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March 9, 2005 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Oh Say Can You Seethe • The Board of Education in Brick, NJ "may toughen its policy on use of wireless telephones in schools, after a videotape showing a Brick Township High School teacher screaming at his students to show respect for the national anthem — and then pulling the chair from underneath one student who refused to stand — was posted on several independent Web sites (.wmv)." Some have come to the teacher's defense, and three students connected to the incident have been arrested for separate charges of prior vandalism--which they also taped.
posted by dhoyt (128 comments total)

 
Wait, what does this have to do with phones? The students were using a videocamera.
posted by mkultra at 9:43 AM on March 9, 2005


i once posted VHS to a Beta website but my Sony wouldn't view it.
posted by quonsar at 9:45 AM on March 9, 2005


When evidence of malfeasance is brought to the attention of "those in charge," obviously the most appropriate course of action is for them to take steps that guarantee such evidence cannot be collected in the future.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 AM on March 9, 2005


Can somebody please explain this to a non-American (though I am married to one)?

I'll admit that standing for the national anthem is something I'd consider simple good etiquette, but I can't see why it should be enforced. Then again, in a country where kids are pretty much forced to say the pledge of allegiance in school I guess this is to be expected.

BTW, am I the only one who cannot help but think of the Hitler Youth (pardon my Godwin invocation) whenever I hear a bunch of kids reciting the pledge of allegiance? Patriotism is OK, but this kind of thing is ridiculous. I really find the rampant nationalism in the US scary.
posted by skaffen42 at 9:57 AM on March 9, 2005


I thought by law you are not required to stand for the Pledge.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:57 AM on March 9, 2005


bizzare.
posted by delmoi at 9:59 AM on March 9, 2005


the most appropriate course of action is for them to take steps that guarantee such evidence cannot be collected in the future.

as demonstrated by the Bush administration time and again.
posted by quonsar at 10:00 AM on March 9, 2005


unreal. you can actually hear him put the needle on the record and the recording pop phonograph-style. what kind of teacher has his own 'pledge of a legiance' record and keeps a record player in his classroom specifically so he can play the record at the beginning of every class?
posted by jmccw at 10:05 AM on March 9, 2005


I'll agree the teacher obviously needs some anger management, but the kids are obviously just making trouble because they can. In no way should this be viewed as some kind of protest against forced patriotism.
posted by boymilo at 10:07 AM on March 9, 2005


heh. i did not hear any pledge of allegiance. i DID hear the star spangled banner.
posted by quonsar at 10:07 AM on March 9, 2005


It's one thing if a student objects to standing for the anthem based on principle but I'm guessing the teacher thought that the kid was sitting as a passive-aggressive fuck you.

And man, with a teacher like that, I might have done the same thing. I had forgotten how immature and petty teachers can be. Watching the video reminded me of many times I've witness teachers losing it.
posted by sexymofo at 10:09 AM on March 9, 2005


some people just need to learn that saying "Fuck America" is patriotic.

But this is nothing new, I had a friend get suspended in high school for similar disrespectful rage against the machine inspired insolence.

On preview boymilo:
But as an adult he should realize that that kind of attitude invites just that sort of reaction from high school students. This is less about Patriotism and more about a guy who's not the best teacher in the world
posted by slapshot57 at 10:12 AM on March 9, 2005


That's sure some fancy light fixtures they got there in that high school!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2005


Oh reporters - the articles starts as the entry "The Board of Education may toughen its policy on use of wireless telephones in schools". What was said was:
"... review our policies and perhaps enforce a more stringent districtwide policy regarding electronic recording devices in the classroom," [Schools Superintendent] Seidenberger added.

I guess the only "electronic recording device" the reporter could think of was a telephone.

Another funny note by the same Seidenberger : "not all details cited on the Internet regarding this incident are factual." Well, sir, I have just watched the footage and couldn't notice any detail that was not factual in the video (unless he is implying the video was somehow doctored).
posted by nkyad at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2005


surely the teacher was simply celebrating Colorectal Awareness Month?
posted by quonsar at 10:15 AM on March 9, 2005


many times I've witness teachers losing it

Indeed we all have. Maybe constant interaction with kids saps the maturity from teachers, and when they lose power they act on the same level as their students -- and even normal behavior for a teenager is inappropriate for an adult.
posted by NickDouglas at 10:26 AM on March 9, 2005


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the flag salute issue (in 1943*) and I'm guessing that much of their reasoning could be used to similarly to apply to standing for the National Anthem.

*The year is significant. It was the middle of WWII and nationalism was running high in the U.S. The court showed courage to rule as they did in the face of that pressure. That is not to say that the issue could not be raised again (and possibly reversed) in the future.

Excerpt:
"the Court ruled that compelling school students to salute the flag simply wasn't a valid means for achieving any degree of national unity. Moreover, it wasn't a sign that the government is weak if individual rights are able to take precedence over government authority - a principle that continues to play a role in civil liberty cases.
"

posted by spock at 10:27 AM on March 9, 2005


The About.com link above says the decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette was 6-3. This source says it was 8-1.
posted by spock at 10:30 AM on March 9, 2005


I don't know. When I first read about all of this, I was convinced the teacher was a power-mad, small, petty man. After watching the video though, he seems to just be trying to establish order in an environment where there clearly is none. I don't know how you could learn in that room, and I doubt it's because they don't have any respect for America or that particular teacher. They don't seem to have any respect for anything.

Also, that's some of the worst camera work I've ever seen. I know that in classic horror movie fashion, the worst stuff should happen off screen for your imagination's benefit, but come on.
posted by willnot at 10:30 AM on March 9, 2005


Ya know, teaching isn't easy. I have good kids and, after nine years, I am surprised I have never wigged out on my kids. Of course, I almost never wig out to anyone. If you can imagine being locked in a room every workday for nine months for an hour a day with a kid who would like nothing better than to have you flip your lid and staying calm, good for you. If you can imagine having a couple of kids like this in your room, awesome. If you can imagine having multiple classes of kids like this and, just when they start acting like adults, having them replaced with other kids who want to make you nuts, and still remaining totally emotionally detached all the time, I am amazed.

That being said, it is our job to keep it under control anways. Even if you are a violent person with a hair trigger temper and no moral compunction about resorting to violnce, you can't touch the students. You put the school up for risk of liability and will lose your job.

Also, mandatory group chanting of the pledge of allegience is, in fact, creepy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:30 AM on March 9, 2005


I must have missed something. When did it become law to stand for the national anthem in the USA? And the probable motivations of the kid aside (as noted, most high school kids are just trying to get a rise out of the teacher), would freedom of speech not dictate that if you wish to sit during the anthem, you may?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:34 AM on March 9, 2005


What a bunch of assholes, and the responses here just smack of the attitude displayed in the class. If a teacher asks you to stand up you should bloody well stand up. Hope they all end up flipping burgers while they reminisce about the time they pissed off that teacher.
posted by zeoslap at 10:42 AM on March 9, 2005


"you can't touch the students. You put the school up for risk of liability and will lose your job."

And you know, you'd be hitting a child
posted by fullerine at 10:43 AM on March 9, 2005


You really thought through all the logical ramifications of "If [authority figure x] ask you to [y] then you should bloody well [y]", didn't you, Zeoslap?
posted by jon_kill at 10:47 AM on March 9, 2005


Hang in there zeoslap, you're on the right track.
posted by Witty at 10:51 AM on March 9, 2005


fullerine: And you know, you'd be hitting a child

If you read the sentence before the one you responded to, you'll note that I qualify "you can't touch the students" with "Even if you are a violent person with a hair trigger temper and no moral compunction about resorting to violence."
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:52 AM on March 9, 2005


Also, mandatory group chanting of the pledge of allegience is, in fact, creepy.

...or would have been, had that been occurring.
posted by quonsar at 10:53 AM on March 9, 2005


Oooo logical ramifications, whatever. They were trying to piss the teacher off knowing full well there would be little to no consequences. Assholes.
posted by zeoslap at 10:56 AM on March 9, 2005


some people just need to learn that saying "Fuck America" is patriotic.

I'd quibble with that. Perhaps you mean "fuck the government?"

on preview: i agree with zeoslap. kids need a good smack upside the head.
posted by keswick at 10:57 AM on March 9, 2005


the camera work is for shit because it was obviously hidden out of sight in a kid's bag. they apparently had the camera in there because the teacher has a history of being aggressive and they wanted to capture a gleaming failure of our educational system in action. sure, kids should follow the directions of a teacher, but saluting the flag or standing for the pledge are not legally compulsory. that kid has a perfect right not to stand, and that teacher had no right in pulling the chair out from under him. sorry, but i think the larger assholes in this case would be the school district and that flipped out teacher.
posted by moonbird at 10:58 AM on March 9, 2005


quonsar: ...or would have been, had that been occurring.

Sorry, I should have qualified my statement, too. At our school (which is a private school), when the pledge is said, it is a mandatory school policy that all students say it - including our large number of foreign students. That is creepy. That was not what was happening in the link and, provided the school doesn't ignore the supreme court ruling, that is not what is supposed to happen at public schools.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:01 AM on March 9, 2005


What a bunch of assholes, and the responses here just smack of the attitude displayed in the class. If a teacher asks you to stand up you should bloody well stand up.

Unquestioned bending to authority became a good thing when, exactly?

I did note that the most likely reason for the kid sitting down was to be an asshole-- that does not invalidate the kid's First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:02 AM on March 9, 2005


"Oooo logical ramifications, whatever."

Didn't I see that on a Bush/Cheney campaign poster?
posted by jon_kill at 11:05 AM on March 9, 2005


These kids aren't taking some moral stance against standing for the anthem. They're screwing off in class and trying to piss off the teacher.

While the teacher clearly over reacts, the kids are quite clearly little shits that could stand to get hit upside the head a few times.

Send the teacher to anger management training, and tell the parents that a little discipline might make their kids into something resembling human beings.

Anyone who thinks the kids are in the right here, should have to teach them for a month.
posted by inthe80s at 11:09 AM on March 9, 2005


Didn't I see that on a Bush/Cheney campaign poster?

Nope, that was, "If it feels good, do it." But wouldn't that mean the kid was being a red-blooded Patriot?
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:11 AM on March 9, 2005


You're missing what I'm saying... yes, the kids are obviously shits.

They still have First Amendment protection, however. That is the point, and the teacher's behaviour is entirely unacceptable.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:12 AM on March 9, 2005


Ever see "The Wall" zeoslop?
If so, did you understand the ramifications of forced compliance?
Get in line citizen!
posted by nofundy at 11:14 AM on March 9, 2005


Forced to stand when "the land of the free" is being played.

Wonderful. How that fucking martinet thinks he's honoring my country with his drill-sargeant wanna-be schtick, I have no idea. All he's really honoring is his ability to bully children.

Maybe it would be more appropriate for him to play the Horst Wesselleid.

The opening words of that Nazi marching song are, appropriately enough, "Die Fahne hoch" -- or in English, "[Hold the] Flag high". And it's got those geat lyrics about Brownshirts beating up Communists.
posted by orthogonality at 11:18 AM on March 9, 2005


Sure, the kids are assholes, and Mr. Patriot has done his part to reinforce their shit attitudes. Why should they respect this blowhard?
posted by 2sheets at 11:18 AM on March 9, 2005


From one of the linked articles:

Turns out there was more to that video than was posted on the internet. The day before Mantel's angry outburst, his electronics students had a substitute teacher, and they sptn part of the class saran-wrapping a younger student to a desk. The students who taped the video knew that when Mantel returned he would be furious.

Charming group of youngsters. I'm sure that not standing for the National Anthem was just the proverbial straw that broke this teacher's back.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:19 AM on March 9, 2005


All he's really honoring is his ability to bully children.

or rather, his lack of it.

didn't i see that guy in The Breakfast Club with toilet paper streaming from the back of his pants?
posted by quonsar at 11:20 AM on March 9, 2005


Anyone who thinks the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited every day should also have to explain why, once you've pledged you allegiance, you need to pledge it again.

MetaFilter: YOU WILL STAND, YOU WILL STAND QUIETLY, YOU WILL PAY ATTENTION!
posted by fandango_matt at 11:20 AM on March 9, 2005


why do we keep talking about the pledge of allegiance in this thread?
posted by quonsar at 11:22 AM on March 9, 2005


I'm not interested in the teacher smacking around kids. That's been going on for a while now, and will probably continue. What interests me is that schools want to cover up the evidence of these acts, before it gets to the media, as if students need "authorization" before videotaping a beating.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2005


From the ABC news link:
"Mr. Mantel was demanding some respect from his student and I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

Those who deserve respect never demand it.
posted by breezeway at 11:27 AM on March 9, 2005


As quonsar has noted repeatedly:

The story has nothing to do with the Pledge of Allegiance. Or Hitler Youth, or mandatory pledging, or systematically enforced patriotism, or Pink Floyd's "The Wall". It's about a video containing the National Anthem that apparently one teacher thought fit to make his students watch.

I'm not interested in the teacher smacking around kids.
...as if students need "authorization" before videotaping a beating.


The kids were neither smacked nor beaten. They weren't touched.

(Is anyone reading the links?)
posted by dhoyt at 11:37 AM on March 9, 2005


keswick: kids need a good smack upside the head.

Hit my kid. I dare you.

This is completely ridiculous. I was a substitute teacher for years, and as any sub can tell you, students treat substitutes like total shit.

That said, I NEVER flipped out on a kid, banged a hammer on a desk, or "smacked them upside the head," whatever the hell that means.

They are kids!

Why people go into education minus a basic understanding of this fact completely baffles me!

Breezeway: Amen.

The only time I ever yelled at my students was to tell them to sit down, once when the school decided it would be a great idea to interrupt my lecture with the damned Pledge of Allegiance. I suppose that action was probably what cost me my job as a substitute.

Children shouldn't allege themselves to any government! To allege is to swear fealty, to proudly declare that you would die for that organization. Ridiculous thing to ask of teenagers. Oh wait, what's the enlistment age in Amerika? That's right. I forgot.

This issue infuriates me to the point of emigration. Anybody out there accepting pissed of Yanks?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:39 AM on March 9, 2005


nofundyment you are not a unique little snowflake.
posted by zeoslap at 11:39 AM on March 9, 2005


The kids were neither smacked nor beaten. They weren't touched.

Pulling a chair from underneath someone is a technicality, I guess.

