The Corner

Zero Tolerance, Zero Proportion

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the grand jury indictment of Jerry Sandusky and in particular the sad husk of a man, 28 years old, who watched Sandusky sodomize a ten-year-old boy in the showers and then went home to consult with his dad about the proper procedure for reporting any potential concerns he might have about child rape. And I concluded:

A land of hyper-legalisms is not the same as a land of law… When people get used to complying with micro-regulation, it’s but a small step to confusing regulatory compliance with the right thing to do — and then arguing that, in the absence of regulatory guidelines, there is no “right thing to do.”

Among much of America’s hideous educrat monopoly, the Golden Rule is that regulatory compliance is always the right thing to do, no matter how stupid and wicked it is. This news item — “First Grader Accused Of Sexual Harassmen” — came to my attention with the important qualifier “if we are to take this Boston Globe story at face value.” But, if the facts are as the Globe reported them, then a seven-year-old boy is about to have his life destroyed for kicking a schoolmate in the groin — as boys have done to each other throughout human history. One can understand that a school board might wish to discourage such activity, but not that it is so irredeemably, obtusely perverse as to categorize such an act as “sexual harassment.” The response of the official school board spokesmoron, one Matthew Wilder, is not encouraging:

“Any kind of inappropriate touching would fall under that category,’’ Wilder said. “The school administration is conducting a full investigation that has not concluded yet.’’

The mother said she spoke with the principal, Leslie Gant, who supposedly told her:

It doesn’t matter who hit who first… He said he hit him in the testicles. That’s assault. That’s sexual assault.

There may be “another side” to this story, but it’s hard to foresee any version of events in which a first grader can plausibly be guilty of “sexual assault.” Nevertheless, if found guilty, Mark Curran when he turns 18 will be placed on a “sex offender registry,” and his life will be ruined. If officials of the Boston public-schools system genuinely believe that when a seven-year-old kicks another seven-year-old in the crotch that that is an act of “sexual harassment,” then they are too stupid to be entrusted with the care of the city’s children. If, on the other hand, they retain enough residual humanity to understand that a seven-year-old groin-kick is not a sexual assault but have concluded that regulatory compliance obliges them to investigate it as such, then they are colluding in an act of great evil.

Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. If you’re wondering how a candidate’s presidential campaign can be derailed by allegations of “gestures” of “a non-sexual nature” that made women “uncomfortable” two decades ago rather than by his total ignorance of foreign policy and national security, well, this stuff starts in kindergarten. The loss of proportion and of basic human judgment in the American education system ought to be an unnerving indicator.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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