Sunday, September 02, 2007

Let's Celebrate Child Labor

Just before John Lennon was shot dead but not for good he insisted that "the next revolution will be a children's revolution".

To our eternal disgrace, Americans played along with the madness of George Bush and his merry band of bizarro advisors, relatives, and petroleum playmates. Today, education in America is an exercise in retarding the intellect of our children. Kids today envy pack mules who carry lesser loads for their taskmasters. Kids board busses with 20, 30, and 40 pounds of worthless crap strapped to their backs.

The indifferent public seems to think this builds character. But then the public thinks children aren't challenged enough either. By "challenged" we're not talking about growing up, growing a soul, growing an intellect, figuring out right from wrong, and so on. It usually means whether or not they passed a magic test to the satisfaction of the corporate bean counters who now have more say about curriculum than educators, administrators, or child psychologists.

The lessons of Abu Ghraib have not been lost on the courts either. The sado-masochism that works so effectively in Iraq is now being applied to our children. First we isolate them in classrooms where they are forced to memorize the Department of Education's Federal view of learning and in recent weeks we are told children have no freedom to criticize. So today children are muzzled as well as held hostage to Washington's perverts, fools, and deranged.

An excellent summary of the latest insult is recorded in the Courant By Arielle Levin Becker in Judge Rules On Student's Slur.
U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz's ruling marked the court's first stance on a lawsuit that Doninger's mother, Lauren, filed against two officials in the Region 10 school district after Avery Doninger, then 16, was prohibited from seeking re-election as secretary for her class at Lewis S. Mills High School in May. Punishing Avery Doninger for the comment - she called school officials "douchbags" (sic) in her Internet blog - violated her right to free speech, the Doningers argued.

Friday's ruling didn't decide the case, but resolved a request by Doninger's attorney for an injunction to allow Avery Doninger to run for class secretary. Kravitz's ruling denying the request noted that Doninger had not shown "substantial likelihood" that she would succeed in challenging the constitutional validity of her punishment.

But Kravitz's ruling also foreshadowed a case involving far more than a misspelled insult posted on the Internet. It concerns what kind of expression schools can regulate, whether schools can sanction behavior outside school, and just what can be considered on- or off-campus in the Internet age.

"The whole issue of blogs and off-campus e-mails is coming to the fore. Courts themselves are kind of feeling their way along," Kravitz said in court Friday. "These are difficult issues."

Doninger's attorney, Jon L. Schoenhorn, warned that Kravitz's ruling has dangerous implications for students' speech. "Any student anywhere, in an e-mail or IM or blog, a letter to a friend, maybe orally in a conversation at McDonald's, who makes any kind of vulgar or offensive remark about the school or anyone in it, the school can track them down and take some action," he said.

Schoenhorn said he plans to appeal Friday's ruling.
This follows a similar case called "Bong Hits for Jesus".

The best way to cripple America's future is bound and gag our students. Kids cannot learn critical thinking if the government thought police round them up for speaking out. This is not to say that every utterance is truth. This is to say that the issue is not so much a Bill of Rights issue as a recognition that the youth of our society have a right to BECOME a citizen, a critical thinker, a non-comformist, or whatever they choose. This is the secret to America's success, the free exchange of all ideas and expressions.

Our children must be given more than a right to free speech, they must be required to nurture speech so that as adults they reach first for the pen and not the gun.

And speech is important to our progress as a civilization. Artists, writers, designers, CEOs and every calling in between requires a learned vision, a pushing of boundaries, a leap out of the insipid zones of comfort that stifle life.

"Free speech" as in freedom to speak is our most important tool for learning.

On this Labor Day, make a personal goal of helping rid our government of the vermin who now populate our courts and administrations. We don't want our kids growing up in a homegrown state of terror and mind control.


andythibault said...

plz see Travesty


link to Doninger Appeal Fund;

also, link to Orient Lodge post noting errors in Courant story

Lauren Doninger said...

Thank you for clearly articulating the educational issues surrounding this case. This issue evolved because a group of students, frustrated over scheduling problems with Jamfest, wrote an email to taxpayers asking for their support of the event. This annoyed (understatement) the administration. My initial thought was that the adminstrators should have been thrilled that a group of kids got mad and WROTE! They didn't get mad and break things. Such a lost opportunity.

When Avery first told me about the punishment I struggled with figuring out how to both encourage more refined discourse and not allow the school to trample on the First Amendment. Avery and I did a lot of research, tried very hard to reason with the school - but ran into one brick wall after the next.

So, here we are in federal court and it really isn't so much about Avery's sophmoric insult any longer - it's about whether or not we nurture student's to participate in a living democracy, which at times is mess.

We need help to fund this battle - the appeal to the 2nd circuit will be filed shortly. I would appreciate it if you would put this widget on your site.

Thanks again for your thoughtful post.
Lauren Doninger