Week 12 Blog Post

May 11, 2010

Unfortunately, i was absent for the shouting fire video, but what i can answer concerning it is this:

The case in question dealt with whether or not Nazi’s should be allowed to march, and my answer is No. No group should be allowed to march if they are supporting or trying to cause violence and that’s what Nazi’s doing, trying to support violence against races that aren’t white, or Aryan, i don’t know which because i can’t tell the difference between them and the KKK. It’s not the same as the people who march against gay marriage (although there are some similarities between a few of the groups that do march against it and the Nazi groups) who march because they don’t support the idea of it because those people aren’t screaming for gays to be burned and sent to hell (although some of them are). I don’t know which side Mr.Garbus took in the case but if i had to take the case I’d definitely be on the side against them. I have no problem with people saying they don’t support the Jewish people (i say this under the assumption that the Nazi groups were specifically against Jews) because if i did I’d have to be against everyone who didn’t follow the Jewish religion, as that is saying that you do not support the Jews.

All groups promoting violence for the sake of being violent against a general group (and not specific individuals who might deserve the violence done to them) shouldn’t be allowed to march.

Chase Harper’s case is one that, I thought, you’d have to be absolutely blind to justice to be unable to make the obvious decision that what he did was not in any way wrong. The school decided to force it upon everyone to have a day of silence in which they would all have to silently agree to support homosexuality, and you can’t force your ideas on everyone even if they will cause sunshine and rainbows throughout the world. Chase didn’t agree with it, and it’s his right to speak against it as long as he is not supporting or legitimizing the use of violence towards the thing he’s against, all he did was put on his shirt that he was against it and his reason for being against it, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. A student should be allowed to wear whatever they want to school, as long as it is not calling for violence or is considered offensive by someone and that person who considers it offensive speaks out against it. In college though, a person should have no limit as to what they wear, unless it calls for violence (like a Nazi symbol, or a shirt supporting the KKK).

I don’t think a high school is a marketplace for ideas though, and the school shouldn’t be pushing ideas on its students either. It should be just informing them of ideas and allowing them to choose what’s right and wrong, and anyone should be allowed to wear anything as long as it isn’t overly sexual or distracting, or offensive.

Chase should’ve received no punishment at all. The high school forced their ideas upon him, and he spoke out against an idea he didn’t agree with. No discipline should’ve been administered even if someone had decided to say it was offensive.  I think that a T-shirt incites’ just as much as words do, it’s the idea that whichever form is expressing that incites people.

If I was a teacher, I wouldn’t have done anything and would’ve instead honored his first amendment right to speak his mind. If I was a student, and I was offended, I would’ve pointed that out and had some action taken, otherwise I wouldn’t have done a thing. If I was a jury member, I’d do the same thing that I would if I was a teacher, consider him not guilty of anything and say that he has a right under the first amendment to say it.

“I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write”

– Voltaire (although it’s debated if he was the one who actually said it, I’m going to go with this as his quote as it was originally thought it was)

Debbie Almontaser

March 1, 2010

Debbie Almontaser, before being given the position of principal for the Khalil Gibran International Academy, was a 17 year veteran of the NYC public school system who taught special education, inclusion, trained teachers in literacy, and served as a multicultural specialist and diversity adviser. She has done a huge amount of community activism, and has received awards for her work community work.

In 2007 the Khalil Gibran International Academy was set for opening with Debbie Almontaser as its Principal; however there was a lot of Criticism against the school before its opening. Groups of people were against the opening of, what they considered to be, a school that would teach its students extremist Islam and they were especially against it being in NYC.

Debbie Almontaser fought left and right to ensure that the school would not be painted as a ‘terrorist training camp’, and instead as a center for education for different cultures that could bring people together. However, with only weeks left until the schools opening Debbie was interviewed about a shirt that was created by a group called “Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media”, which used office space to run its youth program at Saba: Association of Yemeni American, which Almontaser was on the board of. The shirt had the phrase “Intifada NYC” written upon it which according to some papers, such as the New York Post, called for an Islamic uprising in the Big Apple. The post had an interview with Almontaser in which she had explained the root meaning of the word Intifada, and then was used out of context by the Post in order to make her look like she was supporting an uprising. I would say, that if the word had such a negative meaning and was used in a negative way in the shirt, Almontaser should’ve definitely done something against it, being that she was renting space to the organization that made the shirt, however, a person who is not in direct contact with the organization shouldn’t be fired or even be reprimanded because they had nothing to do, at least not directly, with the people involved. In the end she was forced to resign.

