"I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing …
"I offer the spectacle of Americans jailed for reading the Bill of Rights as perhaps the most gaudily humorous ever witnessed in the modern world. Try to imagine monarchy jailing subjects for maintaining the divine right of Kings! Or Christianity damning a believer for arguing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God!"
-- Baltimore journalist H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all!"
-- Mario Savio, leader of the Free Speech Movement, University of California at Berkeley (1942-1996)
Stand Up To The Machine
At Free Speech Party Oct. 14
By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
Sept. 26, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
When, where and how should we stand up for civil rights?
One easy answer is as follows: Liberate the piece of ground you're on.
Individuals can make a difference. Individuals working in groups and groups working collectively can make a huge difference. This is among the reasons why steam is building for the Oct. 14 Poets & Writers For Avery event at the Litchfield Inn's Bistro East.
Why the Avery Doninger case? It's in our neighborhood. It's yet another dangerous attack on the First Amendment. No punishment for constitutionally-protected speech -- no matter how slight -- is tolerable.
And, yes, we can do something about it. We are doing something about it.
Many of Connecticut's best poets and writers -- along with five live bands -- will be at the Litchfield Inn Oct. 14. Guests will also hear from Hartford attorney Jon Schoenhorn who is bringing Avery's case to trial in Connecticut federal court and to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals following the denial for a preliminary injunction.
Following is a brief summary of the case:
Avery Doninger, a senior at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington, has civil rights actions pending in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City and U.S. District Court in New Haven. She and her mother, Lauren Doninger, sued Principal Karissa Niehoff and Superintendent Paula Schwartz after they removed Avery from the ballot for Class of 2008 secretary.
Avery Doninger was among a group of four students who lobbied the community for support of an annual battle of the bands sponsored by the Student Council. The student council adviser suggested the students reach out to taxpayers and the students copied the adviser an on email to the community.
Schwartz became very upset after taxpayers called her and she cancelled the event known as Jamfest. Doninger subsequently referred to administrators in a live journal blog as central office douchebags, and Schwartz's son found the posting while trolling the internet for his mother a couple weeks later. While Avery Doninger was banned from school office, another student who called Schwartz a dirty whore was given an award and lauded for citizenship.
School officials suppressed the write-in vote in which Doninger was elected by a plurality. Schwartz refused to accept Doninger's apology for her choice of words. During an assembly, Niehoff banned free-speech and Team Avery t-shirts and seized at least one shirt.
The Doningers are seeking -- among other remedies -- an apology for civil rights violations, recognition of the write-in victory and sharing of the secretary position with the administration-backed candidate.
U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz denied the motion for a preliminary injunction and his ruling is being appealed to the Second Circuit.
Stand up for justice. Stand up against the corrupt machine, aka the Region 10 Board of Education and administration.
Unfortunately, justice costs money. While the firms Chinni & Meuser and Howd & Ludorf feed from the public trough to protect Region 10 goons and incompetent hacks, Schoenhorn works on this case pro bono. Filing fees, transcripts and other court expenses total many thousands of dollars.
Contribute on line to the cause via the widget on this page, buy a cool t-shirt and attend the Oct. 14 free speech party.