In our latest case of zero tolerance = zero intelligence, we get this story of an eighth-grader suspended for, brace yourself, doodling a fake laser in the margins of his science assignment.
"I just can’t believe that there wasn’t another way to resolve this," said Paula Mosteller, the boy’s mother. "He’s so upset. The school made him feel like he committed a crime. They are doing more damage than good."
Indeed. And whenever there is stupidity of this magnitude, you can always depend on the appearance of that two-word phrase we've all come to know and loathe, "zero tolerance":
"In the letter, school officials told parents about the incident and indicated there would be a zero-tolerance policy toward gun threats."
Translated into conversational English, that means:
"We don't want to do our jobs and apply intelligence and experience to determining which kids deserve punishment and which do not. Instead we are going to have idiotically simple rules which we will wield bluntly, thus smashing everyone equally."
Zero tolerance is bullshit. It turns the American principle of innocent until proven guilty on it's head. What's worse yet is combining it with some hoplophobia and a complete lack of perspective, thus yielding this gem:
"When Ben Mosteller came to the school to discuss his son’s punishment, he said school officials mentioned the seriousness of the issue and talked about the massacre at Columbine High School — the site where two teenagers shot and killed 12 students and injured 24 others in 1999 at Littleton, Colo."
Columbine?! We are comparing doodling a laser in the margin to storming a building heavily armed and murdering people? I suppose next we'll punish a kid who pulls the wings off flies because Michael Vick was cruel to dogs.
The worst of it all is the kid was doodling because he had finished his work early, so he's likely one of the better students, just exercising some harmless creativity. Way to reward academic success people! The next time someone tells you they have zero tolerance for something, tell them that's just an excuse to not have to think or take responsibility for one's judgements. Justice may be blind, but she's not stupid.