When Tolerance Becomes Intolerable
by Patrick L Hurd

(NOTE: I am posting this previously unpublished editorial on the heels of the latest act (as of March 27, 2001) of zero-tolerance-injustice committed against a West Monroe, LA 3rd grader expelled for a day from school for drawing a picture of a soldier with guns and grenades. Other reports have it that the child drew the picture in response to a classroom assignment in which the children were to draw a picture of their hero. This child's hero was a relative who was in the armed services. (Reported by Monroe's The News-Star and formerly posted at www.thenewsstar.com/news/news032701.htm but no longer available on line)
May 30, 2000 - Perhaps had the Lake Worth, Florida school district implemented the same policies that are in place at the Savannah, Georgia school district, Barry Grunow would not be the latest victim of schoolroom violence. Grunow, a 35 year-old popular teacher, was gunned down by a 13 year-old honor student, Nathaniel Brazill, on the last day of class on May 25th.

Four hundred miles west, another honor student was tried and convicted of violating school policies against possession of weapons and cellular phones on school property. Based on an anonymous tip, Brian Agnew agreed to allow school officials to search his parked vehicle. Officials discovered an ax in the Eagle Scout’s car trunk and a pocket knife and cellular phone in the glove box. Punishment is automatic – 10-day suspension and transfer to an alternative school. However, school officials decided to increase the suspension in light of the severity of the offense.

Both of the incidences are symptomatic of a society that has jettisoned all objective standards of morality in favor of the modern vogue view of plurality and tolerance. Each case has its victims and injustices. The first incident displays the fruit of a generation that, forty years ago, challenged the authenticity of any and all authority. Today, their children are committing violence at an increasing rate and at a decreasing age. Their children are only asking a variation of the question posed by their parents forty years earlier, “Who says it’s not OK for me to kill another person and what gives them the right to say so?”

Frankly, it’s a very good question - one that our parents failed to answer adequately. However, we managed to keep our expressions within the confines of Woodstock and LSD. Our children, as the question goes unanswered, are taking their expressions to the next level. But one should be cautious of offering shallow and “pat” answers. Answers that beg the question, such as the rights of others not to be injured or killed unjustly and the will of the majority rules, only solidify the notion that no one has a real answer to the question.

Our nation should mourn and grieve the murder of Mr. Grunow. But we should also pay close attention to the Savannah school district incident. Savannah gives us a peak at the fruit of a society that is trying in vain to contain the growing violence of younger offenders. The consequences of their policy are there for everyone to examine and we best take notice today while the consequences are limited to censure and expulsion.

The irony of the Savannah school district policy is that our society, which advocates the mutual acceptance and tolerance of ideas, beliefs, and practices, is discovering that the only way to protect its citizens from each other is to adopt policies of zero tolerance. One example is the increasing cry for tighter gun controls. Another example is the low to no tolerance for homophobes. The out-of-the-closet homosexuals have worked long and hard for the societal acceptance of their lifestyle, but they have no tolerance for homophobes. Because homophobes have no advocates, they are conscripted to mandatory “sensitivity training” by various work places rather than protected in their right to homophobia.

Theories abound attempting to pin point the source of the violent explosions by our children, especially following a tragedy such as what occurred at Lake Worth. People examine the trend of explicit violence in movies, music, video games, computer games, board games, and toys. They talk about the breakdown of the family unit, the rising divorce rate, and performance pressures on the children by peers and adults. They talk about the availability of guns in the home and bomb construction instruction from the Internet.

But there is little discussion (and not much of what there is taken seriously) that I can see about the moral shift of our nation from one that was founded on the principle of a people endowed with certain unalienable rights by a Creator to the modern principle of a people endowed with alienable rights by the government. Our founding fathers lived in a time when the accepted norm of thought was in a Lawgiver who was bigger than and transcended themselves. The law was objective and unalienable. We live in a time when the accepted norm of thought is that man is his own lawmaker and transcended only by the will of the majority. The law is subjective and alienable.

The thought of man as his own lawmaker should scare us to our Maker. Man is the most dangerous creature on earth when he acts as a lawmaker unto himself, but even more so when he rejects the wisdom and lessons of previous generations. We should take a lesson from the French who rejected the influences of the Protestant Reformation and decided they could do better with their revolution on their own.

In the meantime, while we wrestle with the unknown, reactionary policies will continue to spread, like a cancer, to other spheres of our society proliferating injustices like the one suffered by Mr. Agnew. In time, as the injustices multiply in number and severity, the masses will conclude that they will not tolerate the injustices and will revolt against whoever is in authority at the time. The American Revolution was of that nature. It took Patrick Henry many years to come to the point of supporting the revolt against the mother country, but the injustices eventually pushed him and a number of others to that point.

Until that time our society will continue to surrender liberty in the name of freedom and prosperity in the name of abundance all the while tightening the shackles of bondage to a system of government that demands total and complete servitude. The question to ask is, “If and when the cry comes forth ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ will there be anyone to hear?”



Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas

EST. 01/01/01