Category Archives: Free Speech

An Open Letter to H. Sharif Williams, Goddard College Professor and Mumia Supporter

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Dear Dr. H. Sharif Williams,

My name is Christopher Paslay, a frequent contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and a longtime teacher and guidance counselor with the Philadelphia School District; I also have an MEd in Multicultural Education, and have followed the Mumia Abu Jamal case closely for the past 20 years. I’d like to address some of the points you raised in your October 5th OP-ED: “Our Students and Educational Philosophy: Working Toward a Just and Civil Society.”

You state, “Mumia Abu-Jamal, as a Goddard College alumnus (BA ’96), social critic and member of the millions of people incarcerated in the United States, represents something incredibly important in the context of our commencement ceremony. He knows what is means to obtain a degree in the face of overwhelmingly challenging circumstances.”

Before I continue, Dr. Herukhuti, let me ask you this: Do you believe in redemption? I do. And that’s the fundamental problem with your decision to have Mumia Abu Jamal speak at Goddard’s graduation. If Mumia had owned what he did, repented, and tried to make amends, I’m sure most people would have no problem with Goddard choosing Mumia as a commencement speaker; a remorseful and repentant Mumia would fit Goddard’s educational philosophy perfectly.

But Mumia has never, ever, taken responsibility for murdering another human being. He’s also never, not once, shown any meaningful sign of remorse for his actions. Now, I know what you are thinking: Mumia’s innocent. He’s a political prisoner, etc. But even if he is innocent (the evidence overwhelmingly points to his guilt), he’s still done nothing to reach out and ease the pain of Maureen Faulkner, or to help in the effort to bring the “real” killer to justice. The irony here is that you state Mumia, “knows what it means to raise troubling and provocative questions that lead one to compelling answers.”

Fine. But what about the most troubling, provocative question of them all: What happened the night Daniel Faulkner was murdered? Mumia was there, and so was William Cook, his brother, and they saw the whole thing. Why did Cook never take the stand on his brother’s behalf? Why has Mumia, who is supposedly in this unique position to open pathways of critical discussion, never clearly communicated the events of that night, and why does he refuse to even address the question in interviews? Why has Mumia never offered his cooperation in helping bring the killer of Daniel Faulkner to justice? Why has he never reached out to Maureen Faulkner in his infinite wisdom and compassion and tried to ease her plight?

I think we know why. And this is the hypocrisy of you, Dr. Herukhuti, and your educational philosophy of a “just and civil” society. Just and civil societies do not give unrepentant killers a commencement platform at the expense of grieving women (Maureen Faulkner, by the way, publicly said your decision was “disgusting”). Regardless of what you believe about his guilt, he is still a cold and callous man, who has mocked civil society, and whose refusal to discuss the night of Faulkner’s murder has tormented the friends and relatives of Daniel Faulkner, as well as the Philadelphia community.

When you speak of Goddard’s educational philosophy of a “just and civil society,” it begs the question, Justice for whom? For the grieving Maureen Faulkner? For America’s police officers? For the Philadelphia community and it’s law abiding citizens who made up the jury and found him guilty as charged? Do we not count? And if we don’t, why not? Because too many of us are white? Because we represent the establishment? Because we abide by the law and are not “radicals”?

Let’s now for the sake of argument assume Mumia is guilty of shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner first in the back, and then point blank in the face. Let’s assume the four witnesses who identified Mumia as the shooter and so testified in court were right. Let’s assume the two people who signed a sworn statement that they heard Mumia say, “Yeah, I shot the mother fucker and I hope he dies” are telling the truth. Let’s assume the reason why Mumia and his brother William Cook never testified or gave a clear version of events of the night of the shooting is because Mumia did it. Let’s assume the reason why Mumia’s .38 was found at the scene with five empty shells was because Mumia actually fired it—he saw his brother getting pulled over by a white cop, lost his temper, and ran across the street and shot Faulkner in the back and then the face (which is why the bullet removed from Faulkner’s brain matched Mumia’s gun, and why the bullet from Faulkner’s gun was removed from Mumia’s chest).

Let’s assume these things are true, just as the jury did, just as every appeals court over the past 32 years—including the PA Supreme Court—have found to be true. What does this say about Goddard? It says that Goddard College supports giving a voice to an unrepentant murderer (not a man who has turned around his life and made amends), that Goddard has no qualms of giving a platform to a man who used violence—first degree murder—to build a platform for his views. This is the most extreme form of radicalism: using murder to deliver a message. That’s what Mumia has done, and Goddard has supported it.

The biggest tragedy, though, the most egregious crime against free thought and Goddard’s supposed fight for “social justice” is the fact that your school has indoctrinated its students into believing Mumia is either innocent or did not receive a fair trial. Why else would your graduates request him as a commencement speaker? If you deny this, ask yourself this question: Did you show your students both sides of the issue EQUALLY? Did you lead them back to the primary sources of the case against Mumia—the trial transcripts; the original news stories filed about the murder and trial; the literature written by Maureen Faulkner and Philadelphia syndicated radio host and columnist Michael Smerconish?

