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July 8, 2004 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Operation Tiger Claw Whereupon a student exercises his right to free speech in a public school setting...
posted by konolia (93 comments total)

 
As someone who was a high-school teacher for a long time, and regardless of my own personal politics, I sometimes wished for kids who were this politically impassioned, anywhere on the political spectrum.

That being said, I think he's way overestimating the substance of his political argument here. To me, the real issue that the principal should have focused on was not so much what he said, but the fact that the kid's being intellectually lazy. Even if I disagree with the kid's politics, I would have been much more impressed by the story, and by the case for his "rights to free speech" if the speech had actually been his.

Printing up posters from a website isn't speech, it's agitation--left or right--and I think there's a much stronger argument for saying "You're just being an intentional pain in the ass. I don't care if you're a Green or a member of the John Birch Society...shut up and go to class." Expressing your own thought is indeed a right that should be protected in schools, but being a mouthpiece for political propaganda is just not the same thing. I used to tell kids they couldn't put up Greenpeace posters in my classroom, for just that reason.

If the principal had said, "You can put up [50] posters, but they all have to be different (no photocopies), and they all have to be written by you," then I think that would have been a fair set of constraints, without giving him the self-congratulatory martyrdom he's wallowing in now.
posted by LairBob at 6:03 AM on July 8, 2004


It is well established that students have no right to free speech in a school setting--public or private. Besides, posting hundreds of signs goes beyond free speech into defacing of public property.

Props to him for speaking his mind, though--it takes courage to go against the crowd, espcially in high school.
posted by jpoulos at 6:03 AM on July 8, 2004


it takes courage to go against the crowd, espcially in high school.


Or it can be the perfect attention-getting device, when done properly.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:07 AM on July 8, 2004


Oh, and trying to put up 500 posters isn't "free speech", it's a prank. I might be abridging your right to free speech if I prevent you from putting up 1 poster, but if I'm a principal or a teacher, and I stop you from putting up 500 posters, then I'm just doing my job.

Typical adolescence. ("I can't believe you won't let me drive my car!" You ran into a tree, and then you hit a little old lady!" "You just hate me!")

posted by LairBob at 6:08 AM on July 8, 2004


Umm, that's how high school works. Free Speech hasn't ever figured into it.

Why do conservatives have such a persecution complex? If a leftist student had polluted the hallways with tasteless oversimplifications, they would have been treated exactly the same way. But he's trying to Illustrate a double standard.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:09 AM on July 8, 2004


Hey, those posters don't have a picture of Rumsfield shaking Saddam's hand, afterall, it was the U.S. who helped build up this tyrannical dictator. It's not about freeing people, or fighting terror... it's about a Bush administration wanting to having control over Iraq's oil. Saddam only became an enemy of the U.S. when he invaded oil rich Kuwait, not when he was murdering his own people. The kid needs a history lesson.
posted by disgruntled at 6:10 AM on July 8, 2004


Badass.
posted by angry modem at 6:10 AM on July 8, 2004


Oh dear, konolia - have you not been reading MetaTalk lately?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:12 AM on July 8, 2004


I'm pretty concerned about the lack of thought he's putting into his protest. He compares himself to the stupid people opposing him, and comes out ahead.

But he's still way behind actually understanding the history and reality we're facing. I love that Green poster. The problem is that markets are corrupted by too much concentrated power...
posted by ewkpates at 6:13 AM on July 8, 2004


I love this story. Thanks, konolia.

Here's another version from Protestwarrior.com
posted by hama7 at 6:19 AM on July 8, 2004


Oh dear, konolia - have you not been reading MetaTalk lately?

Well, not that thread, actually.

It looked boring.
posted by konolia at 6:28 AM on July 8, 2004


I remember the ProtestWarrior folks - they were the assholes that had 'bigger-than-yours' posters at the war protests in downtown Chicago and they'd all line up at the front of the crowd to obstruct everybody else's view of the speakers. Pretty damned rude. I tried to take a picture of one and they said 'I defy you to take my picture and use it any sort of online gallery or discussion forum.' Um. Okay.
posted by ao4047 at 6:29 AM on July 8, 2004


Expressing your own thought is indeed a right that should be protected in schools, but being a mouthpiece for political propaganda is just not the same thing


And who makes the judgement there?

If all the "mouthpieces" in this nation suddenly went silent you would hardly know this was an election year.
posted by konolia at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2004


Mmm, conservative martyrs, he'll fit in nicely on MetaFilter. ;)

Look, my high school had both a Christian Club and a Gay-Straight alliance, both of which faced arguments and some protest of differing degrees when each was started.

