In January 2013, I realized I had used “Now this is the worst example of insane no-tolerance school conduct that there can ever be!” multiple times, and that it was time to make some close calls. I asked readers to rank the following real examples of child abuse by schools, in which children of various ages were punished cruelly and excessively for harmless conduct that violated a poorly envisioned no-tolerance rule. This was the list:
1. Biting pizza into the shape of a gun.
2. Pointing a finger in the shape of a gun and saying “Bang!”
3. Threatening to shoot a student with a bubble gun.
4. A deaf child who makes the obvious sign-language symbol for gun, to “say” his own name, because his first name is “Hunter”
5. Expelling a student and bringing charges of criminal assault for shooting another student with a spitball through a straw
6. Accidentally bringing a paring knife to school in a lunch box
7. Drawing a picture of your father holding a gun
8. Playing with a LEGO figure carrying a LEGO automatic weapon
9. Drawing a picture of a gun
10. Writing a poem about the Newtown shooting.
I received a lot of responses on the blog, more off-site. I never published the final results, however, which also takes into consideration my own positions. Here, from most defensible to most insane, is the current order, and why each entry landed where it did:
1. Expelling a student and bringing charges of criminal assault for shooting another student with a spitball through a straw.
This is still insane, of course, but at least the student actually did something justifying some form of discipline. In this case, the discipline is so wildly disproportionate to the “crime” that it amounts to cruelty.
2. Accidentally bringing a paring knife to school in a lunch box
The classic no-tolerance example: even though it was accepted that the breach of the no-weapons rule was accidental, the child was punished anyway. Since that episode, we have seen the worst possible example of its illogical extension, in the case last March where a student who stopped a classmate from cutting herself took away the razor blade, gave it to the teacher—and was suspended. This would be far down the list.
3. Pointing a finger in the shape of a gun and saying “Bang!”
At least this is an arguable threat. Is the case of the child punished for threatening to use Tolkien magic to make a classmate disappear more insane, or less? I’d say it’s pretty close.
4. Threatening to shoot a student with a bubble gun.
A text book “a gun is a gun and hence evil no matter what it shoots” case of anti-gun indoctrination. But it is at least a threat, though less threatening than vanishing by ring, on the theory that some kids may believe in magic, but I have yet to meet anyone terrified by bubbles.
5. Biting pizza into the shape of a gun.
The classic. (The later Virginia case involving a Pop Tart is essentially the same, but not as funny.) Once, this was #1o. How I long for those innocent days.
6. Playing with a LEGO figure carrying a LEGO automatic weapon
More indoctrination. A teeny, weeny fake plastic gun is still a gun.
7. Drawing a picture of your father holding a gun.
Now we’re in the anti-free speech, anti-expression, thought control section. Nothing tangible, not a gun or a toy gun, or a gun made of pizza. Just a picture. The horror.
8. Drawing a picture of a gun.
This is more insane than the insane instance above. The harmless picture in that case shows someone holding the gun, which conveys at least the potential of violence. A picture of a gun alone suggests no violence at all, unless you are deranged…like the teachers who suspend students for drawing pictures of guns.
9. Writing a poem about the Newtown shooting.
Again, an offense to free speech and thought. This is conceivably worse than last year’s Alex Stone case, who was arrested and suspended because he wrote a passage on his Facebook page, as part of an assignment, that described using a gun to kill a dinosaur, because the story involved in the Newton case was based on fact. Forgetting unpleasant history is more of a threat to civilization than banning violent fiction.
10. A deaf child who makes the obvious sign-language symbol for gun, to “say” his own name, because his first name is “Hunter”
“Because it is my name!” proclaims John Proctor in “The Crucible” when he refuses to save his life by signing a false confession. I cannot imagine anything more monstrous than telling a deaf toddler that his name is such an obscenity that he may not express it the only way he knows.
But will I now state that this is as bad as no-tolerance monstrosities can get? Oh, no—I’m not making that mistake again.
Please review the draft order, and if you want to substitute other no-tolerance outrages covered on Ethics Alarms, or one I haven’t covered, fire away.
Oops. Better not say it like that…
24 thoughts on “Finalizing The Sadly Useful School Anti-Violence No-Tolerance Insanity Scale”
Zero Tolerance policies are horrible. They take away the ability to judge each incident on their own merits (or lack thereof).
I have a Zero Tolerance policy for Zero Tolerance policies.
