Friday, March 12, 2004

Dear Stephanie Accaputo, How About A Civics Lesson?!?

My friend Karen sent the article below from Common Dreams. It is amazing!

Howard Zinn, a professor at Boston University with whom you may or may not agree, was invited to speak to a group of "upper-level" students at a High School in Rhode Island. This sounds great! Bringing in college professors to discuss and debate with high school students. A brilliant idea!

Bob Tingle, a parent who has a daughter at the school, was so angered by Zinn's presence that he addressed the local School Committee. I may think Tingle is a total ass for having such a narrow, incorrect and stupid outlook on America and freedom, but he at least exercised his civic duty of meeting with his elected officials to make known his feelings, and for that I applaud him.

Stephanie Accaputo, "who has three young children in the school system," on the other hand, expressed a position so unAmerican that it is embarrassing to think she might have received ANY education in the United States. This woman says that political discussions have no place in a high school (guess she never heard of Civics class or Debate Club) and that Zinn should leave the country if he disagrees with the government!

Holy shit, Stephanie Accaputo, I know fascism had quite a run of popularity in the first half of the last century; but, don't you realize the things you are condemning (open debate and the right to disagree) are part of what made our nation great, and why immigrants like your ancestors came to this country?

Please, Ms. Accaputo, consider taking a basic civics class or relocating to some totalitarian dictatorship where people with your opinion are first applauded, then marched off to prison for having an opinion. It's idiots like you who are destroying our great nation!

Thank God the students at this school have minds that are open to differing opinions and know the value of open dialog. Maybe they can teach their parents a few things.

The article:

Activist's Talk at High School Irks Parents
by Katie Mulvaney
(Published on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 by the Providence Journal)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN -- Bob Tingle was incensed to learn how his daughter Kimberly had spent last Tuesday at school. She and more than 200 other South Kingstown High School students had attended a lecture by historian and anti-war protester Howard Zinn.

The author and activist told the students of his objections to American foreign policy and to President Bush.

Last night it was Tingle who took a stand before the School Committee. He described Zinn's message as "poisonous venom." He demanded to know who authorized the controversial speaker; which students had been invited to the lecture; and why parents had not been required to sign permission slips.

"My daughter missed three periods to hear this garbage," Tingle said. "This has crossed the line; this is way over the line."

He read excerpts from articles by Zinn calling Iraq an occupied state and drawing a parallel between America and Nazi Germany.

A professor emeritus of political science at Boston University, Zinn is best known for his book A People's History of the United States, which presents American history through social movements.

Tingle asked for an apology from whoever authorized Zinn's speech and that future lectures be more "mainstream." The person responsible should be fired, he said.

The School Committee did not respond to Tingle's questioning, as per its policy during the public comment period. But Supt. Robert Hicks explained earlier in the meeting that a student had approached Zinn, whose talk was in keeping with issues upper-level students were analyzing in class. A stimulating point-counterpoint exchange followed the lecture, he said, adding that the school has a policy of academic freedom.

Tingle's comments drew supporters, and objectors. "If [Zinn] doesn't like the way this country's run, he shouldn't be here," said Stephanie Accaputo, who has three young children in the school system.

She suggested that a conservative speaker be invited to address students. But, she said: "Political ideas shouldn't be discussed in high school."

Sophomore Simon Riley explained that the students who attended Zinn's lecture were selected "based on intellectual ability." They are capable of taking various political opinions "with a grain of salt."

He welcomed the prospect of a conservative lecturer. "I think the more conversation there is, the better."

Andy Tran, also a sophomore, agreed. "I would just like to say opinions shouldn't be extinguished."

Let's hope Simon Riley, Andy Tran, and the other students of South Kingston High School can educate the irked adults in their community!


The Bill Of Rights (Ms. Accaputo, please note Amendment I)

Common Dreams

ZNet's Howard Zinn Page