They both were formed by following the guidelines to set up a club, not littering and then crying persecution when told they were violating the rules. "I think we'll tape 500 sheets of paper all over the school" isn't being repressed, no matter how many parents help you write a clever essay about it.

As for the "except for ... war never solved anything" posters, I've always loved how silly those were (self-link.)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2004


I'm pretty concerned about the lack of thought he's putting into his protest.

While I have no opinion on whether this was correct or not, this kid seems to know his shit. From the article:
Being well-prepared for the meeting, I presented to her a dossier I had compiled the night before from the ACLU website: documents detailing Tinker vs. Des Moines, and several other cases dealing with students' rights to self expression.
posted by PenDevil at 6:33 AM on July 8, 2004


Umm, that's how high school works. Free Speech hasn't ever figured into it.

Believe it or not, it once did. From the Supreme Court's opinion in Tinker vs. Des Moines:

First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.

Of course that verdict has been continually eroded by SCOTUS ever since. But it was a nice try.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:34 AM on July 8, 2004


On the one hand, this kid seems to have guts and the ability to stick with something. On the other hand, he's a complete idiot. The entire story reeks of self-justification and -gratification. All his opponents are stupid and completely incapable of using or understanding rational arguments, and he and only he is the master of calm, reasoned and well-researched debate. The "left" to him is apparently a thick-skulled but terribly dangerous bogieman whose only goal is to intimidate him into silence. I quite simply don't buy it. It comes off less as a thoughtfully written piece on schools and censorship than as obvious self-pleasuring. He also seems to have a mighty persecution complex, almost delighting in laying down on his own personal cross.

And any respect I might have had for this clown disappeared with his inclusion of one of the posters he printed: "THE A.C.L.U. We don't hate religion, we just hate Christianity." That's not clever, honest or even honestly contrarian. It's just a lie, simple as that.

And he seems not to understand the difference between "wage" and "rage." Although I guess raging war makes a certain amount of sense.
posted by deadcowdan at 6:40 AM on July 8, 2004


He should be careful about throwing the words "legal action" around so willy nilly. Cuz then trial lawyers (shudder) will get involved, and we all know how evil they are. Taking money from saintly doctor's only to give it to people who don't deserve it. Who cares that the doctor took out a kidney!?!?! People have two kidneys after all!

It's all about the tort reform according to the memos the GOP keeps sending me.
posted by terrapin at 6:42 AM on July 8, 2004


Racist garbage.
posted by sudama at 6:44 AM on July 8, 2004


High-school aged people who use the word leftist need want to be taken very seriously.
posted by emelenjr at 6:50 AM on July 8, 2004


War is awesome.

Vote GOP.
posted by the fire you left me at 6:51 AM on July 8, 2004


Racist garbage.

Thanks for that cogent argument, your majesty. I fail to see the racism here, but I realize that's your all-purpose argument against anything you don't agree with, since you figure all the white liberals will cringe in fear at the label.

And so what if it was? The first amendment applies to everyone, even people you hate.

War is awesome.

Vote GOP.


His actual argument, and whether or not you or I agree with it is irrelevant. The reaction to him exercising his rights is. There's room for argument over whether his rights apply in the legal context of a school, but I have a feeling if this was an anti-war kid doing the same thing in a pro-war school, I having a feeling you'd all be dashing off angry posts and letters to your congressman.
posted by jonmc at 6:56 AM on July 8, 2004




Would have liked ot see this kids reaction if one of his leftist enemies burned a flag in reaction to his lame cries for attention.
posted by terrapin at 6:59 AM on July 8, 2004


The only thing funny about this provocateur is his Wing Commander reference.

Dude, forget the ACLU, what about George Bush's friend?
posted by inksyndicate at 6:59 AM on July 8, 2004


If you'd rather, you can go straight to the source: ACLU and do a search on the term "Christianity". Lots of results, none good or surprising:

Search Term: christianity
Total Results: 29 found out of 17874 searched.

posted by hama7 at 7:03 AM on July 8, 2004


Here's the text of Tinker v. Des Moines (the legal precedent that the dud is citing) if anyone's interested. Executive summary: Students wear black armbands to school in a silent protest of the Vietnam War; students are suspended for same. Court finds that this was unconstitutional, because the school has no basis to deny the students' exercise of their First Amendment rights without evidence that said exercise would be disruptive:
In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school," the prohibition cannot be sustained.
So it looks like the courts did make (or, at least, implied) an exception for behaviour that would be substantially disruptive to the operation of the school (things aren't quite as simple as IshmaelGraves implied.)

