Something Is Happening Here, But You Don't Know What It Is

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Now the Secret Service is investigating Dylan lyrics. Who the hell is running that outfit these days—A.J. Weberman?

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  1. Actually, we do know what is happening, unlike Mr. Jones–and that’s what makes it more frightening.

  2. I live in the Denver area. A couple things:

    The protest sleep over had active teacher encouragement. And, I think that the group was indeed named the Taliband prior to being pressured to change it.

    If we want a system where teachers are not able to foist political beliefs on students that run counter to those of their parents with impunity, we are going to have to have all the schools be voucher schools, at least. This will bring market pressure to bear on the schools for the values of the customers (parents) and mostly for academic improvement. Although, concerning values, we are talking Boulder here and open lamentation of Bush’s victory is less out of step with the parents than in most communities.

    Singing song lyrics that express a desire for the president to be dead is not a threat against him and the Secret Service can’t possibly be so stupid as not to know this. Their imposing themselves in this situation teaches a terrible lesson concerning freedom of political expression to these students. I’m afraid that the Feds exercised a chilling process on this activity, Whatever one may think about the lyrics sung, or the band name, or teacher involvement, we certainly don’t want the federal government discouraging dissent.

    Sure, in a public school, kids under 18 can’t perform absolutely anything they want but the widest latitude must be given to political expression. Also, if we teach kids that they have to leave their constitutional rights at the school entrance, they might forget to insist on them later in life. That could be dangerous for all of us.

  3. … if we teach kids that they have to leave their constitutional rights at the school entrance…

    I’d make ’em all take a drugs test during assembly. They want to express themselves in public? Stick ’em up on the stage and make ’em pee in a cup.

    THAT’d teach ’em what “rights” they’ve got in a public school!

  4. I’ve never been able to make any sense out of Bob Dylan’s lyrics. Maybe the Secret Service will enlighten me.

  5. They are “outraged” by the name “Coalition of the Willing?”

    Opposition to a draft is an “extreme leftist point of view?”

    Who ARE these people?

  6. What surprised me is that the principal stood up for the students. This is a marked contrast to the actions of most mealy-mouthed educators. Bravo for him.

  7. Yeah bravo for the principal standing up for the students right of expression.

    Chill my ass, the real lesson here is that some forms of speech are tolerated while others are quashed.

    You can rest assured that if this song had to do with anything remotely connected to God, Jesus, the KKK, white supremacy, Hitler, guns, or Columbine the band would not be performing at the talent show (with or without a visit from your uncle’s thugs)

    That said, what the hell is wrong with these people? The First Amendment doesn’t contain the phrase “except in government owned schools”.

  8. Despite being nearly a free speech absolutist (in terms of First Amendment interpretation), I am sympathetic to the Secret Service in this case. Admitteldy they have no right to arrest students for political speech. School administrators may have the right (under Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier) to impose prior restraints on speech in some instances. But the Secret Service can and must investigate such cases, which is not quite the same as prosecuting students or prohibiting their speech. It can only perform its extremely crucial job competently by investigating not only explicit threats against the president but potential threats and things that might be misunderstood as threats. Take thirty seconds and consider the matter from their point of view. They don’t know who these kids are or their intentions. Presidents (and presidential candidates) have had too many attempts made against their safety, and sometimes successfully, for the Service not to be exacting in its work. It gets intelligence by following up leads, which sometimes seem, and usually are, innocuous: but not invariably so. Whether the agency pursues its invesgiations in a way that chills protected expression is a separate question (and one worth asking). By the way, I like this song. Maybe they’ll upload their version to the Web in assertion of their free speech rights? I for one will check it out.

  9. “In an age where narcissistic college students riot in an inarticulate drunken stupor, you have students here at Boulder High School, principled, thoughtful and yet scared of four more years of pre-emptive war, the Patriot Act and an increase in militarism at school through the No Child Left Behind Act.” Teacher Jim Vacca

    Granted the NCLBA is crap, how does it militarise the schools? Is there a mandatory miltary training requirement throughout the US or only in Denver?

    “… all male students had to take basic premilitary subjects in the last three years of the regular nine-year primary school. Military education took up only twenty-five hours a year and included medical, civil defense, topographic, weapons firing, and basic training.”

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