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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Nov 7, 2009

Two years ago, a 7-year old from New Jersey received a one day suspension from school because he drew a stick figure of a man holding a gun.

Just last week a 12-year old girl from the Des Moines area recieved a similar suspension for bringing an empty blank shotgun shell casing to school, a suspension that will go on her permanent record. The casing was a souvenir from a vacation she took with her family to a ranch in South Dakota, a trip she wanted to share with the class.

These young children can thank so called “Zero Tolerance” policies for their undeserved discipline.

Did these students intend to use these objects to cause their peers harm? Even if they did, what harm could a drawing or piece of brass and plastic do? Every student in that class possessed a weapon far more threatening than either of these objects – a pencil!

Because these items fell under the zero tolerance weapons policy in their school district the students were automatically suspended by the administration without a second thought.

Does that sound fair, or even slightly appropriate to you?

And zero tolerance policies don’t just apply to schools, they can affect each and every one of us at our place of work.

A short time ago, an employee at a local meat packing plant was fired after 25 years on the job for attempting to fix a stuck conveyor. He was not hurt in the process, there basically was no chance of him getting hurt, but it violated the company’s policy. A witness to this event hustled to the manager’s office, the complaint went straight to corporate and the man was fired THAT DAY!

What kind of backwards logic is that? In an attempt to cover their own behinds in our sue happy society, more and more school districts and large businesses are enacting such policies. If you do something that violates this policy your punishment will be swift, and probably unjust.

When was the human element removed from the decision making process? When did we become a society completely unwilling or incapable of looking at a situation from all angles and taking appropriate measures? When did we throw common sense completely out the window?

Let’s use our brains folks. Let’s make the punishment fit the crime. Don’t hide behind a piece of paper that makes decisions for you. Use a little common sense for crying out loud.

Since there seems to be no end in sight for zero tolerance policies, I guess it might be true what they say – common sense ain’t all that common.