The drive to lower standards can take on ridiculous guises. See, for example, the case of 18-year-old Australian Nicholas Benjamin Siiankoski, who recently pleaded guilty to possession of Ecstasy. Justice George Fryberg sentenced him to three years' probation and 100 hours of community service. But the judge also added an interesting twist to the punishment. Since Siiankoski admitted to taking drugs since the age of 15, Fryberg ordered the teen to write a 3,000-word research essay--endnotes and all--on the harmful effects of marijuana and Ecstasy. Siiankoski had three months to turn in his paper. Ridiculous! cried the young man's lawyers. A 3,000-word assignment would be far too difficult for their client, who received low grades in school (possibly because he was high?). Fryberg caved and cut Siiankoski's sentence to 2,000 words. Bad idea, judge. Even pot-heads shouldn't be exempt from rigorous academic standards.

"Australian judge orders teen caught with Ecstasy to write essay on dangers of drugs," International Herald Tribune, May 23, 2008

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