They said the psychiatrist told them he didn’t believe their son had a substance abuse problem. But by then, the boy had other problems. After the disciplinary hearing, “he just broke down and said his life was over. He would never be able to get into college; he would never be able to get a job,” Linda Bays said. Roanoke Times, 2015-03-15
On March 14th, the Roanoke Times posted a story, a true story, about a school district which suspended an 11-year-old boy for possession of marijuana.
The “marijuana” was not marijuana, but here’s what happened– and it’s a profound story that authorities far and wide should study carefully, because it’s the story of the most wicked and stupid actions of authorities everywhere.
A snitch told the principal at Bedford Middle School that a boy– known as R. M. B.– had some marijuana in his possession that he was showing around, on the bus, or maybe it was in the bathroom, or, wait a minute, I think it was in the classroom.
The boy was apprehended and searched and a leaf of something was found. The expert pedagogue consulted google and concluded that it was a marijuana leaf and summoned the police and suspended the boy from the school for 364 days.
First detail of note: it was a leaf, not a bud. It does not appear to have occurred to the authorities that this detail mattered in the least.
Second detail of note: the boy was 11 and both of his parents were, or had been, teachers in the public schools in this area. No matter: zero tolerance. Authority must be respected.
The leaf was sent away to be tested. Months went by. The suspension had a profound affect on the boy’s self-esteem, feeling of community, trust in authority figures, and happiness. The leaf was tested: it was not marijuana. But authorities must be respected and respected authorities do not make mistakes that have unpleasant, destructive consequences on innocent people. Test again! Still not marijuana. Test again!!
I’ll bet that the authorities were “disappointed”.
Think about that.
Do you think they were elated to discover that the young lad was not a hardened criminal drug addict? Here is the detail that matters: I have no doubt that they were disappointed. At this stage, the story is about authority that refuses to admit that it makes consequential mistakes. No: that refuses to admit that it is stupid.
That is what they know, and we know, they must admit to, if they are to honor the truth: we were stupid. We were not worthy of your trust and respect. We are more concerned with our personal status and comfort and authority than we were with the welfare of a young, innocent 11-year-old boy. Screw the boy: authority must be respected.
The parents rightly– well, too late, for my taste, but eventually– launched a lawsuit. Here we see how far they will go: the authorities announced that it wouldn’t have mattered if it was real marijuana or not because the school system’s policy states that possession of anything that is an “imitation” of a prohibited substance can have the same consequences as possession of the real thing.
Are there any criminal laws that state that a person can be convicted for doing some that looks illegal regardless of whether or not they actually did something illegal? Maybe there is– but it still seems stupid. It is stupid. The school board, and their lawyer Jim Guynn, are stupid: we don’t care if he really had marijuana, we should be able to punish him for having something that the morons in the administration of school might mistake for marijuana.
The truly moronic thing about it, though, is that anyone ever thought it was a good idea to have a one year suspension even for possession of real marijuana. This is a policy that only a psychotic person could believe in. But we are, unfortunately, a psychotic society. We approve. We elected the fools that appointed these fools who implement this idiotic policy.
What happened is that the authorities become vested in their own actions and judgments. They have to continue the charade because the moment they drop it, it becomes clear that they are inadequate human beings without common sense or decency.
The drug war is the most obvious misguided policy. Homeland Security, the War in Iraq, the War in Viet Nam, and countless other government policies are now clung to because the authorities became invested in them. What could President Johnson do in 1968? Admit that he made a mistake that cost thousands of American lives, or continue the war the point was reached wherein something could be tarted up to look like victory and then walk away and hope it doesn’t collapse until the helicopters are out of the country.
What could Bush do once he — perhaps– realized what an egregious error Iraq was?
What can Obama do now that he doubled-down in Afghanistan?