My guess is that your didn’t. My guess is that you exposed your students to pro-Mumia literature, much of which can be classified as agitation-propaganda based in conspiracy theory, questionable sources, and half-baked conjecture. As a Philadelphia public school teacher, THIS is the most reprehensible part of Goddard’s decision to study Mumia, the fact that you failed to leave it up to the students to decide for themselves, rather, manipulated them into swallowing whole ideas that support your underlying political agenda.

Your educational philosophy of “working toward a just and civil society” is hypocrisy, Dr. Herukhuti, at least in light of your callous and misguided decision to use Mumia Abu Jamal as a commencement speaker; I think it had more to do with getting free publicity for your obscure college than it did with “justice”. As a Philadelphia teacher and guidance counselor, I will from this point forward advise my students against attending a school as irresponsible and insensitive as Goddard College.

Sincerely,

Christopher Paslay
English Teacher/Guidance Counselor
Swenson Arts and Technology High School

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Are 1 in 5 Women ‘Sexually Assaulted’ on Campus?

KTBS.com

by Christopher Paslay

Rape culture orthodoxy on college campuses is the latest issue that the left has deemed off-limits for discussion.

(The following article was published today on American Thinker under the heading, In Defense of George Will.)

On the liberal left, there are certain topics that are closed to debate. Global warming is one of them, and anyone who dares question the validity of doomsday statistics regarding carbon emissions or greenhouse gases or the overall temperature of the earth (which, by the way, has gone down over the last 15 years), is bullied and ostracized and called names like “troglodyte”, “wing-bat”, and “climate change denier”.

Rape culture orthodoxy on college campuses is the latest issue that the left has deemed off-limits for discussion. Like global warming, any attempt to examine or question statistics of sexual assault on campus (which are all compiled by leftist progressives), what constitutes sexual assault (also defined by the left), and the amount of evidence needed to bring assault charges (decided by the left again), is met with vicious attacks from women’s groups, Democratic politicians, and the progressive media at large.

George Will is the latest writer to be lambasted for blasphemy. His June 6th Washington Post piece “Colleges become the victims of progressivism” dared to question the left’s narrative on sexual assault on campus, suggesting that the ever-expanding definition of “sexual assault” (dozens of colleges now consider any sexual contact between two adults under the influence of alcohol sexual assault) is causing victims to — surprise, surprise! — proliferate. He also stated that progressives have incentivized pulling the “sexual assault card,” if you will, and that they have created a certain privileged status associated with doing so:

Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.

Will also questioned the numbers being put about by Joe Biden and the Department of Justice — that one in five women on American college campuses are the victims of sexual assault:

The administration’s crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition; Joe Biden has been heard from. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20 percent.

(Interestingly, the “one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college” statistic is based on one — count it, one! — study conducted in 2007. The polling sample of this study?  A random survey of  students from a whopping two schools.)

Like wolves, the tolerance-and-compassion left went for Will’s jugular. The progressive women’s activist group Ultraviolet started a petition, which supposedly garnered close to 100,000 signatures, to have Will fired from the Post. Four Democratic senators wrote a scathing letter to the Post, claiming Will and the Post “trivialize the scourge of sexual assaults” on college campuses, and have “shown a fundamental disrespect to survivors,” among other criticisms.

In addition, the usual Obama sycophant media outlets blasted Will, one of which was the propagandistic, tabloidesque Huffington Post; curiously, because the Huffpost was recently forced to correct an erroneous attack on National Review writer A.J. Delgado (who also dared question sexual assaults on campus), the Huffpost tactfully took shots at Will via Arial Koren, Senior Class President of the University of Pennsylvania, who penned an emotional account of her own rape survival, stating that Will denied “the validity of the again-and-again proven-accurate statistic that 1 in 5 college women will be assaulted at school.”

When Koren says “again-and-again,” I assume she is referring to the single 2007 study of two schools?

Many readers on the Huffpost’s comment board called Will a variety of obscenities, suggested that he himself should be raped, and even claimed that the Wapo has devolved into a right-wing propaganda machine on par with FOX News (if you can believe that). To their credit, the Wapo unofficially responded by publishing a piece headlined “One way to end violence against women? Married dads,” which outlined the benefits of women not sleeping around, infuriating the women’s activist group Ultraviolet.

Will, of course, is not the only writer to exercise his 1st Amendment rights and question the left’s sexual assault narrative. As mentioned above, National Review writer A.J. Delgado has written several sensitive and articulate pieces about the topic, not only backing his points with well researched facts, but also keeping a respectful, objective tone as to not disrespect the true victims who’ve faced the brutality of sexual assault. Still, facts and compassion aside, the progressive media bullied him like they did Will, twisting his words, taking his quotes out of context, and in the case of the Huffpost (which was forced to run a correction on their attack), simply putting words in Delgado’s mouth that he never spoke.

