Ben in Victoria, Australia, sent me a note this week with the subject, “ZT — I’m just stunned.” He writes:
Such it is with the timing of world events: As you probably know, I write True on Sundays. I’m on the road this week and had already finished writing this week’s stories — with the lead story about a guy who shot himself in the head.
Just when I think there can’t be even more outrageous examples of Zero Tolerance — in schools or in real life — I come across more that I just can’t resist telling you about. But there is hope, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, one of the ZT stories from this week’s (25 February 2007) issue to illustrate:
In the 28 January issue I ran a story about two murderers who escaped from prison in England. I noted the story was an example of “zero tolerance” mentality migrating to the real world:
Here we go again: more Zero Tolerance stories. This week (7 January 2007 issue) is, I think, the first time ever that the entire issue consists of ZT stories, starting with this one:
The lead story last week brought an outraged response from a reader. First, here’s the story, from the 2 July 2006 issue:
After several ZT-in-schools stories over the last month, Laine in Utah complained:
This week’s issue had several “Zero Tolerance” stories. The stories themselves don’t matter to the following point: Whenever I run stories like these, readers write to suggest I put the principal’s/administrator’s/school board’s email address in the issue to make it easy for you to write and berate them. Please don’t; it’s not useful for you to write nasty letters to these people.
When a fourth-grade girl got nabbed by her school on “Zero Tolerance” grounds, her parents didn’t lie back and take it. Here’s the story, from my 26 May 2005 issue:
The silly concept of “Zero Tolerance” may have started in American schools, but it certainly did not end there. It not only has spread to schools in other countries, what’s the expected result when all those schoolchildren get out of school, and into the Real World?
We’re often told not to discuss politics or religion in polite company. But sometimes your hand is forced. It all started with two stories that appeared in subsequent weeks — in the 9 May and 16 May 2004 issues:
I ran more “zero tolerance” stories last week, and I’m noticing a new trend: when I run the stories, I get mail from readers asking what they can do about this trend, since it obviously is a trend and not just an isolated happening. The new trend: many ask if I would please provide the mail/email address of the schools involved so you can give the administrators a piece of your mind.
A couple of letters regarding Zero Tolerance, starting with Wayne in NWT, Canada:
I’ve gotten plenty of feedback on a recent rash of Zero Tolerance stories. Julie in Iowa (Iowa?! Sheesh. ZT has infiltrated!):
I’ve been editorializing — for a couple of years now — that “Zero Tolerance” policies and laws “terrorize” school children. It’s hard enough for adults in America to understand the new way of life as we face true terrorism; imagine how hard it is for kids. Here’s how one child tried to cope — and how the “adults” around him reacted.
You might think “Zero Tolerance” is a playground issue — just a way for school administrators to deal with violent kids. If you did, you would be wrong.
After yet more recent “zero tolerance” stories, the tenor of readers is “we want to do something about this!” I’ve had several questions like this, from Aaron in California: