Zero Tolerance Policies: Only Idiots and Cowards Create Them

Zero Tolerance Policies are for Idiots and Cowards

The United States is a nation governed by the rule of law, not the fiat of the powerful, and that is one of the things that make it such a great and free nation, but Zero Tolerance Policies are for Idiots and Cowards, not the free-thinking American citizen that is the heart of the nation.

From high-school to the work place, civic organizations to community service groups, and town halls to D.C. offices, the implementation and adherence of and to zero tolerance policies is for idiots and cowards lacking the intestinal fortitude and personal responsibility to do what is right and sensible - instead of what is easy and consequence free; at least for them.

Zero Tolerance Policies in our schools

It is the mandates of Zero Tolerance Policies in our schools that has received the most publicity, and generally generated the most public outrage. As well it should. If school principles and administrators have zero authority or flexibility in instances of zero tolerance policy infractions - then why do we need them? And their expensive salaries? Why not just put a minimum wage caretaker and an instruction manual outlining the school's zero policies in the principle's office?

Do we need to pay for someone with a college degree to have a child arrested for playing cops and robbers with a paper gun? Couldn't a low-level caretaker do that? After all, no judgements or determinations need to be made. No career field backgrounds or experience are required - it's a paper gun, call the cops. And drugs? "Forgeddaboutit," grab that Advil before they can "shoot it" into their veins and hold them down until the police narcotics investigators can get here to arrest them.

Principles, guidance counselors, and teachers are trained to deal with young students as they progress though the educational process. That's their job. See an Advil - take it away and tell the student why, see a bag of heroin - retain the kid and call their parents and police. What's so hard about that? Making choices and judgements is part of the job. It's part of life. What are we teaching our children with these "zero tolerance" policy mandates?

So why not save some money - if a school administration issues zero tolerance policies and mandates, then replace the in-school administrators with off-duty janitors - they can read and dial the phone, and look at the tens of thousands of salary dollars that can be redirected to other educational needs. Sounds like a win-win solution.

And what about the intelligent, responsible, and caring school administrators that just stands there as a 10-year old is handcuffed and hauled off to juvenile detention - wringing their hands and muttering, "I'm sorry, I really am, but I had no choice, there was nothing I could do, she had a Bayer Aspirin in her book bag." Or the defiant third grade teacher standing with head high and that haughty expression of self-righteousness - "He DREW A GUN on his art project sketch, of course I called the police, THAT'S OUR POLICY!"

Boulderdash and poppycock! If these responsible and caring people - that just want to help your children learn, don't have the common sense or courage to stand up and say, "This is silly, I'm not going to do that," then get them away from the kids! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? They know the zero tolerance policies are irrational - so why don't they stand up and be responsible, instead of abdicating all responsibility and just muttering, "It's out of my hands, it's our policy."

But there may be one Zero Tolerance policy that makes sense - the one that applies to zero policy creators and adherents. Write a zero tolerance policy - you're fired, and the cops will be here in ten minutes to chuck you into the slammer! Blindly apply a zero tolerance policy - assume the position! You are on your way to jail, and we will send your personal belongings to your next of kin.

Zero Tolerance Policy Outrages

  • Winchendon, Massachusetts - A fourth grader was suspended from Toy Town Elementary School for bringing a Memorial Day souvenir to school - an empty brass rifle shell casing used in the town's Memorial Day celebrations. AN EMPTY BRASS SHELL CASING, which resulted in a five-day weapons related school suspension! A school official told the boy's mother that the shell casing would not be returned and a juvenile probation officer may be assigned to the boy. --- Three "intelligent" school officials had the opportunity to exercise their "intelligence" before this escapade escalated to the suspension and police notification phase. ps. It was a uniformed military veteran from the town's celebration that gave the empty blank rifle shell casing to the boy, that's why he was so proud of it.
  • Spotsylvania High School, Virginia - 14-year old honor student expelled for the remainder of the school year for violent criminal conduct and possessing a weapon. The student, who was also in the JROTC program and planned to apply for admission to the U.S. Naval academy, was referred to the police, resulting in juvenile criminal proceedings for assault. The result of that charge on his record means he will be disqualified from applying to the Naval Academy. The student's criminal weapons violation? Shooting spitballs through the body of a ball point pen in the school's hallways.
  • Delaware - This one went national, so many may be familiar with it. A 6-yearold first grader took a Boy Scout camping knife that included a folding fork to school to use eating his lunch - and show off, he was a new Cub Scout, and proud of his new camping knife. -- The result? A 45 day sentence to an alternative school! But... Zero Tolerance policy proponents are quick to point out that after the national outcry - this Delaware school district amended its Zero tolerance policy to just a 3-5 day suspension for kindergarten and first graders. -- These are the types of people we are intrusting our children's education to!

And it's not just in the school system.

  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority - The WMATA has a zero tolerance policy for "quality of life" offenses, one of which is a rule against eating or drinking on the transit system. They even have undercover officers assigned to patrol the transit system looking for offenders. For an adult, the first offense is a $10-$50 fine and a warning, and a second offense means arrest. But minors cannot be fined, and if they can't be fined then the zero tolerance policy makes arrest the only option. A 12-year old Alice Deal Junior High School student that takes the metro to and from school made the mistake of stopping at McDonald's for some fries as she headed to the metro station. Once she was on the train, she was spotted by one of the undercover enforcement officers. as soon as she ate a single French fry, the officer pounced, and minutes later the junior high student was in handcuffs and headed for jail. Nope, couldn't just warn a 12-year old - that's not the policy.

