By Greg Smith

My previous blog post castigated the politicians pressuring the National Football League for a zero-tolerance policy on domestic abuse by its players. No-tolerance policies are feel-good notions that in reality remove the human brain which can interpret considerations like context, intent and outcome and in its place uses a written statement that cannot take all future possibilities into deliberation.

One example used was “first-graders suspended for saying ‘bang bang’.”

In Mississippi last week a seven-year-old was disciplined for bringing to school an empty shell casing given to him while with his Cub Scout pack at a 9/11 ceremony hosted by a Veterans of Foreign Wars post. A shell casing is a brass tube that holds the gunpowder and bullet together, forming a round of ammunition to be fired in a gun. When the round is fired, the gunpowder burns away and the bullet is fired down the barrel, leaving just a brass container called a shell casing.

Depending on the ammunition, a shell casing generally weighs a little more than a half dollar. Neither has gunpowder nor a bullet, so bringing an empty shell casing to school is as dangerous as bringing milk money.

The child was told he could have been suspended for two weeks for bringing in the shell casing. His punishment was a silent lunch and loss of two recess periods.

It would have been appropriate and effective to question the child and parents about where the child got the casing, did he have access to live ammunition or firearms, and whether he would ever bring such items to school. Instead, the administration decided it had to mete out a punishment that sent the boy home in tears.

Granted, school administrators have good reason to examine these types of cases. In this case the school’s policy did not ban the item in question, the casing was not dangerous yet the school punished the child anyway. This is the essence of zero-tolerance policies. Bureaucracy: The natural enemy of common sense. ©

Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.