The way this guy tells the story, it looks like the administration (at least now) has pretty good evidence that the posters would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school." Of course, this raises a troubling possibility: suppose Group A plans to perform an activity in school that Group B doesn't like. Does Group B just have to let the administration know that "there'll be trouble" if Group A is allowed to go ahead with their plans, and the administration can then prohibit Group A from proceeding?
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:05 AM on July 8, 2004


I have a feeling if this was an anti-war kid doing the same thing in a pro-war school, I having a feeling you'd all be dashing off angry posts and letters to your congressman.

For the record, I would be telling the anti-war kid to STFU, even though I agree with him.

Also, if anyone here has a time machine, I would like to travel back to 1991 and tell my high school self to STFU. It wasn't that the anti-war sentiments I was expressing were wrong, it's that I was just making a lot of noise and not changing anything. That effort should have been diverted to getting laid.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:06 AM on July 8, 2004


Thanks for that cogent argument, your majesty.

Why the personal attack?
posted by jpoulos at 7:07 AM on July 8, 2004


Lots of results, none good or surprising

I agree. It's not good or surprising that so many nutjob Christians are *still* trying to impose their religion on everyone else in the country. Fortunately, the ACLU is doing a good job.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:11 AM on July 8, 2004


Would have liked ot see this kids reaction if one of his leftist enemies burned a flag in reaction to his lame cries for attention.

He also seems to have a mighty persecution complex

You guys are beautiful. No actual argument with facts of the situation. Just amateur psychoanalysis and "wow, what a lamer dude..."

Besides his motivations aren't the point.

Besides, terrapin, you gonna try and tell that those who do burn the flag aren't engaging in lame cries for attention?

I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

On preview:poulos, the "your majesty" is a response to sudama's two word analysis of the situation, with no explanations, evidence or agrument, just a scarlet letter racism accusation ,which to me smacks of a royal decree. He's discoursed that way before, and I'm calling him on it.
posted by jonmc at 7:11 AM on July 8, 2004


konolia, I called him a "mouthpiece" because all he did was print up and Xerox stuff that someone else wrote--not because of the content of his speech. I think I was very careful to be clear about that in my initial post.
posted by LairBob at 7:13 AM on July 8, 2004


I can't believe any adult would see any merit in this. He derides the ACLU on a poster and then uses materials from their website to help justify his actions. That is far from intelligent or even articulate. At the very least, it shows confusion. I'd say it is the teachers' (and parents') job to address that confusion, specially when that it seems to be getting a bit out of hand. (The enemy?)
posted by magullo at 7:14 AM on July 8, 2004


He's discoursed that way before, and I'm calling him on it.

No, he made a lame two-word comment and you decided to attack him personally. If someone had done that to you, you'd be pouting and sobbing all the way to Meta right now. If you have issue with sudama's (admittedly non-existent) argument, then address it. But to come out blazing with the personal attacks is completely hypocritical of you.
posted by jpoulos at 7:16 AM on July 8, 2004


You guys are beautiful. No actual argument with facts of the situation. Just amateur psychoanalysis and "wow, what a lamer dude..."

Are you even reading this thread? There's discussion of the "facts" all over the place. You see what you want to see.
posted by jpoulos at 7:18 AM on July 8, 2004


High-school aged people who use the word leftist need want to be taken very seriously.

Edit:

High-school aged people want to be taken very seriously.

The entire story reeks of self-justification and -gratification.

Well, he is in High School.


I think LairBob has it nailed on the very first comment.

All that aside, I give him a little credit for caring enough to fight for his opinion. I was way too stoned in High School to have actually cared one way or the other.
posted by a3matrix at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2004


Yet if this guy runs into problems with expressing his anti-ACLU views anywhere, he'd be well advised to call for the ACLU's help. The ACLU has a history (which the kid in question is obviously unaware of) of defending even their most violent detractors.
posted by talos at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2004


From Hama7's link:
"steady erosion, which we have experienced over the last 30-40 years of our religious freedom. From the Supreme Court's 1963 ruling that banned prayer in public schools to its landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion,"

I'm sorry but I did not realize that a decision that applied to everyone's choices had anything to do with religion.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 7:22 AM on July 8, 2004


At the very least, it shows confusion. I'd say it is the teachers' (and parents') job to address that confusion,

You mean make him see the light, don'tcha, magullo? Bring him around to your glorious way of thinking? Because he disagrees with you and says so, he must be sick in the head.

If someone had done that to you, you'd be pouting and sobbing all the way to Meta right now.

Now who's making personal attacks? Besides check my MeTa posting record. I've dragged someone into MeTa over a personal attack exactly once and that was to make a point.

And I did attack his argument and his argument style by calling bullshit on it.

Are you even reading this thread? There's discussion of the "facts" all over the place. You see what you want to see.

