Is Censorship and Intimidation the Best Way to Resolve Bullying?

Attack on Free Speech

Earlier, I stated that I would be talking with students, parents, school staff and other people from the community Friday night at the football game and through out the weekend. I feel that I still need more information because attendance at the school assembly was short on parents and other citizens.

While I think that Friday’s assembly was a great first step in addressing the bullying situation at Overton High School, I was very, very, very disturbed that the school administration wants to impose a gag order on the students and staff at Overton High School and threatened both the students and staff with real and unreasonable penalties for expressing their rights of freedom of speech.

Since before the American Revolution, frank, honest and open discussion of the issues facing a community have been proven to be the best way to crafting a reasonable, fair and effective solution to those problems. It is one of the basic fundamental principles that our founding fathers of this country used to decide that independence from British rule was just and necessary.

Now the very people we have entrusted to educate our children on the basic civil liberties and rights that all citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are showing our children that the principles of freedom of speech are not a right but only allowed when it agrees with their agenda, whether good or bad. This behavior is what I would expect in countries with a totalitarian governments such as the former Soviet Union, the Republic of Russia, China, and/or Iran who rule for their own selfish reasons and are afraid of their citizens, not in a country that was founded as democratic republic.

Any students who are taking a government class should ask their teacher how the school censoring free speech on a matter of public importance regarding the safety and well being of students is compatible with the Right of Free Speech guaranteed by the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights and how is different than speech restrictions ISIS or the government of Iran imposes on its subjects.

Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the definition that Texas state law created for bullying includes this: … is sufficiently severe, persistent and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for a student. I have to conclude that threatening the students and staff with punishment for discussing bullying in private or in public meets the state’s definition of bullying. It’s going to be really difficult to convince the students to stop bullying when the school administrators bully the students and staff.

Don’t be surprised that when you set a bad example that it undermines any credibility that you might have! This attitude shows a lack of understanding of how to create an environment that is open to solving the issues facing the school and is totally unacceptable. The school system must rescind that threat on Monday.

I could continue on with an essay showing how wrong this is but most Americans will intuitively recognize the wrongness of the school administration’s directives. Those that don’t automatically understand how wrong it is cannot be showed how wrong it is until they are on the wrong end of censorship, threatened punishment and/or bullying.

I ask that any student, staff or concerned parent who is worried about unfair punishment to create anonymous user ids and post their thoughts, experiences and opinions here on this web site. All I ask is that everybody refrain from personal attacks. Remember, once you exaggerate or outright lie, you have no credibility.

Censorship is incompatible with the notion of Liberty, Freedom and Justice for All.