I read the part of your link, btw, where the school wants to revise its rules "authorizing" taping within its confines. The rest I was already aware of.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:40 AM on March 9, 2005


Well, it's a related issue, quonsypoos.

Still, no one is explaining to me how, no matter what their actual motivation, the First Amendment doesn't apply.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:42 AM on March 9, 2005


NO WHISTLING!
posted by fandango_matt at 11:43 AM on March 9, 2005


Wookie wookie woo!
posted by techgnollogic at 11:44 AM on March 9, 2005


baby balrog as others have pointed out this isn't about the pledge. There is no pledging going on. It's the national anthem, and the teacher wants the students to stand up, shut the fuck up, and listen to it. Then the little angel boldly defends his First Amendment right to disobey the teacher and remains seated, no doubt exhausted from saran wrapping another student to a desk the day before. Said it before, and I'll say it again. Assholes.
posted by zeoslap at 11:46 AM on March 9, 2005


Zeoslap I understand that the students are not pledging allegiance in this particular instance. They are being asked to stand in honor of the national anthem. Not a big difference, in my book, and my response was really geared towards those who would suggest that students stand at attention whenever their teacher asks.

This is an important issue that goes beyond simple adult/child authority. Beyond the fact that these students don't belong to their teacher.

Public high school teachers in the U.S. are government employees, and therefor represent an extension of the U.S. government. Anything they force their students to do should be read under that context.

The teacher represents an authority figure to the teens! Of course they're going to resist when he tries to force them to stand up.

"Hope they all end up flipping burgers while they reminisce about the time they pissed off that teacher."
More likely that the kids who stand up on command from the teacher (like so many show dogs at the sound of a whistle) will end up coding endlessly in a cubicle while their "rebellious" peers will go out into the world and help fix what's genuinely wrong with this country.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:54 AM on March 9, 2005


No one is denying that they're assholes, zeoslap. That's not the bloody point.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:56 AM on March 9, 2005


So, violence happened at the hands of an authority figure, it is recorded. Then the authorities in general decide that recording devices should be restricted...

Hmmm is this a thread about Abu Ghraib or schools in America.

YOU are the one responsible for YOUR actions. Other people may be jerks and assholes, and you may wish them a thousand horrific deaths, but you are the only person at the time making the decision to take an action.
posted by edgeways at 11:57 AM on March 9, 2005


More likely that the kids who stand up on command from the teacher (like so many show dogs at the sound of a whistle) will end up coding endlessly in a cubicle while their "rebellious" peers will go out into the world and help fix what's genuinely wrong with this country.

Seriously, little Mr. Matix hoodie in 2048! Seriously.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:05 PM on March 9, 2005


oooh, a Matix hoodie. where can i get one?
posted by Hat Maui at 12:08 PM on March 9, 2005


Yes, the kids are little shits, and yes, the teacher is a vein-popping martinet. They all got what they deserved.

Here's how it happened when my son played this scene:

When the Child decided he didn't like his 9th grade homeroom Teacher's attitude re: the Pledge, he decided on his own not to stand during the Pledge. He consciously was quiet and respectful, he just didn't stand or say it.

The Teacher, who was not only a former Marine but also a former student of mine, challenged him on a daily basis, getting progessively more direct in his attacks. Finally he emailed me. I thanked him for his concern and for his unflagging support of my child's conscious decision. He then began his whiney-ass right-wing crap about my perhaps preferring to live in another country, etc., etc. I told him I wasn't going to discuss my child's constitutionally protected rights with him, copied the email to his principal (a former principal of mine as well), and let the principal take care of it.

That's how it's done, ladies and gentlemen. Kid takes thoughtful stand, teacher controls himself, teacher contacts parent, parent suggests he control himself further, parent allows principal to deal with his own employee.

Which parts of this scenario are missing from the exciting saga we have before us on this board?
posted by ancientgower at 12:09 PM on March 9, 2005


So, violence happened at the hands of an authority figure, it is recorded. Then the authorities in general decide that recording devices should be restricted...

Hmmm is this a thread about Abu Ghraib or schools in America.


It seems like the saran-wrapping incident is closer to Abu Ghraib than the chair-kicking (imo).
posted by stifford at 12:10 PM on March 9, 2005


Techgnollogic, your response is typical of the kind of people who pigeon-hole youngsters at an early period in their development.

I was that Mr. Matix (?) hoodie kid. I hated the teachers who subjected my peers and me to an endless authoritarian routine. And after I escaped high school I was wildly successful in college and today I'm well-adjusted, while many of my "stand and salute" peers are struggling with their shitty, worthless day jobs.

Don't judge a kid by his clothes. It'll just make it hurt more when you can't get your foot out of your mouth.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:12 PM on March 9, 2005


Techgnollogic, your response is typical of the kind of people who pigeon-hole youngsters at an early period in their development.

vs.

More likely that the kids who stand up on command from the teacher (like so many show dogs at the sound of a whistle) will end up coding endlessly in a cubicle

Foot mouth what?
posted by techgnollogic at 12:17 PM on March 9, 2005


First of all, dirtynumb, I loved you in the Drama Queen meta-thread. Now on to the law.

The sad fact (one of many in this fine country) is that public school students don't have much in the way of First Amendment rights. Here's what the Supremes have said:

"We have nonetheless recognized that the First Amendment rights of students in the public schools 'are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings,' and must be 'applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment.' A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its 'basic educational mission,' even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school."

Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 266 (1988) (internal citations omitted) (upholding school district's right to censor articles in student paper).

This doesn't mean I think the nut-job teacher in the video was right, or that the kids should have been forced to stand for the unsingable national anthem--I don't. Hazelwood also isn't a particularly good analog to this case, since it involves school-sponsored speech (though other Supreme Court cases on the issue do not, and reach the same conclusion). But all of that is for another day: I just wanted to answer the specific question asked. Kids don't have the same free speech rights in school that adults enjoy (or enjoyed, prior to the current crack-down) in our homes and public spaces.
posted by The Bellman at 12:19 PM on March 9, 2005


I'm not saying the teacher isn't overreacting -- and I certainly believe no one should be forced to stand for the pledge or national anthem -- but watching the video, I don't see how anyone can defend the kids. They're pretty clearly out to rile the guy up as much as they can. You have to wonder -- why is the video running in the first place? Why are the kids laughing so hard and whispering to eachother? "Boogie-boogie-booga" one says, mugging for the camera. Yes, certainly, this was an honest effort to document injustice.

So, violence happened at the hands of an authority figure, it is recorded.

Are you kidding me? I am as wary of authority as anyone, but I seriously can't believe how very high-school the Metafilter mentality is. From what the video shows, he slowly pulled a chair from behind a sitting student. There is no "violence." The student did not fall or even appear to stumble, but took the hint and then stood up on his own. Then, with righteous indignation, makes a big deal of it ("You're going to take a chair out from under me?!"). And you guys bought it, hooklinesinker.
posted by rafter at 12:22 PM on March 9, 2005


The right way to handle a kid not standing up for the Pledge or Anthem:

In high school, I never stood up for the Pledge, nor did I recite it. Actually, many people didn't. But one year, my homeroom teacher was a veteran, and I was the only one in the room who routinely did not stand and recite.

