Zero tolerance pendulum – religious dagger OK in Detroit schools

We’ve read about the ridiculous zero tolerance enforcement in public schools for years. In Detroit, the school board banned Sikh students from wearing a religious dagger called a kirpan, but have recently reversed the ban. I think the school made the right decision for the wrong reason.

Baptized Sikh males are expected to carry a ceremonial daggar, and now the students will be able to wear it at school under certain conditions.

  • Any kirpan worn at school would have to be sewn inside a sheath in such a way that the blade would not be removable from the sheath.
  • The blade of the kirpan would be restricted in length to no more than two-and one-fourth inches, taking the object outside the scope of the Revised School Code’s definition of a knife constituting a dangerous weapon.
  • The blade of the kirpan must be dull.
  • The kirpan could not be worn on the outside of the clothing and could not be visible in any way.

Does this sound like a common sense solution to you? I guess it is.

So – and you’ve got to know where I’m going with this – why does a religious exemption of any kind get this amount of attention from a school system that promotes “zero tolerance” across the board? Certainly the school system must understand the message they are sending … but maybe not.

We’ve got some pretty over-the-top stories out there about high school students disciplined for bringing a paring knife to school, and an honor roll Eagle Scout suspended for a month for having a pocket knife locked up in a survival kit in his car.

Don’t forget the complete and total overreaction by a school principle in New York when a 9-year-old kid was disciplined for bringing a “gun” to school. See the “gun” in the image to the right? A gun is a gun ya know?

All of those stories got plenty of media attention. In probably more than a few cases we probably do not have the full story, but still … is there any way possible we can apply some common sense here?

Why the religious exemption? In my mind the school system is allowing this exemption so they don’t look like racists or bigots, simple as that. They are probably so afraid of looking like racists they would rather someone die than be labeled a bigot.

Religious exemptions that make us not look like racists? Good.

Exemptions for practical reasons? Bad.

Think maybe I’m stretching it a bit? OK, but when this off-duty firefighter (watch video) was trying to get a 4-year-old boy out of the back seat of a burning SUV, he wished he had a knife. He was screaming for someone to give him a knife (1:35 into the video). A good knife can be used as a tool to save someone’s life, why ban it in school?

If we’re going to ban knives, might as well ban baseball bats … and strip out all of the tire irons from the cars kids drive to school too…


7 replies
  1. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Common sense: one of the most overused and fuzziest statements of recent times. Who defines common sense?

  2. GdavidH
    GdavidH says:

    Common sense defines itself.

    It is what most people posess that gets them through life.

    Common sense, based on a strict <a title="Interpretation (logic)" href="/wiki/Interpretation_(logic)" rel="nofollow">construction of the term, consists of what people in common would agree on : that which they "<a title="Sense" href="/wiki/Sense" rel="nofollow">sense" as their common natural understanding.

    If you know fire will burn you….don't stick your hand in it.

    If you know jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge will most likely result in death….don't do it unless you want to die.

    If you know a 3" plastic gun is a toy…. don't confiscate it as a weapon.

    If you know a ceremonial knife is a dagger that symbolizes a killing weapon….probably more dangerous than a 3" plastic gun/toy.

    Really Sammy, now you want them to define common sense to for you?

  3. Tim-in-Alabama
    Tim-in-Alabama says:

    I know some folks in north Alabama who would like to bring their snakes to school if public schools here were as tolerant and nuanced in their respect for and accommodation of religious beliefs.

  4. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    The silver lining in all of this is that the Sikhs are on our side against the radical Muslims.   That's the reason they carry them!


    Still, everyone should be given the same benefit of the doubt.

  5. PatRiot
    PatRiot says:

    I think Steve's key statement is  – "Baptized Sikh males are expected to carry a ceremonial daggar."

    We Americans must be clear about what defines us, know what is expected of us and be strong enough in our beliefs to stand up to naysayers be they fellow Americans, Congresscritters, terrorists, media spinmasters,etc..

    Perhaps then, things will be less fuzzy, less subject to arbitrary PC BS. 

Comments are closed.