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Stories that defy belief

Published January 18. 2014 09:00AM

It has been a while since we looked at the bizarre but some recent entries I found beg to be shared. So, relax in your easy chair with your morning cup of coffee and enjoy some stories of the strange, the bizarre and unusual, straight from the newswire.

According to a story reported by the Associated Press in November 2013, a homeless man's honesty came back to haunt him when he did the honorable thing. James Brady was on the streets of Hackensack, N.J., when he came across $850 laying on the sidewalk. He did what most of us have been taught and turned the money into the police department.

When no one claimed the funds, they were awarded to Brady and this is where his problems started.

Apparently the state of New Jersey determined that the cash Brady found should have been reported as income.Because he failed to do so and through no fault of his own, the state cut off his benefits which included the therapy and medication he needed to fight his depression. The reasoning was that he was "hiding" income according to the state.I guess this just proves that no good deed goes unpunished.

Moving from New Jersey to Kentucky, a cashier named Betty Green found herself without a job when she was confronted by a bank robber at the gas station where she worked in Lexington.According to NBC News affiliate Channel 18, the robber approached her and attempted to rob her.All she did was say "No" to the robber. He smiled and left her without trying to complete the robbery. Her reward from Speedway for refusing the robber was to lose her job.The company's policy is to always turn over the money and by not complying, she violated the rules and was dismissed.Her comment on the matter was in essence that no one knows how they will handle the situation until they are placed in it.

One high school student learned how some innocent honesty could backfire when a 16-year-old Fox Chapel student in Pennsylvania decided on his own to turn in a pocket knif, he inadvertently brought to a football game. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the student was about to enter the stadium when he realized the knife was in his pocket.Not wanting to violate the rules he turned the knife in to the guard and believed he behaved responsibly. What happened next was shocking in that the principal sought the boy out and forced him to leave the game, and then further punished him with a 10-day school suspension due to the school's zero tolerance policy.So by acting according to the rules, this student was punished. As the boy's father observed, it almost makes one believe that lying is the better alternative.

It never ceases to amaze me how mindless adherence to rules in unusual situations creates outcomes that defy logic.One wonders why we have little faith in the world anymore.Rules are made to be broken and policies to be changed.

The idea that rules are carved in stone is a simple way out of difficult decisions.I think that the spirit of the law is as important as the law itself. What amazes me in today's world is that the lack of common sense for the sake of following the policy, instead of the spirit of the policy causes some crazy situations.

There is never a lack of dumb zero tolerance policies enacted by school administrators and their boards for the sake of following the rules without independent thought. While the policy does have an important purpose in preventing weapons from being brought to school that could potentially harm or kill people, it needs to be leveraged with some common sense.

A simple search of the Internet provides a list of violations of so-called zero tolerance policies that border on the ridiculous.Students were suspended for the following:a second grader last spring for biting a pop-tart into the shape of a mountain which teachers misinterpreted as shape of a gun, a kindergartener using a Hello Kitty bubble gun pointed at a classmate,another kindergartener who pointed his finger and thumb at a fellow student, an Eagle student who had a pocket knife in the emergency supply kit of his car and this is one of the dumbest a third grader was expelled because her grandmother sent her to school with a birthday cake and a knife for cutting it.

These cases are just a quick sample I found by using a combination of Google search and Wikipedia. We laugh at these stories as amusing but in some sense they are quite tragic.

The fear of lawsuits and the misguided idea of precedents have reduced the legal system to a con game.Officials should be able to judge each case on its own merits and I think the idea of zero tolerance is simplistic and a lazy way of administering punishment so officials don't have to take a stand for reasonable action.

What do you think?

Til next time…

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