Subject: Re: the Remarkable Avery
"I resemble that remark!"
... wondering if it has ever dawned on any of you that your retaliatory action against Avery Doniger constitutes an ironic, prima facie evidence of the truth of her characterization?
Dear Lewis S. Mills HS Staff,
I write to you as a fellow educator after having just read the article below in the NY Post.
I found myself wondering if it has ever dawned on any of you that your retaliatory action against Avery Doniger constitutes an ironic, prima facie evidence of the truth of her characterization?
Do you (assuming the guilty are being addressed here; if not, please forward) really think that stripping her of her leadership position and, as if that wasn't sufficient, banning her from every running again is going to teach the necessary skills of quality social and political criticism? Is this how you strive to impart the values of our Founding Fathers and countless brave Americans have sacrificed so much to protect and perpetuate?
Just imagine if our nation's journalists and broadcasters had exhibited Avery's penetrating power of analysis and courage before the run-up to the Iraq war; we might have avoided the lamentable and tragic stain on our country's collective soul. Heavy handed, knee jerk, authoritarianism is on the rise to the detriment of our country and consequently, the wider world at large.
When I went to high school in the "60's we learned that "I may disagree with what you say but, will defend to the death your right to say it." was an essential part of good citizenship-what it took to be a good American. You need to re-incorporate this and similar lessons into the curriculum. Otherwise, Avery is correct.
Look closely in the mirror and see if you can't see staring back at you, an indignant Curly, having just been characterized by Moe as "douche bag", protesting loudly: "I resemble that remark!"
Do the right thing,
[From Today's NY Post]
COURT BACKS HS LIMIT ON FREE SPEECH
By HASANI GITTENS
May 30, 2008 -- It's a lesson in the Constitution, and its limits. [COMMENT: ONLY IF YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THE CONSTITUTION FOR DUMMIES...]
A New York federal appeals court yesterday ruled that a high school had the right to punish a student for the harsh criticism of its administrators over the Internet.
After Avery Doninger, 18, called administrators "douche bags" on a blog in April 2007, she was stripped of her position as class secretary at Lewis S. Mills HS in Burlington Conn., and was banned from running for re-election.
Yesterday, the 2nd US Circuit of Appeals said even speech off school grounds could lead to disruption in the hallways and, therefore, can be prohibited.
"Vulgar or offensive speech - speech that an adult making a political point might have a constitution right to employ - may legitimately give rise to disciplinary action by a school," the court said, noting that there was no Supreme Court precedent.
Doninger's mother, Lauren, who filed suit against the school on freedom-of-speech grounds, said she was disappointed with the decision, but undaunted, since the appeals court ruling was simply on an injunction to have her daughter put back into the position of class secretary.
A civil trial by jury in the lower court is still forthcoming.
"The issues surrounding protecting student speech rights are very important and very relevant, and we need to continue to pursue it - it's how you participate in democracy," said Lauren Doninger, a professor of social sciences at New Haven's Gateway Community College.
Oldie But Goodie From The Douche Bag Chronicles:
Register Citizen: Region 10 Must Come Clean On Legal Bills
Following is a Readers Digest version of the Doninger case:
Avery Doninger, a senior at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington, CT, has a civil rights trial pending in New Haven U.S. District Court. 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 douche bags, 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.
New Haven U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz denied a motion for a preliminary injunction [immediate relief] last fall and his ruling was appealed to the Second Circuit in New York. That appeal ruling was posted May 29.