August AtoZ: Zero Tolerance Policies
I have zero patience for Zero Tolerance Policies. They are the absolute bane of my existence. Lemme tell you why:
ONE — Zero Tolerance Policies are lazy.
When Zero Tolerance Policies are in place, there is no need for further thought on the issues they cover. Whether or not the policy makes sense; whether or not its enforcement accurately reflects its original intent; whether or not it even continues to make sense over the passage of time… Zero Tolerance Policies show our loss of empathy.
A friend of mine has a son who was regularly getting beat up on the bus ride to school. The victim actually knows self-defense, but was afraid of using it to hurt another person. He also realized there was a Zero Tolerance Policy in place with regard to fighting. The boy’s father spoke with the principal, with the transportation department, with the bus driver, and eventually with the school board. Nothing could be done to stop the bully. If no adults saw it, the accusation was merely hearsay, and both boys involved would be expelled.
Which is what happened. The poor kid finally had enough and hit back. Dad got a call at work to come pick up his son, who had been involved in an altercation, and of course the school has a Zero Tolerance Policy for school violence.
The father in this scenario is a really nice guy. He took it all in stride. I’m a bitch. I’d be all for suing the school, suing the parent, suing each member of the school board, and publicizing the entire event.
Laziness allowed an entire community to sit back and allow a child to get hurt — and then punished him for it. Fuck that.
TWO — Zero Tolerance Policies do not allow for extenuating circumstances.
When my sister and I were in high school together, we couldn’t stand each other. Though I was two years older, I was in no way more mature than my younger sibling — and I’m still not, truth be told. We fought over everything. Nothing was too stupid too argue about.
One particularly brilliant day, my sister insulted my boyfriend. I came unglued, and I did the unthinkable. I slapped her. Or maybe I punched her. I don’t really remember. Not trying to downplay things here. I hit her in some fashion. Not my most glorious moment, that’s for sure.
It turned super ugly. We broke down into the most stupid, immature apes you’ve ever seen in a zoo, smacking each other and trying to beat the other down. Two years of frustration with the way our lives had turned out… Two years of being crammed into tiny apartments with no room to breathe… Two years of not fitting in with the awesome-ness that defines uber-cool American children… Two years of missing the ease and laid back environment from which we’d been forced to move…
All this, along with severe personality clash, combined to find two straight-A students who never had detention or got into any sort of trouble whatsoever, strong-armed into the vice-principal’s office, where a glowering Mrs. Spears enjoyed calling our mother to come pick up her terrible hooligans. For the record, Mrs. Spears was a mean, vindictive bitch, and if I ever get a chance to tell her, I’ll gladly do it to her face. She enjoyed our downfall and did nothing to try and make things easier.
The school counselor was in our corner. He wanted to let things slide.
“You two are sisters,
and both of you are excellent students.
You’re not representative of the fighting
that our Zero Tolerance Policy has in mind.
Unfortunately, you girls decided to air your disagreement
in front of the entire cafeteria, so everyone saw you.
If you’d done it in private,
where the other students couldn’t see,
We have no choice but to suspend you.
I’m really sorry.”
And he was. He was really sorry. He recognized that the Zero Tolerance Policy didn’t apply to our situation. So my mom took us out for ice cream, which shocked the hell out of us. But, as she pointed out, getting in trouble at school was enough punishment for two girls who were completely mortified at what they’d done. Eat that, Mrs. Spears.
THREE — Zero Tolerance Policies encourage outrageous loopholes.
Not where the loopholes can do any good, of course. A loophole would have been nice for the boy who got beat up in the first example, or for the girls who beat each other up in the second example. No, loopholes are only for evil geniuses. You know, all those lawyer jokes exist for a reason.
Consider all the most frivolous, ridiculous lawsuits you’ve heard about over the last decade. Suing somebody because your hot coffee is… HOT? Getting away with murder?
Zero Tolerance Policies allow dastardly individuals to perform dastardly crimes and get away with them. They are an insidious part of our system and define some of the many things we lack in our humanity. Blind eyes, deaf ears, parrot speeches, and unwillingness to grow.
Zero Tolerance Policies, in sum, are the very definition of stagnation. As for me and mine, I prefer to evolve. In the World 4 Realz, all systems were created to be bucked, and all rules are merely guidelines. I care more for the individual than for the masses.
Throughout the money of August 2012, my dear friend Aaron @dadblunders and I are doing a dry run of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. This past April was my first official participation in such activity, and I had no idea what I was doing. No theme, no forethought, purely spur-of-the-moment. This time around, I have a plan. Join the fun!
For this event, I am engaging in a month of controversy. Consider yourself forewarned.