Monday, January 19, 2009

Thought crime in the new era of Obama

From The Dayton Daily News:

Mason school officials said they are taking a proactive educational approach in advance of next week's planned Inauguration Day activities.

"Inappropriate comments that may make other students, staff or families feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in school or on the bus will not be tolerated," Superintendent Kevin Bright said in an e-mail sent to parents Monday, Jan. 12.

The district, he said, expects students and staff to show respect for President-elect Obama and the incoming administration, as well as President Bush and the outgoing administration, and recognize that "while the election is a competitive process, our nation's greatness is displayed when all sides come together for a united country."

Jeff Schlaeger, Mason High School's psychologist, said "inappropriate comments" occurred around election week when doctored pictures of Obama appeared at the school, including "derogatory caricatures" of him dressed like a terrorist and signs that read "Obama '08/Biden '09."

"There were groups of students that were worked up over the results of the election," said Schlaeger, who is a member of the district's racial equity committee and curriculum organizer for MHS Freshman Diversity Week.

The school is offering a variety of events for students at every grade level, ranging from letter-writing and books, to videos, reflection and watching the inauguration itself, Bright said in the e-mail.

"We're attempting to take a more proactive approach now and, first of all, celebrate the passing of power in our country and at the same time also celebrate this historic inauguration and the election of our first African-American president," Bright said during an interview Tuesday.

Where to start. . .

First it is legal for the school to do this. Students in high school are not adults and while during school hours and on school property the school may order their behavior. However it seems a very poor lesson for the children to learn that criticism of elected leaders is out of bounds in a free society.

Second it seems that the school is looking at Obama purely through a racial lens. The idea that someone could legitimately disagree with Mr. Obama's stated policies and plans for the nation seems never to have occurred to them. It just seems to this school's administration that the only possible problem that anyone could have with the little messiah is the color of his skin.

In this I think we see a preview of how all criticism of Obama will be treated over the next four years.