No one is questioning that sexual assault in college (or anywhere, for that matter) is despicable, that victims’ stories must be reported and heard, and that perpetrators of sexual assaults should be punished accordingly. What must be questioned, however, is the left’s version of such assaults, their severity and frequency. If Ultraviolet, the Huffpost, and Democratic senators truly want to end sexual assault — and not merely use it to shift power to progressives and to continue to spin the “War on Women”– they would have an honest and open discussion about the following:

1. “Sexual assault” is too broad a term to be used on campus. Currently, the term encompasses everything from rape (forced oral, vaginal, and anal penetration), to unwanted sexual touching (feeling a person’s backside while slow dancing at a party), to the failure to give consent (technically, according to many college codes of conduct, hooking up with a person while under the influence of alcohol is not true “consent”). All of these are covered under the blanket of “sexual assault,” though they are very, very different. The fogginess of the term “sexual assault” is no accident. It has been made intentionally vague by the left, so as to allow the left to spin and apply the term any way they see fit. This is dangerous to everybody involved.  It trivializes rape, and opens the door for all manner of misunderstandings. If the left truly cared, they would push to have “sexual assault” specified, categorizing it perhaps as “rape,” “unwanted groping,” or “consent while intoxicated.” This would save a lot of communication problems, and is much more effective than having students sign forms before having sex, which, amazingly enough, has been proposed by liberal law makers.

2. More research needs to be done to measure the true extent of sexual assault in college. One study, surveying two schools, is not enough evidence to state that sexual assault is an “epidemic” which affects one in five women (notice it’s women, and not persons.) This research needs to be done on a nonpartisan basis, by multiple, reputable research organizations.

3. The idea that those accused of sexual assault (basically men), are innocent until proven guilty. The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Eric Holder, has put pressure on American universities to implement something known as “preponderance of evidence,” which basically means that those accused of sexual assault (men), are guilty until proven innocent. In the past, for a person (usually a woman) to accuse another person (usually a man) of sexual assault, they needed to show significant proof that it occurred — a standard of about 75 percent certainty. The Obama administration is now strongarming colleges to lower that standard of proof to 50.1 percent, which is basically her word versus his, with no burden of proof on her side. Again, this is dangerous, as it is vague and can ruin the lives and reputations of those falsely accused.

The left seems to think that they have successfully sprayed their territory, and that to question their perspective on events is to condone rape or blame the victim. In essence, they’ve successfully politicized rape. This is despicable, but it feeds nicely into their claim that conservatives have a war on women. On one hand, they can control behavior and speech codes on college campuses, indoctrinating youth with progressive agendas and all manner of P.C. rubbish in the process, and on the other hand, they can vilify anyone who dares question their conclusions, the way they’ve attempted to vilify George Will.

But this is America — not China, not Cuba, not the old Soviet Union. There is something called the 1st Amendment, and despite the left’s attempts to silence anyone who disagrees with them, the discussion will remain open.

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The Obama Way: Sex In, God Out (Even for Kindergartners)

Obamakids

by Christopher Paslay

Under the Obama administration, the Boy Scouts, the military, and even kindergarten classes have been sexualized, while God and religious freedoms have been trampled. 

Last December, when Philadelphia School District officials announced that condom dispensers would be installed outside nurses offices in 22 high schools, I though I’d heard it all.  That was until I recently learned that Chicago pubic schools are now mandating sex education for kindergarteners.

According to CBS Chicago:

Some people may think a five-year old is too young for sex education.  Administrators with Chicago Public schools do not.  New to the curriculum this year, mandatory sexual and health education for kindergarten classes. . . .

Students will also take a look at the different family structures that exist in today’s society.

“Whether that means there’s two moms at home, everyone’s home life is different, and we introduce the fact that we all have a diverse background,” said [CPS Chief Health Officer Stephanie] Whyte.

How does President Obama feel about sex education at the kindergarten level and exposing 5-year-olds to diverse sexual orientations?  In July of 2007, speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference in Washington, he said that sex ed. for kindergarteners “is the right thing to do.”

Promoting the open talk of sex and sexuality is a recurring theme under the Obama administration.  Not only does the president support age-appropriate sex education in the early grades, but he also repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in the military, and stated that openly gay men and boys should be able to join the Boy Scouts.

Now, before I’m vilified as a homophobe, which I’m not (for the record, I support same sex marriage so long as this is legislated at the state level . . . furthermore, my wife and I were married via a Japanese tea ceremony performed by a gay tea master and his partner), I’d like to point out the problem with Obama’s approach with the aforementioned issues, and it is this: kindergarten classes, the military, and the Boy Scouts do not need to be sexualized.  In other words, you can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, whatever.  This is your personal business, and you can live your life any way you want; America is still a free country (as of now).  And you can be open about your sex and sexuality almost anywhere you choose.

There are places, however, where talking about sex and/or openly flaunting your sexual preferences is inappropriate, distracting, and as a whole, counterproductive (and in some cases even dangerous and risqué).

