Feb 152014
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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.

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Bob@HayleStorm Interactive

Bob comes to us with a skeptical attitude and a full cup of Cantankerousness. He also writes about homesteading and yurts over at JuicyMaters.com and rants about politics at Common-Sense-Conversation.com Most of the time, though, you'll find him at HayleStorm.net, cranking out great websites for clients OR writing tutorials teaching them to build their own sites.

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  8 Responses to “Let’s define “zero tolerance””

  1. That was a good one, and I bet you must feel a lot better having gotten that one out of your system. But this is what happens when ya remove discretion from people with any power. Because some judges and educators have made some marginal decisions, they’ve been branded “Liberals” And because Conservatives disdain Liberals, discretion has been legislated away, and we’ve moved form uber tolerance to zero tolerance. Now, every one goes to Prison, or gets expelled…no exceptions. So there ya have it; one extreme to another. That felt good, got it out of me.
    I used to eat my boogers when caught mining them in the library 🙂

  2. Bob,
    It’s the same in California but one of the things that helps is along is that the legal system aids and abets crazies. The cause and effect of this is that we have more administrators than teachers to make sure that the schools don’t violate the too many laws that our highly paid,full time legislators pass. Bring back those librarians, I say.

  3. Bob,
    Did you notice that Hansi has given a new definition for liberals – people who make marginal decisions. I think there is more needed but it makes a nice foundation.

  4. This is all the latest in a long line of complete BS. Common sense has been replaced by crutches, aka policies, that those in charge use to justify their stupidity. Remember our discussion about the kids with the candy canes back in December? http://cantankerousoldcoots.com/lethal-christmas-cheer/

    When are we going to wake up and use our brains instead of “policy” to live our lives. Bah! I still say bullets are cheap.

  5. Hell Ralph…I just figgered that was stating the obvious…LOL!

  6. Let me start by saying I know next to nothing about the legislation of weapons etc in the US. As far as I’m concerned (as a complete outsider) you can own a gun, etc etc, but it’s generally frowned upon to bring weapons to school or sell them to minors. Because I know so little about it I’m going to skip right past that and the outrages discussed specific to that gross misuse of the law and talk about what I’d always assumed ‘zero tolerance’ to actually mean.

    This’ll be fun I’m sure.

    I think in principle having laws against weapons in school is a good thing. In some cases, wherever the children (or teachers, I assume it applies to them) bring weapons to school with the intent to harm it’s probably a decent course of action to remove them from said environment. That’s where it starts to get hazy; what if you’re bringing a weapon because others have them and if you didn’t have one you’d be a target? What if (as you discussed Bob) it was never intended as a weapon in the first place?

    The problem comes, as with most laws from what I’ve seen, that the letter is obeyed to the detriment of the spirit.

    Same over here, for the record; even carry a knife around and it’s possible to go to jail for up to 5 years. What about fishermen? (as an example)

  7. good grief Heather, if you got in trouble for carrying a knife I would be in jail for 15 years to life most days.

    There are laws in some states as well that limit where you can carry a weapon, here in Utah a business has to post a “no weapons” sign on the door and if you are carrying then you will be in violation. Churches, schools, hospitals all have such policies. I don’t know statistics but I would say many people ignore those signs. You get a what they don’t know can’t hurt attitude and people don’t care.

    These are the people who are ready for when the guy runs in with the machine gun because he got lousy pain killers and starts shooting. I can’t remember the details but something similar happened when a criminal type entered a business and started shooting and other citizens used their weapons on him, saving lives. Did they save people? yes. Did they get in trouble? yes, not for shooting the guy but for discharging a firearm in city limits. Would the criminal type have gotten in trouble for shooting up the place? yes, but a good lawyer would argue stress, insanity and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and probably get the guy probation so he could go out and shoot up something else.

    There was a big debate here a few years ago about whether you could carry a weapon on the campus of the University of Utah. It went back and forth and I am actually not sure what side they ended up with. I think it is a no, but for quite a while it was yes. I never felt that threatened to where I needed to carry my pistol in addition to my books though.

    People argue back and forth about what you can do and where you can but I like to have more faith in humanity. Maye I am just comfortable in my little bubble and don’t get into too many situations where I would need my gun to feel safe. Somebody breaks into my house though……

  8. I’m of the opinion that I’ll either be able to talk my way out of it, run away, or be around someone else that could deal with it (remember, no real gun threat here, we’re talking knives).

    Not that I can’t hold my own when I need to but in all honesty I’ve not needed to in quite a long time. =)

    As for regulations, there have to be some I think. My issue is more with how they’re policed and enforced.

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