In yours and a few others comments, poulos. That statement was directed at the two commenters I quoted.
posted by jonmc at 7:23 AM on July 8, 2004


(By the way, please ignore my derail above.)
posted by Dr_Octavius at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2004


I'm gonna have nightmares tonight about this kid.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 7:34 AM on July 8, 2004


He just struck me as a bit of an agitator, especially when with the ACLU posters.

Sort of a "Ha ha ha! Let's see what they say when I pick on THEM too!" kind of person.

I wonder what his next project will be. Something about involving gender predjudice with the prom queen?
posted by Samizdata at 7:38 AM on July 8, 2004


He just struck me as a bit of an agitator, especially when with the ACLU posters.

Which is the reason, (despite that the fact I disagree with neaerly all of his positions) I am defending this kid.

Good for him.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 AM on July 8, 2004


You mean make him see the light, don'tcha, magullo? Bring him around to your glorious way of thinking? Because he disagrees with you and says so, he must be sick in the head.

No, I mean you cannot denounce an organization as biased while at the same time using their free-speech material to justify your actions. It's either one or the other: either their arguments are biased and thus unusable or they are are legitimate and usable.

PS: I do realize that there are smart, articulate and sincere people on both sides of the political spectrum. Likewise, I do realize that there are plenty of jackasses on both sides.
posted by magullo at 7:41 AM on July 8, 2004


It seems to be a very well done work of exposing ignorance of some so called "educators" who apparently tought the right way to deal with the boy using propaganda is to repress him, instead of teaching him and others the ways to sustain a discussion or advance a point of view without recurring to logical fallacies and propaganda.

Unfortuantely (for him) is 4th poster "Protect Islamic Property Right" is slanderous as it connects Islamic (everything islamic) to a picture in which a woman is chained and strangled by an hand (maybe a man hand). I haven't found anything in Quran declaring that women are properties of man (corrections are welcome if any) and even if some or many self-declared islamist do abuse women as if they were properties that doesn't mean Islam (as a religion based on the Quran ) does consider woman as properties ; evidence of the contrary is present in the Quran.

But there is some evidence of polarization of this guy (bolding added by me) :

"It seems that this leftist didn't like the threat I posed to the virtual monopoly on political expression
he and the rest of the teachers had at our school".


Well if it's virtual, what's the problem ? And what about that label leftist ? Care to define "leftist" or is leftist
anybody who oppose your point of view ?

What has Communism done? Some teachers would rather you not know....
Some indeed does that for fascism too. The point being ?

have to admit being called a racist, a bastard, and being threatened hurt. I had seen first-hand just how
angry and blind the left could be.
.
Again, labeling ? I've seen apolitical people exaclty like that.

Then the ACLU contacted me letting me know that they are currently reviewing the facts of the case and deciding
if they wish to offer me aid in pursuing any legal action. Even if they decide to support me, I am not sure if I will take any legal action.
and On Friday I called the ACLU and filed an official written complaint, wondering if they would respond. I thought it would be great to see them defending my right to post "THE A.C.L.U. We don't hate religion, we just hate Christianity" signs.

Now you no longer think it's great ? A bit inconsistent , but ok one can change mind.

The ACLU while a traditionally liberal organization is also a great reference.
Care to define liberal ?

Nothing unnerves the left like an opponent who rises above petty attacks and stays focused on the issues

Whoa the same is true for the right, how curious ! Maybe left and right and similar ?

He also makes a lot of references to "enemies". Mhhh...left enemies I guess , but anyway left or right political oppositors are NOT enemies but are oppositors. The difference is not made out of thin air, check Webster dude.

Oh well at the end he wraps himself in the flag. Just a big joke if things turn bad eh ? Hopefully his fine mind will
find balance.
posted by elpapacito at 7:48 AM on July 8, 2004


No, I mean you cannot denounce an organization as biased while at the same time using their free-speech material to justify your actions.

I fail to see while this is the case. An organisation can espouse free speech for all and still be biased in it's own attempts to enforce that. They are not mutually exclusive to me.
posted by PenDevil at 7:52 AM on July 8, 2004


Wow. What a lamer, dude.
posted by inksyndicate at 7:55 AM on July 8, 2004


So it looks like the courts did make (or, at least, implied) an exception for behaviour that would be substantially disruptive to the operation of the school (things aren't quite as simple as IshmaelGraves implied.)

Didn't mean to imply that the situation was simple — First Amendment law rarely is. Time, place, and manner restrictions can be applied anywhere; probably more stringently in schools. But the point everyone seems to be missing is that the court has ruled time and time again that time, place, and manner restrictions must be applied without regard for content — i.e., you can make me get a permit to march in the street, but you've got to give the Klan a permit when they fill out the form as well. And in this case the argument is clearly not that one has an inherent right to use school hallways as an ideological bulletin board but that posters promoting one point of view went unchallanged while posters promoting a less popular point of view were immediately jumped on. I don't think Tinker's 'substantial disruption' allows the state to tailor its time, place, and manner restrictions based on the content of its speech.

But this thread is enlightening; it's good to know that the Glorious People's Front of MeFi will be there to defend to the death the freedom of speech of the eloquent, the cogent, the right-thinking, the non-annoying, and the well-argued. I don't suppose the name Niemöller means anything to any of you people?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:57 AM on July 8, 2004


Personally I feel that schools should be completely free of all forms of religion. If a parent wishes to bring up a child within a certain faith all well and good, as long as that parent instructs their child in their own free time.

Indeed I find nothing abhorrent in the idea of secularism, seperation of church and state is imho a sign of a mature democracy.

[disclaimer: before I get branded as a heretic I do attend church and was educated at a school with an overt Christian ethos].
posted by johnnyboy at 8:03 AM on July 8, 2004


Personally I feel that schools should be completely free of all forms of politics. If a parent wishes to bring up a child within a certain political viewpoint all well and good as long as that child instructs their child in their own free time.
posted by konolia at 8:22 AM on July 8, 2004


as that parent


*smacks self upside head*
posted by konolia at 8:23 AM on July 8, 2004


I hate to bring up this word, but really, this guy is a troll. Anyone (left, right, whatever) who makes 500 posters and then writes a blog-style entry wherein he is the only rational one in a world of loonies? Troll! Don't feed the trolls.

Seriously, he definitely had a right to put up posters (unless they are hateful, which I don't think these were), but c'mon, no one has a right to turn the school into a giant advertisement. There's free speech and then there's just being a huge pain in the butt. Put up a few and hand out pamphlets one day. Get permission to set up a booth and hand out all the stuff you want, 1000 posters if you want. Guess what - everyone has to do that at a school. And if the school doesn't let you do that, then you have a serious freedom of speech issue and I'll fight for you.
posted by livii at 8:23 AM on July 8, 2004


Besides, terrapin, you gonna try and tell that those who do burn the flag aren't engaging in lame cries for attention?

Nice sentence.

*If* those who burn the flag make it their mission to harass the school and the school administrator by posting their address, phone number and e-mail, you're damn straight I will. *If* they decide to post their "accomplishment" on a site in order to gain favour with those who support their cause, then I will as well.

Nice strawman though.

I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

Hey, jonmc, how do you know I wouldn't say the same thing if the kid was posting "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" posters he downloaded from ANSWER's site? You don't. So put down the K-Mart crystal ball and quit putting words in other people's mouths. I would call BS, if the person in question used the same tactics no matter what their agenda was.

The kid calls people who disagree with him his "enemy" and encourages those who think like him to be annoying in order to get their way. If that doesn't give me a right to make fun of him, then I don't know what does.

He must have been a joy to his mother as a child. "I WANT ICE CREAM! IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME ICE CREAM I WILL CRY AND THROW A TANTRUM UNTIL I CAN FIND LEGAL PRECEDENT TO SUE YOUR ASS OVER, MOMMY!!!!"
posted by terrapin at 8:27 AM on July 8, 2004


That hope is dependent upon consensus within the body politic I feel konolia. Having said that it is my understanding that schools in the U.S conduct recitals of the pledge of allegiance (please correct me if I am wrong). Your last comment suggests that you look unfavourably upon this practice as I understand it.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2004


Whereupon a student exercises his right to free speech in a public school setting...

The kid started off by printing ten posters out using his school's computer, paper, and probably their internet connection too, and then put them all over his history teacher's room. The next day he did the same thing to another teacher who disagreed with him. Then he and his friends put 500 fliers throughout the hallways without consulting anyone. Teachers should clearly have control over what goes up on the walls of their classrooms, while most schools (from what I've seen) require students get approval to post things in hallways. Administrators probably abuse this regularly to rein in free expression, but there are legitimate reasons... (1) making sure materials do not violate the law or pose a liability for the school, (2) there are fire codes, from what I recall of my high school days, that limit the percentage of wall space that can be covered with paper and the distance from the ceiling it can be etc. Some of it may be BS, but it makes sense that the administration should be able to ensure that their school is in compliance, (3) making sure some some jackass doesn't erode the common by sticking 500 fliers up when everyone else is limited to, say, 100 (hypothetically speaking of course).
posted by alphanerd at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2004


Personally I feel that schools should be completely free of all forms of politics. If a parent wishes to bring up a child within a certain political viewpoint all well and good as long as that child instructs their child in their own free time.

