Text of the Speech that Got DHS Student Suspended

The following is the text of the speech that got the student suspended for three days. Remember this was approved. Judge for yourself…

Most of the time when people talk about discrimination at school it usually involves students harassing another student, which I too have faced, but these incidents don’t just happen to students. When I was asked to tell a story about being pointed out for my religion, Islam, the first thing that came to me was what a teacher on our own campus had done.

Earlier this year one of my teachers agreed with our class that we could bring posters if they were appropriate. I decided to bring in a Malcolm X poster with the quote, “We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

I hung up the poster with her agreement and everything was fine. The next day I came into class and found the poster was gone. I went to my teacher and asked for the poster back. Instead she wanted me to sit down and said she was going to make an announcement to the class.

So class began and she told us that she had been thinking all night about the poster and the quote. She told us that that quote represents terrorism. That terrorists who kill, rape and shoot everyday stand by that quote and will do anything to see that come to existence.

I was in shock. I was angry. I was even hurt. I couldn’t believe the lack of judgment, poor choice of words and frankly the ignorance.

How could one of our own DHS teachers believe in this? It was not necessary for her to call me out in front of the whole class, and single me out. She was telling us that the poster I brought in represents terrorism.

I am not calling that teacher a bigot or anything, but what I’m saying is that we must watch what we say. We stand by our words. Our words express ourselves and show what we believe and think. So if you go up to an Arab and call him a terrorist, or a black man and call him the N-word, you’re expressing your beliefs even if it’s a joke.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Civil Rights

92 comments

  1. Truly jaw-dropping stuff in the city of all things right and relevant and the home of a prominent University dedicated to knowledge and discovery.

    (1) A young, inexperienced (white) female teacher naively opens the door for students to respectfully express what they think is important regarding human rights during a week devoted to this issue.

    (2) The teacher initially displays a poster from student “Joe” referencing quotes from Malcolm X, then for reasons we don’t yet know (pressure from other students or teachers?) has second thoughts and removes the poster before school the next day presumably over the phrase “by any means necessary” that she judged to be a “terrorist” reference. An experienced teacher would seize on this as an opportunity for a teaching moment. Anyone who had read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” would certainly understand this part of the phrase as specifically NOT a terrorist expression.

    (3) The teacher makes the issue “public” in class the next day in front of all the students, not only missing the opportunity to discuss what this quote means, but negating the underlying and positive message of the student. She thus singles out the student, if not by name, and thereby denies the legitimacy of the message of his poster and, by extension his opinions and feelings. She made it personal. No other posters were removed. The message delivered to the class: “I’m O.K, and everyone else is O.K., but you’re not O.K”.

    (4) Several weeks later, speeches are to be given at a school wide assembly. “Joe” submits his speech which is approved based on content that is factually altered to draw attention away from the earlier classroom event at DHS and the classroom teacher described above.

    (5) In conformance with the teachings of the Koran and the Bible about not bearing false witness, he proceeded to tell the truth at the assembly while not specifically naming the teacher.

    (6) Everyone at DHS knows who “Joe” is and everyone knows who the teacher is.

    (7) The teacher left the assembly in tears. Knowing several experienced teachers, I can say that none of the teachers I know would be brought to tears because they were criticized for doing what they think is right in the classroom. What this teacher did was wrong and she is probably sorry for it…that should make any decent person cry. Her only crime is inexperience.

    (8) DHS Administration should have helped this teacher out several weeks back during the poster incident, but they didn’t.

    (9) One other student was suspended for deviating from her speech during the assembly. However, she was suspended only for the rest of the day for using the word “hot ass” instead of the scripted “hottie”.

    (10) “Joe” was suspended for three days. Not for use of language but for telling the truth about how he felt his rights were violated. Equal time for equal crime?

    “Joe” has guts and courage. He has the ability to see the big picture and I think students like him give me hope. I wish the DHS administration and the School Board would look to him for leadership on this kind of issue.

    For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved. She is also unimpressed with the DHS administration.

  2. Truly jaw-dropping stuff in the city of all things right and relevant and the home of a prominent University dedicated to knowledge and discovery.

    (1) A young, inexperienced (white) female teacher naively opens the door for students to respectfully express what they think is important regarding human rights during a week devoted to this issue.

    (2) The teacher initially displays a poster from student “Joe” referencing quotes from Malcolm X, then for reasons we don’t yet know (pressure from other students or teachers?) has second thoughts and removes the poster before school the next day presumably over the phrase “by any means necessary” that she judged to be a “terrorist” reference. An experienced teacher would seize on this as an opportunity for a teaching moment. Anyone who had read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” would certainly understand this part of the phrase as specifically NOT a terrorist expression.

    (3) The teacher makes the issue “public” in class the next day in front of all the students, not only missing the opportunity to discuss what this quote means, but negating the underlying and positive message of the student. She thus singles out the student, if not by name, and thereby denies the legitimacy of the message of his poster and, by extension his opinions and feelings. She made it personal. No other posters were removed. The message delivered to the class: “I’m O.K, and everyone else is O.K., but you’re not O.K”.

    (4) Several weeks later, speeches are to be given at a school wide assembly. “Joe” submits his speech which is approved based on content that is factually altered to draw attention away from the earlier classroom event at DHS and the classroom teacher described above.

    (5) In conformance with the teachings of the Koran and the Bible about not bearing false witness, he proceeded to tell the truth at the assembly while not specifically naming the teacher.

    (6) Everyone at DHS knows who “Joe” is and everyone knows who the teacher is.

    (7) The teacher left the assembly in tears. Knowing several experienced teachers, I can say that none of the teachers I know would be brought to tears because they were criticized for doing what they think is right in the classroom. What this teacher did was wrong and she is probably sorry for it…that should make any decent person cry. Her only crime is inexperience.

    (8) DHS Administration should have helped this teacher out several weeks back during the poster incident, but they didn’t.

    (9) One other student was suspended for deviating from her speech during the assembly. However, she was suspended only for the rest of the day for using the word “hot ass” instead of the scripted “hottie”.

    (10) “Joe” was suspended for three days. Not for use of language but for telling the truth about how he felt his rights were violated. Equal time for equal crime?

    “Joe” has guts and courage. He has the ability to see the big picture and I think students like him give me hope. I wish the DHS administration and the School Board would look to him for leadership on this kind of issue.

    For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved. She is also unimpressed with the DHS administration.

  3. Truly jaw-dropping stuff in the city of all things right and relevant and the home of a prominent University dedicated to knowledge and discovery.

    (1) A young, inexperienced (white) female teacher naively opens the door for students to respectfully express what they think is important regarding human rights during a week devoted to this issue.

    (2) The teacher initially displays a poster from student “Joe” referencing quotes from Malcolm X, then for reasons we don’t yet know (pressure from other students or teachers?) has second thoughts and removes the poster before school the next day presumably over the phrase “by any means necessary” that she judged to be a “terrorist” reference. An experienced teacher would seize on this as an opportunity for a teaching moment. Anyone who had read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” would certainly understand this part of the phrase as specifically NOT a terrorist expression.

    (3) The teacher makes the issue “public” in class the next day in front of all the students, not only missing the opportunity to discuss what this quote means, but negating the underlying and positive message of the student. She thus singles out the student, if not by name, and thereby denies the legitimacy of the message of his poster and, by extension his opinions and feelings. She made it personal. No other posters were removed. The message delivered to the class: “I’m O.K, and everyone else is O.K., but you’re not O.K”.

    (4) Several weeks later, speeches are to be given at a school wide assembly. “Joe” submits his speech which is approved based on content that is factually altered to draw attention away from the earlier classroom event at DHS and the classroom teacher described above.

    (5) In conformance with the teachings of the Koran and the Bible about not bearing false witness, he proceeded to tell the truth at the assembly while not specifically naming the teacher.

