Legal Insurrection hips us to some goings-on in my native Middle Tennessee, specifically the city of Smyrna, where if memory serves, my family would go on weekends to watch flat-track motorcycle races. In any case, it seems one Nicholas Taylor, age 10, was recently sentenced to Coventry for the remainder of his semester — or at least to the “silent lunch” table. His offense? He is accused of threatening his fellow students with a simulated gun… which had begun the lunch period as a slice of pizza. Further, he may have been less than truthful when questioned about the purported pepperoni massacre.
I don’t really have a problem with punishing kids for lying — indeed, I rather support that. (Lesson 1, Nick: It isn’t the crime, it’s the cover-up.) However, the idea that alleged pretend assault with part-skim mozzarella is an action worthy of punishment is ludicrous. I know we live in a post-Columbine, post-Virginia Tech era, and what’s more, I have more reason to be sensitive to gun violence than most — although I remain firmly pro-Second Amendment — but this sort of thing is such a spectacular violation of Ciceronian stasis theory as to make the rules themselves ridiculous. “Zero tolerance” approaches are willful ignorance of both the definitive and qualitative realms of understanding. The law should not be in the position of rendering itself contemptible, and I would argue this is what has happened to young Master Taylor. He is the gnat that has met the steamroller. All this does is dishonor the steamroller.