Ben in Victoria, Australia, sent me a note this week with the subject, “ZT — I’m just stunned.” He writes:
I’m a premium subscriber and have been for only a few months now. I find your [work] intensely amusing and stimulating, but I have to say it also makes me mad.
The stories collected regarding zero tolerance do not apply to me. I live in Australia where there is nothing of the sort (as far as I am aware). I know no one whom this applies to and it has no personal connection to me.
Yet reading stories about those who have been abused by the policy makes me angry. I have a young baby who won’t sleep, I have a bank that likes to raise interest rates at the drop of a dime and I have other various problems that vigourously test my patience and temper.
But this one always makes me feel like putting my fist into the monitor, especially when I find the mountains of horror stories splayed all over the net. The stories about otherwise bright and able students shoved into deep depression and disillusion offends all of my sensibilities that are founded on earning what you get. I have always prided myself on having gotten ahead in life without handouts from anybody and too see these good people ground under the great boot that is ZT breaks my heart.
It is a great disparity on the image of America, so much so that I have a very paternal paranoia to avoid moving to America lest my children fall victim to this …well I can’t think of enough poisonous descriptions… ‘ZT’. I have to admire the resolve of those that choose to fight this abomination. I fear they may be more heroic than I, but I hope never to be tested in kind.
Randy, please let me know if you have any preferred charities or other bodies that you would recommend that I might donate some of my resources. Whether it’s letter writing, petitions or cold hard folding stuff, I would only be too happy to oblige.
Many thanks on the fine work. Keep it up.
Well, Ben, two things. First, one of the reasons I pound on ZT so much is because I do see it spreading outside the U.S. I can’t think of any Down Under cases off the top of my head, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find some in my files. I want people — in the U.S. and outside — to be horrified by the concept because it is, indeed, horrifying. We are literally terrorizing children for no good reason, all in the name of pretending we’re “doing something” about the ills in society.
Second, you put your finger right on it: what’s needed is an important “resource” few are willing to donate, which is time.
Here’s what I mean: if you (and I don’t mean Ben, I mean everyone reading this) hear of a ridiculous case of overreaction based on ZT, whether it’s in a school, by the police, or anywhere else near you, you need to go stand by the victim. Literally. Whether it’s going to the school board meeting to speak against some kid “caught” at school with a crude drawing of a gun, or writing a letter to the editor about an injustice happening in your town, you need to do it.
Don’t wait for “the other guy” to do it, do it yourself — and encourage others to join you at the meetings and in writing letters. Many cases of ZT reported on in True have been reversed when there was a public outcry.
And Then Keep Going
But it’s not just “that case.” Getting a case reversed is a victory, but it’s not winning the war. That takes getting policies (and sometimes laws) reversed. The school principal just wants to follow policies and not “make a decision”? Fine: then lobby for the principal’s salary to be cut in half: the reason s/he gets paid so much is because they supposedly have the knowledge, education and experience needed to make hard decisions. Can’t/won’t make them? Then they’re paid too much!
My blog has a lot of such suggestions. Yeah, it takes a bit of that precious resource again (time) to do it, but there is a lot of great info in there. One entry is about a high school kid writing with his own ZT experiences. Other pages with particularly direct suggestions include What Actually Works Against ZT and ZT: Fighting Fire with Fire.
But you have it right, Ben: we need resources to fight this so ZT doesn’t continue to spread and, with enough of those resources, the trend starts to reverse.
As you’ve noticed, I can help spur people to action, and indeed your Premium subscription does help me to keep this going (thanks!). But no one — including me — can do it all by himself, which is why you need to stand by the victims. The bottom line: if you see the injustice of ZT around you, you need to stand up and be counted as someone who demands common sense, not commonly seen nonsense.
Again, what can you do about ZT? You need to stand up and be counted as someone who demands common sense. Simple as that.
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