Here we go again:
What’s the best way to turn a bright, ambitious, straight-A Honor Society student into an under-achieving juvenile delinquent lay-about? Hint: If it’s not finding a butter knife in his school lunch box, or a stick figure drawing with a gun on his desk, it’s got to be catching him and his friends red handed in the cafeteria with a bag of oregano.
That’s what happened last week to a
, seventh grader and his three goofy friends. A teacher caught them with a bag of oregano thinking it was a bag of pot. The boys are now suspended from school facing the possibility of expulsion. Chesapeake, Va.
The State of
has a zero-tolerance policy against "imitation controlled substances," explained a school board spokesperson with a straight face. So if it looks like marijuana, even though its not, the zero-tolerance sledge hammer falls in the great state of Virginia . Poof -- a straight-A student and National Junior Honor Society candidate is instantly turned into a lowlife criminal, expelled from school, his promising academic career destroyed. Virginia
These kids are severely punished; their entire lives adversely affected because of a lousy bag of oregano, a completely innocuous herb used for flavoring food. Oregano is a legal substance. Powdered sugar, flour, corn starch, and dozens of other legal substances look exactly like powdered cocaine. A handful of pebbles might easily be mistaken for crack cocaine. An American Legion artificial poppy flower conjures up images of opium and heroin. I suppose they’re all dangerous "imitation controlled substances" in
This is not just zero tolerance for serious crimes committed in school; its zero tolerance for merely the thought of a crime; its punishment for an idea; an imaginary goblin. Like the lunch box butter knife, and crudely drawn stick figures with guns, which conjured up hysterical thoughts of violence and terrorism, a bag of oregano can cause the same kind of collective zero tolerance hysteria. It causes otherwise reasonable people to ruin the lives of others over literally nothing.
What if it really was a bag of pot, another equally innocuous substance posing no danger whatsoever to anyone? Would they destroy a young life’s promise over a bag of pot? Yes, indeed they would. It’s an every day occurrence right here in the land of the free and home of the brave.
You see, with zero tolerance, there is no tolerance; no insight; no reflection; no understanding; no mercy.