Zero Tolerance = Mindlessness

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For years, when asked which governmental program I would most like to see disappear, my answer has been a consistent one: the government school systems. The latest example of the institutionalized child abuse that is synonymous with government schools is that of the 6 year old boy who has been suspended from school, and now faces a 45 day sentence in reform school, for bringing his Cub Scout knife/fork/spoon camping tool to class.

School officials defended this action as an expression of a “zero tolerance” policy regarding anything that could be used as a “weapon.” “Zero tolerance” is but a euphemism for “inability to discriminate.” It being a central purpose of government schools to discourage the development of the capacity for making clear distinctions among competing ideas and values, one must quash any tendency for people to act upon selective judgments whenever the practice raises its ugly head. It used to be the highest compliment to tell another that he or she had a “discriminating” mind; it is now an accusation. If a Cub Scout eating utensil in the hands of a 6 year old is to be distinguished from a machete wielded by a distraught teenager, people – beginning with small children – will get in the habit of using their minds to make independent judgments as to other matters. The Cub Scout must take his punishment, alongside the child who offered a friend a cough-drop (contrary to a “zero tolerance” drug policy), as well as the kindergartner who kissed a classmate on the cheek and faced sexual harassment charges!

“Zero tolerance” policies war against the mind and clear thinking. If children are allowed to grow up with rational, discriminating minds, where will future school administrators be found? Worse yet, how could a political system sustain itself if people begin to question how government officials can win “peace prizes” on the same day they escalate wars?

4:55 pm on October 12, 2009
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