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Zero tolerance


In Ari­zona, a 13 year old boy was recently sus­pended from school for mak­ing a draw­ing that resem­bles a gun. There is no indi­ca­tion that he has a his­tory of pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with vio­lent visual imagery, has made explicit or implied threats, engaged in vio­lent behav­ior, tor­tures ani­mals, or any other issues that would make a draw­ing of a gun part of a pat­tern that respon­si­ble adults might rea­son­ably be con­cerned about. A 13 year old kid makes a doo­dle of a gun and gets kicked out of school.

I con­sult in schools and have worked with extremely dan­ger­ous ado­les­cents. I spent the last three days teach­ing a course for spe­cial edu­ca­tors and school psy­chol­o­gists on how to pre­vent and man­age vio­lence. So I’ve seen lots of kids who need inter­ven­tion and dis­ci­pline. I think that sus­pend­ing a kid for mak­ing a draw­ing is an incred­i­ble act of bureau­cratic cowardice.

This may have only a periph­eral asso­ci­a­tion with art, but it still con­cerns me. If teenagers are afraid to make art because an adult might find their work to be polit­i­cally incor­rect, then we all, in the long run, will live in a world with less good art.

Ulti­mately, I think this trend is related to the increas­ing median age in core West­ern soci­eties. As more peo­ple find the young to be alien and fright­en­ing, there is more and more push for “zero tol­er­ance” of behav­iors would in their own youth have been con­sid­ered innocuous.


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3 Responses

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  1. jeff says

    Wow they sent him home. When I was his age all I drew was related to army stuff and fan­tasy sifi other world kind of things. I still have some of the draw­ings, comics with lots of vio­lence and may­hem. And comics with silly car­toon stuff, it’s called being a boy.

    This is very sad that our soci­ety wont let chil­dren be chil­dren, they need to have make believe.

  2. jeff says

    I should have read the arti­cle first. Those school offi­cials need some real­ity checks, what on earth does a draw­ing of a fan­tasy laser gun have to do with being threating?

    This is nuts, and I hope his par­ents sue these idiots back into the dark ages where they belong.

  3. Incompetent says

    As long as we’re mak­ing loose and insub­stan­tial con­nec­tions (the Columbine ref­er­ence in the arti­cle), Hitler painted land­scapes. There­fore, land­scape artists are poten­tial geno­ci­dal tyrants who need to be locked away (You always won­dered that about Bob Ross, didn’t cha?)

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