    (6) Everyone at DHS knows who “Joe” is and everyone knows who the teacher is.

    (7) The teacher left the assembly in tears. Knowing several experienced teachers, I can say that none of the teachers I know would be brought to tears because they were criticized for doing what they think is right in the classroom. What this teacher did was wrong and she is probably sorry for it…that should make any decent person cry. Her only crime is inexperience.

    (8) DHS Administration should have helped this teacher out several weeks back during the poster incident, but they didn’t.

    (9) One other student was suspended for deviating from her speech during the assembly. However, she was suspended only for the rest of the day for using the word “hot ass” instead of the scripted “hottie”.

    (10) “Joe” was suspended for three days. Not for use of language but for telling the truth about how he felt his rights were violated. Equal time for equal crime?

    “Joe” has guts and courage. He has the ability to see the big picture and I think students like him give me hope. I wish the DHS administration and the School Board would look to him for leadership on this kind of issue.

    For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved. She is also unimpressed with the DHS administration.

  4. Truly jaw-dropping stuff in the city of all things right and relevant and the home of a prominent University dedicated to knowledge and discovery.

    (1) A young, inexperienced (white) female teacher naively opens the door for students to respectfully express what they think is important regarding human rights during a week devoted to this issue.

    (2) The teacher initially displays a poster from student “Joe” referencing quotes from Malcolm X, then for reasons we don’t yet know (pressure from other students or teachers?) has second thoughts and removes the poster before school the next day presumably over the phrase “by any means necessary” that she judged to be a “terrorist” reference. An experienced teacher would seize on this as an opportunity for a teaching moment. Anyone who had read the “Autobiography of Malcolm X” would certainly understand this part of the phrase as specifically NOT a terrorist expression.

    (3) The teacher makes the issue “public” in class the next day in front of all the students, not only missing the opportunity to discuss what this quote means, but negating the underlying and positive message of the student. She thus singles out the student, if not by name, and thereby denies the legitimacy of the message of his poster and, by extension his opinions and feelings. She made it personal. No other posters were removed. The message delivered to the class: “I’m O.K, and everyone else is O.K., but you’re not O.K”.

    (4) Several weeks later, speeches are to be given at a school wide assembly. “Joe” submits his speech which is approved based on content that is factually altered to draw attention away from the earlier classroom event at DHS and the classroom teacher described above.

    (5) In conformance with the teachings of the Koran and the Bible about not bearing false witness, he proceeded to tell the truth at the assembly while not specifically naming the teacher.

    (6) Everyone at DHS knows who “Joe” is and everyone knows who the teacher is.

    (7) The teacher left the assembly in tears. Knowing several experienced teachers, I can say that none of the teachers I know would be brought to tears because they were criticized for doing what they think is right in the classroom. What this teacher did was wrong and she is probably sorry for it…that should make any decent person cry. Her only crime is inexperience.

    (8) DHS Administration should have helped this teacher out several weeks back during the poster incident, but they didn’t.

    (9) One other student was suspended for deviating from her speech during the assembly. However, she was suspended only for the rest of the day for using the word “hot ass” instead of the scripted “hottie”.

    (10) “Joe” was suspended for three days. Not for use of language but for telling the truth about how he felt his rights were violated. Equal time for equal crime?

    “Joe” has guts and courage. He has the ability to see the big picture and I think students like him give me hope. I wish the DHS administration and the School Board would look to him for leadership on this kind of issue.

    For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved. She is also unimpressed with the DHS administration.

  5. Let me get this straight:

    A DHS student is invited to bring a poster to his class and does so. The student brings in a Malcolm X poster which is hung up in the classroom with his teacher’s approval. But by the next day the teacher is having second thoughts, removes the poster and asserts publicly to the class that the Malcolm X poster the student brought in represents terrorism.

    Several weeks later, the same DHS student is invited to give a talk at a school assembly during the high school’s Human Relations Week and he does so. His speech is pre-approved by school administrators, but in the course of giving his talk he changes his speech discussing the incident mentioned above.

    The context of the student’s speech addresses his own experience and feelings about being the victim of discrimination based upon his political views as well as possibly his ethnicity and religion that he experienced at school and at the hands of his teacher. He does not mention his teacher by name.

    After delivering the speech, he is suspended for three days by the high school’s administration.

    What is going on here?

    Short of anyone truly threatening someone (either physically or verbally) or in some real way jeopardizing the function of the school, should not all topics and viewpoints be open for discussion and argument? Is that not what schools should in part be doing: i.e. creating critical thinkers who challenge one another’s beliefs and points of view

  6. Let me get this straight:

    A DHS student is invited to bring a poster to his class and does so. The student brings in a Malcolm X poster which is hung up in the classroom with his teacher’s approval. But by the next day the teacher is having second thoughts, removes the poster and asserts publicly to the class that the Malcolm X poster the student brought in represents terrorism.

    Several weeks later, the same DHS student is invited to give a talk at a school assembly during the high school’s Human Relations Week and he does so. His speech is pre-approved by school administrators, but in the course of giving his talk he changes his speech discussing the incident mentioned above.

    The context of the student’s speech addresses his own experience and feelings about being the victim of discrimination based upon his political views as well as possibly his ethnicity and religion that he experienced at school and at the hands of his teacher. He does not mention his teacher by name.

    After delivering the speech, he is suspended for three days by the high school’s administration.

    What is going on here?

    Short of anyone truly threatening someone (either physically or verbally) or in some real way jeopardizing the function of the school, should not all topics and viewpoints be open for discussion and argument? Is that not what schools should in part be doing: i.e. creating critical thinkers who challenge one another’s beliefs and points of view

  7. Let me get this straight:

    A DHS student is invited to bring a poster to his class and does so. The student brings in a Malcolm X poster which is hung up in the classroom with his teacher’s approval. But by the next day the teacher is having second thoughts, removes the poster and asserts publicly to the class that the Malcolm X poster the student brought in represents terrorism.

    Several weeks later, the same DHS student is invited to give a talk at a school assembly during the high school’s Human Relations Week and he does so. His speech is pre-approved by school administrators, but in the course of giving his talk he changes his speech discussing the incident mentioned above.

    The context of the student’s speech addresses his own experience and feelings about being the victim of discrimination based upon his political views as well as possibly his ethnicity and religion that he experienced at school and at the hands of his teacher. He does not mention his teacher by name.

    After delivering the speech, he is suspended for three days by the high school’s administration.

    What is going on here?

    Short of anyone truly threatening someone (either physically or verbally) or in some real way jeopardizing the function of the school, should not all topics and viewpoints be open for discussion and argument? Is that not what schools should in part be doing: i.e. creating critical thinkers who challenge one another’s beliefs and points of view

  8. Let me get this straight:

    A DHS student is invited to bring a poster to his class and does so. The student brings in a Malcolm X poster which is hung up in the classroom with his teacher’s approval. But by the next day the teacher is having second thoughts, removes the poster and asserts publicly to the class that the Malcolm X poster the student brought in represents terrorism.

    Several weeks later, the same DHS student is invited to give a talk at a school assembly during the high school’s Human Relations Week and he does so. His speech is pre-approved by school administrators, but in the course of giving his talk he changes his speech discussing the incident mentioned above.

    The context of the student’s speech addresses his own experience and feelings about being the victim of discrimination based upon his political views as well as possibly his ethnicity and religion that he experienced at school and at the hands of his teacher. He does not mention his teacher by name.

    After delivering the speech, he is suspended for three days by the high school’s administration.

    What is going on here?

