scouts-l Mail Archive for June of 2000: Zero Tolerance absurdity
Steve Hoar (pilgrim@CLOVER.NET
Fri Jun 02 2000 - 21:18:11 CDT
Perhaps the most obnoxious aspect of zero tolerance policies comes with the
application of the maximum penalty regardless of the nature of the
offense. Even a traffic cop who stops a speeder considers the
circumstances before/if he writes a ticket. Consider jury trials involving
a death. There are different degrees of murder/manslaughter and various
degrees of punishment. Not all of them result in capital punishment.
Throughout virtually our entire legal system there are various degrees of
punishment applied to fit the nature of the offense. Even at home with your
own children we fit the punishment to the circumstances and the nature of
the offense. Do you follow a codified Zero Tolerance system of offenses
and punishments in your scout unit?
Consider the nature of the situation we have been discussing. Certainly
the possession of a pocket knife in a classroom is more serious than a
camping hatchet in the trunk of a car in the parking lot. It wouldn't take
much thinking to make the punishment fit the crime. The operative word
here is 'thinking'.
What is perhaps the most disturbing part comes in having one person act as
judge, jury, and executioner. Despite our right to facing our accuser and
having a jury of our peers, these rights are conveniently/legalistically
overlooked in our schools. This despite the long term impact of having
such a negative mark placed on your academic records and your reputation.
Unfortunately, the whole thrust of the zero tolerance policy is political
in nature. Parents and others demand that we 'do something'. Hence we
draw up this table of crimes and punishments. Administrators love it
because it is easy to apply. No thinking required, Offense X results in
punishment Y. No judgement, no consideration, no investigation
needed. Pure laziness. Pure political expediency.
Thank heavens our Creator does not follow a Zero Tolerance policy, we all
would have been toast a long time ago. Thank God that our legal system
does not follow the punitive model of our educational sytem. But,
considering the state of crisis that exists in much of our educational
system is there any surprise that they came up with their Zero Tolerance
Stephen M. Hoar
Simon Kenton Council, Ohio