The entire purpose of schools was that a democracy requires an electorate that's educated enough to understand the basis of their decisions. This is why schools have Government, Civics, History and Current Events classes. While teachers should avoid advocacy themselves (and yes, I know they don't, you should have seen my teachers. My Government teacher was a vociferous John Bircher who visibly struggled to contain his profanity, sometimes unsuccessfully), encouraging students to participate in political debate is a good thingm especially as part of a school project

However individually plastering the school with externally produced agitprop is way over the line.

Konolia, would you have posted this if he was putting up hundreds of posters that say "The Bushes: Profiting from Dead Americans for over 90 years!" or one with a picture of Cheney sitting on a giant pile of money and uniformed American corpses and saying "It is your patriotic duty to die for Halliburton!"
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:44 AM on July 8, 2004


Hey, jonmc, how do you know I wouldn't say the same thing if the kid was posting "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" posters he downloaded from ANSWER's site?

You personally, I don't know what you'd do. MeFi, and leftists in general, would be howling "look, look I'm being repressed," if the tables were turned. This I know from a lifetime of listening to party-line thinkers. I'm absolutely sure right-wingers have the same hypocrisy, but that dosen't mean I don't call bullshit when I see it.
posted by jonmc at 8:45 AM on July 8, 2004


How 'bout:

The school should have one wall/board/you-name-it where people can make whatever political statements they like.

If something elicits real controversy, turn it into a learning experiment - make both sides research the issue, debate it in class, defind their positions intelligently, follow the logic (or illogic) trail to its conclusion, come out smarter or wiser or [some other positive adjective] than they were before.

It's great that the kid cares enough to act on his convictions. Although I agree with others that papering the walls with pre-made posters seems more like bandwagoning than like taking a stand.
posted by dharmamaya at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2004


But you just admitted you have no clue what I would do. And yet you felt comfortable in painting me with your wide "MeFi, and leftists in general would..."

When, in fact, I would be one of the first to say that hypocrisy sucks. Hell, I refuse to use my cell phone while driving so that I am not a hypocrite when I yell at others doing so. ;)
posted by terrapin at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2004


From the article: "... my teacher for all her socialist spirit and authority was dumbstruck and confused against the group will." What an utterly hysterical teenage rage against "the machine". (I was a little leftie snot in high school, so I know of what I speak.) I thought the reasons given for not allowing the posters to stay up were fair and applicable to any political viewpoint. I don't know the ethnic or religious makeup of this kid's school, but some of the posters seemed to be targeting Arabs and Muslims and asking people to separate the PLO from all Palestinians (a nuance that most adults can't seem to manage) -- not really acceptable for the mass papering of a public school.
posted by jess at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2004


I ? dharmamaya
posted by terrapin at 9:00 AM on July 8, 2004


poop. preview showed ♥
posted by terrapin at 9:06 AM on July 8, 2004


In High School, I was a bit like this kid. At one time- starting in about 8th grade- until college, I was an ardent talk radio listening right winger.
posted by drezdn at 9:16 AM on July 8, 2004


are there any articles or stories on this from the teachers' or other students' points of view?

(btw, the thread should've pretty much been over after lairbob's post).
posted by lord_wolf at 9:37 AM on July 8, 2004


How'd a kid this young get exposed to the "anybody who's not a hardline republican must be a commie" meme? That's like sooo pre-Glasnost.
posted by signal at 9:46 AM on July 8, 2004


I liked the posters which said stuff about war, communism, and other nuggets of history which teachers may be giving an incomplete view on.

When they veered into rote exclamations about bloodthirsty Arabs and repressive Islam, I think they are inappropriate for a school setting, especially one which includes Arab and Muslim students. Schools need free speech, but they also need to make sure that complex questions that delve into peoples background and beliefs are handled in complex ways, and not reduced to poster and slogan wars, which can poison the environment.
posted by chaz at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2004


The school should have one wall/board/you-name-it where people can make whatever political statements they like.

They could call it a Free Speech Zone!

I do agree with your second suggestion--the one about the debates--though.

And I guess that my main problem with the kid is that he makes out like he was persecuted by school officials, when by my count only one teacher actively "repressed" his campaign. The history teacher left them up in her class even though she disagreed, the vice principal agreed with him and thought what he was doing was right, and the principal, while probably disagreeing with him, didn't punish, but rather offered a compromise solution which did not involve plastering 500 posters on the walls. Not exactly a lynch mob, I would say.