    Short of anyone truly threatening someone (either physically or verbally) or in some real way jeopardizing the function of the school, should not all topics and viewpoints be open for discussion and argument? Is that not what schools should in part be doing: i.e. creating critical thinkers who challenge one another’s beliefs and points of view

  9. Remember the Wheels of Justice(young people invited to discuss their experiences while “bearing witness” in the Occupied Territories) incident at the HS several years ago?
    Censoring thought and discussion appears to be Davis HS’s method of shaping our future citizens. Presidential candidate Kucinich describes a resurgence of student political interest and activism on campuses he is visiting.. it’s long overdo and no thanks to those who now run our educational institutions.

  10. Remember the Wheels of Justice(young people invited to discuss their experiences while “bearing witness” in the Occupied Territories) incident at the HS several years ago?
    Censoring thought and discussion appears to be Davis HS’s method of shaping our future citizens. Presidential candidate Kucinich describes a resurgence of student political interest and activism on campuses he is visiting.. it’s long overdo and no thanks to those who now run our educational institutions.

  11. Remember the Wheels of Justice(young people invited to discuss their experiences while “bearing witness” in the Occupied Territories) incident at the HS several years ago?
    Censoring thought and discussion appears to be Davis HS’s method of shaping our future citizens. Presidential candidate Kucinich describes a resurgence of student political interest and activism on campuses he is visiting.. it’s long overdo and no thanks to those who now run our educational institutions.

  12. Remember the Wheels of Justice(young people invited to discuss their experiences while “bearing witness” in the Occupied Territories) incident at the HS several years ago?
    Censoring thought and discussion appears to be Davis HS’s method of shaping our future citizens. Presidential candidate Kucinich describes a resurgence of student political interest and activism on campuses he is visiting.. it’s long overdo and no thanks to those who now run our educational institutions.

  13. To the last Anonymous Commenter listed at 1:04 and Davisite: Your rendition of the facts is correct as I understand them. I have a daughter at DHS and I’ve spoken to the father of the suspended student. Breaking the story down to this elementary form exposes the absurdity of the situation. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion.

    I think that the core issue here goes back to the Wheels of Justice incident at DHS years ago and the issues involving censorship, controversial issues, and the rights of students to academic freedom. Davis has attempted desperately to silence any form of descent. The Human Relations Commission was silenced and eventually gutted by the City Council for attempting to open a public discourse. I commend this blog for providing some small measure of the transparency Davis lacks.

  14. To the last Anonymous Commenter listed at 1:04 and Davisite: Your rendition of the facts is correct as I understand them. I have a daughter at DHS and I’ve spoken to the father of the suspended student. Breaking the story down to this elementary form exposes the absurdity of the situation. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion.

    I think that the core issue here goes back to the Wheels of Justice incident at DHS years ago and the issues involving censorship, controversial issues, and the rights of students to academic freedom. Davis has attempted desperately to silence any form of descent. The Human Relations Commission was silenced and eventually gutted by the City Council for attempting to open a public discourse. I commend this blog for providing some small measure of the transparency Davis lacks.

  15. To the last Anonymous Commenter listed at 1:04 and Davisite: Your rendition of the facts is correct as I understand them. I have a daughter at DHS and I’ve spoken to the father of the suspended student. Breaking the story down to this elementary form exposes the absurdity of the situation. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion.

    I think that the core issue here goes back to the Wheels of Justice incident at DHS years ago and the issues involving censorship, controversial issues, and the rights of students to academic freedom. Davis has attempted desperately to silence any form of descent. The Human Relations Commission was silenced and eventually gutted by the City Council for attempting to open a public discourse. I commend this blog for providing some small measure of the transparency Davis lacks.

  16. To the last Anonymous Commenter listed at 1:04 and Davisite: Your rendition of the facts is correct as I understand them. I have a daughter at DHS and I’ve spoken to the father of the suspended student. Breaking the story down to this elementary form exposes the absurdity of the situation. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion.

