Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Illuminating the problem

A few days ago I posted about a high school student who was suspended for having a 1 1/2 inch knife in his glovebox, and that some Americans - and educators especially - can't seem to differentiate between a simple object that is harmless, and someone who would use a simple object to do harm.

The parents of the student, who is now a Soldier in the US Army, are appealing the school board's ridiculous decision to maintain the suspension; and now we are getting into the weeds on what kind of thought goes into making zero tolerance policies:
But the school's rule book brands possession of a knife to be "violent" conduct, and leaves it to the discretion of the superintendent to determine the proper punishment.
And there you have it folks. It's about the Thing, and not the person. The Thing, the Object, is the monster to loose the hounds of policy on; and you better not be the one in possession of The Thing, or you will be punished. Gun owners see this object focus mentality all the time. Clueless people assume that a firearm is in itself capable of evil, or is evil, and if you are in possession of one then you are a part of that evil. They see no distinction between the person and The Thing.

Humans are born with some inherent mental programming that may be partially to blame, but an adult should have a rational mind that can determine between one or another. When rational people see thuggish looking teens wearing colors, bandannas, chains, and throwing dice behind the mall, they don't go asking them for directions. While the teens may not be dangerous, there is no way to determine that at a glance. The rational person is actually focusing on the teens behaviour, or at least they should be, as they are the ones capable of evil. If those same teens have their dice, colors, bandannas, baggy clothes, and whatever visibly on the top of their car, would that be something to give a rational person alarm? Would a man walking into WaWa with a pistol visibly holstered on his belt cause a rational person to be alarmed? It shouldn't. He is in possession of a Thing. The Thing is not what the rational person should be looking at. If the man walks into the WaWa with the pistol in his hand, then a rational person should be sensing that he is evil; not because of The Thing, but by his actions.

Those examples are simple. What this student is going through is a no brainer; but the school superintendent is so far into hippy land that he can't tell The Thing from the man. The superintendent has discretion, but he has decided that mere possession of The Thing makes a man evil.
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