Censoring or bullying?
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Thread: Censoring or bullying?

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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Default Censoring or bullying?

    Should an op-ed piece written bt a student for a school newspaper be classified as bullying?

    A 15-year-old Wisconsin boy who wrote an op-ed opposing gay adoptions was censored, threatened with suspension and called ignorant by the superintendent of the Shawano School District, according to an attorney representing the child.

    Mathew Staver, the founder of the Liberty Counsel, sent a letter to Superintendent Todd Carlson demanding an apology for ?Its unconstitutional and irrational censorship and humiliation? of Brandon Wegner.

    Wegner, a student at Shawano High School, was asked to write an op-ed for the school newspaper about whether gays should be allowed to adopt. Wegner, who is a Christian, wrote in opposition. Another student wrote in favor of allowing gays to adopt.

    Wegner used Bible passages to defend his argument, including Scripture that called homosexuality a sin.

    After the op-ed was published, a gay couple whose child attend s the high school, complained.

    The school immediately issued an apology ? stating Wegner?s opinion was a ?form of bullying and disrespect.?

    ?Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,? the statement read. ?We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.?

    But Staver said what the school system did next was absolutely outrageous. He said the 15-year-old was ordered to the superintendent?s office where he was subjected to hours of meetings and was accused of violating the school?s bullying policy.

    ?The superintendent called him ignorant and said he had the power to suspend him,? Staver said. ?He?s using his position to bully this student. This is absolutely the epitome of intolerance.?

    Staver said the boy?s parents were never notified.

    At one point, Staver said the superintendent gave him a chance to say he regretted writing the column.

    ?When Mr. Wegner stated that he did not regret writing it, and that he stood behind his beliefs, Superintendent Carlson told him that he ?had got to be one of the most ignorant kids to try to argue with him about this topic,?? Staver said.

    At that point, Staver said the superintendent told the boy that ?we have the power to suspend you if we want to.?

    The superintendent allegedly told Wegner that he was personally offended by Wegner?s column.

    FOX News & Commentary offered Carlson a chance to address the allegations. He refused to submit to questions, but did say he would send a statement. That statement never arrived.

    Staver said Wegner was not trying to cause problems or pick a fight.

    ?He was asked to write an article in the newspaper overseen by a faculty adviser,? he said, suspecting the superintendent was specifically outraged over the Bible verses Wegner had used.

    ?The superintendent wants everyone to accept homosexuality as normative and homosexual adoption as something that should be standard practices,? Staver said. ?In doing so, he?s belittling the views and the biblical views of many people across this country. He is playing a zero-sum game. He?s not interested in dialogue. He wants to cram his view down the throat of everyone else and will not tolerate an opposing viewpoint.?

    Staver said an apology from the superintendent may not suffice ? and they may consider taking legal action.

    ?It was a very intimidating situation for this 15-year-old boy,? he said.?It was uncalled for. He crossed the line. It?s absolutely outrageous and he needs to apologize for his actions.?
    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes...-adoption.html

    Link to read original school newspaper editorial.
    http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/...0183892114.PDF
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    Without reading the actually piece written by the student it is impossible to say whether it was bullying or not.

    I believe there should be room for discussion and debate around all issues, even contentious ones. Simply saying you disagree with someone shouldn't automatically be equated with hate speech. However, it depends on the article. If it was a rant about why he doesn't like gay people, it probably shouldn't have been published in the first place. If it was a well written, respectful piece explaining his viewpoint, then it shouldn't have been a problem.

    There was definitely a problem with how the school dealt with the whole situation. The article shouldn't have been published in the first place if it was against school policy. The kid certainly shouldn't have been hauled into the office for hours without his parents being notified. Further than that though, you can't really say without the article.

    ETA: Now that I have read the actual article(s) printed in the school paper, I definitely don't have a problem with it. The paper was presenting opposing views on the issue in a debate format. I think the article was fine. He was just presenting his views and using scripture to back up his claim. Do people really not know those verses are in the Bible? Or are you just not allowed to reference them?

    And the think the girl who wrote the other article made a stronger case.
    Last edited by kris_w; 01-24-2012 at 05:58 PM.

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    Posting Addict Dewey's Avatar
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    I think there are 3 guilty parties in this whole scenario. The student for writing the article and including religious scripture, the administrator for handling the whole thing unprofessionally, the advisor for the school paper who not only assigned the article, but then in turn chose to publish it as well.



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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kris_w View Post
    Without reading the actually piece written by the student it is impossible to say whether it was bullying or not.

    I believe there should be room for discussion and debate around all issues, even contentious ones. Simply saying you disagree with someone shouldn't automatically be equated with hate speech. However, it depends on the article. If it was a rant about why he doesn't like gay people, it probably shouldn't have been published in the first place. If it was a well written, respectful piece explaining his viewpoint, then it shouldn't have been a problem.

    There was definitely a problem with how the school dealt with the whole situation. The article shouldn't have been published in the first place if it was against school policy. The kid certainly shouldn't have been hauled into the office for hours without his parents being notified. Further than that though, you can't really say without the article.
    I linked the article.
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    Community Host wlillie's Avatar
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    I don't know if Gloria linked it after, but the original article didn't seem like bullying to me. It's not my viewpoint and I don't agree with some of the ideas, but there is no doubt he was simply writing his personal beliefs and did so without attacking anyone. I think they're going to end up having to pay up when his parents sue.

    What kind of idiot puts two students in a position like that asking them to write about something so contraversial? I'm embarrassed for that teacher and the superintendent who let his emotions get the best of him.

    eta-Why in the world would the student not be able to use scripture?
    Last edited by wlillie; 01-24-2012 at 06:00 PM.

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    Yep, found it. I blame the pregnant brain

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    I have no problem with this sort of assignment for high schoolers. Getting teens to write about something they are interested in (hot topics, personal interests, current events, etc.) can spark wonderful discussions and opportunities to learn and grow both as a writer and a person.

    I also have no problem with the kid quoting the Bible. He wasn't required to use a religious text as a source, but did so because it is obviously what he believes in.

    What I do have a problem with is how poorly the article was written. High schoolers, especially those writing for a newspaper, should be able to express themselves better than that!

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    I do not believe a student should be punished for writing something he was assigned to write. In high school it is common for people to have to debate a topic and not get to chose which side they are debating. (I am thinking of several movies. A walk to Remember - debating school dress code. Having to debate for it even if that is not what you support) Further, I do not think it should be illegal to have an opinion that is against the main stream. The true bullying in this situation is the administration bullying the 15 year old into thinking he MUST be in favor of homosexuality or he could be suspended.

    ~Bonita~

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    Prolific Poster ftmom's Avatar
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    I thought the same thing about it being badly written! This article was reviewed by an adviser though, so I think that the student is not really to blame for it being seen as bullying. He was asked to write the piece, he did, it was reviewed and published. Obviously there was no problem seen with it until the complaint came in. The school should have apologized and taken it on the cuff, so to speak. If anyone was to be talked to about it, it should have been to the adviser, to be more aware of what the consequences can be to these types of articles.

    Having said all that, they only have the students version of what went on in the office. Makes me wonder.
    Kyla
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    There is a HUGE difference between debating dress code and debating one's sexuality. My biggest issue with the scripture being written in the school news paper is in me assuming since it's a school news paper that it is funded by the school, the school in turn being funded by tax dollars, the tax dollars being funded by the general public in which I assume not all of the general public falls with in the same religious beliefs.

    Religious scriptures belong at church or a private religious school where all people attending fall under the same set of beliefs, IMO it does not belong in public schools or published in public school news papers where there are others who beliefs are not the same.



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