Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

September 20, 2013

Mossburg: Zero tolerance for common sense

Since when is a toaster pastry a deadly weapon?

Parody is now reality when it comes to guns in public schools. In the name of preventing violence since the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, schools across the country are suspending students for bringing toy guns to school, making gestures that look like guns and in one absurd case in Maryland, suspending a student for biting a toaster pastry into the shape of a gun. I can picture the documentary now: “An Inconvenient Pop-Tart.”The latest incident involves a sixth grader in Calvert County, Md., who was suspended for making a gun gesture while on a bus heading to school. According to The Washington Post, Carin Read, the mother of the 11-year-old student, filed an appeal of the suspension last week, following a principal denying her request to remove the incident from his school records. This follows an episode in May in another Calvert County school where a 5-year-old boy was interrogated for two hours — without his parents first being notified — for bringing a toy cap gun to school and suspended for 10 days, although the suspension was later lifted.In another incident in Prince William County, Va., last February, an 8-year-old boy pointed his finger like a gun at a classmate after his friend pretended to shoot him with a bow and arrow. The interchange followed a lesson on Native American culture and the class learning a song about deer hunting, according to reports. He was suspended for “threatening to harm self or others” – a punishment also reserved for bringing a weapon to school.Similar incidents have been reported in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.In none of the incidents outlined above did the students who were punished pose a danger to their classmates or teachers. And in the Prince William County case, the student was role playing what he learned in a school lesson, showing the hypocrisy of a school policy that punishes elementary school students for re-enacting its own curriculum. Would the school also suspend students for practicing “Hamlet” or “West Side Story” off stage?Like forcing air travelers to remove their shoes in airport security lines, the zero-tolerance gun policies make no one safer, but cause a lot of harm. Chief among the casualties are the children charged with crimes they didn’t commit and labeled in their school records as troublemakers. They also teach all children subject to the rules that the law is arbitrary – a terrible lesson for a generation who will soon be entrusted with upholding and respecting the rule of law as adults. Children understand the concept of fairness well before they start school, so these rules will only grate at their sense of justice – at the same time indoctrinating them into a world where punishment does not fit the crime nor does the crime even deserve punishment.Back to the issue of safety: The common thread of the mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., and Virginia Tech is mental illness. Unfortunately, however, as David Kopel wrote in The Wall Street Journal in December, “In the mid-1960s, many of the killings would have been prevented because the severely mentally ill would have been confined and cared for in a state institution. But today, while government at most every level has bloated over the past half-century, mental-health treatment has been decimated.”Mr. Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute in Colorado and co-author of the law school textbook, “Firearms Law and the Second Amendment,” advocates higher funding for mental health and strong civil commitment laws for the mentally ill who are violent.That makes much more sense than punishing children for being children and perpetuating the myth that zero-tolerance policies save lives and prevent violence.Marta H. Mossburg is an independent columnist. Follow her on Twitter at @mmossburg.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 22, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Indiana Democrats deal with divide on education On the face of it, the battles between Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters and staff of Republican Gov. Mike Pence have been a unifying force for Indiana Democrats. But the scrapping has exposed a deep rift within the party o

    July 22, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Is Evan Bayh contemplating another gubernatorial run? This could be the saga of “LeBron Bayh.”Like a thunderhead brewing in the distance, you could see this one coming. This was the progression: former state Democratic Chairman Dan Parker announces he will not become a candidate for mayor of Indianapoli

    July 21, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Please go away already My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven't caught up. I don't have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 21, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Internet, and future of communication One morning, I was chatting with some retired folks and the subject of paying bills on the Internet came up. One woman said she disposed of her computer years ago and pays her bills by mail. I commented she could get by just fine doing that. The othe

    July 20, 2014

  • FAITH BRAUTIGAM: Learning from others' mistakes through literature If you’ve ever been locked out of somewhere — your home, your car, your workplace — I expect you could tell me all the details of the incident, even if it was years or decades ago. Why? Our brains remember major events, and it’s a big deal to be stra

    July 20, 2014

  • RAY DAY: We need to get tough Last year I said I was going to quit trying to do anything about the shooting off of fireworks in the neighborhoods. But as anyone who knows me can say, I don't give up on things that are of utmost danger. Here it was, a week before the Fourth of Jul

    July 19, 2014

  • LEE HAMILTON: Is this country doomed to ceaseless polarization? We Americans are trapped in a political dilemma. We all like representative democracy, but we don't much like the way it's performing. The reason for this dissatisfaction is clear. Polls in recent years detail a polarized nation, divided both ideolog

    July 18, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Solving border crisis is a moral obligation More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year. Another 40,000 family members — one or both parents traveling with their chi

    July 18, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Road to funding Ind. highways is jammed If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on T

    July 15, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller