enter the matrix
Byzantium's Shores uses the concept of "zero-tolerance policies" to launch into an excellent rant about the pernicious way policies and systems evolve from a tool for aiding decisions to an excuse not to make even the most obvious and rational ones.
"Zero Tolerance" is one of those things that sounds great in theory, but in reality it leads to those whacko incidents we've all read about: kids getting suspended for having fingernail clippers or pocket-knives of whatever. The whole "Zero Tolerance" thing is pretty goofy (as George Carlin once observed, "You can probably beat someone to death with the Sunday New York Times"), but it's probably not going away. And not because it's really protecting our kids, but because it's part of a growing trend to replace actual, human thought with impersonal process.
Go read the whole thing. Jaquandor's comments reminded me of some of the concepts introduce in The Matrix: Agent Smith's claim that the sitiation arose because humans let the machines do their thinking for them, and some being so dependent on "the system" that they'll fight to preserve it (providing Neo and his fellow resistance members plenty of cannon fodder). The clear problemn with "zero tolerance policies" is that they're designed to absolve anyone from having to make a decision. In some cases, it prevents abuse by authority (imagine how long Animal House would have lasted if Delta House had been up against an Unchallengable Policy instead of a vindicitve dean...). But a better way to ensure rational and fair application of authority is an open process (something the Bush Administration is dead-set against...hmmmm....).