Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Cowardice of Zero-Tolerance

I've had this post brewing for a few weeks, so it seems like a good time to let it rip.

I hate zero-tolerance.  I think it's for cowards.

You've seen it all:  kids who have what was once considered a minor infraction at school are expelled or sent to detention for 99 years.  People have been fired because of some insanely small violation of a zero-tolerance policy.  It's all stupid.

My one caveat:  some of the consequences that come down upon people who do dumb things are well-deserved.  Kids who bring loaded guns to school need to be addressed seriously.  A sexually harassing individual should be sent to the curb with a box of desk contents in hand.  End caveat.

But the consequences and the policy don't have to be one and the same.  Thinking people can distinguish between the two.

And that's just the problem.

Zero-tolerance is in place so people don't have to think.  It requires no common sense.  A water pistol brought to school to get a friend back is a weapon, so ZT says you're out.  No common sense needed.  No need to think.

And that's why it is so cowardly.

First, it's cowardly to refuse to look into a situation and find what was really going on, what the issues were, and what the motivations were.

Second, it's cowardly to hide behind the policy of ZT and say, "Well, that's our policy," as if that's Base in a game of adult freeze tag.  "I'm safe!  You can't get me!"

ZT makes good headlines and talking points on a pundit's show.  But it's high time our culture step away from this cowardice and insanity and embrace thinking again.

Hey, that has to start with individuals, doesn't it?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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