St. Louis Assault Via Foam Dart

Foam Dart Attack St. LouisIt’s been a while since I’ve done a feature in my Critical Thinking Fail category but I have a winner!

Apparently my hometown is making national news with a rather ridiculous story. A young couple drove their car up to the checkout window at the drive-through of a St. Louis Lion’s Choice restaurant not with the intent of purchasing anything but so that they could shoot the attendant with a foam dart.

With the prevalence of video cameras it was all caught on tape and after investigation by the police the couple was apprehended and is now being charged with felony assault.

The Failure of Critical Thinking in this story is pretty much across the board.

Who in their right mind thinks it’s okay in this day and age to point a gun-like object at an unsuspecting person? Have you not been reading the news? The couple is lucky the attendant didn’t open fire with a real gun. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with shooting games and shooting toys. I played plenty of such games when I was a child but with people who knew we were playing. Even then I didn’t go around pointing toy guns at people who were not in the game.

Secondly, someone needs a lesson in Nerf. Nerf darts are not yellow. It’s not a big deal but can’t we at least get the story right?

Apparently the restaurant brought the police into the matter and I’m not totally opposed to their role in all of this. I think if someone is shooting anything through the drive-through window it’s not unreasonable to alert the police to the activity even if it was a harmless foam dart. Still, it seems excessive.

I don’t blame the officers in question for tracking down the fugitives. They were likely called by the restaurant and it’s their job to investigate crime. I do have an objection to charging the couple with felony assault. I suspect this a product of our zero-tolerance, no personal responsibility world. If the officer in charge of the investigation didn’t charge the couple he might have feared being accused of not doing his job. In this world he might have been reprimanded or even fired. Who knows.

What should have happened? The officer should have dragged the couple back to the Lion’s Choice, made them apologize to the worker, made them shake hands, and finally had them order a delicious roast beef sandwich. Problem solved.

This is the way we used to solve a lot of problems in this country. We don’t any more because we fear repercussions. A teacher cannot discipline a child in school for fear of being charged by the outraged parents with assault. An officer can’t walk a criminal around the block.

I’m not going to pretend there isn’t a rationale behind the zero-tolerance policies. There are teachers who physically and emotionally abuse students for their own sadistic pleasure. There are police officers look the other way for those from whom they curry favor.

My point is that these zero-tolerance policies aren’t helping. There are still individuals doing those things. The real solution is to spend the time and effort to prosecute those who are dangerously criminal in their actions. This involves giving discretion and responsibility to people in charge. To administrators, to teachers, to police officers, to judges, and many others.

If those people fail in their duties then they must be appropriately punished.

The problem is that we seem to think zero-tolerance, zero-responsibility rules will solve the problem. They won’t and they create their own issues as well. As we see in this case.

The less responsibility we give people, the less responsible they will become.

The Libertarian Ideal is a world in which the vast majority understand their actions and take responsibility for them. When there are those that do not; they must be reprimanded, educated, and often given another opportunity. This is not an easily arrived at state of affairs. It requires that everyone understand the principles of critical thinking and have the ability to apply them to their day-to-day lives and actions.

In this sort of world we wouldn’t be talking about foam dart assaults but might be focused on more important things.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne