The Death of Common Sense

On the front page of The Washington Post today came this story: “In his seven years, Randy Castro has been an aspiring soccer player, an accomplished Lego architect and a Royal Ranger at his Pentecostal church. He also, according to his elementary school record, sexually harassed a first-grade classmate.”



The story went on to say, “During recess at his Woodbridge school one day in November, when he was 6, he said, he smacked the classmate's bottom. The girl told the teacher. The teacher took Randy to the principal, who told him such behavior was inappropriate. School officials wrote an incident report calling it ‘Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive,’ which will remain on his student record permanently. Then, as Randy sat in the principal's office, they called the police.”

So this is what we have become as a society. Calling the police on a 6-year-old boy when he smacks a girl on the rear end.

And people wonder why our schools are in such trouble.

We have reached the end of the line. We have killed common sense. We can now call it officially dead.

Of course, common sense has been under assault for a while.

Mindless litigation is one culprit. People ignore common sense when they consult their lawyer (at $300 an hour). Lawyers hate common sense. It leads to less litigation. Why should people work out their problems when they can hire a lawyer?

Apparently, fear of litigation was one reason that Randy was sent to the slammer. Better to ignore common sense than to be liable to a lawsuit.

Bureaucracy is another enemy of common sense. This kid must be prosecuted by the police because that is what the book says. No matter that the book is stupid. By golly, this is what the rule says, so off to jail goes Randy.

Fear is another enemy of common sense. Since most parents these days seem to have absolutely no clue how to raise their kids, people are afraid of what the kids will do. For most of history, the governing principle of raising kids was “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Now parents turn wild-children loose on the schools, and then threaten to sue those schools when the teachers try to discipline them. Add an unhealthy dose of completely inappropriate television and video games (which far too often stands in as a babysitter) and you have little ruffians who are basically out of control.

A colleague of mine was telling me about his travails in trying to coach 8-year-olds on the finer points of soccer. The language and the lack of respect shown to him by the 8-year-olds was bad enough. But he was most stunned by the parents. They couldn’t have cared less about how their kids were acting.

Common sense only works in a culture that values respect and manners. A culture that values litigation and bureaucracy and operates in fear banishes common sense from its existence.

Common sense is dead. Sad, but true.