One day, the teacher in question pulled me aside on my way out of homeroom. He said that he noticed I never stood for the Pledge, explained he was a veteran, and then simply handed me a photocopy of an article about the American Flag and asked that I at least read it.

The matter never came up again.
posted by theonetruebix at 12:24 PM on March 9, 2005


Punkd!
posted by bardic at 12:27 PM on March 9, 2005


techgnollogic: I'm making a prediction based on the young peoples' response to authority figures, you're making one based on the kid's clothes.

Let's both agree that you shouldn't judge young people based on how they dress or behave when they're 16 years old. It happened to most of us and it sucked.

My response was more kneejerk to your comment about the way the kid dressed. My apologies. But I still believe that we should encourage young people to think critically about the world around them, including authority figures.

/derail

rafter:
On preview: They're pretty clearly out to rile the guy up as much as they can.

Oh, so that explains it. That poor, poor man. Those students riled him up! That completely justifies his acting like a complete ass. I hope that if my kid ever riles up his defenseless teacher, the guy'll scream at her and yank her chair out from under her, because that's obviously what he learned at the university.

/sarcasm
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:29 PM on March 9, 2005


Really, the fact that these kids are most likely troublemaking jerks ought to have absolutely no bearing on the discussion. And I mean that in all seriousness. Most of the things that ever get changed are changed because of troublemakers. A lot of those people are first class jerks. But whether I like them (or liked the ones I knew in school) isn't the issue; the issue is whether what they're pointing out is something that needs to be pointed out.

The issue here is not whether they're jerks; it's whether they're right.

Now, let's also have some perspective on this. In my humble opinion, there ought to be no restrictions on students doing things like taping classes, taking pictures, whatever, as long as it doesn't interfere with class. But there's a litany of court rulings over the years that have held that students in public schools simply don't have the same right to free speech or association, or to privacy in their persons or possessions, that we have as adults or that they would have in a non-school setting. I don't like it, but it's a fact. OTOH, we do have a ruling that says that at least one form of public ritual observance -- namely, the pledge -- is explicitly non-mandatory in public schools. (Presumably all bets are off in private schools.)

So it's not surprising to me that they should place tight controls on recording devices. There's probably no legal grounds for challenging them. Is it wrong? I sure think so. But I'm not in a position to do anything about it.
posted by lodurr at 12:33 PM on March 9, 2005


I have not said the Pledge since 1993, when a Gingrich-led House was voting on an amendment "protecting the flag." We were watching the vote on C-SPAN, and what happened revulsed me: the yea's and nay's slowly, ever so slowly climbed, until finally the nay's were enough to defeat it, and then the yea's skyrocketed. Those egg-sucking weasels knew full well the implications of amending the Constitution to protect a piece of cloth, but waited until it was absolutely safe to vote for it so they could report to their constituents back home that they voted to "protect the flag," but the liberals defeated them. I decided then and there never to be a part of that game again.

Full disclosure: the Child (see previous post) was unaware of my decision or my daily actions when he made his stand.
posted by ancientgower at 12:35 PM on March 9, 2005


As a Brit, can I just say that the teacher would have been justified had he dragged the wretched student to the front of the class and caned him on the bum there and then.

It was little buggers like him that showed the same disgusting disloyalty to the King in the 1770s! To the King! TO HIS MAJESTY THE KING, ANOINTED BY GOD!
posted by gdav at 12:37 PM on March 9, 2005


Baby_Balrog: I made a little joke about how a spoiled little $45 sweatshirt wearing wannabe Bender will probably not run for President when he grows up.

You likened children to dogs because they stand for the national anthem.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:37 PM on March 9, 2005


You likened children to dogs because they stand for the national anthem.

Heh. That actually made me feel kind of good. You put it quite succinctly. I suppose...maybe I am some sort of anarchist asshole.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:43 PM on March 9, 2005


While I don't think that you should have to stand for the Anthem if you don't want to, I don't see the point of treating these kids like champions of the 1st Amendment (considering they also taped themselves going on people's private property and destroying holiday decorations).

As far as cameras/phones allowed in the classroom, I think an arguement can be made that they are distractions to the class (although if there was some beating going on, and a student used it to capture evidence, I wouldn't suspend them for it). I would have no problem with security cameras in classrooms. But if they did that, I bet people would be shocked more often by the actions of the kids than the teachers.
posted by stifford at 12:50 PM on March 9, 2005


I keep forgetting to mention this, but I think it's pertinent:

Did you know that in Texas, they have the kiddies say the Pledge to Texas?

How's that for... Texish?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:51 PM on March 9, 2005


While I don't think that you should have to stand for the Anthem if you don't want to, I don't see the point of treating these kids like champions of the 1st Amendment (considering they also taped themselves going on people's private property and destroying holiday decorations).

Exactly. It comes down to really a question of what we are discussing in this thread.

Do I think the teacher overreacted? Yes. He snapped. Do I think that was understandable? Yes.

Do I think kids should have to stand for the pledge or the anthem? Absolutely not, and I say this as someone who spent homeroom in the office every day for his refusal (even after presenting the principal with a packet of information regarding court rulings in my favor).

Do I think cameraphones should be allowed in school? Only if students don't make a nuisance out of them.

Do I think these tapes show evidence of abuse? Not even close.

I got the idea that people were defending the kids, who were pretty clearly egging the teacher on. Indymedia will do that to you. But I'm sorry if I misconstrued the intent of people who only meant to defend the first amendment.

But whether we're arguing for cameraphones or against the anthem, these aren't the poster-children you're looking for.
posted by rafter at 1:00 PM on March 9, 2005


Angry teachers are funny when they have not got the respect of the pupils.
Respected teachers do not get angry with the pupils very often.
posted by asok at 1:09 PM on March 9, 2005


This is completely ridiculous. I was a substitute teacher for years, and as any sub can tell you, students treat substitutes like total shit.

Duh. It needs to stop.

They are kids!

And they need discipline.

Oh wait, what's the enlistment age in Amerika? That's right. I forgot.

Oh my god. Between using the term "Amerika" unironically and having a nick involving a Tolkien term, you've shot your credibility wad.

This issue infuriates me to the point of emigration. Anybody out there accepting pissed of Yanks?

Please, leave. And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of the country. It's people like you that give liberals a bad name. I'm glad you're not teaching children anymore.
posted by keswick at 1:17 PM on March 9, 2005


They're pretty clearly out to rile the guy up as much as they can.

As would I. As should they. Fuck that asshole. If you put me, a 35-year-old father and teacher, in a room with a screaming domineering baby bent on controlling me, I would be immediately out to rile the guy up as well.

It's no good to say -- well, they're teenagers; it's their job to put up with the demands of authority. Well, no; not if the authority doesn't deserve respect. Teenagers though they are, they have a right to some basic dignities, and a right to be treated as human beings.

Believe me, I know teachers; you can see it in this guy's face, sense it in his manner, hear it in his voice. He's a bully, a scumbag. He deserves every bit of shit the kids fling at him.
posted by argybarg at 1:18 PM on March 9, 2005


ancientgower and theonetruebix: I totally agree with the ways the teachers, students and parents behaved in your stories. Those are models to follow. They provoked discussion, respected the students and, when a teacher stepped out of line in addressing a parent, directed things to the correct authority. Hurray!
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:23 PM on March 9, 2005


The root of this matter is:

"Those who deserve respect never demand it."

