The Dearborn Heights District 7 Board of Education chose a less severe punishment for the honor student who was initially expelled after a pocketknife was found in her purse at a football game.

On Monday, after two hours of deliberation, the board voted 6-0 to allow [the high school senior] to take online classes. She then will be able to graduate with her class in 2015.

A lesser punishment than originally imposed? She still was punished, severely. Because zero tolerance. Because, the Board of Education persons claim, state law.

State law or bureaucratic timidity, it makes no difference. This young woman, who maintained her status as an honor student while working two jobs (how many of our young people have the initiative to do that? How many of our young people in the broader 16-25 demographic can find any job?), was thrown out of school—her path to a better life—because she had a knife (all 3¼” of it) given her by her grandfather for protection, since she bicycles to and from those jobs.

She forgot it was in the bottom of her purse, else she would have honored the state’s law of no knives in school longer than 3″. Think of an earlier time, when personal responsibility mattered more than responsiveness to government. An American general in WWII was messaged an order to stop a movement on Sicily that was a deviation from the battle plan. He decided the message was garbled in transmission and asked for a retransmittal. He continued his movement, meanwhile, which contributed critically to capturing the island far ahead of the plan’s original schedule and with far fewer overall casualties.

The Dearborn Heights Vice Principal Cheryl Howard, who was conducting random bag searches and discovered the knife, could have said, “That knife looks real close to exceeding the allowed size limit. Get it home and be more careful.” But no. Because zero tolerance. Because personal responsibility is so 20th Century.

Think, also, of the larger implication of this. This toy knife was given to this young woman by a well-meaning grandfather so she could protect herself as she bicycled to and from her jobs. Or in any other situation in any other location.

What the Michigan law is saying, what the Dearborn Heights District 7 Board of Education is saying, is that we’re not supposed to protect ourselves. Government will do that for us. Authority figures placed over us will do that for us. When the bad man comes…. But no, we’re to leave it to our survivors to seek justice for us since our Betters are to be responsible for our safety—which means only for the safety of our survivors. Which, to unroll this one more step, means no safety for them, either, since the police are only minutes away from them, too.

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