Kindergarten classes, the Boy Scouts, and the military are such places—and as such should be asexual, or sexually neutral.  These are not the proper venues to openly promote sex or sexual preferences.  Again, Boy Scouts, soldiers, and friends and family of kindergarteners can engage in sex with whomever they so choose, but there is absolutely no need to publically advertise this.  This goes for straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered folks all the same.  I may be ignorant, but how is the open discussion/display/advertisement of sex and sexual orientation going to benefit soldiers in combat or training situations?  Commonsense would dictate that this would be a distraction and impact safety and performance.  How is the open discussion/display/advertisement of sex and sexual orientation by Boy Scout Leaders good for children on a camping trip?  Ditto for five-year-olds in kindergarten classes (such discussions should be done by parents in the home).

The irony here, of course, is that while Obama is encouraging such sexual openness under the guise of “freedom,” the opposite approach is being taken when it comes to faith and religion.  As gays and lesbians are being encouraged to be open and proud of their sexuality in the military, Christian troops and military chaplains are now facing court marshals if they “proselytize” or share their faith “too aggressively.”

According to USA Today:

A Pentagon ban on proselytizing has left some conservative activists fearful that Christian troops — and even military chaplains — could face court martial for sharing their faith.

In Richland, Washington, a Christian florist was hit with a lawsuit for refusing to accommodate a homosexual wedding.  In Kansas, a law was proposed to force churches to host same-sex weddings and receptions.

The most egregious violation of religious freedoms is Obamacare.  A 2012 US News and World Report article states:

Monday the Catholic Church filed 12 different federal lawsuits against the administration on behalf of 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations ranging from local Catholic Charities to parish schools, hospitals, and colleges. The lawsuits are in response to last year’s ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services, known as the HHS, which mandates all healthcare plans must provide sterilizations and abortion-inducing contraceptives for free, with an exemption for churches only, not broader religious organizations. Only churches which serve solely the members of the same faith are exempt; religious organizations which serve the general public are not covered—the most narrowly defined “conscience clause” ever adopted under federal law.

In August of 2012, the Democrats even removed the word “God” from their party platform.  In a May 2012 speech at the prestigious Roman Catholic Georgetown University, President Obama not only failed to mention Jesus once in his remarks, but also persuaded the school to cover the name of Jesus–IHS–at Gaston Hall where he made the speech; Obama did the same thing in April of 2009 when he delivered remarks on the economy at Georgetown.

In 1882, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed God was dead.  130 years later, it appears He is at least slowly dying.

Not to worry, though.  As long as religious organizations are forced to cover your birth control (and kindergarteners are well-versed in the dynamics of the homosexual family), all is well in Obama’s America.

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Teachable Moment: The Lynching of George Zimmerman

by Christopher Paslay

Journalism teachers can use the lynching of George Zimmerman as a teaching tool on media bias.

The video below by Bill Whittle exemplifies the media bias against George Zimmerman, and can be used by journalism teachers as a teaching tool:

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Trayvon Martin Supporters Call Me ‘Racist Creep,’ Make Threats

by Christopher Paslay

After opening a discussion about communication and holding teens accountable for their behavior, Trayvon Martin supporters flood my blog with threats and verbal attacks.  

I woke up this morning to the following comment by a person named “Kenny” in response to my 7/17/13 blog post titled, “Trayvon Martin and Violence in Urban Schools”:

You are a freaking racist pig. The photo you posted of Trayvon martin is repulsive. It is also a fake, you right wing freak! I’m sending this to his atty. What kind of “teacher” attacks the memory of a dead child?

You are a total, utter creep and I will contact the Inquirer to let them know you are a fraud.

Good luck with the book, dickhead.

Sounds like “Kenny” is a real peaceful guy, interested in communication and solving problems in public education and minority communities.

After this warm and heartfelt comment I was greeted by the following post on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s comment board by a person hiding behind the pseudonym “Wellwhatdouknow” responding to a commentary I published on 7/18/13, headlined, “Teach teens to communicate”:

I hope people visit the website of this “teacher” and see the racism that is all over it. He has posted a fake picture of Trayvon Martin (which was outed as fake last year) and his blog is basically a place to rant about how ugly and evil this dead kid was. It is preposterous that Philly.com would give this man a platform. I shudder to think this man is a teacher in philly. I’m going to look into which school, because his administrators might want to know what he is doing online and that he just MIGHT be a racist creep!

The threats and attacks didn’t stop there.  A person named “Manse” called for my termination from the Philadelphia School District, claiming that I run a website “that is inciting racial division and publicly attacking a dead child.”  He states:

I find it amazing that one of your teachers is openly attacking the memory of Trayvon Martin and has published previously discredited and very inflammatory pictures of him that first appeared (in 2012) on right-wing websites. In addition, people are finding this through an essay he penned for the Inquirer today that links to his website and the thinly veiled attacks on a dead, black teenager.  Christopher Paslay apparently has taken it upon himself to publicly and brazenly attack Trayvon Martin and his family. I cannot imagine that you would want to be associated with such an awful, racially charged publication.