Of course there are many more similarly outrageous zero tolerance policy incidents - everyone has heard of at least a couple. But the point is made - zero tolerance is just a synonym for zero intelligence and zero personal responsibility.

Zero Tolerance Policy Defenders

Of course there are defenders of Zero Tolerance policies. Some even point to congressional legislation as the mandate for them:

"Congress legislated zero tolerance polices toward weapons on school grounds when it passed the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 (Pub. L. 103-382, Title I, ยง 101, October 20, 1994, 198 Stat. 3907). According to the act, every state had to pass a law requiring educational agencies to expel from school, for not less than one year, any student found in possession of a gun."

But that is a straw horse - easily knocked down, you will notice the law says "Gun" - not a drawing of a gun, or anything in the world that could possibly be construed to be a gun or a dangerous weapon. It says GUN!

The point remains. Creators of Zero Tolerance Policies are spineless idiots. And the people that enforce them to the letter are irresponsible cowards that relinquish any claim of personal responsibility, and hide behind the transparent defense of - "I had no choice - it's our policy."

See more GA Anderson Political articles

GA Anderson aka the Curmudgeon
GA Anderson aka the Curmudgeon | Source

See more GA Anderson Political and Social Issues Rants

I may not always be right, but I always have an opinion. See more of my writings at:

"Seeing it does not make it real, and reading it does not make it true. Use a little common-sense and trust your instincts." - GAA

More by this Author

Zero Tolerance Policies: Only Idiots and Cowards Create Them Comments 16 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Okay, maybe these policies are where some of our TSA employees get their ideas...

I wrote about this topic in the context of the BSA and have wondered about following up on the boys. Your hub is inspiring me to do so.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Maybe some TSA employees get their ideas in the same place these people get theirs.

I wrote about this topic in the context of the BSA and have wondered whether I should take the time to follow up on those boys. Your hub is inspiring me to do so.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas

Agree with you that zero tolerance makes no sense. Don't suppose it was your intention, but you've just sited several excellent reasons for people to home school their children. These were in fact some of the reasons why I did home school my daughter.

Realize that won't address some of the issues with the Transit Authority, etc., but avoiding the idiocy of public school is better than nothing.

Voted you UP and interesting.

profile image

The Writers Dog 5 years ago

Only in America!

GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA Author

@RTalloni - thanks for the read - and taking the time to comment.

I like your thought that maybe Zero tolerance policy abuses might be training material for TSA agents.

Drop back by anytime.

ps. I'll drop by and check out your BSA article.


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA Author

@Au Fait - thanks for commenting - and bravo to you for making the home schooling effort.

I agree. I have many more issues with government schools, but their use of zero tolerance policies is one of the top ones.

many parents of kids in government schools praise the teachers and administrators for their dedication to their children's education and future - and then we hear one of these stories....

drop by anytime, I always welcome your comments


GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA Author

@The Writers dog - I see that these zero tolerance policy abuses have made you "almost" speechless :)

feel free to tell us how you really feel - in ten words or less of course :)


politicalzealot profile image

politicalzealot 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

It's just the government training our kids to be controlled and dominated when they get older. What makes sense doesn't matter. What matters is what the boss says goes. In this case, its the government school admins. Later in life, it will be whoever is in Washington.

GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA Author

@politicalzealot - glad to see your visit. your comments are always welcome

but.... maybe you are seeing this "zero tolerance policy" issue on a deeper level than I, because I see it purely as a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of administrators and officials - cowards and idiots - the lot

one dumb step towards some idiotic ideal of a socialist nation of mindless autotrons

as I offered - save their salaries and use janitors instead


politicalzealot profile image

politicalzealot 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Well I will admit, my comments are somewhat hyperbole. It doesn't change the fact that zero tolerance = zero thought. Schools should be the last place zero thought is encouraged.

GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA Author

@politicalzealot - I couldn't have said it better - zeros using zeros.

Luckily, I haven't had any direct entanglements with any Zero tolerance policy issues - but that's a good thing because if they make my blood boil like they do now - I would probably go ballistic if I had to fight one


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

GA, I follow your points here and the reasoning is most sound, People using a little discretion which is how we all justify getting paid the big bucks go far in not making a mountain out from a mole hill. You have some pretty stark examples here often time the circumstances are not as clear cut and some form of written guidance is necessary.

The idea is to apply the rule book with discretion and not partiality.

" the implementation and adherence of and to zero tolerance policies is for idiots and cowards lacking the intestinal fortitude and personal responsibility to do what is right and sensible"

Oftentimes what may prove right and sensible to one may not be such for the other. Much of our perceived reality is relative.

GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA Author

@credence2 - Well, once again - your comments are always welcome and enjoyed.

but.... re: your comment ending - My first instinct is to say "Yes, exactly my point!"

But you have me wondering... did I misinterpret your intent?


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

GA, did not mean to confuse, I don't believe that you have misinterpreted the intended meaning....

I guess that my point is that the 'right thing", or common sense may not always be that obvious, that is why you have to warn people that at the fast food restaurant, coffee is served hot, so beware.

kschimmel profile image

kschimmel 4 years ago from North Carolina, USA

Zero-tolerance policies are the refuge of cowards. Treat a kid with an asthma inhaler the same as a kid with a joint. Treat the kid with a paper gun the same as a kid with a real gun. That protects the cowards from the appearance of bias--and protects them from any responsibility to actually use their brains!

GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson 4 years ago from USA Author

@kschimmel - thanks for reading "Zero Tolerance Policies..." and leaving a comment - sounds I'm preaching to the choir.

Thanks for the follow too I will check out your hubs as soon as I'm done.


    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article