Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Chili posted on Tuesday about this story about a teacher in Alabama. Click on the link [HERE] to read the story.

I added a short reply to Chili’s blog, but I’m posting this response to the story and certain of the public’s reaction in this space because I have only enough time to write about this once, and I want to get it out there.

I present the following quotes from the most recent version of the story from Alabama Live:

“A student in Harrison's class said the incident has been ‘blown out of proportion.’"

‘We were going over a test and getting reviewed for our finals and were going over tangency,’ sophomore Malia Drummond said. ‘A student walked in and said, “Well, if you shoot the president...” and the teacher picked up on it and said, “OK, if you shoot off his ear, that is a point of tangency."’

This story alarms me because of how viral the opinionation* of it has become. It seems as though the masses are ready to crucify this guy (literally, as well as figuratively), despite the fact that those who have investigated the facts of the matter have confirmed Malia’s take -- that it was a moment between a teacher and his students that was hyperbolized and politicized by a segment of the public entirely too willing to overreact on issues it deems anathema.

May I suggest that it is not improper to trust the people who looked into the situation, who said this is a non-issue? May I further suggest that it is not improper to resist the urge to impose our sensitivities and our outrage on a situation we are not connected to, especially when the effect of doing so can only lead to decisions made on the basis of politic or fear, not wisdom and dialog? I would look on it as a travesty if this teacher were fired because of political fallout from this event. It only shows how immature we are as a nation if we can't talk about such things without risking insult, degradation or threats to our person.

Surely we can be better than that.

* I totally made that word up just then.


the passionate hairdresser said...

It would be nice if people would listen to the entire quote, whatever the quote is, instead of taking it out of context while reporting because it makes it more "exciting" to read. (please realize I don't mean you!!) However, that doesn't sell newspapers or keep people watching and/or listening to the news all day long. What a society we've become....sigh....

Kizz said...

Here's the thing, no matter how casual or how brief, that teacher chose to use an example in his classroom about violence toward another human being. Specifically, in our post-Columbine world, using a gun to inflict damage or death upon another human being. On top of that it happened to be a public figure, one who has plenty of people gunning for him far less casually. Regardless of whether the teacher's choice was actionable it was, I honestly believe, dumb. So, yeah, I think I have enough reason to categorize him as a dumbass.

On another note, no, I don't have to trust the people who looked into it. I hope they did so with all appropriate objectivity and sensibility but I'm 41-years-old, it's a post-Columbine, post-9/11, post-GW Bush, post-TARP world so trust them? I'd like to but I sure don't have to.

Mrs. Chili said...

I'm siding with Kizz on this one; I really do think this teacher is a dumbass.

Look, I understand that everyone runs his or her classes differently and I respect that; however, there are lines. A responsible teacher would have taken the kid's prompt and redirected it. I redirect kids' inappropriate comments ALL THE TIME. I am not willing to just laugh this off because I think it's indicative of a lot of the things that we (okay, maybe not you, but certainly I) decry, namely, a lack of propriety and respect. Let's not forget, too, that making threats against the President, however casual, is cause for investigation and, in some cases, prosecution.

What I'm saying here is that I think this guy deserves a lot more than a slap on the wrist. As teachers, one of the most important roles we play is model; we show kids how mature, responsible adults behave. This teacher's behavior was inappropriate, and I think that it's not hysterical or inappropriate to call him out on it (or to hold the school accountable for doing something about it).