Here’s a little pet peeve of mine: News websites that demand that you register in order to view their stuff. Luckily, there is a solution to this annoyance, called BugMeNot.com. These fine folks allow people to post their login info for various sites, so you can just grab a fake login without having to register yourself and subject your email box to whatever marketing they’re no doubt hoping to inundate you with.
This comes to mind because of a story I saw on NYTimes.com, which has since been put into their “login required” zone. You’ll likely need to go to BugMeNot as well to grab a fake login before you can read the story I’m going to reference. Or you may have seen it elsewhere already, in which case you can skip that hassle.
This story is about a 6-year-old first grader who was suspended from school for bringing a knife to school. Horrifying, right? Well, hang on. Turns out this little fellow is a Cub Scout, and wanted to show off some of his new Cub Scout gear: A knife, fork, and spoon set for camping trips.
He’ll now have to go to the district’s reform school (doesn’t that sound lovely?) for 45 days. The reason he’ll have to go there is that the district has a zero tolerance policy for people who bring weapons to school. Zero tolerance sounds awfully macho, but what it really is is the wimps way out. Nobody has to take responsibility for the decision to suspend a student, because their hands are tied.
Weapons certainly have no place on school grounds, but let’s get real about it: I could kill you with a pencil if I were properly motivated. I’m guessing the knife in a knife/fork/spoon camping set is a heck of a lot closer to a butter knife than a kukri.
Are the officials at this school so dense that they can’t assess a 6-year-old’s intent? If so, they ought not be educating the youth of America. If not, then they have some explaining to do as to why a kid would need a 45-day suspension over something this dumb. How about the teacher take a quiet moment to talk to the kid about why we don’t bring knives of any kind to school, take it away, and give it back to him at the end of the day? Problem solved! Nah, that’d make too much sense.
I mentioned the possibility of a pencil as a weapon. How about scissors, which I imagine every 1st grader uses at least weekly? Or a compass, which, unless they’ve modified the design somehow has about the sharpest point imaginable? Good God, you could pick up a ten-pound weight from the weight room and brain somebody else with it. Yes, I know first graders don’t typically use compasses, and elementary schools probably don’t have a weight room, but the point it still valid. There is no way to stop a sufficiently motivated person from harming another, in school or anywhere else.
There was another story yesterday, almost too horrifying to imagine, where a group of teenagers lit some other kid on fire. The accelerant they used was (I believe) rubbing alcohol, which you can probably find in every school’s nurse’s office. It’s impossible to protect everyone from everything.
I’m still going to publish my outrage, despite the fact that in the time it took me to set these words to virtual paper, the school district has come to its senses and allowed the tyke to return to school. Now the members of the school board are talking about the need for common sense to be applied. Common sense, it seems to me, would dictate that zero tolerance policies be abolished everywhere.