Remember the Spoon, Fork Camping Pocket Knife? Yeah, It Got a Six Year Old Suspended

I happen to be a staunch advocate for a simple tool, which I believe would prevent or solve a majority of the issues the world faces. It’s something that just about everyone can use, but some find themselves not only unable to wield it, but prohibited by procedure.

It’s common sense.

For example, had common sense been applied to this situation, a six year old Cub Scout would not have been suspended from his school for bringing a “weapon” to school:

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.

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“It just seems unfair,” Zachary said, pausing as he practiced writing lower-case letters with his mother, who is home-schooling him while the family tries to overturn his punishment.

Seems unfair? That’s one way to put it. I think it’s utterly moronic. In fact, this is the type of thing that takes stupidity to planes high enough to turn the sky from blue to black.

I know there are policies in place to deal with student who bring weapons to school, but zero tolerance rules should be applied with a liberal helping of, you guessed it, common sense. If a kid brings a gun to school, there are some issues there that need addressed. If he brings a pocket knife with a fork and a spoon, it might be ok to let that slide.

Slippery slope you say?

Common sense, I reply. If a kid brings a Crocodile Dundee knife, then yeah, that kid needs to be talked with, but the administration finds itself reacting the way it did with Zachary because it can’t make those distinctions. They could be accused of favoritism by parents who fail to use common sense.

Maybe this Zachary kid is a menace, right? Maybe there is more to this story. Maybe he threatened to cut a kid and eat his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Yeah, not so much:

“Zachary wears a suit and tie some days to school by his own choice because he takes school so seriously,” said Debbie Christie, Zachary’s mother, who started a Web site,, in hopes of recruiting supporters to pressure the local school board at its next open meeting on Tuesday. “He is not some sort of threat to his classmates.”

Here’s an Eagle Scout who was suspended for having a two inch knife as part of his emergency kit in his car:

Matthew Whalen, a senior at Lansingburgh Senior High School, says he follows the Boy Scout motto and is always prepared, stocking his car with a sleeping bag, water, a ready-to-eat meal and the knife, which was given to him by his grandfather, a police chief in a nearby town.

But Lansingburgh High has a zero-tolerance policy, and when school officials discovered that Whalen kept his knife locked in his car, he says, they suspended him for five days and then tacked on an additional 15 after a hearing.

Whalen asks a great question:

“I said to him, ‘What about a person who has a bat, on a baseball team? That could be a weapon.’ And he said, ‘Well, it’s not the same thing.'” The school district’s policy lists “Possessing a weapon” under “examples of violent conduct,” which “may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension from school.” School district officials did not reply to requests for comment.

Yeah, I bet they didn’t. At least they have some common sense. They need to practice it more often.

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