This leads us to wonder if what happened here was right. A newspaper’s staff will always have their own opinions and will always try to make whatever story reflect what they believe but should that be done? I believe not.  A newspapers role should be to inform the public, and present both arguments, for and against, every possible story. In the case of Debbie Almontaser they were being an entirely partisan newspaper in their review of the case. They had taken what she said about the root meaning of the word and spun it to make her seem as if she supported something that she never had a part of.

Other than her statements about “Intifada NYC”, she had also been asked questions about 9/11 such as if she believed it ever happened, or if she believed that Muslims had part in it. It seems to me that asking about 9/11 is just an unfair question. If you say anything against it, or against what people believe about it you get branded as a terrorist, or as unpatriotic, or a heretic. People will go after you in the streets if you say anything that doesn’t sound similar to “USA is #1, get them commies!” It’s an unfair question, and if anyone responds to it they are forced to say the same thing, otherwise no matter what they try to endorse to create will fail. It’s unfair that an event that should be observed from all angles is forced to be observed from one tunnel vision like view because of the social stigma attached if you go against it.

I don’t think Almontaser should’ve been removed. She has an outstanding record of community activism, and has (as mentioned before) received awards for her activism. If it isn’t obvious, I believe Almontaser’s story. She has the record to back herself up, and I entirely believe she was just trying to start up a school that would teach peaceful relations between different cultures.

Regarding Ward Churchill,

February 15, 2010

1. Should U of Colorado have launched an investigation?

An Investigation was the right thing for the University to do, a University is supposed to care about what the people working there teach in their classrooms. Whether Churchill had decided to make an essay entirely supporting America or saying that America’s policies had a part in influencing 9/11, an investigation should’ve been launched entirely on the basis that all schools need to know who is teaching in their classrooms, but that doesn’t mean I agree with doing extensive psychological testing on them like they’re some kind of lab rats or that they should be fired because they oppose the views of the general public, but it should be known what a professor is publicly willing to state (just like Churchill had on his website) and whether or not the professor is teaching it in his classrooms without debate.

2. Should a professor, a public intellectual, who knows history and does research be allowed to speak on a subject like this? Is dissent like this protected?

They shouldn’t just be allowed to speak about this, they should be asked to speak about it constantly. A person whose main focus is on history should be talking about every major world changing event through the eyes of history and through their own research all the time against others who study in the same field to allow those that are willing to listen to it decide what they think is right. Dissent like this isn’t only protected; it’s advocated by most free-thinking individuals. It’s the first amendment that gives us the ability to freely speak, and in context to this specific case, as long as Churchill wasn’t advocating violence he should be able to say what he wants to, which is what he did when he was asked to write his essay.

3. Would you have fired Ward Churchill?

No, it’s not a crime for a person to speak their mind. As long as he wasn’t forcing his belief upon students, there was no reason for him to be fired. He is free to go so far as to read the entire essay in his classrooms and let people debate it, as long as he wasn’t forcing his views on the students he should’ve been allowed to continue teaching and not be deemed unfit to teach his students and have his position in the university terminated.

4. Should conservative students have their values protected as David Horowitz wants? In essence, should a professor have to teach BOTH sides of an issue? Or should it be their prerogative to teach what they believe is “true” or “most accurate”?

If conservative students had to have their values protected then the same would have to be done for liberal students, and if both sides’ values are being protected then no one is going to be able to learn anything. Neither side needs to have anything protected; they both just need to be respected within a classroom. There is nothing wrong with having students debate their opinions. A professor shouldn’t have to necessarily teach both sides of an issue, but they should make their students aware of both sides. It is however, important that a professor know about both sides of an issue so if a student wanted to hear the opposing sides argument, they could explain it.

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February 5, 2010

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