Now, let’s calmly and peacefully analyze these aforementioned comments, one at a time.

First, the idea that the pictures I initially posted on my blog post titled “Trayvon Martin and Violence in Urban Schools” (two of which I removed because I wanted to double check my sources) are  “fake” and have been “discredited.”  In fact, each one of them has been released by George Zimmerman’s defense team and subsequently published by CNN, and WESH 2 News in Orlando, among many others news and internet outlets.

I will repost them here in this context for the purposes of this article, now that I’ve once again verified their authenticity:

FingerCell Phone Pics

Next, the idea that I’m a “racist creep.”  I invite “Kenny” and “Wellwhatdouknow” and “Manse” (people who, unlike me, do not write under their real full names but hide behind usernames) to take a good long look at the 296 articles I’ve published on this blog since 2008, and to take a trip to the library and look-up the 40 or so educational commentaries I’ve published in the Inquirer, Daily News, and City Paper, among others.  See what I stand for, what I fight for: I’m a teacher, tutor, mentor, and coach—all in an effort to better the lives of students in the City of Philadelphia.

Next, the idea that I’m “openly attacking the memory of Trayvon Martin” and “inciting racial division and publicly attacking a dead child.”

Nothing I wrote in my 7/17/13 blog about Trayvon Martin was false or inaccurate. It’s been documented in the New York Times and other publications that Trayvon was suspended from school not once but three times; was caught with a marijuana pipe and a baggie with drug residue; was kicked out of school for graffiti after he was caught with a “burglary tool” and a bag full of women’s jewelry; had texts on his Twitter account describing an attack on a bus driver; had a video on his cellphone of two homeless men fighting over a bicycle; had pictures of underage nude females on his cellphone, as well as pictures of marijuana plants and a hand holding a semi-automatic pistol; was staying at his father’s girlfriend’s house because he’d been kicked out of his mother’s house for getting into trouble; and, according to the verdict of the jury, chose to attack and beat a Hispanic man mixed-martial-arts-style instead of simply walking away and going into his house which was not even 70 yards away.

If anyone is making “false claims” and inciting racial division, it is the American media who, ironically, doctored fake evidence against George Zimmerman, including the fact that the 28-year-old Hispanic neighborhood watch captain was first described as “white” and then, bizarrely, a “white-Hispanic.”

Consider the following:

  • NBC fired a producer because they edited Zimmerman’s 911 call to make him sound racist (click here to read the article).
  • CNN backtracked after reporting that Zimmerman used a racial slur on his 911 call, which was later proved to be a mistake: Zimmerman said “cold” and not “coon” (click here to read).
  • ABC News revised their story that initially reported that Zimmerman had no visible injuries on his head, which he did (click here to read).

Amazingly, it seems to be okay to completely fabricate evidence to make George Zimmerman appear racist, but when people seeking to make a comment on the life and background of Trayvon Martin, publishing accurate, documented information on the teen in an effort to bring awareness to urban life (in an attempt to admit and recognize problems so we can eventually solve them), this is vilified as “racist.”

To Kenny, Manse, and Wellwhatdouknow: you are the bullies and cowards.  It is because of your refusal to acknowledge the facts that kids like Trayvon Martin are not adequately reached and properly educated in public schools in the first place.

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Teach Teens To Communicate

There is a valuable lesson to be learned from the death of Trayvon Martin. It is not about profiling or racial bias, which the Martin family attorney has stated had nothing to do with the case. The lesson to be learned from the needless death of the unarmed 17-year-old African American male is one of communication, a lesson I hope to instill into the minds of my 10th-grade students this coming school year.

If George Zimmerman or Martin made more of an effort to communicate with one another on that rainy winter night, there’s a good chance Martin would be alive today. From the evidence presented during the three-week trial, we can conclude the following: Zimmerman spotted Martin walking around in a hoodie in the rain. Because there had been numerous burglaries in the neighborhood by people fitting the description of Martin, Zimmerman got out of his truck to observe the teen and locate a street address. . . .

This is an excerpt from my commentary in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, “Teach teens to communicate.”  Please click here to read the entire article.  You can respond or provide feedback by clicking on the comment button below.

Thanks for reading.

–Christopher Paslay

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The George Zimmerman Trial: A Teachable Moment

Zimmerman

by Christopher Paslay

Teachers can use the George Zimmerman trial as a way to discuss the differences between factual evidence and emotional appeals. 

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

This line by Mark Twain summarizes the State of Florida’s closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial, which I’ve watched religiously for the past three weeks.

On Friday, John Guy did tell an inspiring story to the jury during his closing statement:

The human heart, it has a great many functions . . . it moves us, it motivates us, it inspires us, it leads us, and it guides us, our hearts. . . . So if we really want to know what happened out there behind those homes on that dark, rainy night, should we not look into the heart of the grown man and the heart of that child?  What will that tell us about what really happened out there?

