Bad Wurds

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Eugene Volokh notes the (now much-linked) story of a child disciplined for telling another child that his mother is gay, and even explaining (gasp) that "gay" means "a girl likes another girl." The ACLU has posted the complaint forms sent home by the teacher. While these make it clear that the teacher objected to the mere use of the word "gay," and expected the 7-year-old child to be ashamed of his parents, the school's superintendent is displaying a gift for spin worthy of Ari Fleischer and a level of cowardice… well, that one would expect from a bureaucrat. But it's still repulsive.

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  1. How does the left reconcile bureaucrats with their own good intentions? The result is always the same. Intrasystem goals come first, to quote one of John Gall’s axioms.

    My favorite axiom is “Fail-safe systems fail by failing to fail safe” but I don’t see how that applies here, unless it’s appealed.

  2. Ha! I hope they sue the living shit out of those hicks.

    You’re giving that b.s. a lot of credence by calling it “spin”, Julian. It occurred while the kids were lining up for recess. Is there much of a “learning process” to be “hindered” while lining up for a recess? Also, the incident was not addressed appropriately. The teachers reprimanded the student for the content of his conversation, not merely having a conversation in line. Had he lied and talked about a “father,” he would not have been reprimanded (although which, fair hicks and biblebangers, would be the greater transgression?). The bit about it being “unrelated to any judgment by school officials regarding…the student’s discussion of that particular topic.” is hence a lie.

  3. Ron, this seems to be a combination of the worst aspects of the right as well as the left.

  4. Would you give a little warning before linking to a site called ‘365 Gay’? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but, you know, I’m in a full college computer lab…

  5. Another demonstration of likely the coolest part of the 21st century Internet – that being when a goober in the formerly backwoods and/or dark alleys of America takes a gooberish stand, their declaration flashes publicly across the nation within hours.

  6. What bothers me most about this, is the kids illiteracy problems. Do many second graders have trouble with words like ‘words’? I know I am a terrible speller. (I’ll even need to run this threw the spell checker prior to posting.) But that looks especially poor. I do know that my penmanship was no better at his age, and has improved only marginally since.

    What amuses me most about this is, the double underline of the word gay in “He explained to another child that you are gay…”

    I think this should be handled with a teacher behavior contract:

    What I did: Imposed my narrow-minded intolerance on a student

    What I should have done: Sent the kids out to play

  7. Well, Warren, did you expect a school run by such foolish bigots to be any good at teaching spelling?

  8. “What should I have done? Cep my mouf shut”

    Grrrrrr…..

  9. I’m with the ACLU on this one 100%, but do they have to use the term “LBGT”?

  10. Ci:

    You want to eat your cake and have it.

    You say, “when I choose to discuss it with [my daughter], I want it to be a PERSONAL discussion within OUR family”. To have your way in this matter, you must impose on gay people and their children the obligation to treat their family and social relationships as a dirty secret, not to be mentioned in your daughter’s hearing until after you have decided it is time for the great family discussion.

  11. Update:

    I just saw some guy on CNN who it seems represented the school board. He continued the spin cycle, backing up the superintendent and hinting that the documents released by the ACLU were contradicted by other documents. Those documents will not be made public in the interest of the student’s privacy.

    He also claimed the child gave a TV interview in which he denied being made to write lines. That brings up the question of what did happen in that hour-long “behavior clinic”.

  12. ci,

    So, are you going to have the government create a thought police squad to follow your child around 24/7 so your child does not hear “inappropriate” words?

  13. (I’ll even need to run this threw the spell checker prior to posting.)

    Spell checker is your friend, but even your friends like their little jokes, no?

  14. That brings to mind another news item which showed up in the past 24 hours, and might be worthy of a “Hit and Run” item of its own:

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=817&ncid=757&e=10&u=%2Fap%2F20031204%2Fap_on_fe_st%2Fmake_believe_santa

    A teacher told her students that Santa Claus was an imaginary figure, and her principal had “a real stern conversation” with her, stopping short of a reprimand only because there’s no official school policy against telling kids the truth. (No doubt the School Board will correct this soon.) After all, if you allow that, then people might start thinking that magical presents don’t come from the government either.

  15. “Would you give a little warning before linking to a site called ‘365 Gay’? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but, you know, I’m in a full college computer lab…”

    Aww, sorry… welcome to our world. If there’s nothing wrong with it, why the problem? In this college computer lab everybody’s looking at websites with sexual content.