Patronizing armchair psychoanalysis: This kid has been fully and unquestioningly formed by his parent's politics (either submitting to them or rebelling to the opposite end of the spectrum), as almost all teenagers are. He doesn't think for himself yet, even though (like almost all teenagers) he is unshakeably confident that he does. He has energy and intelligence, but no good outlet for them yet, so he expends immense resources in proving himself in something which is pretty stupid and in the final account meaningless. Like almost all teenagers. Get off my lawn.
posted by Hildago at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2004


I'm finding it fascinating comparing and contrasting this thread with this one.
posted by mw at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2004


It looked boring.


More boring than a post about a silly kid who calls himself "Crusader" and doesn't like his teacher, post linked from FrontPageMagazine?
I don't think so, sorry.

anyway, I guess that if the kid graduates fast enough, there's a good job waiting for him in Abu Ghraib, "softening up" lawyerless prisoners, showing them the living, breathing beauty of the Crusades, anti-communism and the US Constitution (that is, if the prisoners will be able to see all that through those stylish black hoods)
posted by matteo at 10:18 AM on July 8, 2004


Are there any similarities between the two stories, mw?
posted by Hildago at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2004


mayorcurley: as many times as you've posted something that incensed me, this makes up for it: "That effort should have been diverted to getting laid." thank you for that, it may actually be the most insightful hindsight comment i've seen. i almost spit coffee on my monitor.

i find it sort of odd that this kid carries a copy of the bill of rights with him, and supports the same administration that is currently gutting said bill of rights. see, limiting free speech is only a problem when the free speech being limited is that of people agreeing with the right. we can, of course, limit all freedom of speech from the commie left, of course.

so tell me - anyone who's had recent experience with this - is it really so bad in high schools these days that kids are this idealogically polarized? back in my high school days we were just apathetic. we didn't have any teachers who seemed intent on shoving leftist or rightist rhetoric down our throats, or students who started objecting to said rhetoric. the only signs in the hallways were for pep rallies or fundraisers. the biggest social injustice we had to deal with was that our social studies book listed nixon as the current president (and this was in 1990...)
posted by caution live frogs at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2004


I don't suppose the name Niemöller means anything to any of you people?

What's this "you people" business?
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:36 AM on July 8, 2004


I'm finding it fascinating comparing and contrasting this thread with this one.

It is an interesting parallel... in that case you have a student who turned in a left-leaning, politically inflammatory poem as part of a homework assignment. When the poem was read aloud, the student's teacher was suspended for allowing it to happen. The dominant theme in that thread was that the teacher should not have been suspended for letting a student express their opinions.

In this situation, you have a student who put up some fliers in a classroom. When someone questioned the opinions expressed on the fliers, the student responded not by defending his viewpoint, but by printing out even more fliers. When that provoked no reaction, he printed up 500 fliers and covered the school with them. Finally getting the reaction he was looking for, the student then ran around claiming he's oppressed. General opinion at Metafilter is the kid's a troll.

I'm pretty sure the point you were trying to make is MeFi loves free speech when it's for liberals and hates it when it's for conservatives. Well, if you want to look at the two separate cases in purely superficial terms, you may be right. But if you take the time to truly examine the differences between the situations and read the opinions of MeFi members, you'd see in one situation it is the thought that is being punished and in the other it is the manner that thought is presented that is being punished.
posted by turaho at 10:40 AM on July 8, 2004


I'm sorry but the kid's poster about Israel and Palestine and occupation etc ARE highly offensive.
posted by Sijeka at 10:51 AM on July 8, 2004


I don't recall any of us having a right not to be offended.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2004


LairBob nailed it. As presented in the story, the kid is merely silly, and about as deep a thinker as folks above who whine because the state is rightly trying to get out of the business of officially sanctioning their religious beliefs.

The only folks on MetaFilter who consistently, unendingly try to stifle opposing viewpoints are our friends on the right. They consistently misunderstand refutation of their views for some kind of censorship, and their only response is crying for less controversial (read: less challenging to their wrongheaded ideas) material on Metafilter.

As for this kid, and for conservatives in general....bring it on. More and more light, in the schools, on the street, on MetaFilter...wherever. But do stop your endless sniveling about dissent here on MetaFilter, and in America.

I don't recall any of us having a right not to be offended.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:01 AM PST on July 8


Sometimes irony is pretty ironical, if not outright hypocritical.

~chuckle~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:12 AM on July 8, 2004


I don't suppose the name Niemöller means anything to any of you people?

They came for ParisParamus and we did not speak out, because it was about time.
posted by biffa at 11:36 AM on July 8, 2004



I don't recall any of us having a right not to be offended.


I don't recall America allowing people to use hate speech and racist arguments in schools, and hide it as free speech, but hey, that's just me!
posted by Sijeka at 11:38 AM on July 8, 2004


I don't recall America allowing people to use hate speech and racist arguments in schools

"Hate speech" is right up there with "thought crime" as a frighteningly Orwellian concept.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on July 8, 2004


No no no. Words matter and have a much greater impact than we could think.
posted by Sijeka at 11:45 AM on July 8, 2004


No no no. Words matter and have a much greater impact than we could think.

