Monday, March 10, 2014


Some things just don’t seem to make any sense.  The arguments are common asking:  why do professional athletes get paid more than teachers and firefighters?  Why is the highest paid person at any university more often than not the football coach?  It seems like Americans need to adjust our perspective, to separate the important from the trivial.

Here is another apparent incongruity that came to my attention on the same day last week.  The examples concern cadets at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and a fifth-grade boy from Ohio.

Each academy has its honor code, but the concept is very similar:  a cadet will not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.  They consider these values crucial in the development of leaders for our military.  The honor code is taken very seriously, and violations are grounds for expulsion.  All academies have had instances of problems in the past and they invariably make the news due to the seriousness of the situation.

Recently the Air Force Academy began an investigation into whether 40 freshman cadets cheated in a chemistry class.  A spokesperson for the academy explained that automatic expulsion does not necessarily apply, that “freshmen violators no longer face mandatory expulsion and can instead be placed on honor probation.”  It does not explain whether this was a recent change, but this does seem surprisingly lenient.

Compare that story with this one from Ohio as reported by CNN.  A ten-year-old was suspended for three days for "making his fingers look like a gun, having the thumb up and the pointed finger sticking out."  His father attended a conference with the principal and reports that she told him that it violated a rule about “level 2 look alike firearm” and that “if it happened again the suspension would be longer, if not permanent.”

So cheating on a test in violation of the honor code by future Air Force officers may result in probation, but a second violation of making his fingers look like a gun could get a 10-year-old expelled.  Somebody’s perspective is out of whack.  What more can be said?

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