Monday, October 19, 2009

We need to stop overreacting

Last week we saw our public school system and the police overreact to two separate situations. The situations were a second grader that brought a camping utensil to school and the handling of streaking at St. Francis football games. Zachery Christie brought the camping utensil because he wanted to use it during lunch. The move by Zachery brought about a mandatory 45 day suspension to be served in the district's reform school for breaking the school's zero-tolerance policy on weapons. Granted the camping utensil contains a knife and could be used as a weapon, the intent by Zachery wasn't to shank the class bully; rather it was to use it at lunch. Last time I checked to become a principal one must at least a Master's degree.

Our Judicial system has established intent, backed by Hate Crime legislation, so why is it so difficult for school officials to determine the intent of Zachery Christie? It was reported in the New York Times that Christina School District officials had no choice since their code of conduct states that suspension is automatic "regardless of possessor's intent" when brining a weapon to school. Christina district school board president George Evens said, "There is no parent who wants to get a phone call where they hear that their child no longer has two good seeing eyes because there was a scuffle and someone pulled out a knife." True, that type of phone call is not something a parent wants to hear. At the same time I do not want to read about a first grader being suspended for bringing in a camping utensil to use during lunch. Heck the kid should be applauded because that is one less fork, spoon, and knife the school will have to wash. The kid is already thinking green!!!

Thankfully Zachery's parents have the resources that will allow them to home school him until the whole affair is ironed out. Now let's deal with St. Francis High School.

What started out as a tradition of streaking the homecoming football game has expanded to nearly all home games. Students were warned prior to the last streaking incident that stern sanction will be placed upon all future streakers. Now, I understand that public nudity, prank or no prank, is not something that is acceptable in the United States. During the September 25th homecoming game saw a 17-year old streaking then getting arrested. Now that 17-year old is being charged with criminal sexual conduct. WHAT?!?!?! Granted it is the police department that is leveling the charges and not the school but does it really matter which authority is doing it?

Police Chief Jeff Harapat is going off the deep end. Harapat questioned, "At what level of a crime does that stop? For example, if you're at McDonald's and having a Happy Meal with your kids and some adult gets kicked out because he isn't wearing a shirt. And he obviously isn't right in the head and he goes outside, pulls his pants down and pushes his butt up against the glass while you're eating…Now tell me what the difference is when we fill a stadium with parents, minor children, and some very small children and we have naked people running across the field" Rightfully questioned, I don't see a real difference in either case but I do not see where either case is worthy of a charge of criminal sexual conduct. Our society is becoming more and more pathetic by overacting to stupid acts of others. Let's stop hyperventilating over every little thing and take a deep breath.

Why on earth do we need to charge the 17-year old with criminal sexual conduct that will force him to register as a pedophile? Why do school officials hide behind a zero-tolerance policy when it is obvious that first graders intent was to use his camping utensil for lunch?