Eugene Volokh points to an article about some of the recent idiocy concerning weapons in our schools. The specific article reported the criminal charges faced by a 7 year old who brought a nerf weapon to class.
Then from Overlawyered there is the spitballing honor student in Virginia who was both suspended and charged with assault. Thus spake the Sheriff's office: "Assault is assault is assault." Really? I did not know that. What a genius! The victims in this case complained of feeling a "pinch" or "sting" when they were hit with the pellets and one even had a welt on her arm as result. Pinches and stings and welts, oh my! Heavens to Betsy, what a dastardly villain! His like has not been seen since Snidely Whiplash. Lock him up and throw away the key.
Opinion Journal had a long running series pointing out this type of zero tolerance nonsense some time back. Neither negative publicity nor ridicule, however, seems to penetrate the conciousness of the clowns doing this kind of thing. Not surprisingly, I have a theory about why zero tolerance policies are so popular among the pezza novanti.
By definition, professionals of all stripes are supposed to use their judgment. That's basically what being a professional means. Lawyers, doctors, judges, engineers, etc, all look at a problem and see a range of ways to solve it. They use their judgment to select what they think is the best way of doing so. But few people like justifying the choices they make or (perhaps) are unable to do so. Therefore, when a proposal comes along to obtain an outcome they like (such as banning weapons in school) that expressly prohibits them from using their judgment, they see it as a win-win situation. How many times has a school administrator simply avoided even attempting to explain a decision to discipline a student by saying, truthfully, "I have no choice, we have a zero tolerance policy."
I see zero tolerance policies as just the opposite. I see them as preventing a professional from doing his job: using his judgment. And if the professional supports having zero tolerance policies, he or she is no longer a professional. They are an unthinking automaton.
I especially think about someone failing to exercise his judgment (as he was hired to) do when I see stories about 7 year olds facing criminal charges of "possessing an imitation firearm in or on an education institution". I wonder how long it took the reporter to find the quote from another parent used to "balance" the story: "I'd rather it be dealt with more severely than not. I would rather them go a little bit too far for the safety of all the children then to say 'okay, it was probably nothing.'"
The "ammo" was foam ping pong balls, for God's sake. But its OK if its "for the children."
Clown hats all around.