Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to watch another country do nothing as its children die in easily preventable school shootings. To observe a first world country where possessing a weapon of mass murder is considered totally normal. To be more than two decades past solving that particular societal problem and wonder, how many more decades will it take the United States?
If you’re reading this, you probably find the idea of stricter gun laws as obvious as we Australians do. But there’s something particularly mindboggling about the situation to an outsider—about kids practicing hiding under their desks when the worst thing that happens in Australian schools is being made to sit in the shade if you forget your hat. (That sun can be killer). We Aussies can only look on in helpless confusion as you struggle with this ostensibly simple problem. With full sympathy for the despairing position of the vast majority of Americans, Australian comedian Sammy J—a man known for licking every Parliamentary building in Australia—is here to tell you how childish you look. Or to alter his catchphrase: Silly Americans.
Sammy J’s Playground Politics is a parody both of long-running children’s program Play School and of the schoolyard antics of party politics, aimed at helping “preschoolers” stay up to date with Australian politics (not to mention Prime Minister Turnbull’s “Faustian pact”). But the situation in the U.S. proved all too perfect fodder for Sammy’s cheerfully sharp political satire. While many in the U.S. find the idea of arming teachers comically ludicrous, Sammy makes it even sillier, accessorizing his gun with a helmet, a vest, and a bulletproof backpack. Armed for war/the American classroom, Sammy conducts a lesson on the situation in the US: He identifies the most powerful letters in the American English alphabet (N, R, and A) and even does some math to calculate how many days per week American schoolchildren can feel safe (Answer: “A big problem that doesn’t add up”).
But the most disturbing lesson by far is the active shooter lockdown drill, something that is wonderfully foreign to his Australian students. “While you’re down here,” Sammy explains, getting under the desk and clutching his American flag. “Don’t do anything. Just pretend you’re the American Congress. Complete inaction.” Watching a 34-year-old Australian man hiding under his pretend school desk while wearing a helmet and camouflage vest should throw into sharp relief the absurdity of a world in which this is a normal thing for children to do.
“It could be worse, ” Sammy added. “We could be at a school in Australia where they enforce a strict ‘no hat, no play’ policy. Talk about a police state. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a strong Bill of Rights to protect you, the way American children are being protected by their Bill of Rights.”
It might surprise to you to learn that Australia is one of the few Western nations that doesn’t have a Bill of Rights, although we’re split on whether or not that is a good thing. But we also don’t have school shootings, and we’re pretty unequivocal about the fact that this is a great thing. Bill or no bill, Australian schoolchildren have those “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The question is, do Americans?