No one would deny the power of words, but I'll lay down and die before I let some governing body decide what I can and can't say. And that's the long and short of it.
posted by jonmc at 11:56 AM on July 8, 2004


David Horowitz (Frontpage editor) is bent on mandating politics in schools due to the over-sensitive nature of a few conservative students having to listen to their "socialist, leftist, Chomsky-reading", teachers. He has been publishing tons of whiny testimonials in order to promote his "student's bill of rights. "

Some professors have been a bit rude to conservative students, but hasn't everyone had bad experiences with teachers? It's totally overblown as an issue.
posted by john at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2004


Has no one else contemplated the irony of the Templar_Crusader, Our Hero in this story, garbed in not just Greatful Dead wear, but rasta GD wear? What the hell kind of conservative is he, anyways?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2004


I think he was being ironical.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:53 PM on July 8, 2004


Tiger Claw?
posted by homunculus at 3:13 PM on July 8, 2004


"Sometimes irony is pretty ironical, if not outright hypocritical."

I don't see anything about being offended in that thread. Did I miss something, or are you just being your normal obtuse self?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:34 PM on July 8, 2004


End Native American occupation of American land!

Yawn. Also, that kid is fat and unnatractive, which as we all know is way worse then being Arab.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 PM on July 8, 2004


So...I think this kid is a bit arrogant but who isn't at 18? That said if I were the school administrator who had this problem I might have chosen one of a few possible actions:

1. Yes you have a right to free speech, but you do not have a right to plaster paper all over property you do not own. I'll set up a table for you at lunch that you can then try to shovel your crap on the students there.

or better yet:

2. You have right to free speech but this is a no protest zone. You can setup a protest in this remote section of the school on Saturday Afternoon. (Shades of NYC/Republican Convention)
posted by aaronscool at 5:22 PM on July 8, 2004


They could call it a Free Speech Zone!

Brought to you by PepsiCo™!

No one would deny the power of words, but I'll lay down and die before I let some governing body decide what I can and can't say.

I think you mean 'stand up and fight', there, don't you, amigo?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:59 AM on July 9, 2004


I knew before I even entered this thread what I would find: the usual suspects denouncing the kid as dumb, racist, and (an especially tasty MeFi touch) fat, a few conservatives plus (bless him) jonmc pointing out the hypocrisy, everyone else yelling "No no, we're not hypocrites, we point out the failures of the left too, except just not today maybe! Also the kid is a dumb troll, unlike the honest upstanding leftie kids we'd be willing to support if they got in trouble with their school!"

I loved LairBob's first statement: As someone who was a high-school teacher for a long time, and regardless of my own personal politics, I sometimes wished for kids who were this politically impassioned, anywhere on the political spectrum. But then he went and blew it by claiming that the kid was "intellectually lazy" for "printing up posters from a website." Please, do you think everyone at the antiwar rally last February made their own posters? I saw thousands of standard-issue placards made by the organizing groups and handed out like confetti. And back in the '60s people carried prefab signs too, and handed out printed leaflets rather than writing out by hand their laboriously crafted personalized statements. If you have the time, skill, and inclination to create your own material, that's great, but if it were a requirement, no protest movement would ever get going.

Also, some of you obviously have no memory of what it was like to be in high school.
posted by languagehat at 7:13 AM on July 9, 2004


some of you obviously have no memory of what it was like to be in high school.

Oh, we do. But it's very frustrating to not be able to address high school situations in a high school manner. If I went to school with Benito Moonflower-McLard, I could have called him a lonely, attention-seeking loser to his face and punched him as hard as he deserved a few times.

That would have been great because I would have only gotten a couple of saturday detentions for it, and there's no way his three friends were going to put down their D+D books or copies of The Fountainhead and try to avenge his beating. But because I don't go to high school with him, I can only hurl invectives at him in a forum that he'll never see and that's very hard to deal with.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:44 AM on July 9, 2004


I knew before I even entered this thread what I would find...

Thanks. Your airy, detached dismissal of the entire thread didn't exactly come as a shock either, though.
posted by Hildago at 1:51 PM on July 9, 2004


Wasn't talking to or about you, Hildago. I thought your analysis was pretty sensible. But if you want to feel assaulted, be my guest. It's popular around here.

(I have no idea what you mean by "airy, detached dismissal of the entire thread"; I was merely describing it, also a popular sport around here. If you disagree, by all means say so. This is Liberty Hall.)
posted by languagehat at 5:35 PM on July 9, 2004


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