When I attended high school I had the majority of classes with a core peer group(the "honors class kids") Looking back on those days, i realize that the teachers we all had in common usually fit into two very basic categories. Those who enforced their arbitrary rules on the class(or tried to), and those that didn't. As you might guess, the former group were despised, often outright defied, and never respected.

On Preview:
"I suppose...maybe I am some sort of anarchist asshole."

Yeah, me too. I learned disrespect for authority in high school, because of teachers like this...

*uses the force -- These aren't the poster-children you are looking for...Move along.
posted by schyler523 at 1:26 PM on March 9, 2005


Yes, the kids are little shits, and yes, the teacher is a vein-popping martinet. They all got what they deserved.

Great summary. That's the situation in a nutshell, I think.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:32 PM on March 9, 2005


Oh my god. Between using the term "Amerika" unironically and having a nick involving a Tolkien term, you've shot your credibility wad.

"Unironically?" Hey, turd, it's the button right next to "Post," all the way to the right. And Baby_Balrog has been my nick for almost 10 years now, so you can take your ad hominem attack on how I choose to represent myself and shove it. Or maybe I should change my nick, sir? Would that be better? Please, please, I'm sorry, I'll change it right away.

Please, leave. And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of the country. It's people like you that give liberals a bad name. I'm glad you're not teaching children anymore.

Wow. Well, I suppose if that's how you feel, you'll be happy to know I was run off by a crowd of torch-wielding conservatives after I invited an openly gay poet to read to student at an afterschool event.

You're right, it's much better to have screamers like this asshole at the front of the class that soft-spoken, Tolkien reading lib'ruls like me.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:34 PM on March 9, 2005



posted by fandango_matt at 1:40 PM on March 9, 2005


You're right, it's much better to have screamers like this asshole at the front of the class that soft-spoken, Tolkien reading lib'ruls like me.

I'm thinking...somewhere in between the two extremes would be ideal. ; )
posted by stifford at 1:43 PM on March 9, 2005


What is this mythical realm "between extremes" of which you speak, stifford? Oh, that's right: It died of mercury poisoning.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 1:51 PM on March 9, 2005


stifford: I thought there was nothing in between save a vast, scorched wasteland?

I think it's funny how when I disagree with a flaming liberal on a minor point, I'm suddenly a jack-booted fascist. It kind of reminds of when I disagree with kneejerk conservative on a minor point and I'm a tree-hugging commie.
posted by keswick at 1:52 PM on March 9, 2005


It takes a village!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:52 PM on March 9, 2005


keswick, you did use a pretty awful (and lame) ad hominem argument, so I wouldn't act all wounded here.
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:54 PM on March 9, 2005


I wasn't trying to ruffle any feathers (hence the winky face).

I think this teacher over-reacted, but i don't necessarily think this would only happen to some right wing authoritarian-type. If you took a group of kids (looking to hassle a teacher), and gave them a few days/weeks, I bet they could sniff out a way to get any teacher (of any political background) to react in a way that teacher might not be too proud of, once given some time to cool down afterwards.
posted by stifford at 2:05 PM on March 9, 2005


I used to teach exactly these kinds of kids, and I've been in a number of situtations similar, but not identical to that shown in the videotape.

My initial reaction? Those kids are absolute and complete assholes and reminded me of why I quit teaching. But then so is the teacher, who handled it poorly. In my teaching career, I only ever screamed at a kid once, and that was because he leveled at me an insult so terrible and which cut so deep that I snapped. I ejected him from my room with some choice words (that I since regret), went into the hallway to cool off for a minute, and then resumed class.

Here's the problem as I see it. This teacher's school system probably has a poor track record on discipline. If it's like most in the United States, the teachers and administration has been stripped of the ability to effectively enforce rules and instill a sense of displicine and/or respect. The parents clearly aren't doing it in these students' home lives, and so these kids carry their sense of entitlement into the classroom. And when teachers try to enforce even the basic rules of a classroom (be quiet, no horsing around, don't harass other students), it results in conflict. I personally don't understand why some students feel it's their god-given right to be an asshole, a bully, a troublemaker. I think most teachers will agree that the vast majority of kids are good kids, and that most problems result from just a small percentage of kids. And often those troublemakers come from unbelievably bad home lives with little discipline, poor parenting, and other social problems (single parent, alcoholism, drug use, etc.).

Schools are left to try to instill in these kids a much needed set of rules but aren't really given the tools to do so. The helplessness I felt as a teacher was one of the reasons I quit. I'd boot a troublemaker from my class and he'd be back the next day, causing trouble again. Reasoning didn't work. Consulting with parents didn't work (the parents don't care). The administration refused to remove him from my classroom. He wasn't old enough to drop out (which is sad, but true...some of these kids are just hanging around until they can drop out). Some of these kids are just "unreachable," which is a horrible thing to say but is unfortunately the truth.

But I ramble. Both the kids and the teacher are in the wrong here. Both are reacting to an environment that's clearly disfunctional. I feel for that teacher--I've been in his shoes. I don't feel from the kids, especially after seeing that this is so clearly a set-up. Do I feel their "rights were violated?" No, that's a horseshit excuse for their inexcusable behavior. I think the teacher needs a refresher in classroom discipline practices and I think the kids just need to stop being assholes. Somewhere along the line, they've been allowed to behave like assholes and are getting away with it.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 2:13 PM on March 9, 2005


yeah, what he said.
posted by keswick at 2:21 PM on March 9, 2005


It's all about respect. You can tell in the guy's demeanor and tone--he doesn't respect the kids, hell, he probably doesn't even like them.

Kids pick up on that. They're like sharks.

I'm going to sound like a hippy-dippy liberal teacher here (well, probably because that's exactly what I am), but treat the kids with respect, realize that they're not adults, they're confused adolescents trying to make sense of the world and that you're there to help them do that, you will have few discipline problems. If they know you're on their side (and not a doormat, mind you--there's a HUGE difference), they won't be out to rile you, take you down a peg, or whatever some of them do to try to get attention.

The teacher in that video just doesn't get that.
posted by John of Michigan at 2:28 PM on March 9, 2005


And often those troublemakers come from unbelievably bad home lives with little discipline, poor parenting, and other social problems (single parent, alcoholism, drug use, etc.).

Have you ever seen Nanny 911 (ahem, my wife really likes it)? If the families on that show are at all representative, the kids from middle-class backgrounds are just as likely to have discipline problems. I kind of suspect most American parents don't really know how to properly discipline their kids (or more importantly, they just aren't grown-up enough in the conduct of their own lives to convince their kids to buy into the idea of respecting their authority). In fact, looking back on my school experiences, the rich kids were often among the most destructive of the bunch (well, actually the extremes seemed to meet at some point, with the really rich kids and the really poor kids all sort of vying for top honors in the being-pains-in-the-ass department.)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:30 PM on March 9, 2005


This situation is a direct result of marketing rebellion to youngsters then expressing surprise when they do not respect elders, especially teachers like this.

We sell our boys rebellion while selling our girls sex...don't be surprised when they buy what we sell...

