(NOTE: I am posting this previously unpublished
editorial on the heels of the latest act (as of March 27, 2001) of
zero-tolerance-injustice committed against a West Monroe, LA 3rd grader expelled for a day
from school for drawing a picture of a soldier with guns and grenades. Other reports have
it that the child drew the picture in response to a classroom assignment in which the
children were to draw a picture of their hero. This child's hero was a relative who was in
the armed services. (Reported by Monroe's The News-Star and formerly posted at
www.thenewsstar.com/news/news032701.htm but no longer available on line)
May 30, 2000 - Perhaps had the Lake Worth, Florida school district implemented the same
policies that are in place at the Savannah, Georgia school district, Barry Grunow would
not be the latest victim of schoolroom violence. Grunow, a 35 year-old popular teacher,
was gunned down by a 13 year-old honor student, Nathaniel Brazill, on the last day of
class on May 25th.
Four hundred miles west, another honor student was tried and convicted of violating
school policies against possession of weapons and cellular phones on school property.
Based on an anonymous tip, Brian Agnew agreed to allow school officials to search his
parked vehicle. Officials discovered an ax in the Eagle Scouts car trunk and a
pocket knife and cellular phone in the glove box. Punishment is automatic 10-day
suspension and transfer to an alternative school. However, school officials decided to
increase the suspension in light of the severity of the offense.
Both of the incidences are symptomatic of a society that has jettisoned all objective
standards of morality in favor of the modern vogue view of plurality and tolerance. Each
case has its victims and injustices. The first incident displays the fruit of a generation
that, forty years ago, challenged the authenticity of any and all authority. Today, their
children are committing violence at an increasing rate and at a decreasing age. Their
children are only asking a variation of the question posed by their parents forty years
earlier, Who says its not OK for me to kill another person and what gives them
the right to say so?
Frankly, its a very good question - one that our parents failed to answer
adequately. However, we managed to keep our expressions within the confines of Woodstock
and LSD. Our children, as the question goes unanswered, are taking their expressions to
the next level. But one should be cautious of offering shallow and pat
answers. Answers that beg the question, such as the rights of others not to be injured or
killed unjustly and the will of the majority rules, only solidify the notion that no one
has a real answer to the question.
Our nation should mourn and grieve the murder of Mr. Grunow. But we should also pay close
attention to the Savannah school district incident. Savannah gives us a peak at the fruit
of a society that is trying in vain to contain the growing violence of younger offenders.
The consequences of their policy are there for everyone to examine and we best take notice
today while the consequences are limited to censure and expulsion.
The irony of the Savannah school district policy is that our society, which advocates the
mutual acceptance and tolerance of ideas, beliefs, and practices, is discovering that the
only way to protect its citizens from each other is to adopt policies of zero tolerance.
One example is the increasing cry for tighter gun controls. Another example is the low to
no tolerance for homophobes. The out-of-the-closet homosexuals have worked long and hard
for the societal acceptance of their lifestyle, but they have no tolerance for homophobes.
Because homophobes have no advocates, they are conscripted to mandatory sensitivity
training by various work places rather than protected in their right to homophobia.
Theories abound attempting to pin point the source of the violent explosions by our
children, especially following a tragedy such as what occurred at Lake Worth. People
examine the trend of explicit violence in movies, music, video games, computer games,
board games, and toys. They talk about the breakdown of the family unit, the rising
divorce rate, and performance pressures on the children by peers and adults. They talk
about the availability of guns in the home and bomb construction instruction from the
But there is little discussion (and not much of what there is taken seriously) that I can
see about the moral shift of our nation from one that was founded on the principle of a
people endowed with certain unalienable rights by a Creator to the modern principle of a
people endowed with alienable rights by the government. Our founding fathers lived in a
time when the accepted norm of thought was in a Lawgiver who was bigger than and
transcended themselves. The law was objective and unalienable. We live in a time when the
accepted norm of thought is that man is his own lawmaker and transcended only by the will
of the majority. The law is subjective and alienable.
The thought of man as his own lawmaker should scare us to our Maker. Man is the most
dangerous creature on earth when he acts as a lawmaker unto himself, but even more so when
he rejects the wisdom and lessons of previous generations. We should take a lesson from
the French who rejected the influences of the Protestant Reformation and decided they
could do better with their revolution on their own.
In the meantime, while we wrestle with the unknown, reactionary policies will continue to
spread, like a cancer, to other spheres of our society proliferating injustices like the
one suffered by Mr. Agnew. In time, as the injustices multiply in number and severity, the
masses will conclude that they will not tolerate the injustices and will revolt against
whoever is in authority at the time. The American Revolution was of that nature. It took
Patrick Henry many years to come to the point of supporting the revolt against the mother
country, but the injustices eventually pushed him and a number of others to that point.
Until that time our society will continue to surrender liberty in the name of freedom and
prosperity in the name of abundance all the while tightening the shackles of bondage to a
system of government that demands total and complete servitude. The question to ask is,
If and when the cry comes forth Give me liberty or give me death will
there be anyone to hear?