Friday, March 31, 2006

Of Vegetables and Signs

The monthly issue of the school paper came out today. The faculty advisor for the paper is stellar, a top-notch man who knows what he's doing. I can only assume that the low quality of the stories lately is caused by the poor raw materials he has to work with.

In today's issue was a story, with information supplied by unbiased source PETA, about companies that test their products on animals. In fact, one of the graphics was a large-font list of such companies. Remember that the last issue included a lengthy story about Darfur. Is the school paper becoming a left-wing soapbox?

I saw at least one classroom that had the PETA list posted in the window. A former student of mine, one slightly further to the right than I am, asked if he could hang a sign in my window. I'll summarize its contents: "Save a baby. Kill an animal." Hyperbole, gotta love it. There was more on the poster, but you get the idea. It was the opposite extreme from PETA, with a few hidden nuggets of value in there if you looked closely enough.

He hung up the sign right before lunch. To be honest, I was surprised to see it still hanging after lunch. It was there when 5th period started, and it was there when 5th period left. When 6th period started, though, the sign was gone. I was not pleased. "Where is my sign?" And moments later, "Who ripped down my freakin' sign?"

One student copped to it. "I had to. I'm a member of the Vegetarian Club" she said, or some similar reply. What do they call these? Ah yes, "teachable moments". And this was a good one.

We discussed acting on logic, not emotion. Even one of my liberal students (he's a closet conservative, I swear it) quoted Justice Kennedy by saying that the antidote to speech we don't like is more speech, not less--we need to speak and point out the flaw in the reasoning of the person whose speech we don't like, not try to stifle his/her words (with speech codes, by tearing down signs, by shouting down speakers, etc). I gave my opinion that if your argument is not strong enough to stand up to scrutiny, if it's so weak that you have to forbid or at least cover up that scrutiny--perhaps by tearing down a sign of that scrutiny--then perhaps your argument isn't worth supporting.

Did I bring in a little "liberal vs. conservative" into the discussion? You know I did! I had to, it's expected of me :-) But for the most part I let it be known that we don't go tearing down signs and posters we don't like. It's un-American.

4 comments:

Mike T said...

"He hung up the sign right before lunch. To be honest, I was surprised to see it still hanging after lunch. It was there when 5th period started, and it was there when 5th period left. When 6th period started, though, the sign was gone. I was not pleased. "Where is my sign?" And moments later, "Who ripped down my freakin' sign?"

One student copped to it. "I had to. I'm a member of the Vegetarian Club" she said, or some similar reply. What do they call these? Ah yes, "teachable moments". And this was a good one."

Gotta love the tolerance of the left man.... :)

Darren said...

Don't think I didn't mention that.

Jessica said...

I absolutely love this story, especially the kid who wanted to hang the sign to start with. He deserves some major kudos for independant thinking.

Scott McCall said...

just because the argument about animal testing is going on at our school, i posted a couple articles on my myspace blog, one of which ul like. il bring it to u on the monday we get back if i remember to. u can post it in ur room. hehe. the link to my blog is http://blog.myspace.com/6169539.