The New York Times had two articles that made me think of the Avery Doninger Civil Rights case yesterday. The first was straightforward reporting about the case. The second was less obvious.
A good friend of mine sent me a link to David Oshinsky’s article, No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov. By way of introduction, she said,
I'm saving this in my archives for every brilliant, budding author I might come across who has been rejected & thought of quitting or burying their manuscript.
Oshinsky starts of noting Alfred A. Knopf Inc’s rejection of the English translation of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.”
The work was “very dull,” the reader insisted, “a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.”
Later on, Oshinsky mentions the rejection of Nabakov’s Lolita as too racy. All of this gets to my thoughts about Avery’s civil rights case. If it weren’t for the reaction of the administration of Lewis Mills High School, Avery Doninger’s now famous blog post would have been quickly forgotten. A commentator might note the raciness of the language, using terms like “douche bag and pissed off”. Yet they would also probably note that it wasn’t all that exciting. Instead, it was a dreary artifact of petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.
Yet it is these racy terms, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions that make up the fabric of our lives. It is when they are woven into the larger discourse of the collision between our basic rights and new technology that they become fascinating.
A thing that people tend to forget, and I think was a fundamental flaw of Judge Kravitz’s decisions is that there isn’t anything new under the sun and we would do well to look at the petty annoyances of the past.
One person asked me what I would have thought if Superintendent Schwartz had referred to one of the students with a vulgar derogatory term in a blog. My initial reaction is that if she is like so many superintendents, the only reason she hasn’t is because she doesn’t blog. Instead, if we think of what the equivalent of a blog for people who aren’t online, I could easily see a scenario like this:
A superintendent, after frustrating interaction with some students, expresses that frustration at dinner at a local restaurant suggesting that someone should “give those little fuckers in the student council a good kick in the butt”.
Now if I were a taxpayer, sitting at a near by table and overheard something like that, I could perhaps empathize, even though I disagreed with the use of words or the suggestion of corporal punishment. If I were in such a situation, I might pull the superintendent aside and suggest that she be more careful with her language in a public place. I would not demand that she be fired or resign from any position of privilege. I might even suggest finding getter ways of dealing with anger or attending an anger management course.
Students have always used derogatory vulgar terms to talk about school administrators when speaking in public spaces away from school. They always will and school administrators are likely to often act in similar ways. While it may not be the way we would want people to deal with frustrations, while it may be “very dull”, it is part of the fabric of our lives.
The school administration has failed to address this in a constructive manner. The judge has failed to have any context or perspective. Perhaps it is up to us online to encourage people to find the beauty, meaning and the teachable moments amongst the very dull petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.
Recently, Liza Sabater asked the question on Facebook about how people felt about Facebook having public profiles which are searchable by Google. Being the publicity hound that I am, I said that it was probably a good idea and added a link to my Facebook public profile to my list of social networks on the right.
The problem is that they are not showing up when you search SquidWho or Squidoo. I tried deleting and recreating the one for Jim and it didn’t make any difference. Perhaps it is because it is new, hasn’t gotten enough traffic, or simply that there is something weird with Squidoo.
When I tried recreating Jim’s Squidwho page, I saved my first version as XML. Squidoo has a nice and easy way to export a page to XML. However, I can’t find any easy way to import the XML, so it seems pretty useless.
In other news, as did my evening blog surfing, I stumbled across a great posts about 100th ARA Clown Brigade and their action against the KKK. (Hat tip Girly Bits). Wife Power!
I’ve often told my daughters that they could play any computer game that they could write. With machinima becoming so much easier, I’m tempted to add that they can watch any cartoon that they could produce. Some of this reflects my views on media education, but it also comes from a core part of who I am. I am an early adopter. I like to play with things to see how they work. This was reflected in one of the most memorable Christmas gifts of my childhood, a broken alarm clock and a set of screwdrivers.
It is in that mindset that I am writing this very geeky blog posts. If you are interest in following how I have used those Christmas screwdrivers to explore Second Life with some interesting twists and turns, read on.
Apollos Academy says School Officials Fail Constitution 101 and quips that they “must have missed the "Caution: You Are Entering A Constitution-Free Zone" signs.”
The Bristol Press writes about Avery receiving nationwide support for her free-speech case.
Over at Cool Justice, there is Frank Douskey has a great Douchebag Retrospective.
The Boston Globe has a short piece about Avery returning to school.
Yankee Cow Girl writes about students not being allowed freedom of speech.
The Region 19 BOE Gazette has a very interesting take on the case.
The agenda of these new politically greased courts seems to be to deny students any right to speak out. This has little to do with freedom of speech or cyber-bullying or any such nonsense. This is about growing a docile citizenry that will not protest its own growing subjugation to forces that no American should ever genuflect to.
Then to tie it all together, be sure to check on the Channel 61 segment of Beyond the Headlines about the case.
Now, for the action items: If you haven’t contributed to the Avery Doninger Appeal Fund, please do so today. You can also contribute by clicking on the widget to the right.
Also, for any of you who have not yet registered to vote and are eligible to do so, please do. I’ve just added a new widget brought to you by the folks from Rock the Vote. Please click on the widget to the right to register to vote.