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Zero Tolerance Category Map

  Thanks to "Zero Tolerance", You are Not Safe

The silly concept of "Zero Tolerance" may have started in American schools, but it certainly did not end there. It not only has spread to schools in other countries, what's the expected result when all those schoolchildren get out of school, and into the Real World? They practice what they learned, of course! The story, from the 10 October 2004 issue:

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  Who “Deserves” Freedom?

We're often told not to discuss politics or religion in polite company. But sometimes your hand is forced. It all started with two stories that appeared in subsequent weeks -- in the 9 May and 16 May 2004 issues:

Proof The Terrorists Have Won

Girl Scout troops in Martin County, Fla., decided to have a Mother’s Day “scavenger hunt” at the Treasure Coast Square Mall. Fathers would accompany their daughters and go “window shopping” for items on the hunt list, marking them off as they spotted them, and then shop for a nice present for Mom when they were done. At least 150 father/daughter pairs signed up, but mall management wouldn’t allow the hunt, citing “security” concerns in the post-9/11 world. “Since Sept. 11, we have looked at our security procedures very closely,” said mall spokeswoman Rachelle Crain. First, “How do we know they’re Girl Scouts?” she said of the uniformed 5- to 18-year-old girls. But, more importantly, “Our enhanced security prohibits us from hosting events that allow participants to wander freely around the mall area.” (Stuart News) ...Right. Their dads could whip out a concealed credit card or something.

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  Terrorism Continues at Home

I've been saying -- for a couple of years now -- that "Zero Tolerance" policies and laws "terrorize" school children. It's hard enough for adults in America to understand the new way of life as we face true terrorism; imagine how hard it is for kids. Here's how one child tried to cope -- and how the "adults" around him reacted. From the 7 October 2001 issue:

Zero Tolerance Gets Back to Normal

Fifth-grader Paul Volz, 11, dealt with his fear of terrorism through art, drawing the burning World Trade Center towers. He was proud of his work: he taped the picture up near his study cubicle at school in High Ridge, Mo. "When I asked him why he did this, he just looked at me and smiled," said North Jefferson Intermediate School principal Jeff Boyer. "This is totally inappropriate and Paul's behavior has to change," he told the boy's parents. Boyer suspended the boy for three days for smiling at the drawing on grounds it was "disruptive physical conduct or speech" and "communication of a threatening nature." The school district supports the principal, noting "Some drawings can be therapeutic and others can be offensive." (St Louis Post-Dispatch) ..."We have met the enemy and he is us." --Walt Kelly (1913-1973), American cartoonist and social commentator.

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  ZT Madness is Spreading!

You might think "Zero Tolerance" is a playground issue -- just a way for school administrators to deal with violent kids. If you did, you would be wrong. ZT is a mindset of black-and-white rules applied to a gray world. "We tolerate no disobedience on the topic of [fill in the blank]." Thus, a "no guns" policy meant to keep firearms off school grounds (a laudable goal) gets applied to "squirt guns" (a silly result) -- or even crude crayon drawings of guns (a ridiculous result). Since these rules are "black and white", that means the punishment is the same: suspension and expulsion. So in the name of keeping firearms away from schoolchildren, kids are being kicked out of school for drawing pictures -- treated the same as a kid who brings a real loaded gun to class. Outrageous! The "punishment" should fit the "crime" -- the actual crime.

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  Reader Comments on "Zero Tolerance"

(This is Page 2 -- reader comments. Page 1 is here.

Note: This collection of letters is not representative of all letters received. The balance is actually a much higher percentage of agreement than disagreement than shown here!)

  • My friends and I were just talking about this the other day. The subject came up over a boy that was suspended for bringing a butter knife to school. His mother placed it in his lunch box (i.e., he didn't know he was even bringing it) so he could use it to spread something for his lunch. Peanut butter or something, I don't recall. But due to the school's "Zero Tolerance" policy, he was suspended. --Dave, Ohio

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  Losing my Tolerance for "Zero Tolerance"

"Zero Tolerance" Rules and Laws Require Severe Punishment Not Only for Possessing Drugs or Guns, but Also Any Item Which "Looks Like" a Prohibited Item.

Is This Tiny Toy a "Weapon"?
Bang Bang -- you're dead? If you attend school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, don't carry a toy key fob like this one in your pocket. A 7-year-old boy was suspended in school for carrying one of these because it violates the district's "zero tolerance" policy on "weapon possession".

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