An impassioned story indeed.  Inspiring and in no way bound by facts or evidence.  Twain would be pleased.  The tragedy, of course, is that John Guy is not a fiction writer but a prosecutor, and he doesn’t work for a New York publishing house but the State of Florida.  It is Guy’s job to follow the law and present the facts of the case—all the applicable evidence—while trying George Zimmerman, a Hispanic, for the murder of Trayvon Martin, an African American.  Amazingly, Guy’s entire closing argument was virtually one long appeal to emotion.  The fact that he asked jurors to “look into the heart” of George Zimmerman as opposed to the evidence, and to “use common sense” as a guide as opposed to established facts, was mindboggling.

Guy is an agent of the State of Florida and has the responsibility to uphold the Constitution.   Yet Guy’s closing argument (which ironically referenced Hollywood make-believe) basically asked jurors to forget all the things they’d seen over the last three weeks, all the testimonies from witnesses that supported Zimmerman’s self defense claim, the bloody pictures of Zimmerman’s head and broken nose, the angle of the bullet wound in Martin’s chest which indicated he was on top of Zimmerman, and to use their imaginations. “What if it was Trayvon Martin who shot and killed George Zimmerman?” he asked.  “What would your verdict be?”

The notion that the state can build a case on questionable evidence (and name-calling: liar, liar, liar) and ask a jury of six woman to use emotion and speculation to arrive at a verdict is outrageous.  Guy very well knows that jurors cannot use emotion, sympathy, or race when arriving at a verdict, that they can only consider the evidence presented before them, which means absolutely no speculation.  Today, however, we live in a bizarro world where emotion trumps the law, where social justice and a person’s unique definition of “goodness” can override the Constitution.

As Jonah Goldberg writes in The Tyranny of clichés:

A cry for social justice is usually little more than an assertion “for goodness.”  “Progressive” has become a euphemism for “all good things.”  But sometimes the p-word is too vague.  So if you press a self-declared progressive  — “What does that mean?” — they’ll respond, eventually, with something like, “It means fighting for social justice.”  If you ask, “What does social justice mean?” you are likely to get an exasperated eye roll, because you just don’t get it.

Progressives are indeed changing America from a land of structured laws into a world governed by an abstract, warm and fuzzy “goodness”.  A brand of goodness, interestingly, that applies only to certain groups and changes as the wind blows.  This “goodness” doesn’t have to be universal or consistent because to try to define this goodness or track it’s application is to limit it, to suffocate it.  Like when trying to define “art,” rules, structure, and man-made definitions are insufficient and don’t apply.

This new warm and fuzzy land of social justice with its formless existence of goodness is, for progressives, the highest, most enlightened state of being on earth.  It’s what all humanity should strive for.  It’s so sacred and cherished that it can be sought after by any means necessary — its ends always justify its means.  You are allowed to discriminate against people to achieve it (affirmative action), and you can lie (Benghazi), cheat (IRS), murder (drones attacks on Americans), steal (Solyndra), and spy on them (NSA).  Destroying an innocent person’s life in the process of seeking this higher goodness (George Zimmerman) is mere collateral damage.

You can change the rules or make them up as you go along, or disregard the law altogether, like the State of Florida asked jurors to do with their case against Zimmerman.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of, really.  Our president, the man who said that if he had a son he’d look like Taryvon Martin, the man who had the Department of Justice use taxpayer dollars to organize anti-Zimmerman rallies, does it all the time.  Want to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants?  Forget Congress and the law.  Bam, just do it.  Spy on American citizens and perhaps use this data for political reasons?  Done.  Use the IRS to go after political enemies?  Why not.  Have the DOJ tap reporters’ phones and then have the U.S. Attorney General lie about it later under oath?  Got it covered.  Ram universal health care down the country’s throat and then circumvent congress by picking-and-choosing which parts to enforce for political reasons?  Been there, done that.

What is the law?  The Constitution?  We live in 21st century, post-modern America.  Truth is relative.  No, strike that.  Truth is simply a social construct and doesn’t exist.  Just like the state’s case against George Zimmerman doesn’t exist.  But why should this stop progressives from wanting to send Zimmerman to prison for the rest of his life?  Forget the law, and rules, and the Constitution.

What matters is social justice.  That abstract, indefinable, fuzzy goodness we can all experience if we just use our imaginations.

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Lynette Gaymon’s Non-Apology Apology

by Christopher Paslay

Lynette Gaymon’s letter takes no responsibility for her actions, and contains no apology to Samantha Pawlucy. 

As a fellow Philadelphia public school teacher, I am disappointed by Lynette Gaymon’s handling of the Samantha Pawlucy incident.  Regardless of how events unfolded that day in her class (Gaymon is not denying the fundamental facts), what Gaymon labels a “light and humorous remark” is nothing of the sort.  From her “apology letter” it seems clear that Gaymon still doesn’t understand that her comments were grossly inappropriate.

Gaymon states in her letter:

My words were never meant to belittle Ms. Pawlucy, or cause any harm, and I truly regret that we have come to this point.

