googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: We Should Have Zero Tolerance for Stupidity

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We Should Have Zero Tolerance for Stupidity

OK all you guys out there, did you ever once think one of your school teachers was cute? I remember the first teacher (perhaps it was the only teacher) who I thought was cute. It was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Beagle. I started school young so, in the fifth grade, I would have been about 10 years old. Since I was prepubescent then, I certainly didn't think of her in an overtly sexual way. I just thought she was “cute”. Maybe I would have even described her as pretty. I don't recall ever telling anyone I thought she was cute but maybe I did. You know how boys are.

Well, I guess boys haven't changed too much since I was young. In North Carolina recently, a 9 year old boy was suspended for calling his teacher “cute.”1 Actually, he didn't “call” her cute; he was overheard telling a friend she was cute. A substitute teacher overheard the comment, reported the “offense,” and 9 year old, Emanyea Lockett was suspended for 3 days. “What “offense” had occurred?”, you might ask. It seems the school has a “zero-tolerance” policy concerning sexual harassment. Keep in mind that he had not said anything to the teacher – his comment to a friend that she was “cute” was itself considered harassment.

We've gone a little overboard with sexual harassment claims. The idea that harassment occurs in the mind of the victim without regard to the intent of the “assailant” is an invitation for abuse. But in this situation, the supposed victim wasn't even being harassed. She was merely being discussed. And she was being discussed in the most benign of terms. “Cute” might be used to describe pretty girls but it also applies to puppy dogs. It's certainly not a sexually charged term.

The story doesn't end there, though. School officials investigated the “incident” and determined Emanyea had done nothing wrong. THAT required an investigation? Anyway, they apparently felt the incident was so outrageous that the principal had used extremely poor judgment. They gave the principal, Jerry Bostic, an ultimatum: step down or be fired. Bostic, who had enjoyed a 44 year long career, stepped down.

After his resignation, Bostic spoke out against school superintendent, Reeves McGlohon, who had given him the ultimatum. Bostic said, I admit I made some errors in what I did, but to fire me or to demote me with 44 years in it, it just doesn't make sense. To me he [McGlohon] was a very heartless man, and he did it because of politics.” Now that's funny. He thinks McGlohon did this because of politics?

Why exactly did the school adopt a zero-tolerance policy in the first place? I suggest it precisely was because of politics. Bostics mistakes didn't begin with little Emanyea's comment but when he first bought into political correctness. He then painted himself into a corner by adopting a zero-tolerance policy. Bostic had made a series of bad judgments and stacked them up like a line of dominoes just waiting for some innocent comment, like the word “cute”, to tip them over.

Let this be a lesson to schools who adopt zero-tolerance policies. No matter how noble sounding the cause, it's always a bad idea. We've seen how zero-tolerance for sexual harassment can be abused but so can any other policy. A student who draws a picture of a gun gets suspended because of zero-tolerance for violence. A student who has an aspirin in his backpack gets suspended because of zero-tolerance for drugs. Where exactly do we draw the line?

Well, maybe there's one policy I might adopt. I think we should have zero-tolerance for stupidity.


Todd Williams said...

Amen. What an idiot. He deserved to be fired. I have to be careful when I read stories like this because I'm always ready and willing to jump on the "world is full of stupid people" train and ride it into the sunset. Unfortunately, it seems the older I get, the less patience I have with stupidity.

RKBentley said...


It's funny you should comment on this post now because there was a recent news story that makes it relevant. It seems in MD, there was a first grader (6 years old) who was suspended for pointing his finger at a classmate and saying, “pow.”

Here's the address for the story online:

So tell me, Todd, have you ever done that? I know I have. Did you think we were contributing to a violent culture?

Like I said, zero tolerance is always a bad idea because it causes people to make stupid decisions. This is just another case in point.

God bless!!