open letters

The Ring of Power and The Use Thereof – An Open Letter to the Kermit Independent School District

Dear Kermit Independent School District,

I write to you in defence of Master Aiden Steward, a fourth-grader in one of your municipal schools, recently suspended for threatening to “use” the One Ring on another student.

I do not cavil with the child’s possession of the One Ring, or dispute that it is an artifact of considerably dangerous magical power. The extent to which it has somehow avoided destruction at the end of the Third Age is indeed disturbing (reputedly destroyed on March 25, 3019TA, Old Reckoning), and to see it in the hands of a child, quite disturbing! How right you are to take some interest!

That being said, it must be stressed that Master Steward would have no opportunity, and indeed, no ability to use the One Ring “on” another child! This is no mere Ring of Power! Whilst Narya, the Elven Ring of Fire, can be used to “inspire others to resist tyranny, domination, and despair”, for example, the One Ring, like the Seven and the Nine can only be used to enhance the innate powers and abilities of the wearer.

Hence, for Hobbits, it enhanced the natural stealth and quietude of the bearer into true invisibility, but invisibility was not the ring’s power, nor for that matter “disappearance”. It would only likely apply to externalities when wielded by a powerful magician in their own right, to enhance their powers. To quote Gandalf:

“With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly. Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.”

It is quite unlikely that even a noticeably malevolent boy from West Texas is sufficiently trained in the sorcerer’s arts to wield the Ring of Power to channel magic against another.

Of course, children with natural magical gifts are not unknown: there is an anecdotal case of a fifteen year old girl named Sarah Williams able to invoke the power of Jareth the Goblin King as late as 1986. In that instance, the outcome of that case, and the Goblin King’s prurient interest in the minor is well known – it is to be anticipated that the danger was in age-inappropriate fraternization, and not natural magical ability.

If you are questioning the relevance of these submissions, you should familiarise yourself with the case of Tuberville v Savage (1669), jurisprudence imported into American law from before the War of Independence, and indeed, although Texas was contemporaneously under Spanish and later Mexican authority, brought to bear as part of the laws of Texas when it came to join the Union.

In that case, Tuberville grabbed the handle of his sword and stated, “If it were not assize-time, I would not take such language from you.” A serious threat, much in the manner of claiming to wield the One Ring against someone! In that instance, however, the court held that the threat was of no-effect as it was assize-time, and accordingly by implication Tuberville would take such language. Although not precisely “on all fours”, the similarities can still be noted: the threat to “use” the One Ring to cause another child to vanish could not ever be undertaken – even ignoring the ancient provenance of this law, the elements of a threat which is actionable requires both the threat and the ostensible or apparent means to genuinely carry it out! Master Steward might have issued a similar threat with nothing more than one of his schoolbooks, or a wave of his hands! Even were Master Steward one of the vaunted “Stewards of Gondor” (the line of Húrin, now extinguished), it would not likely confer upon him magical powers of the kind alleged!

In fact, amusingly, the only way in which Master Steward could cause another child to vanish with the One Ring would be to give it over to that other child freely, and allow them access to its power. Although there would be a degree of moral hazard in such a proposal, a gift, freely given, is not a “terroristic threat”, as the suspension orders have maintained. All in all, this appears to an instance where, like Sauron himself, overreach has caused your position to become untenable. We trust that you can see there is no ongoing risk to any child, and that the threat alleged was not such that any form of disciplinary action (inclusive of suspension) needs to be undertaken against Master Steward.

Of course, if you find a student threatening another with a Hogwarts affiliated wand, please contact the proper authorities.

Go Yellow Jackets!


Robert Mackenzie