The “let the nanny state take care of me” crowd has a tendency to use zero tolerance as a way to protect themselves when they turn their brains off. That would be 99% of the time. Let’s look at just what zero tolerance is.
Back before zero tolerance became the politically correct method for demonstrating your stupidity, it had a very limited use, and was usually enforced only by the local old maid librarian. Most of them had ears like a directional microphone, and were pissed at the world because they had never been kissed, and used that super hearing mostly to punish highly hormonal teenagers.
I’ll swear, the librarian back home could hear you if you picked your nose, and would throw you out. For the library, the upside was it kept boogers off the bottoms of tables and chairs.
Don’t look at me like that! Where else are you gonna put a booger in the library, inside the back cover of a book?
Anyway, these days any little self appointed dictator uses zero tolerance to 1.) Give them an excuse to exercise what little power they have as often as possible, and 2.) Allow them to save energy by not having to think. For some reason, while it seems to be used by everybody with just an itty bitty bit of power, it rears its ugly head most often in our schools.
• A couple of years ago in Cobb County, Georgia (a part of the metropolitan Atlanta area…naturally) a little girl in, I believe, the seventh grade, who was an A + student, was expelled for the balance of the school year for bringing a weapon to school.
The weapon? A plastic 6 inch long Tweety Bird keychain that had the door key to her home on it. Now, if you have at least three active brain cells working at the moment, you have to be asking yourself, “Self, how in the hell can a plastic keychain be a weapon?” Well, a brain dead (and zero tolerance loving) principle, followed Georgia law to the letter and decided that a keychain with a key on the end of it (where else would you keep the key?) fit the legal description of a “flinging weapon”, and kicked the honor roll student out of school.
The principle was thinking along the lines of numbchucks. Personally, I think numbskull is more appropriate.
• Along about the same time in Gwinnett County, Georgia, (yet another suburban Atlanta county)…
Stop right there. I don’t wanna hear any crap about Georgia. Atlanta might be in Georgia, it might even be the capital of Georgia, but it is not Georgia. Atlanta might be 10% Georgians. Everybody else moved in from Yankee land.
Anyway, in Gwinnett County, Georgia another 10 or 11 year old little girl took a very small 1 ounce bottle that had a purple liquid in it to school and told her classmates that it was communion wine. One of her classmates told the teacher, who took the little girl and the bottle of “communion wine” to the principal’s office . The principle opened the bottle (drinking on the job Mr. Principle?), discovered the “communion wine” was actually grape juice…and expelled the little girl for violating the no alcohol policy. He said that even pretending that it was alcohol put the little girl in violation of the policy.
I suppose that means that if two of the boys in school were standing at the water cooler and started joking about getting a drink of beer “on tap” they would be expelled as well.
• Not to be outdone by it’s confederate neighbors to the south, a high school in Spotsylvania, Virginia has expelled another straight “A” student for shooting spitballs in class. Not suspended… expelled.
As a totally irrelevant aside, who the hell would name a town Spotsylvania? Every time I hear that name I get an image in my head of a cross between a spotted Dalmation dog and a vampire, and I don’t even do drugs like our regular reader Hansi.
OK, back on topic. The school has taken a portion of the Federal Gun Free School Act, which mandates that schools expel students who take “…weapons, including hand guns, explosive devices and projectile weapons, to school. “, and has decided that a spitball is a “projectile weapon”.
Based on the three examples above I think my own personal definition of “zero tolerance” is fairly accurate. My definition? I’ll express it in the form of a math problem:
Zero intelligence + zero judgment = zero tolerance.