Horrible policy, indeed!
Is there any reason why our children should respect the authority of teachers? Maybe those of us who are parents should encourage children to show teachers the true respect that they deserve.
It not just a matter of children violating rules and being over-disciplined for it. It’s a matter of insanely politically correct rules being forced upon them by idiots who have no business being anywhere near a school to begin with. When I was in school, the only one of those “criminal acts” listed above that I would have been disciplined for were the “spit wads”. EVERY boy in school carried a jack knife, for God’s sake! Nor was this just a “Texas thing”. We’ve turned our once lauded public schools into pigpens run by the craziest people you could find that have avoided a strait jacket.
I think I mentioned this before, but we brought our rifles in several times a week when I was in high school. We had a varsity rifle team sponsored by David Lyman, the owner of Lyman Gunsight and Blue Trail Range. We brought them into the office, or if we put them in our lockers, they had to be locked. This was in the early 80’s; not that long ago. If I’m not mistaken, the stats on school shootings haven’t changed drastically since then, so what changed? How do we ignore the evidence? Meanwhile, I wear NRA and other shirts that have pictures of automatic weapons and pistols on them very frequently at the university. Nobody’s taken the bait yet. I’m in open rebellion of all things PC, hip, or trendy.
Wait at the door of the dean’s office until he comes out- then throw out you chest and salute him!
That might do it!
I went to high school in a small town in the Texas Hill Country (for Steven Mark, Bandera). Graduated in 1963. Every year, we had a ‘Western Day’ in which the students were encouraged to dress as cowboys, cowgirls or (dare I say it, Indians). There must have been 60 or 70 Mattel cap guns, slung low on the hip, worn for that day…EVERY YEAR. Neither the school district nor the school administration had any problem with it. Then again, Bandera used to sit smack in the middle of an area settled by German ranchers, who were fiercely protective of what belonged to them and would protect it from any critter, four-, two- or no-legged (snakes). Wasn’t unusual to see one of these ranchers walk into the local bank with a pistol on his/her hip.
Why not? I mean, is the bank MORE likely to get robbed? God, I miss common sense.
The Bandera Bulldogs!
I don’t know. That pizza looks more like the State of New Hampshire. With a Motto like “Live Free or Die,” I can see why the schools would be threatened by such a subversive message.
Good one, Jut!! I totally missed that, but you are absolutely right!
You owe me a keyboard AND a new suit.
That’s (nearly) two of us, Jack! Fortunately, my cup was empty at the time.
Or Idaho. Just imagine how Canada feels about this. Two guns, one on each side of the continent, pointed right at them. (Be careful, Idaho is loaded.)
#9.5: Punishing a student for being involved in a weapon related incident. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/02/high-school-student-disarms-gunman-gets-suspended/ for instance.
Bothers me a great deal because it actively punishes laudible behavior. I was going to put it at #11, but the punishment for signing your own name is just so very, very aggravating.
Huh… meant to include that the student was suspended for disarming the armed student… really wish i could edit comments here sometimes.
Once upon a time, such a young man would have been lauded and given the key to the city. How far have we descended from the America of our fathers!
AR15 wasn’t used at Sandy Hook:
Adam Lanza (school shooter) didn’t exist:
Newtown parents are ACTORS:
500 (Sandy Hook) STUDENTS VANISHED:
Sandy Hook EVACUATION was fake:
Nancy Lanza home — planted gun evidence:
You forgot the “Obama Is Billy Barty in a Tall Black Guy Suit” link.
Wow…. that’s funny.
We picked up our 2 and half year old from his school which he attends a couple days a week. We observed in his room about 4 of them (including him) running around with toys pointing them at each other going “Pew pew” and “boom boom”.
When we went in, we asked the teachers when they started playing like that. The teachers got all hypersensitive “We don’t teach that, we don’t know where it came from”.
I had to inform them “calm down, calm down, we’re not angry…these are boys…this is how boys play, we’re just curious.”
Then they proceeded to tell us, “Well we try to discourage this, because when they get to Kindergarten at a public school, they will face serious repercussions”
(The sarcastic former military side of me wanted to then say, “if you are going to discourage them or scold them at least do it for something meaningful — like that boy over there isn’t even aiming, and that one over there just irresponsibly allowed the “barrel” of his “gun” wave towards his ally, and that one there is running with his finger on the trigger, come now these are elementary mistakes”)