This Game Is Not 'It'

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Recess is dangerous. There's all that name-calling, roughhousing and bullying. And the fast running! Why a child might trip, fall, even -- and perhaps more important -- sue.

Given such perils, Willett Elementary School, south of Boston, has cracked down on tag and other "chasing games." Pia Durkin, the district superintendent, told the Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Mass., that children's energies should be better directed toward "good, sound, supervised play."

Outraged parents have sent a blizzard of e-mails protesting the anti-tag policy. One mother launched a "Keep Tag in Attleboro" petition drive. Another mother suggested sending her son to school garbed in bubble wrap and a helmet.

The principal and superintendent of the district in Attleboro, a town of about 45,000, would not talk to a reporter Thursday. But Robbie Wuilleumier, the School Committee chairwoman who began a phone interview by listing the game's dangers, soon confessed: "Personally, I think that the kids should be allowed to play tag. I haven't told that to anyone."

-- Robin Shulman

Hemp and the Bible Belt

The vacation town of Eureka Springs has long been considered a little different -- at least by the rest of Arkansas. Come Nov. 7, it might have a law to prove it. Voters next month will consider an initiative that would make misdemeanor marijuana violations -- possession of one ounce or less -- the city's lowest law enforcement priority. Violators would face community service and drug counseling instead of jail time.

Similar measures have passed in Seattle and Oakland, but the relaxed law would be one of a kind in Arkansas.

It might not be surprising that petition gatherers -- supported by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws -- got the measure on the ballot. The town, where aging hippies live alongside devout Christians, advertises itself as "The hole in the Bible Belt where the buckle goes through." But will the initiative pass? Some residents are dubious.

"I haven't heard much about it" around town, said Sally Thackery of the city's Advertising and Promotions Commission. Even if it passes, don't expect to see changes in enforcement, since state laws are tougher and supersede local laws, said Assistant Police Chief Morris Pate. "I don't know what the big hoo-ha is," he said.

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