Earlier, corporal punishment was proposed as a solution...because when i get beaten, i respect that person so much more..."Please, Sir give me another" /sarcasm

On preview:
All-seeing Eye Dog mentioned the "rich" causing as much and possibly more trouble as the "poor"

Definitely true in my experience, although my middle-class background didn't prevent me from spending roughly 1/4 of high school in detention!
posted by schyler523 at 2:40 PM on March 9, 2005


Um...I didn't say anything about rich vs. poor. I've seen many middle class households (not poor by any stretch) with troublemaker chilldren.

While it's true that our social ills (alcholism, drug use, single parent, etc.) are more prevalent in lower income households, it's by no means exclusive.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 2:45 PM on March 9, 2005


- Kids act like assholes.
- Teacher responds inappropriately.
- Everyone is punished (although I believe the teacher was let off lightly).

I'm not dismissing the situation, but this happens every day. The only reason this is even on the radar is because one of the assholes kids recorded it.
posted by deborah at 2:50 PM on March 9, 2005


mrbarrett - "troublemaker chilldren"

Freudian typo...if only they would "chill" more often.
posted by schyler523 at 2:57 PM on March 9, 2005


That teacher is a moron.

Some kid sits during the national anthem, and instead of letting him sit, he yells, curses and takes the kids chair.

He has been trolled. He loses.
posted by mosch at 3:06 PM on March 9, 2005


On my first day of highschool, after I had moved to Georgia from California, we were asked to stand and recite the pledge. I looked around and went WTF? I stayed seated and the teacher came over to yell at me. I told her that we didn't do this in California and that it was insensitive to those of alternative nationalities. She begrudgingly let it slide. Next came the 40 seconds of silent reflection required by GA state law. I flipped out. While the others were silently contemplating shit or praying or whatever, I stood up and demanded to know what the hell was going on and who sanctioned this school prayer. I was promptly sent to the principal's office. Throughout highschool I worked to undermine the pledge and the 40 seconds in every way I could. I considered it to be my patriotic duty. The teachers considered me to be a royal pain in the ass.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 3:18 PM on March 9, 2005


The teachers considered me to be a royal pain in the ass.

I would have too... from the sound of it.
posted by Witty at 3:21 PM on March 9, 2005


mrbarret.com: I think most teachers will agree that the vast majority of kids are good kids, and that most problems result from just a small percentage of kids.

Amen. If every kid was an ass who didn't want to learn anything, then we wouldn't bother teaching. It is for those good kids that we try to establish an environment that is conducive for learning. If we spend all of our time dealing with one discipline issue, the other 22-25 kids get ignored. Ergo, the kids are not just disrupting the teacher's day, they are disrupting the education of the other students.

For what it's worth, the only time I have ever lost my temper with my students was during my second year teaching. During a class discussion, a bunch of the girls spontaneously started making fun of a girl who was absent that day and the rest of the class started laughing and agreeing.

That it disrupted the discussion didn't bother me. That they were picking on somebody at all - especially somebody who wasn't there to defend herself - and especially as a group - hacked me off. I let them have it about that. Big long rant of a lecture followed by me calling another teacher with a prep period to cover the rest of the class. I told them I was too disgusted to even sit in the same room as them.

I now feel like that was kind of childish, though, to be completely honest, that group never made fun of anyone in my class ever again.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:24 PM on March 9, 2005


So wait...do I still have to change my nickname?

He has been trolled. He loses.


Hee.
I think someone should make the point that at least the kids involved in this stunt understand that there is a point to be made. They knew that the guy needed a first-ammendment enima and they took it into their own hands, utilizing the internet to make fun of their over-the-top teacher. If anything, this should just go to show that teachers shouldn't take their students lightly and fall back on the belief that they can get away with whatever they want in the classroom.
Power to the ruled.
Maybe Freire was behind this.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:45 PM on March 9, 2005


Hey... and maybe we should just make school totally optional.
posted by Witty at 3:47 PM on March 9, 2005


If i had been allowed to sleep through highschool like i wanted to, i would never have caused as much trouble as i did.

All four years of HS, i had math class first period...i would consistently show up 15-20 minutes late, never have my homework, and/or fall asleep. What really made my teachers mad though was that i obviously did not need them, because after showing up late, sleeping through lectures, and never doing homework(read: busywork) I would set the curve on exams.

I agree that it is the small group of trouble makers that ruin it for everyone(i know because i was part of the problem.) Identifying repeat offenders and "removing" them to a seperate class or similar alternative might alleviate the problem a bit. I know my grades would have improved had i been isolated with no "audience" to impress.
posted by schyler523 at 3:50 PM on March 9, 2005


40 seconds of silent reflection stood up and demanded to know what the hell was going on and who sanctioned this school prayer.
You lost me on school prayer. If it is a moment of silence, who is forcing you to pray or hear a prayer?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:57 PM on March 9, 2005


Hey... and maybe we should just make school totally optional.
posted by Witty at 5:47 PM CST on March 9


[tangent...] I think that is a great idea, Witty! I believe that according to the laws in most states here in the land of the free, you (or your parents) are indeed a criminal if you do not go to school.

um, speaking of Freire...
posted by jaronson at 5:04 PM on March 9, 2005


Public high school teachers in the U.S. are government employees, and therefor represent an extension of the U.S. government. Anything they force their students to do should be read under that context.

I think the US Army is an extension of the US government. So jackbooted discipline of the unruly sounds like it'd be about the right context.

It's assholes all around in that video. They all deserved each other.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:16 PM on March 9, 2005


You lost me on school prayer. If it is a moment of silence, who is forcing you to pray or hear a prayer?

"Moment of Silence" is to "prayer" as "Intelligent Design" is to "teaching religion in school"

There is plenty of time throughout the day to meditate, reflect, or pray. Having "a moment of silence" is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to legally re-introduce prayer in school. Everyone knows exactly what a moment of silence is intended for - and it ain't meditation.
posted by Bort at 5:44 PM on March 9, 2005


On preview: They're pretty clearly out to rile the guy up as much as they can.

Oh, so that explains it. That poor, poor man. Those students riled him up! That completely justifies his acting like a complete ass.

In the real world like your work place, it wouldn't be correct to act like the students. So why here? Seems if you caused a situation it is hard to point out the following actions.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:49 PM on March 9, 2005


Um...I didn't say anything about rich vs. poor. I've seen many middle class households (not poor by any stretch) with troublemaker chilldren.

D'oh! Sorry about that mrbarrett.com... Of course you're right. Should have read your original comment more closely. (Must be karmic come-uppance for having "all-seeing" in my screen name.)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 5:50 PM on March 9, 2005


Thomcatspike wrote, "In the real world like your work place, it wouldn't be correct to act like the students. So why here? Seems if you caused a situation it is hard to point out the following actions."

In the real world, you work with adults, so you expect them to act that way. In school, you work with adolescents (or small children, depending on grade), so you have to take into consideration age-appropriate behavior, thoughts, feelings, etc. This teacher apparently has forgotten that his students--his charges--are not adults. Does this mean he has to baby them? No. That does them no good. But I sense that he fails to see them as they really are.
posted by John of Michigan at 6:29 PM on March 9, 2005


Hey... and maybe we should just make school totally optional.

Fine by me.

And as for Mr. Barrett's rant that the faults of the classroom are all the faults of the parents, why are they not teaching their kids respect yadda yadda -- it's very common in the faculty room, basically a universal. I seem to be vastly outnumbered on this one, but I think it's bogus at best.

