The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.
They’d Punish More if There Weren’t So Much Paperwork
“China Punishes 20,000 Officials For Being Too Bureaucratic”–headline, Reuters, Dec. 2
Puff Puff Puff
Darlene Superville of the Associated Press is out with a dispatch titled “5 New Things About President Obama.” We’ll save you the time and just excerpt the list (which for some reason is in all caps):
HE SINGS IN THE BATHROOM . . . THIS PRESIDENT CAN COOK . . . BROKE HIS NOSE PLAYING BASKETBALL . . . WORLD TRAVELER . . . DAUGHTER HAS PEANUT ALLERGY
Not exactly speaking truth to power, is it? Though we suppose under current circumstances it might qualify as comforting the afflicted.
A Moral Panic Subsides
Years ago this column had a regular feature called “Zero-Tolerance Watch,” in which we rounded up stories of idiotic disciplinary actions in elementary and secondary schools. Some examples we cited in a May 2001 Wall Street Journal op-ed included a 16-year-old New Mexico girl suspended for 45 days for bringing a tiny penknife to school, a 9-year-old Florida boy charged with felony aggravated assault for pointing a toy gun at a classmate, and a 9-year-old Louisiana boy suspended for drawing a sketch of a soldier holding a knife. (An administrator in the last case also vowed to crack down on “copycat drawings.”)
Here’s some good news for a change, from the New York Times:
Faced with mounting evidence that get-tough policies in schools are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates that especially affect minority students, cities and school districts around the country are rethinking their approach to minor offenses.
Perhaps nowhere has the shift been more pronounced than in Broward County’s public schools. Two years ago, the school district achieved an ignominious Florida record: More students were arrested on school campuses here than in any other state district, the vast majority for misdemeanors like possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti.
The Florida district, the sixth largest in the nation, was far from an outlier. In the past two decades, schools around the country have seen suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor nonviolent offenses climb together with the number of police officers stationed at schools. The policy, called zero tolerance, first grew out of the war on drugs in the 1990s and became more aggressive in the wake of school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Moral panics have a way of eventually petering out.
For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”