Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Principal Orr:

That you censored the Red and Black’s freedom of the press (Times 6B) in a story about student achievement scores appalls. I protest.

Your action is un-American abuse of government authority. Without free speech, we don’t have democracy. The first thing dictators do is to shut down the free press and make a crime any negative comment about the thugs in power.

Your action teaches HHS students on the cusp of adulthood that hypocrisy trumps truth and that the authorities endorse flimflam. What kind of twisted ethics is that, sir, with which to afflict the young? No wonder we have a panorama of lies in local, state, and national government now and always. Schools teach lying now to prepare the young for lying later in life.

Do you also require teachers to give passing grades to students who flunk because the earned grade would hurt the failing students’ feelings? Do you require social promotion in such cases instead? I infer you do. Otherwise, I would not have gotten hordes of students when I was teaching college freshman English from county schools who couldn't punctuate a sentence and write a paragraph.

I reject the selective sensitivity Ms. Bertha Baker endorses when she says it’s ok if the Times or Tribune publishes the scores from a government source but that a “`student newspaper has to be a little more sensitive to the feelings of the students.’” Doesn’t La Bertha mean a little more duplicitous?

I’d like to assign Ms. Bertha Baker an essay on the epistemological assumptions of the word “sensitive” as she uses it in her crackpot eschatology. Meanwhile, Ms. Baker gets an F in logic and an A in ditziness from this veteran teacher. Censor that grade, if you dare, Mr. Orr.

Is Hillsborough High School a little island of make-believe in which students get fed doctored data to coincide with the principal’s or vice-principal’s sense of pop psychology, la-la-land spin, and brave-new-world public relations? Doesn’t that attitude endorse selective truth by making the Red and Black staff doorkeepers for the Wizard of Oz?

For shame, Mr. Orr, for your craven leadership in this incident. For shame for your teaching journalism students to fudge truth for some undocumented social goal.

Meanwhile, do this: Put La Bertha in lockdown until she memorizes the Constitution.

As a Red and Black reporter from fifty years ago, I protest the snuffing out of free speech in the student press at my alma mater. I wish the Red and Black staff had stood its ground and defeated you in court. That experience would have changed these oppressed young people’s life. Never again would they have submitted to mindless, anal-retentive authority. A session in court would have also been salutary to a principal who misuses his authority to suppress free speech and to teach students under his thumb to favor hypocrisy over truth.

lee drury de cesare, Class of `51
15316 Gulf Boulevard 802
Madeira Beach, FL 33708
http://www.grammargrinch.blogspot.com
http://www.leedrurydecesarescasting-roomcouch.blogspot.com

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on!

deepcover said...

Oh crap!...come on Lee...did you even READ the article before you pushed the censorship button? NOT everything is worthy of print - particularly in high school. Read some of your stuff from back then and tell me you don't cringe.
High school IS an artificial environment purposefully created to provide limits for our young - among other socio-political dictates of the times. It taught me how to navigate and promote what I believed. Let's see if these kids can step up to the plate and not litigate.
We cannot be selectivly sensitive. Mandated sensitivity training requires us to apply the lowest common denominator template to everything and everybody. You just can't have it both ways.
Not everything is fit to print or be read. Faulty conclusions take on an air of truth when printed. Considering the emotion manipulation that our high school students all too often fall prey to, I'm thinking Mr. Orr was actually pretty ballsy to to do what he did. I think it is about time someone stood up for responsible journalism. Granted, the only info I get is from the Trib and the Pinellas County Daily Worker so I've got to tread lightly.
Snuffing out free speech? Anal-retentive? Really? Students under his thumb? For crying out loud you make this ONE flap into some kind of crusade. If he is soooooo evil why haven't we heard this before? No, I think you got sucked into the adolescent emotional vortex rampent in that age group. Its easy to do.
I'm glad someone stood up for what he believed - even if he did run it by other administrators. Raise my taxes and mine for more Orr.
I expected a more reasoned argument from you.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Read Joe Brown's column in the Sunday Tribune.

twinkobie said...

I always love a fight. Deepcover is a worthy opponent. I disagree on his Jesuitical rationale for censoring the kids. I have not noted that the power people in Tampa rise much above the adolescent level. Censorship always maddens me.

I met Mr. Orr. He is a nice man who is going to fall over from a heart attack long before his time if he doesn't take off about half his weight. I say this as a registered nurse, which I am, among other things. lee drury de cesare

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