A Wisconsin high school invited debate on the subject of gay couples and adoption, and then they censored the debate when some debaters actually came out in opposition. The original debate was in the form of a “pro” essay and an “anti” essay in the high school’s student newspaper. It seems, also, that the “anti” student grounded his/her argument in religious theory.
Having found some folks in their high school with the temerity to oppose the idea, the school and school district administration have fallen all over themselves to apologize for those unruly students who took the idea of open debate seriously.
Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District. We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.
Todd Carlson, the Superintendent of the school district, went further:
We do apologize. We have a responsibility as a school district to make sure we create a positive school climate and culture. This article probably didn’t go along with the policies and the guidelines and the practices that we have as a school district.
And the pièce de résistance. Carlson added:
It is a form of bullying or disrespect to a group of people – that’s right.
Of course the bullying and disrespect to another group of people—those opposing gay couple adoption—doesn’t enter into it.
This is bad enough, but the school not only has objected to just one side of the students’ debate, it has also refused to comply with requests of outside journalists to read the entire essay (and so I cannot offer anything from the offending essay, either, beyond the brief snippet cited at the link above).
As long ago as John Milton, the concept of freely expressing disagreement with established opinion was recognized as central to individual liberty.
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
Our own Declaration of Independence acknowledges that among our individual endowments of inalienable rights is the right to liberty, of which absent free exchanges of ideas—free speech—there can be none.
John Stuart Mill understood this.
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
US District Judge Roger Titus, District Court for the District of Maryland, understands in a related case,
[W]hile Mr. Cassidy’s speech may have inflicted substantial emotional distress, the Government’s Indictment here is directed squarely at protected speech: …uncomfortable…speech….
And now we have the Left’s version of free speech. Hmm….
I’ve emailed Carlson the following questions; I’ll post again when I hear from him, or next Friday if I’ve not heard back by then.
1) The hoo-raw is about a student newspaper op-ed debate in the form of an essay supporting gay couple adoption and an essay opposing gay couple adoption. Is this a fair characterization of the newspaper’s debate?
2) I request access to copies of the student essays written in favor of and in opposition to gay couples and adoption.
3) You are reported as saying “It is a form of bullying or disrespect to a group of people” in reference to the “anti” essay. Is this an accurate quote? If so, please advise how the “anti” position could have made without such bullying. What terms and arguments would have been acceptable?