    I think that the core issue here goes back to the Wheels of Justice incident at DHS years ago and the issues involving censorship, controversial issues, and the rights of students to academic freedom. Davis has attempted desperately to silence any form of descent. The Human Relations Commission was silenced and eventually gutted by the City Council for attempting to open a public discourse. I commend this blog for providing some small measure of the transparency Davis lacks.

  17. I must say,based on the theme of the speech it hard to understand why there was any punishment. Of course the student might have strayed from the text, but that is the risk the school takes when it asks a young person to speak before the student body.

    After all this was human relations week when diversity of opinion and discussion about different points of view should be promoted. It is absurd to ask students to speak about human relations issues then turn around an punish two of them because of disagreement over a few words.SAH

  18. I must say,based on the theme of the speech it hard to understand why there was any punishment. Of course the student might have strayed from the text, but that is the risk the school takes when it asks a young person to speak before the student body.

    After all this was human relations week when diversity of opinion and discussion about different points of view should be promoted. It is absurd to ask students to speak about human relations issues then turn around an punish two of them because of disagreement over a few words.SAH

  19. I must say,based on the theme of the speech it hard to understand why there was any punishment. Of course the student might have strayed from the text, but that is the risk the school takes when it asks a young person to speak before the student body.

    After all this was human relations week when diversity of opinion and discussion about different points of view should be promoted. It is absurd to ask students to speak about human relations issues then turn around an punish two of them because of disagreement over a few words.SAH

  20. I must say,based on the theme of the speech it hard to understand why there was any punishment. Of course the student might have strayed from the text, but that is the risk the school takes when it asks a young person to speak before the student body.

    After all this was human relations week when diversity of opinion and discussion about different points of view should be promoted. It is absurd to ask students to speak about human relations issues then turn around an punish two of them because of disagreement over a few words.SAH

  21. “For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved.”

    Dave,

    What you report here sounds credible and fills in some of the gaps.

    I’m still reserving judgment, but your report causes me to lean in favor of the student a bit.

    If there is more to the story, I’d like to hear it from the teacher’s and the administration’s perspectives.

    I should add that the specific quote from Malcolm X that originated this episode should not be viewed as too controversial. While Malcolm was controversial, not all of his sayings or thoughts were.

    I don’t see “by any means necessary” as a call for violence, even though a small number of black nationalists in those days talked about using violence to get their way.

    I think the poster and statement ought to have been allowed to let stand. If Malcolm X himself became the focus of a discussion or a lesson, then just what the Nation of Islam was (and is) all about should have been explored, and why El-Shabbazz ultimately renounced their hate-mongering and what happened to him when he did.

    I should add, though, that “free speech” is a difficult problem at the high school level. While I’m pretty much a free speech absolutist for adults, I understand the concerns of administrators in some circumstances in public schools. What is free expression (or even a joke) to some is highly offensive or even threatening to others. Hence, you really don’t want high school kids wearing Nazi uniforms or KKK outfits to school, even though that is clearly protected speech for adults. So the question becomes, at what point does speech in a school cross the line?

    I recall, for example, when I was the editor of The Hub at Davis High School, I was writing a review of a Richard Pryor record that had an offensive term (the N-word) in its title, “That *****’s Crazy.” I could review the record — which I absolutely loved by the way, though Pryor had other records that were even better — but I couldn’t refer to the title.

  22. “For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved.”

    Dave,

    What you report here sounds credible and fills in some of the gaps.

    I’m still reserving judgment, but your report causes me to lean in favor of the student a bit.

    If there is more to the story, I’d like to hear it from the teacher’s and the administration’s perspectives.

    I should add that the specific quote from Malcolm X that originated this episode should not be viewed as too controversial. While Malcolm was controversial, not all of his sayings or thoughts were.

    I don’t see “by any means necessary” as a call for violence, even though a small number of black nationalists in those days talked about using violence to get their way.

    I think the poster and statement ought to have been allowed to let stand. If Malcolm X himself became the focus of a discussion or a lesson, then just what the Nation of Islam was (and is) all about should have been explored, and why El-Shabbazz ultimately renounced their hate-mongering and what happened to him when he did.