That might be true, but Gaymon doesn’t state that she truly regrets saying these words.  Just as Gaymon never once in her letter says I’m sorry Samantha; incredibly, the “apology letter” isn’t even addressed to Samantha, but to the students of Carroll High School whom she calls “my babies.”

I don’t think I’m being unfair to Gaymon.  There is a fundamental lack of personal responsibility in her letter, and nowhere in the letter does Gaymon admit wrongdoing.  In fact, it almost seems as if Gaymon still believes that “all the chaos and negative attention” that has fallen on the school is the result of some sort of misunderstanding.

Again, Gaymon never comes out in the letter and says I’m sorry Samantha.  I’m sorry for making fun of something that was important to you, for making a joke that spun out of control, for unintentionally humiliating and embarrassing you in front of your classmates and other teachers.  I didn’t mean it Samantha, and I am sorry.

Nor does Gaymon apologize for stereotyping an entire group of people in front her students: She never says, I’m sorry that I equated all Republicans with racists.  I’m sorry that I used a hate symbol—the KKK—as a reference to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  This was unwarranted.  Although we all may not agree with Republican policies, it’s hateful and intolerant to stereotype whole groups of people.

To her credit, Gaymon does call for solving problems civilly through debate and discussion, and she does call for a stop to the threats and violence being perpetrated against Samantha Pawlucy.

But Gaymon’s letter is hardly an apology to Samantha Pawlucy herself, and falls short of taking responsibility for the situation.  Its vagueness and avoidance of the fundamental issues of stereotyping and intolerance are similar to the ways in which the local Philadelphia media dodged these same issues.  Because of this, I truly wonder if Lynette Gaymon even knows that what she said was wrong, or if she just feels it was all a simple misunderstanding.  If it’s the latter, Lynette Gaymon is unfit to be in the classroom.

To read Gaymon’s letter in its entirety, click here.

Update:  Wally Zimolong, the attorney for the Pawlucy family, stated this morning on the Dom Giordano show that Lynette Gaymon was ready to give a personal apology to Samantha Pawlucy and accept wrong doing, but was given a prepared statement instead.  Click here to listen to the interview.

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Outrageous Inquirer Poll Asks, ‘Should a teacher make fun of a child?’

by Christopher Paslay

The Inquirer’s latest poll on the “Romney T-shirt” incident shows just how pathetic the response from the Philadelphia liberal establishment has been.    

Today the Inquirer asked it readers: “Should a teacher make fun of a child wearing a T-shirt supporting a political candidate?”  The poll is so warped and mindboggling that I won’t even bother to list the four possible responses.  Anyone in their right mind knows the answer to this ludicrous question, and the answer is no, a teacher shouldn’t make fun of a child.  The fact that the Inquirer asked it reveals a lot about the newspaper, its readers, and the hypocritical culture of Philadelphia’s liberal establishment. 

The reason the Inquirer is posing the question, of course, is to downplay the seriousness of the Romney T-shirt incident.  It’s a way to equate intolerance with “making fun” or “making jokes.”  Should teachers be able to joke around with their students about political things? they are saying. What do you think?  Is it really such a big deal?

It’s clear the Inquirer’s editorial board isn’t convinced that what happened to little Sam Pawlucy is an absolute, unquestionable injustice.  If what happened to Pawlucy were an unquestionable injustice (like, say, the unquestionable injustice of violating gay rights), the Inquirer wouldn’t still be grappling with public opinion on the issue.

For example, you would never see an Inquirer poll asking the question: “Should a teacher make fun of a child for wearing a LGBT rainbow T-shirt?”  They wouldn’t ask it because when it comes to such issues, there is zero tolerance.  In other words, you don’t make fun gays, period.  You don’t even joke about it.  Especially, and most importantly, teachers.

Likewise, the Inquirer would never run a poll asking: “Should a teacher make fun of a child for wearing a Muslim Taqiyah cap?” They would never run a poll asking: “Should a teacher make fun of a child for wearing a Travon Martin memorial shirt?”  Again, these are issues apart of the liberal sacred untouchable cannon, so the Inquirer would never ask such questions.

But when it comes to making fun of Republicans or comparing a Romney/Ryan T-shirt to the KKK, the Inky runs a poll.  Should teachers be allowed to do it, what do you think?

Interestingly, the local media—the Inquirer, Daily News, and their columnists and editorial boards—have yet to publically reprimand Samantha’s geometry teacher for the egregious transgression of stereotyping Republicans as the KKK (both papers have focused on the issue of freedom of speech, and only Christine Flowers had the guts to bring up bullying).  No one has come out and righted this wrong by setting the record straight.  No one has said, It was unconscionable of this teacher to compare a Romney Ryan T-shirt to the KKK.  Most Republicans are not racially insensitive, and it was wrong for this teacher to stereotype this group in front of her students.      

