why it matters.

Besides shapes of pastries, fingers and thumbs or sounds kids make, which are currently in progressive crosshairs ó apologies to the anti-crosshair factions ó some schools have banned all forms of touching.

I guess they think their students are incapable of distinguishing the difference between a congratulatory high-five and a punch in the face. That makes me pretty smart. I knew the difference by the time I started school, although we actually didnít have such a thing as "high-fives."

Whatís going on in this country? If it wasnít so biologically improbable, Iíd believe a stupidity germ emerged, creating a pandemic of raging idiocy.

The Petri dish culture source would likely be Washington. I donít know whether the pathogen initially went "to" there or came "from" there, but suffice it to say dummying symptoms are spreading rapidly throughout public school systems.

By todayís yardsticks, my 12 years of public education wouldíve landed me in prison for a bunch of life-terms. I committed many "no-noís." I might have been able to serve them concurrently but would still be writing this weekly column using the wardenís office computer.

I went online to take a look at some of the weird rules being knee-jerked into our classrooms. The saddest of the lot that jumped out at me was many schools are banning tag.

Why do we allow our kids to be pounded into one-size-fits-all straitjacketed slots? Exactly what benefit is there to raising children encased in bubble-wrap so they never compete, never fall down and never have their feelings hurt?

Do liberal bureaucrats actually believe playing cops and robbers on playgrounds is a precursor to commission of the Great Train Robbery? Itís silly.

Itís also sad that another wonderful phrase is disappearing from the lexicon. Along with "I have but one life Ö " and "Ask not what your country Ö " Liberals now want to destroy a wonderful refrain that has rung out for centuries a billion times across our country from countless young voices.

"Not it!" Remember?

Otis Gardnerís column appears here weekly. He can be reached at ogardner@embarqmail.com.