Pubdate: Tue, 02 May 2000
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company
Contact:  229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 556-3622
Author: Robert Soudant


To the Editor:

You cite a report that the police had to visit a fourth grader's home at
12:30 a.m. because he had threatened to "shoot" a wad of paper at a
classmate with a rubber band and his school has a policy of "zero tolerance"
for violence ("Boy Suspended for Rubber-Band Threat," news article, April

On the same day you reported that the secretary of transportation announced
"zero tolerance" for drivers without seat belts. The Rockefeller drug laws
have zero tolerance for minor offenses.

For years people have been drawn to the United States because their
societies were built on intolerance. But as we criminalize our population
and fill jails at an unsettling rate, we move down the path to
institutionalized intolerance.

Zero tolerance provides simplistic solutions to complex problems. Sadly, it
appears that many Americans approve of this trend.

Robert Soudant
Cresskill, N.J., April 28, 2000
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