Thursday, December 30, 2010

There's craziness on the loose in North Carolina

This is what happens when the culture of fear takes over:

An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.

Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.

Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.

"She got pulled into it. She doesn't have to be a bad person to be searched," Smithwick's father, Joe Smithwick, said.

The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.

"It's just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple," he said.

Ashley Smithwick said she had never gotten in trouble before and was surprised when the principal opened her lunchbox and found the knife.

The teen was initially given a 10-day suspension, then received notice that she was suspended the rest of the school year.

"I don't understand why they would even begin to point the finger at me and use me as an example," she said.

This month, Ashley Smithwick, a soccer player who takes college-level courses, was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. She is no longer allowed to set foot on campus.

There are many nefarious forces behind this ever-growing culture of fear: news media sensationalism (hyping threats beyong all reasonable perspective), the cult of law and order, post-9/11 security obsession, a general disregard for young people and youth culture, etc.

In this case, it's school security run amok (as schools have been hyped up into cesspools of violence), with no apparent consideration for the specifics -- which clearly exonerate this young woman.

Those responsible for suspending Ms. Smithwick and potentially ruining her life, or at least her academic career, should themselves be suspended, if not fired, for abuse of power.

And, if need be, the governor should step in and make sure that these absurd charges are dropped, that Ms. Smithwick receives not just a formal apology but whatever reparations she may be owed, and that policies are put in place to prevent this sort of madness from recurring in future.

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  • As I have said in comments to other posts on this topic:

    Welcome to the GOP States of America.

    See the previous post for my comments on how this situation came to be.

    By Anonymous Jack, at 8:00 AM  

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