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by Peter Moskos

October 12, 2009

A strike against "zero tolerance"

Discretion is good. In schools. In society. And in policing.

Here's an example of why it doesn't work so well in school.
The law was introduced after a third-grade girl was expelled for a year because her grandmother had sent a birthday cake to school, along with a knife to cut it. The teacher called the principal — but not before using the knife to cut and serve the cake.
(Though something strikes me odd when a mother claims a six-year-old "wears a suit and tie some days to school by his own choice because he takes school so seriously." Really?)

October 14 Update.


IrishPirate said...

That noted liberal George Shultz comes out against the drug war.

For those who don't understand the above line please look up the definition of the word sarcasm regarding my use of the word "liberal".


Actually he's been out for a long while, but the column about it is new.

I wish the rest of the country were as sensible as the old guy.

ChristMotForbud said...

Good catch on the parallel. Any law that clearly sends the innocent to be punished, or needs inordinate amending with "exceptions" is itself deserving to be struck down.

I'm reminded of the "bad cop good cop" situation. It seems we're stuck in a state of constant "bad cop" in order to catch the relatively extremely few bad actors. So the whole society is now under so many heavy-handed laws/rules/policies that it really stinks. This is hardly the land of the free. It's more like the land of the humongous fear of terrorists.

ChristMotForbud said...

Although perhaps I should note that I was not allowed to have a pocket knife until I was in 6th grade I think. There's no way my parents would have let me have my own knife when I was that young. And I was a Boy Scout begging for one, probably just like Zach. My parents were very strict and conservative. Plus, I grew up in the suburbs not on a farm where it would have been more natural to need one.

PCM said...

I'm pretty sure I brought a buttefly knife to school a few times around 8th grade or so. I could twirl it. I never felt a need to have it for protection. I never used it. Or threatened to use it. I just thought it was cool. I don't even think I showed it off. I just had it. It was no big deal. At least to me. I'm glad I never got caught!

ChristMotForbud said...

Yeah, I saw a number of those butterfly knives being twirled around. I think I even saw a few "Chinese Stars" at school, if that's what they're called. Can't really use those to eat with, or open lids of cans. ;-)

As an adult I carry around a tiny little Swiss army knife that's smaller than my pinky. But I use it often, sometimes I've even dug out pesky splinters with the blade. That it could be used as a weapon is a joke.

I'm reminded of something it seems so many kids in elementary school used to tell each other. How one's hands could be deadly weapons. I recall hearing many kids tell others how to punch people in the throat or near the sternum or other ghastly things. I guess they all had older brothers who watched sick movies or something.

I mean a non-locking blade knife is more dangerous to the person holding it than to the attacker! That thousands of these are stolen daily at airports is sad.

It's all about "zero tolerance" for *others.* Then they go to church and are so glad about the mercy and grace of God! But what can I say? The way they treat others, the rules they force on others, are the way they're going to be held accountable. The irony.

Anonymous said...

These "zero common sense" cases are coming one after another lately. When will the message that this has gone too far be heard?

6yo Cub Scouts threatened with Reform School for bringing a mess kit utensil to school.

West Point Candidate HS students having their cars searched..locked boxes opened and 2" knives confiscated..resulting in weeks of suspension.

Schools have become a socialist, institutionalized nightmare. Do your children a favor..Homeschool.