    I should add, though, that “free speech” is a difficult problem at the high school level. While I’m pretty much a free speech absolutist for adults, I understand the concerns of administrators in some circumstances in public schools. What is free expression (or even a joke) to some is highly offensive or even threatening to others. Hence, you really don’t want high school kids wearing Nazi uniforms or KKK outfits to school, even though that is clearly protected speech for adults. So the question becomes, at what point does speech in a school cross the line?

    I recall, for example, when I was the editor of The Hub at Davis High School, I was writing a review of a Richard Pryor record that had an offensive term (the N-word) in its title, “That *****’s Crazy.” I could review the record — which I absolutely loved by the way, though Pryor had other records that were even better — but I couldn’t refer to the title.

  23. “For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved.”

    Dave,

    What you report here sounds credible and fills in some of the gaps.

    I’m still reserving judgment, but your report causes me to lean in favor of the student a bit.

    If there is more to the story, I’d like to hear it from the teacher’s and the administration’s perspectives.

    I should add that the specific quote from Malcolm X that originated this episode should not be viewed as too controversial. While Malcolm was controversial, not all of his sayings or thoughts were.

    I don’t see “by any means necessary” as a call for violence, even though a small number of black nationalists in those days talked about using violence to get their way.

    I think the poster and statement ought to have been allowed to let stand. If Malcolm X himself became the focus of a discussion or a lesson, then just what the Nation of Islam was (and is) all about should have been explored, and why El-Shabbazz ultimately renounced their hate-mongering and what happened to him when he did.

    I should add, though, that “free speech” is a difficult problem at the high school level. While I’m pretty much a free speech absolutist for adults, I understand the concerns of administrators in some circumstances in public schools. What is free expression (or even a joke) to some is highly offensive or even threatening to others. Hence, you really don’t want high school kids wearing Nazi uniforms or KKK outfits to school, even though that is clearly protected speech for adults. So the question becomes, at what point does speech in a school cross the line?

    I recall, for example, when I was the editor of The Hub at Davis High School, I was writing a review of a Richard Pryor record that had an offensive term (the N-word) in its title, “That *****’s Crazy.” I could review the record — which I absolutely loved by the way, though Pryor had other records that were even better — but I couldn’t refer to the title.

  24. “For Rich’s reference, my source is a white, non-Islamic, female high school senior not involved in any fights with the authorities who was at the assembly and knows all the parties involved.”

    Dave,

    What you report here sounds credible and fills in some of the gaps.

    I’m still reserving judgment, but your report causes me to lean in favor of the student a bit.

    If there is more to the story, I’d like to hear it from the teacher’s and the administration’s perspectives.

    I should add that the specific quote from Malcolm X that originated this episode should not be viewed as too controversial. While Malcolm was controversial, not all of his sayings or thoughts were.

    I don’t see “by any means necessary” as a call for violence, even though a small number of black nationalists in those days talked about using violence to get their way.

    I think the poster and statement ought to have been allowed to let stand. If Malcolm X himself became the focus of a discussion or a lesson, then just what the Nation of Islam was (and is) all about should have been explored, and why El-Shabbazz ultimately renounced their hate-mongering and what happened to him when he did.

    I should add, though, that “free speech” is a difficult problem at the high school level. While I’m pretty much a free speech absolutist for adults, I understand the concerns of administrators in some circumstances in public schools. What is free expression (or even a joke) to some is highly offensive or even threatening to others. Hence, you really don’t want high school kids wearing Nazi uniforms or KKK outfits to school, even though that is clearly protected speech for adults. So the question becomes, at what point does speech in a school cross the line?

    I recall, for example, when I was the editor of The Hub at Davis High School, I was writing a review of a Richard Pryor record that had an offensive term (the N-word) in its title, “That *****’s Crazy.” I could review the record — which I absolutely loved by the way, though Pryor had other records that were even better — but I couldn’t refer to the title.