Perhaps too many students find school demeaning, pointless and confusing. Perhaps 18-year-olds shouldn't be subject to the same format as kindergarten. Perhaps they'd like to be out in the world, making decisions and living out the results of their decisions. Instead they have to ask if they're allowed to go the bathroom, and they have to obey endless orders about every one of their actions.

It's garbage. Public school, as currently configured, is garbage. Despite a few well-meaning teachers and students who persevere, the whole arrangement is wrong-headed to the point of malevolence. The question is not why students squirm against it but why they ever endured it (or why they ought to).
posted by argybarg at 7:08 PM on March 9, 2005


When I was starting grad school, I did some substitute teaching, and was quickly recognized as one of the few people who not only could manage the "troublemaker" kids...but actually really enjoyed them. Those are the kids that have *so* much to offer if you can get them actually on track...and to do that, all it took was a little respect, a little attention and a periodic raised eyebrow.

That teacher is a bully. He strikes me as a tyrannical ass, and I'm willing to bet that he brings upon himself the scorn that is so obviously being heaped upon him by his class.

Firstly, it's obvious that *he* is playing the national anthem, not the school PA system.

Secondly, it's obvious that he's doing it so that he has a reason to bully these kids. He's using the National Anthem as PUNISHMENT. How can anyone defend using our anthem that way?

That the kids were responding with standard anti-authoritarian kid-ness cannot be but expected.

I'd be willing to bet that given two weeks with Saran and the Wrapping Boys, I could have them under control...and I would never have to raise my voice, lift a hand to them, or use something that should be a point of pride, i.e., our anthem, as a weapon.

That teacher should be fired. Instantly. He's mean, he's a bully, and he's obviously out of control. I think the kids probably taped what is a regular occurrence...and were any of them mine, I'd surely be getting to the bottom of this behavior problem from both sides. Nobody...and I mean nobody, in authority has any right to physically egress into a student's space with violent intentions, which is exactly what this teacher did.
posted by dejah420 at 8:10 PM on March 9, 2005


There is plenty of time throughout the day to meditate, reflect, or pray. Having "a moment of silence" is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to legally re-introduce prayer in school. Everyone knows exactly what a moment of silence is intended for - and it ain't meditation.

I did not grow up in Georgia, but I'd have liked to have the 40 seconds of introspection. I don't think it is reasonable to call a moment of silence a prayer.

Based on what I have read, the 40 seconds don't appear to mention any particular deity or mystical concept.

There's nothing wrong with prayer in a school. There is only something wrong with disruptive prayer or forced prayer in a school.

If a student in the seat next to you chooses to use some of those 40 seconds to pray, how are you harmed?
posted by bugmuncher at 10:24 PM on March 9, 2005


When I was 6 years old, in first grade, my teacher did a prayer before we at lunch. This was about 1963. After the prayer, I would get down on my hands and knees and do a little absolution to unknown deities, because I was offended by the prayer in school. (I have NO idea why this was in me at that age, and I wouldn't belive when this was except I know which teacher I had at the time)

Mrs. Huff NEVER gave me any satisfaction of making a big deal about it. Mind, this lady also taught the previous generation in my family, and knew my mother directly. Yet no problem at all. And in those days, she could as easily have boxed my ears. (in fact, she did, but not for that). Oh, and her and I remained friends for years.

The kid in the chair in this video was an ass AND a wuss, else he'd have sat on the damn floor. The teacher was an ass and totally in the wrong before the music started, by way of the way he spoke to the students. He DARED them to misbehave. He WANTED trouble himself. I can think of exactly 1 teacher I had who behaved that way (my favorite subject!).

There are many issues involved in allowing vide taping in a classroom, not the least is the privacy of every single person in the classroom. Sad, as I love this kind of shite getting the light of day. However, I do not see 'violence' occurring for reasons someone else observed. Just a burnt-out teacher.
posted by Goofyy at 2:29 AM on March 10, 2005


I think the kids have exactly the right attitude. When confronted with bullies, brainwashing, and a system that demands compliance with every order, no matter how ridiculous, I'd say that a refusal to cooperate combined with healthy doses of insolence, contempt, and jocularity is precisely what's called for.
posted by Clay201 at 2:36 AM on March 10, 2005


Okay, owing to an incomplete download, I didn't actually see the entire video before I made my first post. Now that I have seen it, I want to add that the kid who had the chair pulled out from under him absolutely did the right thing by walking out of the room. Speaking from personal experience, when you decide to stand up to a big, violent, pissed off bully, it's a pretty safe bet that he's going to respond by bashing your head in. Had the kid stayed there and continued to resist, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Baldy had punched him. But more to the point, I'm sure the kid was thinking along these lines and thus, wisely, chose to remove himself from the situation.
posted by Clay201 at 3:09 AM on March 10, 2005


There's nothing wrong with prayer in a school. There is only something wrong with disruptive prayer or forced prayer in a school.

If a student in the seat next to you chooses to use some of those 40 seconds to pray, how are you harmed?


I do not really have a problem with a moment of silence. Its almost off the radar when compared to things like Intelligent Design. But it seems to me that a moment of silence did not become common until prayer was removed - and it seems to be there for the express purpose of getting around seperation of church and state concerns.

The best answer is probably to make the moment of silence optional...
posted by Bort at 9:16 AM on March 10, 2005


Um, has everyone read all the articles in the original post?

The teacher's acting like a jerk. He flips out on the kids--older kids, but still kids--and appears to be a bullying, authoritarian type who doesn't know how to be a good teacher. It's understandable why he's mad, the kids acted like shitheads the day before and if you had to deal with this kid of "Fuck you, I'm going to saran-wrap a kid to a desk" attitude day-in, day-out it's not surprising he snapped. That's doesn't make his reaction OK, it doesn't make him a good teacher, but it's understandable.

The kids are acting like jerks, too. You're a moron if you think they set this shit up to protect their Constitutional rights or protest facisim or something like that. In the first article they openly admit they knew he was going to flip his wig after the saran-wrap incident, they knew he was going to blow up, and they wanted it on tape. This wasn't about "This asshole makes us stand for the Pledge, so I'm going to get his authoritarian bullcrap on tape!", this was "Hahaha, check out that dumbfuck flipping out on us!" The refusal to stand wasn't some the action of a idealistic freedom-fighter, it was a kid who saw extreme authority and rebelled against he because he's a teenager who wanted to be badass. I mean, look at his expression, his stance. No, he shouldn't be forced to stand--but that's not why he wasn't standing. However, that still doesn't justify his behavior.

Don't make either of these sides more than they are. This kind of scene plays across high schools every day, albeit in a less-public and extreme manner. Neither side is excusable; neither's with the angels. Punish both of them--suspend the kids, send the teacher to training or a different class.

Ideally he'd be fired. But I'm betting the school knows both sides suck, but they fear if they punish the teacher kids will start provoking the hell out of their disliked teachers so the teacher will get fired. Not that the kids will, but I bet the school sees it that way.
posted by schroedinger at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2005


The best answer is probably to make the moment of silence optional...

Introspection and prayer during the silence can be optional, but... to make keeping silent optional is kind of silly, isn't it? How can you have a moment of silence in which keeping silent is optional?

Also re: Intelligent design, I have no problem with that in a social studies class as long as it's in the context of studying what various cultures think about the origin of the universe.

