Monday, April 30, 2007

The Loophole Is Closed. Don't Let It Become A Noose

Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell apparently worked together to close a loophole through which evil walked. I commend them both, but I won't go into any detail about the Executive Order. I'm sure it's covered well elsewhere, and there's no real need to rehash it here. It now needs to be codified into law, but very carefully. The Lt. Governor is working with the Legislative Information service now to do just that.

What I would caution them all to guard against is the inevitable knee jerk. And make no doubt, knees will jerk. It's the third most popular sport in academia, right after big game tenure hunting and grant chasing.

Some precaution needs to be built into this law, or codified in some other law, to put the brakes on nonsensical "Zero Tolerance" policies in our government schools.

What? You think I'm being an alarmist? There are whole websites devoted to the lack of common sense displayed by schools all over the country in the name of zero tolerance. Todays news carries two prime examples of such knee idiocy in government schools.

A State University of New York, Cobleskill student received a five day academic suspension and was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. His crime? Tharindu Meepegama, the student, had a photo of himself holding a shotgun on his personal website.

In another recent case, after receiving a creative writing assignment, an assignment that carried an instruction from the teacher to "exaggerate wildly" and an admonishment against "self censorship", 18 year old Albert Lee was arrested by the Cary, IL police department because that same teacher found his writing to be "disturbing".

I've read excerpts of his essay, and it is "disturbing" only in that it's not very good writing. In the essay itself, Lee explains that the violence he is describing is completely out of character for him, even describing it as funny to think that he could imagine such a scene.

To make matters worse, Lee's future with the Marine Corp appears to be over. Because of the pending criminal charges, Lee's recruiter told him that the Marine Corps has discharged him from his contract.

It's possible that Meepegama or Lee may be deranged. It's much more likely that they are not. Common sense treatment of both cases by the school staff would have been a much better way to begin determining if either student actually posed a problem.

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