I sat down last night to offer commentary on Ahmed Mohamed and his suspension for bringing a homemade clock to school. I was going to focus on a piece from Reason.com: “Hey Liberals, #IStandwithAhmed isn’t only about racism, it is about school zero-tolerance insanity”* I scrapped that piece because new information has come to light at PJ Mediathat paints the school in a more sympathetic light. I don’t know the truth of what happened and at this point the dominant media narrative seems to be unraveling a bit, but there is not enough to make a firm statement either way. Read both the PJ Media piece and Reason piece and decide for yourselves.
The device was not actually a bomb, though it certainly warranted scrutiny. I do not think that Ahmed should have been interrogated without his parents present, and I do not from the available information think he needed to be led away in handcuffs. I feel the same way anytime a child finds themselves facing criminal charges for a non-violent violation at school.
That being said, there was an unambiguous example of zero-tolerance lunacy at a Texas school this week. A student at the Trinity Charter School was suspended when a police search yielded a small pocket-knife in his possession.
A statement from School officials defends their actions (from CBS19.tv)
“Earlier this week at one of Trinity Charter School’s East Texas campuses, staff took swift and appropriate action regarding a report of a student bringing a weapon to school. the team at the school notified law enforcement immediately who, through the search, found a pocket knife.”
“My opinion from 18 down you shouldn’t have a knife especially at school, so that’s how I look at it.”
As it turns out, knives on campus are actually legal in Texas, provided that the school has not put in place a formal policy prohibiting carry. This makes it worse in my opinion. The school has the freedom to deal with such situations in a fair and rational manner, instead they chose to abdicate their responsibility to exhibit compassion and common sense. They chose to hide behind a rigid, mindless, and ineffectual policy that does nothing to protect kids, but plenty to hamper their future prospects for benign acts.
*When I shared the Reason piece on my personal FaceBook page, David Andersen left the following response:
“I take issue with the headline of the article calling out “liberals,” as if they are the only ones to find this situation repugnant and smell a whiff of racism. This should be a case we can all agree on, a rare coming together of all of us as people, but the singling out of one group in the headline serves no purpose but to be divisive.”
I do not disagree. All sentient beings should be appalled by zero-tolerance policies in schools, and if Ahmed is indeed completely innocent or that the school singled him out for his race, all people should voice their displeasure with unjust punishments.