In the too-ridiculous-to-not-be-real category, an entire county in Pennsylvania lock down its schools because of a misinterpreted set of lyrics from the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." The Washington Post caught up with the story Sunday, March 3, but the event actually happened on Thursday when a school receptionist misunderstood the theme song to the popular 90s sitcom on a student's cell phone, prompting school officials to institute a lockdown.
It all started when the Ambridge Area High School receptionist attempted to contact 19-year-old Travis Clawson for an appointment at the school. Upon hearing the "Fresh Prince" song on his voice mail, stylized by Clawson himself, she called authorities and reported what she thought was a threat to commit violence. She heard "shooting people outside of the school" instead of the Will Smith's lyrics "And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school.”
Police placed all Beaver County schools on lockdown and began the hunt for Clawson. As it turned out, they cornered him in his guidance counselor's office.
Taking him into custody, they soon discovered the mix-up. When questioned, Clawson told police that he was simply imitating the lyrics of the song. The district attorney said that authorities listened to the voice mail and agreed, releasing the young man.
The Times of Beaver originally covered the story and noted that authorities maintained that although the situation had not evolved into a real security situation, everyone involved had performed as they should have.
The misunderstanding about potential violence could be blamed on stupidity and/or a receptionist out of touch with high school students and pop culture since the 1990s, the story can also come down as erring on the side of prudence. But, as WBNS TV reported, that didn't seem to apply to an 8-school lockdown of the western half of the Olentangy Local School District in Ohio in January when authorities called for a lockdown during the manhunt for a male with four outstanding warrants for nonpayment of child support, DUI, and disorderly conduct.
But that was still as nothing compared to the overreaction of school officials at Seminole High School in Pinellas County, Fla., Tru TV recounted in early December, when a student brought a thermometer to school. As part of an assignment, students were urged to bring in examples of elements on the Periodic Table, and even though mercury was listed as a toxic element that was not to be brought to school, one student did. And school officials immediately put the school in lockdown. And brought in a hazmat team to remove the toxic object.
While it is understandable in the aftermath of incidents such as the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook and other schools over the years, there is something to be said about the level of reaction to potential and/or perceived threats. And although events are gauged via 20/20 hindsight, such as the ludicrous closing down of schools in Michigan due to the Dec. 21, 2012 Doomsday scenario, it should be noted that overreaction might be too mild a term to describe some responses.