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Torches and pitchforks, school district edition.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Torches and pitchforks, school district edition....
On two consecutive nights earlier this week, two school boards not far from here held hearings on controversial aspects of free speech. In both cases, I'm pleased to say, the voices of reason shouted down the narrow-minded, but in only one of the two did the voices of reason prevail.

The first of them is from the school board in Clarence, New York. Clarence is an odd town one over from us; I'd characterize it as the bastard love child of Stepford and Hooterville. The first two businesses you come to crossing over the town line on Transit Road and past the mall on Sheridan Drive are, first, a fancy-pants wedding music service, followed almost instantly by a deer processing shop.  Million dollar McMansions are within yards of trailer parks and still-open farmland.  Tensions, thus, tend to form, especially when it comes to what to teach the kids in the Clarence schools and how much money to spend on them.

Last spring brought a big fight over the latter issue- the budget got voted down, largely by trailer-park-owner funded mailings about how overtaxed they all are, and a pared-down version passed on a second vote.  But this month's issue was the former one: the wife of a school board member circulated a crude flyer seeking a review of "offensive" materials in the district's curriculum. It included Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal (clearly someone here was missing the irony), Farewell to Manzanar (condemned in the flyer for glorifying spousal abuse and alcoholism, not mentioning the greater horrors it revealed about our government's internment of Japanese-American U.S. freakin' citizens during the Second World War), and of course the usual sex education materials.

Monday night brought the meeting, and an SRO crowd turned out- mostly in support of the right to read, the right to listen, the right to learn, and in the end no changes were forced on the curriculum.  Sure there were some naysayers, as there always will be, but it's good to see that even in this battleground of family values (Addams-like though they may be;), good triumphed over stupid- at least for now.


That got us to Tuesday night in the Rochester suburb of Greece- somewhat Clarence-like in its range of property and family values.  And there, it all began, not with a list, but with a viral picture:

That's Sharon Duffy at the board, a high school ASL teacher in the Greece Public schools. One of her students narc'd on her when she included that George Carlin word in a lesson about the dangers of being "mis-heard" when signing certain words.  The picture went viral among parents, who demanded that the school board sack her for using such horrible language in front of the little darlings.  Instead, hundreds of parents came out in support of the teacher, but it wasn't enough to prevent the pink slip from issuing (actually in the form of accepting the teacher's gun-at-head resignation) at the Tuesday night meeting.

Word is, the subject was discussed at length on many Rochester area radio talk shows. Hmmm. I wonder if it came up on the most popular of them, a daily three-plus-hour Tea Party screed by a guy who, since 2009, has gleefully marketed t-shirts, bumper stickers and other paraphenalia with this on them:

And that's sponsored by a clear channel (also, Clear Channel) radio station with a federal license to spew his hatred 50,000 watts at a time to 38 states and Canada.  Nobody's crying out for him to be fired, though.

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