Saturday, October 06, 2007

America's Next Generation of Slavery

In the past week or two, O.J. Simpson's adventures once again have returned to the gossip venues. And buried within this story is the subplot of the Goldman family stalking O.J. for any penny he may earn for the rest of his life. Their claim to his ability to earn a living is the award of a civil suit they won many years ago based on the death of their daughter.

On one hand, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty and on the other he became forever an indentured servant to the Goldman family. And today as a result, Americans have acquired a strange taste for this cruel and unusual social phenomenon. Now, let's not shed any tears for Simpson's ability to feed himself because he maintains a hefty sheltered income but this paradoxical innocent yet sentenced to a life of servitude is no less a state of slavery than... well.. slavery was.

But this blog entry isn't about O.J., it is about the popularity of of the idea that any American can claim victim-hood and somehow finagle their own private slave income - an O.J. hedge fund so-to-speak.

You see, as we examine other cases, far different from the consequences of murder we find troubling parallels.

Our interest in recent weeks has been the Nathan Fisher case in which Fisher apologized to parents and explained his assignment of a mature reading book to a less-than-mature student. The explanation makes perfect sense to parents of Fisher's previous students who came to his defense voraciously. Yet the ferocity with which the parents framed Fisher's "intention" created a state of siege within the administration. The parents of the fourteen year old short-circuited the internal process that might grant them peace of mind, offer the teacher a fair hearing, and allow the administration a non-hostile environment in which to conduct an investigation.

In fact the parents, using family influence managed to escalate a misguided book assignment into a police investigation that no doubt further unduly influenced the administration into a panicked frenzy to eliminate the pressure by forcing Fisher's resignation. The strategy of the parents worked flawlessly. Fisher was treated just like a sexual deviant - made an offer to resign or be roundly sullied. At least, that's the narrative that is inescapable from the facts we know.

And we know the magic of this injustice is largely do to parents who play passive-aggressive media games, at once claiming they have nothing against such material yet on the other hand proclaiming that a teacher handing out such material must be guilty of something so sinister than neither resignation, nor forever never being able to teach again is quite enough punishment. No, they have a law suit in mind. Maybe, imagining a lifetime of income, acquiring a personal slave is the objective because I have a hard time understanding their campaign to get this guy, someone they have never had the decency to even talk to.

You see, from where I sit Nathan Fisher is obviously innocent of little more than a teaching infraction, the equivalent of a speeding ticket warning. Just slow your ass down there Nathan, this girl's parents can't handle what you dished out. He should have never been confronted with resignation.

The internet is filled with resignation that there will be no winners in this case but I disagree. Everyone can win.

First, the Board of Education needs to reject Nathan's resignation. First, because he's a good man and a great Englisgh teacher.

Secondly, because they are smart enough and brave enough to do the right thing.

When Nathan's job is reinstated the students win - they start enjoying a world-class English education again.

When Nathan's job is restored, the fourteen year old student has the opportunity to restore her lost dignity from the abysmal behavior of the adults around her. She may even get hooked on reading. And, in reading, she may discover that becoming an intelligent person is even better than being the center of attention.

And the parents and inflamed citizens will win by grasping a convention that judges have introduced in a recent FCC ruling on obscenities. It's called Fleeting Expletives. It is the idea that accidental, temporally fleeting, or co-incidental exposures to garment malfunctions, obscenities, and sexual content have never proven harmful to any critical mass of children, teens, or adults. And, as such, constitute a no harm intended fleeting event.

It is a shockingly enlightened way to deal with these issues and one that I pray is taken seriously by all parties involved.

Nathan Fisher deserves his job back. It is morally, ethically, and legally the right thing to do. It also turns a no-winners myth into an everybody wins happy ending.

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