It gets really sticky when you talk about such things in a science class.
posted by bugmuncher at 6:49 PM on March 10, 2005


The refusal to stand wasn't some the action of a idealistic freedom-fighter, it was a kid who saw extreme authority and rebelled against [it] because he's a teenager who wants to be a badass..

Three points. 1. I don't see how there's a dime's worth of difference between the two. When we see rebellion against authority that we don't like, it's noble and principled. When we see rebellion against authority we like, it's obnoxious and selfish 2. Even if there were some kind of distinction to be made here... so what? The kid still did the right thing. Actions speak louder than everything else. 3. None of us knows what was in the kid's head when he did what he did. My reading of it is quite different from yours. There's no way to know which of us is correct.
posted by Clay201 at 7:59 PM on March 10, 2005


When we see rebellion against authority that we don't like, it's noble and principled. When we see rebellion against authority we like, it's obnoxious and selfish

There's rebelling against authority because the authority is oppressive and wrong, and then there's rebelling against authority because it's authority. If the teacher had been screaming at the kids to keep talking and remain in their chairs and told them they weren't allowed to stand up, the kid would have stood up just to piss the guy off.

The kid still did the right thing. Actions speak louder than everything else.

Intentions certainly do matter. This kid wasn't seeing it as "I'm going to protect my Constitutional rights!" thing, this was a "Piss off!" response. The teacher was out of control, but that doesn't mean the kid's response was the best one--just like the teacher's response wasn't the best one.

Let's keep in mind the kids brought the video camera in because they knew the teacher was going to get upset from the saran-wrap incident the day earlier. I quote from the second article:

The day before Mantel's angry outburst, his electronics students had a substitute teacher, and they sptn part of the class saran-wrapping a younger student to a desk. The students who taped the video knew that when Mantel returned he would be furious . . . Corey Zappo, High School Student: "So we just knew he was going to flip out because he frequently did and my friends and I thought it would be kind of funny to catch it."

THAT was why the teacher was screaming and yelling, NOT the kid's refusal to stand up. If the saran-wrap incident hadn't happened the teacher's reaction wouldn't have been as extreme, thus he would not have screamed at the students, thus the kid would've stood up when everyone was asked to stand up for the Pledge. I do not excuse the teacher's actions, but the facts point to the Constitution not being on this kid's mind.
posted by schroedinger at 9:36 PM on March 10, 2005


There's rebelling against authority because the authority is oppressive and wrong, and then there's rebelling against authority because it's authority.

And in this case, the authority was definitely oppressive and was definitely wrong. Although I think that there are also plenty of cases where one should rebel against authority simply on general principles.

The teacher was out of control, but that doesn't mean the kid's response was the best one.

I can't think of a better one. What did you have in mind?

The facts point to the Constitution not being on this kid's mind.

And again, I insist; this really isn't relevant. We can't possibly know what's on the kid's mind and even if we could, it wouldn't matter. Was the teacher abusing his authority? Having seen the tape, I say yes, he was. What is the ethical and courageous thing to do in that situation? I say it's to resist. And that's what the kid did. How can any other issues trump those considerations?

Look, to say that the kid was wrong because his motives weren't the right ones... I'm sorry, that approach just doesn't work.

What if we applied the same logic to the Iraq war? What if we decide that it's okay for Dubya to bomb Fallujah as long as he says he's doing it to protect Americans from terrorism? Obviously, you can't make important decisions this way. Either it's morally acceptable to bomb Fallujah or it isn't. If it isn't, you work to stop it. If it is, you support it. The question of intentions doesn't enter into it.
posted by Clay201 at 1:26 AM on March 11, 2005


How about the kid was wrong because we're trying to have a society here, and the way to have a successful society is to not antagonize the shit out of each other? There are better ways to accomplish change in the system.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:38 AM on March 11, 2005


the way to have a successful society is to not antagonize the shit out of each other... There are better ways to accomplish change in the system.

It's possible that there were other forms of resistance which could have worked better (a boycott of the class, for example), but that doesn't change the fact that resistance was warranted. And, of course, there's just no way to predict with any degree of certainty what tactics will be the most effective in any given situation. Since the kids in the class were the ones who had to put up with the bully, they were the ones who had to make the call. And provided you rule out any options that would have involved violence on the students' part, I don't see how any available option could be considered more or less ethical than what we saw on the tape.
posted by Clay201 at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2005


Well he could have tried it this way.

And perhaps I screwed up by saying "intentions"--perhaps one should say reasons. The reasons one has for doing something do matter--just as it matters whether Dubya attacked Iraq for oil, to free the Iraqis, or to get his rocks off it matters whether this kid acted like a dick to fight for his rights or just to antagonize the teacher. The kid's own words pretty clearly say that this was an antagonizing act, but I guess we disagree on that issue.

Anyway, fff is right. You can argue semantics about "what tactics will be right in any given situation", but give me a situation where antagonizing someone and getting them has been an effective method of resistance. Furthermore, there's something to be said for taking responsibility for one's own actions and not attempting to justify your idiocy with another's. But whatever, go put the kid on a pedestal if you feel like it.
posted by schroedinger at 2:10 PM on March 11, 2005


Well he could have tried it this way.

One problem with that scenario is that it relies on the teacher not becoming violent. In this case, the teacher did. Another problem is that it assumes the student's parent will back him up; all too often, the student can't count on that kind of support. But even if they could, what would it say about students' rights if they depended solely on the parents' willingness to stand up for them?

The idea that opposition can be non-confrontational is nice and theoretically possible in some cases. But even the resistance of Gandhi and MLK was regarded at the time as extremely antagonistic. And for good reason; these movements were tremendous threats to certain groups of powerful people. That's why they were met with violence and other ugliness. When you pose a genuine threat to someone's power (i.e. to the teacher's ability to bully students), it doesn't matter whether you do it with a smile on your face or not. As long as they perceive you to be a genuine threat (i.e. not just some malcontent waving a sign or writing a letter or something), they'll smack you down just as hard.

just as it matters whether Dubya attacked Iraq for oil, to free the Iraqis, or to get his rocks off it matters whether this kid acted like a dick to fight for his rights or just to antagonize the teacher.

In the case of Iraq, if Dubya gives as his reason that he wants to free the Iraqis, then we have to ask "are his actions likely to result in Iraqi freedom?" If you think they are, then cool. If you think they're not, then you oppose them.

You absolutely would not ask yourself "Do I believe that, in Dubya's mind, attacking Iraq will result in freedom for Iraqis?" and then base your opposition or support on the answer. That would just be absurd.

Similarly, we ask, "Did the kid's actions result in his freedoms being protected? Did they weaken the bully's power? Was it reasonable, at the time he made the decision, for the kid to think that his actions would have these results?" I asked these questions and arrived at the answer "Yes. Absolutely." If you arrive at a different answer, okay. But these are the questions you have to ask.
posted by Clay201 at 5:33 PM on March 11, 2005


> The best answer is probably to make the moment of silence optional...

Introspection and prayer during the silence can be optional, but... to make keeping silent optional is kind of silly, isn't it? How can you have a moment of silence in which keeping silent is optional?

Yeah, I should've put a smiley on that line. :)
posted by Bort at 6:13 PM on March 11, 2005


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