by Ron Coleman | November 25, 2007 12:19 pm
James Taranto pulls another one out of the “zero tolerance watch” file:
Travis Grigsby loves playing drums, but he and his friend Alex Coday weren’t able to play for two weeks after they were suspended. It started after the band’s performance at a football game. Some kids on the drum line said they were talking about the best knots to use to tie up the drum equipment.
“Someone asked if anybody knew how to tie a noose and Travis did admit he knew how to tie a noose,” Kim Grigsby said.
Travis’ mom said her son is almost an Eagle Scout, he knew how to tie it, but told his friends he wouldn’t because you could get in trouble for that. Later, a black student on the drum line told the teacher he was offended.
“Travis was accused of using a racial slur for saying the word ‘noose.’ Then he was suspended for 10 days,” Kim said.
The school says, “no one is aware of any racial tensions at the school.” Is that before, or after, this event? This took place in Kansas City, Missouri, by the way — where judicial government essentially ran the city school system for a quarter of a century in order to reverse what by all indications was a pernicious program of segregation in the school system. The court-ordered reconstruction of the Kansas City schools, essentially from the ground up, only ended four years ago and cost over $2 billion. It remains one of the most controversial exercises of judicial power in American history. Right or wrong, how credible is it to say there are no racial tensions in any school there?
Clearly everyone in Kansas City is on tenterhooks about race in the schools. What made the black student on the drum line run to a teacher? We don’t know exactly what was said. It’s entirely possible something very awful was uttered in the course of that “noose” conversation. But what, exactly, was achieved by yanking the offending student out of school?
It’s possible that he learned a lesson about what is and what is absolutely not “acceptable discourse.” But it’s also possible he learned that he’d be better off not even talking to black students, or anywhere near them, about anything — and that “the system” would rather deprive him of a week of education (the suspension was reduced to five days) than deal openly and forthrightly about what was and what was not said.
And what are the odds that this experience will make Travis Grigsby or Alex Coday a better, less prejudiced citizen — considering how nasty* people can be when given any opportunity to nurse their petty grudges?
“Zero tolerance” — the kind of thing conservatives might think they like the sound of until they see how it operates in the hands of the totalitarian-minded — is another policy whose time has come. Time to hang it high.
Ron Coleman blogs regularly at Likelihood of Success.
From this week’s Post Secret — NSFH.
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