Thou Shalt Not Hug
This is getting ridiculous.
I mean, more ridiculous than usual. Or maybe not; once “zero tolerance” as an end in itself infects rule-setting, maybe every example is equally silly.
One of the latest examples, anyway, is a ban on hugging over at Mascoutah Middle School in Illinois. A 13-year-old student, Megan Coulter, was caught hugging friends after school. The vice principal, a Randy Blakely, swung into action and punished Megan with after-school detention.
The school defends its anti-hugging policy. Banning all hugs helps prevent unwelcome displays of affection.
“Zero tolerance” policies always focus on some non-essential aspect of a bad thing. Then forbid not only the actual bad thing but also the marginal aspect shared by good things. So to “stop” the bad thing you also outlaw the good thing.Physical and sexual abuse are bad. They involve touching. So you ban touching.
Violence is bad. Children playing cops and robbers innocently simulate violence. So you ban an ancient kid’s game. What schools teach by such rules is that children should not make distinctions. Problem? If that’s true, you can’t really explain anything.
And if you can’t make distinctions, can’t think, can’t cope — you just become afraid. Of everything. Including normal, healthy impulses.
I think I need a hug.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.