That’s The Way Things Are

Gluttons for punishment?


I tell my friends I think a girl is cute all the time…

And I’ve never been accused of sexual harassment…

A couple of weeks ago, a 9 year-old 4th grader in North Carolina did just that. He told a friend in his class that he thought a girl was cute. In this case, the girl in question was his teacher, who happened to be out that day. His substitute teacher heard this comment made to his friend, and reported it as a complaint to the school’s principal. The school’s principal then in turn, suspended the 4th grader.

Take a second and think about that.

Really think about that for a second…

A 9 year-old boy… was suspended, for sexual harassment… He’s 9 years old! He doesn’t even know what sexual harassment is!

Unless he’s Courtney Love’s son or something… which certainly doesn’t seem to be the case…

And yet, this 9 year-old boy, for making what in his mind was surely an innocent, innocuous comment, was punished and given a 5 day suspension.

Now, a few days later, a higher power stepped in and wrong was righted when the district overturned the suspension, expunged it from his record, sent a formal letter of apology to his mother, the principal resigned, and the boy was given additional instruction assistance for the time he forced to miss in his class.

But all of this makes me wonder: Have we taken things too far in regard to rules and regulations, and do we take the execution of them to a ridiculous extent at times?

There’s been some ridiculousness at the TSA over the last few weeks as well. Three elderly women and grandmothers, all of whom were over the age of 65, and all of whom have medical conditions, were forced to submit to strip searches at JFK airport here in New York.

Really? Grandmas? You’re going to go after grandmas? They’re now the big threats to our national security? Is it the sucking candies or reading glasses that pose the threat?

A senior law enforcement official who previously worked at JFK for many years even admitted to ABC News that if they were really considered to be a “threat” they wouldn’t have simply been brought to a “private” room for the strip search. That would not have neutralized any real threat that an agent might suspect.

About a week ago, another school got into the act, and this one closer to our neck of the woods. Riverhead High School doled out one-day suspensions to four of their student-athletes for “Tebowing” with a group of fellow students in the hallway of the school, citing that doing so created an unsafe situation by clogging the hallway.

“Tebowing,” for you non-sports fans out there, by the way, is a reference to Tim Tebow, the sophomore sensation quarterback of the NFL’s Denver Broncos. He’s a very religious man who frequently drops to one knee to say a brief prayer — even in the midst of a game.

Once again, really? Now, in all fairness, suspensions for two of those four students were lifted after it was realized that those two students hadn’t been previously “warned” to not “Tebow,” but… is it really necessary or appropriate to suspend students for imitating a new hero of theirs? I mean, it’s not as though they totally blocked the hallway by bringing desks out from classrooms and lined them all the way across the hall. And whether they were warned or not, is this really an offense punishable by suspension? Suspension? Not even simply detention?

I’m fine with schools and organizations and places like airports having rules and regulations. Hell, I’m not just fine with it, I’m in favor of them. They’re necessary to keep order and keep students or the public at large safe. But, have we crossed a line? When things this ridiculous in nature occur, the question has to be asked.

I understand that people are just doing their jobs, and trying to do what they think is right and make the correct decisions. But when we, as a society, get so over the top about enforcing some of these rules and policies — much of the time in rather non-sensical ways — something is very wrong. And we need to step back and realize that.

Let’s be more adamant about enforcing the rules in circumstances where enforcement is genuinely needed, but let’s not blindly enforce them on everybody all the time, even when it’s not really warranted.

“Young men know the rules, but old men know the exceptions.”– Oliver Wendell Holmes

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