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Punishing Zachary Christie
Should zero tolerance apply to a Cub Scout who took a folding camping utensil to school?
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merica's "zero tolerance idiocy" has gone too far, said Jacob Sullum in Reason. According to an article in The New York Times, Zachary Christie, 6, was "so excited about the all-in-one eating tool he got when he joined the Cub Scouts that he brought it to school" to use at lunch, but thanks to a no-knives policy he's facing 45 days in reform school. Come on—anybody can tell the difference "between an overeager Cub Scout with a nifty camping tool and a budding thug" with a switchblade (watch Zachary Christie in a film he made before his zero tolerance troubles).

Nobody in his right mind, said Karin Klein in the Los Angeles Times, would defend school officials for sending a little kid to reform school for packing a sknork—a camping utensil that folds out into a spoon, a knife, and a fork. But "it's not reassuring" that Zachary Christie was quoted saying that he isn't wrong, the rules are. No matter how proud the Delaware first-grader was of his Cub Scout prize, "a knife is a knife and a rule is a rule."

So change the rule, said Allison Kilkenny in True/Slant. No 6-year-old is "going to shank someone with his Swiss Army knife," period. Zero tolerance policies arose out of the national freakout over school shootings, but they have evolved into a farce. There are ways to make a school safe without turning it into a "hyper-totalitarian state within a state where children are all treated as suspects, including little Zachary Christie."

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