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"Hieroglyphics Student Expelled Under Zero-Tolerance Policy"
Ra-Sub Shu-Ta-Khep (attributed)
Thebes; 11th cent BCE
14 x 12.5 cm ~ painted limestone


 According to the accompanying report, the student Ra-Sub Shu-Ta-Khep of Thebes Middle School was given an ostracon and assigned to write an ode of exaggerated praise to a generic Pharaoh as an exercise in his hieroglyphics class. Whether bored or mischievous, he merely scrawled a title in simple hieratic script, "Slaughter all that is foreign," accompanying it with a fanciful sketch. For that he was flogged with rods and suspended until the Reed Boat Festival.

Thebes School Superintendent Ka Ash-Tun defended the suspension, saying it followed the district's "zero tolerance" policy regarding threats and violence. He also pointed out that the desert lion depicted in the drawing was an endangered species, and that the title smacked of xenophobia. "It starts with a sketch like this one, and before you know it, we're invading Assyria," he is quoted as saying in the report. "And both arrows and spears are depicted! Our policy is a drawing equals a weapon equals a mass slaughter of both students and faculty-- possibly even administrators."

ThETA, or Thebans for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a separate suit against the boy's family for encouraging the use of dogs in hunting, as well as the implied threat toward lions. The Theban royal family also censured the drawing for showing the putative Pharaoh in an undignified pose and demanded that the boy be fed to the sacred hippos in the Nile adjacent to the royal dwellings.


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