Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Past time to overhaul our legal system

Greetings again friends. It seems that every day, we find an asinine example of what happens when we let politicians pass laws. Today's example. In this one a ten year old girl was arrested for eating at lunch. Yes, that's right. She was sent to school with her lunch, the old brown bag we all remember so well.

Her lunch was some steak, which of course requires the use of a steak knife to cut. The knife was taken away by two teachers, the child was arrested for having a knife on campus.

Everyone admits that the child wasn't using the knife wrong, she wasn't waving it around, or threatening anyone in other words. She was using it to eat her lunch. Imagine that.

Now everyone involved in talking to the reporters swears that they had no choice. The sheriff says it's not his fault, the law demands they take some action. The school says it's just policy, and that's that.

I say these fools shouldn't have ever been in charge in the first place. Our society has in fact legislated common sense out of our lives. We aren't allowed to think for ourselves. We're required to blindly follow the letter of the law, or else we're the ones in major trouble. Nuts.

Laws shouldn't be passed by a legislature, in a language that only a select few can understand. Laws should be in plain English, and should be passed by each community. Not by a select few in the community. By the community as a whole. No 51/49 split, I'm talking a real majority. At least 2/3 of the community should be required. If you don't get 2/3 of the community to vote for it according to the census, then the law doesn't pass.

When we put rules down for our children, we understand that there are going to be exceptions when the child is going to disobey the rule, and we're happy when our children start to use their minds and think for themselves to a certain extent.

One example if I may. Your child knows he's not allowed to cross the street. A simple rule we've all had in our lives. An elderly woman needs help carrying her groceries across the street. Unlikely, but you get the point. Is it more important that your son obey your rule as iron clad, or is it more important to be a good citizen and help his neighbors? In this example, I'm going to pretend that you actually know the elderly person, and know your neighbors.

The point is there are always exceptions to the iron clad rule. It's against the law to kill someone, unless you yourself are in your home and your life is in danger. It's against the law to exceed the speed limit, yet we understand that you are going to do so if a person is in severe distress to get them to the hospital. Safe? Not always, yet we do it to try and help someone. The courts generally don't throw the book at you, and in fact, the Police have been known to assist you from time to time.

I think it's time we put some common sense back into our lives, and take some of the absolute out of the law. Motive matters people. The first question that should have been asked by the teachers before even going to the girl is "Is she using the utensil properly?" If the answer was yes, then leave the kid alone.

Here in my town, the police arrested a cub scout at school and he spent the weekend in jail. Seriously. The boy was at his cub scout meeting the night before, and had come home late. He put the same pants on in the morning, and went to school. Once there, he discovered that he had in his pocket a cub scout knife, which is similar to a Swiss army knife for those of you who don't know. He knew he wasn't supposed to have it at school. He went to the teacher, and told her the truth, giving her the knife.

The school didn't have a choice, the called the police. They didn't have a choice, they arrested and took the boy to jail. It was Friday, before a long weekend. The boy was in jail all weekend long until Tuesday morning when he was taken before the Judge.

The Judge was outraged. The boy behaved properly. When he saw a situation he was unable to deal with himself, he did exactly what we train our children to do. Find an adult, tell them the problem, get help from them. Instead, the boy was punished far worse than anyone should have been for doing the right thing. What did that boy learn? What did all his friends, and classmates learn from this situation?

If you go to an adult and tell them about a problem, any problem, you will be punished for it. Don't trust the adults, they'll get you if you go to them. That's the lesson that our system taught the child in question.

What should have happened? The teacher should have locked the knife in the drawer, and called the boys parents. Telling them what happened, and telling the parents that they, the mother and father, will have to come to school to get the knife. The boy is to be commended, for showing great presence of mind and understanding that adults are here to help them through trouble, not punish them for telling the truth.

A whole school full of kids got a lesson alright. They learned, never take anything to the teacher. Hide your problem, don't dare go to the adults. Take your chances hiding what's wrong, you'll probably get away with it. The Judge tried to counter this lesson, but three days later? Too little, too late, the lesson was already learned Judge.

Iron clad rules, more trouble than they're worth wouldn't you agree?

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