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REVEREND JACKSON GETS LIBERALS BACK TO BASICS | 1999-11-20

The Reverend Jesse Jackson objected to students being kicked out of school for two years for fighting during a football game. They were expelled under the school's "zero tolerance" policy on student violence. Jackson pointed out that these students did not have guns, so they should not be expelled. As a response to violence in schools, schools have adopted a "zero tolerance" policy. A student who comes to school with a gun is expelled. He gets no break. But when this zero tolerance policy was extended to include other violence, it went too far. The purpose of the "zero tolerance" policy is not to prevent student violence. The purpose is to condemn guns. In a pretended response to school killings, legislators started introducing legislation to jail people for having guns within SEVERAL MILES of schools. It did not matter that the people do not know whether a school is within the required number of miles. No one has ever argued that these or other gun laws would have prevented any school violence. Everyone knows that the response to school violence has nothing to do with preventing future school violence. The aim is to promote liberal policy, in this case the liberal policy on guns. Every liberal Democrat in New York State condemns minimum sentencing. But every liberal Democrat in New York State also supports the Sullivan Law, which provides a one-year minimum sentence for anybody caught carrying a gun for self-defense. And not just guns. A woman who uses a can of mace to defend herself against an attacker gets a minimum one-year sentence. There is no minimum sentence for the attacker. So the Reverend Jackson is just reminding school administrations of the real purpose of "zero tolerance." Like all crises, the outbreaks of school violence are to be used to promote liberal causes. When they cease to do that, they have gotten off track.