  16. Saying “gay” is a punishable offense? Sure it is, in any school with a “zero tolerance” policy towards “hate” or “offensive” speech. No doubt that if one second grader derisively said to another “you’re a jerk, you’re gay” he would be suspended for a week – it’s a word that’s “offensive”, and therefore, *no one* is allowed to say the word. Nice to see the stupidity of “zero tolerance” policies tripping up their masters.

    Oh, and was the mother’s first response not to go meet with the teacher or principal, but to go crying to the ACLU? Screw her publicity-sucking too.

  17. I think I can see quite clearly who the actual “foolish bigots” are here, “Dimmy.” This Comments section is so full of hypocrisy it makes me wonder why I bothered to come back. Let me know when the formerly freedom-loving libertarians are no longer taking their marching orders from the ACLU. Ciao.

  18. . . . over a brief scolding?

    The scolding (duration not mentioned in what I read) was one of four disciplinary actions. The child was sent to the principal’s office for recess, assigned an hour-long “behavior clinic”, and required to fill out a “Student Behavior Contract”. This contract was itself one of the two documents sent to the mother and released by the ACLU, the other being a copy of the Behavioral Incident Report.

    The latter indicates that this was Marcus’s second “behavior referral”, but gives no information on the previous incident. The report on this incident may have been what the speaker on TV was talking about.

    If the earlier incident were of the type described by the superintendent – “disturbances, which were hindering the classroom learning process” – I don’t see how that would be relevant to the incident in question.

    Another possibility is that the “behavior clinic” may have generated some paperwork.

  19. I’m confused by geophile’s comment …

  20. To play devil’s advocate here, if I understand correctly the child is 7. I think the report said this was grade 2 (it’s grade 1 in our school district).

    I THINK what the issue for the school might have been is — there are plenty of parents who feel it inappropriate for their 7 year old children to be discussing what “gay” means, and it is inappropriate for that discussion to be taking place at school (at that age).

    I know it is a different world, but I certainly didn’t know the “homosexual” definition of gay at age 7. And I have an 8 year old daughter who doesn’t know that definition. And when I choose to discuss it with her, I want it to be a PERSONAL discussion within OUR family.

    Yes, I’m from Kansas. But you also might be surprised that I find nothing wrong with homosexual relationships between consenting adults, and that I, in fact, support “gay marriage.”

    What I think happened was a child reared in a relationship that is unfamiliar to many children was discussed in a school setting — and a very stupid teacher did not “diffuse” the situation, but rather compounded it, apparently with support from higher administration.

    Because, all families have the right to discuss homosexuality with their very young children within their own value system. Even if it is opposite of mine. And I think the school over-reacted from fear of those who 1) believe homosexuality is wrong, and 2) believe these discussions should be dealt with at home.

    The teacher could have very easily said, “There are many different kinds of families, but we are not talking about that now. Please line up for recess.”

    So I think the major topic is the lack of judgment on behalf of the teacher/administration. No child should be made to feel that his “family” is “bad.” They took a non-situation and handled it so poorly it made the national news.

  21. I’m not sure about the comment either.

    ACLU’s merely as a resource here. If The Smoking Gun provided this info as well, would Reason be accused of marching to its orders?

  22. “This Comments section is so full of hypocrisy it makes me wonder why I bothered to come back. ”

    I believe we are all wondering why you bothered to come back.

  23. “I just saw some guy on CNN who it seems represented the school board. He continued the spin cycle, backing up the superintendent and hinting that the documents released by the ACLU were contradicted by other documents. Those documents will not be made public in the interest of the student’s privacy.”

    All this documentation over a brief scolding?

    Makes that ole “this will go on your permanent record” threat all the more real.

    In addition to those worried over literacy, remember this kid has been in the 2nd grade for only 3 months. I remember winning a class spelling bee near the end of 2nd grade with the very hard word “laugh”

  24. It’s fascinating looking at some of the twists on logic here. Reason is getting “marching orders” from the ACLU because it covered one of their actions; a 7-year-old is the “master” of speech codes, so his punishment is merely poetic justice; and sending a child to a “behavioral clinic” where he was required to agree repeatedly not to use the word “gay” is merely a “brief scolding.”

    I suppose we should take it as a positive sign that people like these find this forum threatening enough that they need to rant at it.

  25. cj, would a child be impermissably interfering with the parenting rights of a gay couple by telling their son “My mommy loves my daddy?”

  26. EMAIL: master-x@canada.com
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    DATE: 02/28/2004 04:26:41
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