One ring to get you suspended

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I’m forever trolling the news agencies, looking for trucking news – more specifically, positive trucking news. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time reading headlines, and this one absolutely floored me. It doesn’t have anything to do with trucking, but it does have to do with the immediate state of slobbering idiocy our world has fallen into.

Sometimes, I take things into perspective and try to understand that I’m just old, cranky and a teensy bit of a rebel (shocking, I know), so all the rules and DO NOT signs that are strangling out life as we know it are a little more annoying to me. I try to be fair, and realize when an orb traveling through space reaches the maximum level of life it can possibly hold and is carrying 6 billion people around the space-time continuum, there are bound to be a lot of rules and I probably won’t like most of them, but they’re necessary to maintain balance and prevent anarchy.

I get it.

I do not, however, get why suspending a fourth grade kid for telling his classmate he was going to “render him invisible with the One Ring” is OK, or even something that could happen in real life. First of all, the suspended kid is nine. If he’s using words like “render” he’s probably paying pretty close attention in school and academically sound. Secondly, are these people for real?

Books and readingThe kid’s dad thought it was a joke when the principal called him and told him his boy was going to be suspended for making terroristic threats to a classmate. The principal maintains a threat is a threat, imaginary or otherwise, and zero tolerance dictates the child will be suspended for three days.

Because a mind is a terribly dangerous thing to develop. Heaven forbid anyone have an imagination, or even worse, use it. (Gasp and fall on the floor.)

If that’s not insane enough, here’s the head banger: they’ve already punished this kid once for bringing “The Big Book of Knowledge” to school, because it has drawings of pregnant women in it. You might infer they don’t want this child to read at all. You might also infer that zero tolerance laws are complete horse shit.

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As ridiculous as this story is, it really hit home to me. Our son, who isn’t perfect by any means, but has always been a really good kid, got caught up in a zero tolerance debacle last school year. He went from being an honor roll student with absolutely no discipline on his 11-year school record to being a suspended fifth-degree felon, all in one fell swoop.

You might think from reading the charges he was intent on causing mayhem; “possession of a deadly weapon” can’t be dressed up, no matter what context it’s read in. The truth of the matter is, he made a stupid mistake by waking up late and putting his work pants on instead of his school pants, because they were laying on the floor by the bed. His work pants had a buck knife in the pocket, because we live on a farm and he needs his knife for all kinds of things that don’t involve the Taliban, or menacing his classmates, at all. He furthered the chain of events by not calling his mom to come pick up the knife when he realized he had it, because he was 16 and 16-year-old kids aren’t known far and wide for their astute decision-making processes. The bottom line is, he made a dumb mistake and it cost him, big time.

We’re fortunate to have a resilient kid; he bounced right back, got a job with the attorney who represented him, and worked his fines and fees off himself. We’ll be able to expunge his record when he’s 18, but we’ll never expunge the constant sense of uneasiness the kid lives in. He’s eternally concerned he might forget to do something like take a knife out of his pocket before going to school and find himself locked up again. Kids shouldn’t have to live like that.

I’m really glad things weren’t this way when I was young. I’d have been shipped off to Guantanamo by the time I was 11. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to raise self-sufficient human beings when we have to teach them to rein in something as intrinsic to their nature as an imagination. Welcome to the Borg. (This is in no way meant as a threat, I was welcoming you, I wasn’t remanding you to it – let’s be clear on that before I’m sent to the principal’s office…)