Zero Tolerance is the opiate of the insipid and the idiotic, it is a phrase used by too many to hide behind, instead of an effective tool. They are rules not unlike mandatory sentencing in our courts that attempt to remove all thought from every human equation in an attempt to reduce inequity but actually increasing it.
Science tells us that anytime you attempt to reach the extreme, i.e. zero tolerance the closer you come to the extreme the more effort and resources you must expend, at the expense of the mean, to make even minimal gains at the extremes.
Zero tolerance rules and controls almost always take all of the thinking and decision-making processes out of the hands those who are paid and qualified to make those hard sometimes risky decisions. It is often hard to tell from the outside looking in if some of our decision makers are incapable of good decisions afraid of making any decision at all, or in actuality have their hands tied behind their backs by their bosses, federal regulations, lawyers, or insurance companies.
It is a fact that a failure to decide based on careful consideration of all aspects of a situation rather than dogmatic adherence to rules is itself a decision and almost always a bad one.
Most of zero tolerance rules were originally written for safety purposes or to protect some individual or group, but are now pretty much used to cover somebody’s ass from any political, public, or private approbation. Often expressed by the statment, ” I just followed the rules.”
It truly makes me nervous and a bit nauseous when politicians and administrators feel that they can write an ironclad rule or law that will equitably cover all human situations. That in fact, they can rely on the letter of the law to do their thinking for them with no care for the law’s actual original intent or even what is right, wrong or reasonable.
If we attempt to control every single heavily publicized bad outcome, caused by stupid or evil people, we will necessarily in the process reduce the rights and place a further burden on those who have done nothing wrong.
We have to decide are we going to be a society of honest reflection or a society of black and white inviolable rules. Do we indeed wish to start throwing out the baby with the bathwater, which is what we will do if we continue down this path?
Some current examples of situations that will create zero tolerance rules that will unfairly limit and burden the lives of good people are; The attack on opiates as a valuable drug, foster homes as a benefit to society, and last but not least our public schools.
Zero tolerance rules mean little to those who have no tolerance for rules while placing a burden on those who will attempt to follow them.
At absolute zero everything stops moving. If we continue with our zero-tolerance obsession our society will stop moving as well, stagnating in a freezing pool of fear-induced rules.