Imagine if a teacher (jokingly) made a Muslim student take off his Taqiyah cap because she said (jokingly) that this cap represented terrorism.  After the teacher was crucified, sued, chewed-up by the ACLU and spit out, and ultimately fired, there would be a series of editorials and commentaries chastising this teacher for being intolerant, and the record would be set straight immediately: It is wrong to stereotype Muslims as terrorists, because most are tolerant, peaceful people

Smear a Republican in a heavily Democratic town such as Philadelphia and you get ill-defined “teachable moments.”  Equate a Republican T-shirt with the KKK and the remedy is a vague, feel good lesson on “political differences.”  Sure, a teacher stereotyped an entire group of people with a symbol of hate, but can’t we all just get along?  Can’t we just get back to our normal routines?  She did say she was joking, after all.

Suddenly, amazingly, the unbending hyper-vigilant politically correct left has a sense of humor! 

Actually, I don’t buy for a second that they have a sense of humor.  The reality of the Romney T-shirt incident is that newspapers like the Inquirer and the Daily News don’t want to debunk the Republican = KKK stereotype because they benefit too greatly from it politically.  In fact, newspapers like the Inquirer and the Daily News promote such stereotypes (Republican Voter ID = Jim Crow is just one example that comes to mind).

So as it stands in Philadelphia, Republicans are indeed 21st century Klansmen, you just can’t say so out loud in class if you are a teacher and your student happens to be wearing a GOP T-shirt.

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Predictably, Karen Heller Downplays Romney T-Shirt Intolerance

by Christopher Paslay

Instead of speaking out against political intolerance, Karen Heller blows smoke.

In an article headlined “Romney T-shirt episode offers ‘teachable moment’—for parents and teachers,” Inquirer columnist Karen Heller goes out of her way to show us that she is taking the high road by refusing to pass judgment—and explains how our city can turn what amounted to nothing more than a bad joke gone awry into a feel good lesson on “political differences.”

Before I analyze Heller’s commentary further, allow me to recount the bad joke.  A week-and-a-half ago, Charles Carroll High School sophomore Samantha Pawlucy and her sister, who are White, wore Romney/Ryan T-shirts to school on dress-down day.  Allegedly, Samantha’s younger sister was heckled by classmates for the shirt.  Samantha herself was also allegedly heckled—by her African American geometry teacher whose inappropriate joking embarrassed and humiliated her.

According to the Inquirer:

Samantha Pawlucy, a sophomore at Carroll, said her geometry teacher publicly humiliated her Friday by asking why she was wearing a Romney/Ryan T-shirt and going into the hallway to urge other teachers and students to mock her. . . .

Samantha Pawlucy said that after going into the hall, her teacher called into the classroom a nonteaching assistant who tried to write on the T-shirt with a marker. She allegedly told the teen to remove her shirt and said she would be given another.

Pawlucy said her teacher told her that Carroll was a “Democratic school” and that wearing a Republican shirt was akin to the teacher, who is black, wearing a KKK shirt.

But it is, as Heller reminds us, a “teachable moment.”  And Heller does give us a lecture, and a predictable one at that.  Heller’s feel good can’t-we-all-just-get-along drivel begins not with a condemnation of the Black geometry teacher’s intolerance (Heller amazingly makes no attempt whatsoever to chastise the inappropriate behavior of the teacher), but instead talks of how the incident will affect the decisions of Republican state legislators (who, by the way, are the oppressive S.O.B.’s who try to keep poor people from voting because they, low and behold, ask for proof of identity):

The only silver lining is that the budget won’t be debated until spring. By that time, perhaps Republicans—the same ones who attempted to disenfranchise Philadelphia through voter ID—will have forgotten this mess.

(And we wonder why Samantha Pawlucy and her sister were ridiculed by classmates and teachers.)

Oddly, Heller goes on to make the case that Philadelphia is really more politically diverse than people realize:

Many years and several election cycles ago, I spoke to my son’s class in a different Philadelphia school about how the country was getting a new president that month, George W. Bush. Many students—first graders, mind you—booed. No, I reminded them, there are children here whose families are Republican. (See, there’s more political diversity than people believe.)

A little later, Heller goes into the politics of Richard Pawlucy, Samantha’s father, and appears to insinuate that he lacks the experience to engage in a political fight akin to the one he’s waging on behalf of his young daughter:

Richard Pawlucy tells me he has never voted before, which makes him an improbable participant in a political fight. A field engineer raised in Port Richmond, he registered only a few weeks ago.

Heller ends her piece with a feel good update about Samantha’s Facebook status:

The school incident is still under investigation. Samantha returns to class Tuesday. The school has assured the family that the students would not harass her. In the meantime, Samantha updated her Facebook status with an “(R).”

Heller’s article is indeed a teachable moment—about double standards and the hypocrisy of a liberal media with zero principles.  For those who disagree, ask yourself this question: Would Heller have written the same feel good “teachable moment” article if a White teacher jokingly humiliated a Black student for wearing an Obama T-shirt and equated the shirt with, say, lazy Black welfare recipients?

Somehow I doubt it.

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