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"Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance."
     -- Joseph Story
     Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
     Book III, § 1857.
 

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sorry about the dry spell. I've been so furious with the Supreme Court, and especially with that idiot, Justice Kennedy, that I've not had the energy to think about much else, much less write about it, and my fury would not lend the subject the attention it needed.

So, anyway, off to other topics, finally. Bill Quick provides this, taking a swing at, what has gone wrong? Here's his take:

Because the loners, losers, and outcasts in our nation's schools have learned the hard way that "fists and the occasional knife fight," not to mention appeals to parents, other adults, teachers, and school administrators, do nothing to mitigate the rule of vicious bullies in our schools. If you are unlucky enough to become the designated victim of such bullies, you have nothing to look forward to until graduation but torture, humiliation, violence, and fear.

This describes the symptom, not the problem. Here is the problem:

  • It is far more true of children's disputes than of adults', that justice ought to be swift and certain. Childish misbehavior is most properly and sensibly handled in a summary fashion.
  • Those who have the running of schools these days are, by and large, not the kind that ought to be trusted with powers of summary justice; in fact, many of them are unfit to have any supervision -- much less education -- of children whatsoever.
  • The idiotic procedural "safeguards" in which all school discipline is now wrapped make the proper handling of any problem, even with all the good will in the world, so much more costly, in time and effort, than the problem is worth, that the temptation simply to ignore the problem is almost irresistible.
  • The various legislatures have almost completely stripped the schools of any power to deal with children in a sensible manner. The schools are far from being victims in this regard; they actively lobbied those same legislatures to have those powers stripped away.
  • The schools are therefore powerless in the face of misbehavior.
  • And the children know it.

This is merely one manifestation of a much larger problem, which is, the concerted effort by the legal profession, over the last four decades, to eliminate every last trace of official discretion. It is, after all, a very simple argument: If we allow discretion, then it might be used in a discriminatory manner, and we can't have that, can we? So there is no longer any such thing, in this country, as an office of trust; there are only ministers, marching to the courts' dreary procedural tune. As applied to the schools, those procedural "safeguards" are -- literally -- deadly.

-- posted by Clayton 3/22/2005 11:22:00 PM


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