The focus in recent years on eradicating bullying and bigotry, particularly in our schools and among our children, is among the many welcome gales of change that we are going through now.

Very few people (i.e., Nazis, “Alt-Right” activists, white supremacists) object to a zero-tolerance policy of such hateful, divisive, and corrosive behavior.

In a twist, U.S. District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery (D. Minn.) faced a case where an alleged bully/bigot child brought a lawsuit based on the discipline he received (a one-year suspension) based on his own disability.

That is, the child, Minor Doe, allegedly defaced a school bathroom with racist graffiti. Represented by the School Law Center, Mr. & Ms. Doe, on behalf of their child, Minor, argued that the discipline violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by expelling Minor Doe “without first conducting a reevaluation of the kind specified in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act” in light of the child’s diagnosis for ADHD, depression, and PTSD.

The Doe family lost that lawsuit last week.

It might be tempting for some to deride the lawsuit brought by the parents of the disciplined child. In our opinion, anyone’s derision or even disgust is understandable but also wrong.

Zero-tolerance, whether of unlawful discrimination, bullying, or hateful political views, is an overdue, good, and important cultural development. But, too often, strong disagreement, even righteous indignation seems to overflow into stigma, a complete lack of compassion, and a total incapacity for redemption or forgiveness. This is perilously close to combatting hate with hate and that almost always ends badly.

It could be that Minor Doe deserves punishment but also needs help and compassion (if you can afford it).

 

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