Re: surfing uncensored

Mike Sadofsky (
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 01:25:22 GMT

On Wed, 12 Mar 1997 19:22:53 -0800 (PST), you

>Gee, I hate getting involved in a discussion in which the irritation =
>has already risen too high, but I can't help feeling that a real issue =
>substance has been raised, and one that I would much like to see
>addressed. I hope people will accept that I, at least, am not trying to
>twist words or prick pretenses or create any more negativity. I just =
>to know how Sudbury -- or any school so conceived and so dedicated -- =
>reconcile what appears to be an inescapable contradiction.
>On Wed, 12 Mar 1997 wrote:
>> Why, pray tell, are people so annoyed that no one at SVS bothered to =
>> the obvious answer -- we allow no illegal activities at school. =20
>> X-rated movies would. They can't be shown at school. R-rated movies =
>> What I think of censorship doesn't matter here. The school has taken =
>> after stand for free speech, but not for ignoring laws.
>Obvious or not, the answer raises the question: _WHO_ "allow no..."?
It requires only a bit of understanding to
recognize that "rules" at Sudbury Valley School
are the function of the School Meeting. The
(students and staff) meet regularly, debate, and
vote on ALL aspects of day to day operations of
the school. That is your WHO! Another body, the
Assembly, consisting of parents, students, &
staff, sets policy, approves the budgets, and
awards diplomas.
>If the school community really runs the school, then in theory it could
>vote to allow or encourage `illegal activities' that its members thought
>should not be illegal. (There are laws even today, even in
>Massachussetts, which a Thoreau might choose to disobey.) But if `we' =
>draw a line at illegal behavior, then `we' clearly possess a veto.
Yes indeed, The School Meeting 'could' vote to
allow illegal activities (and the Assembly could
set illegal policies). It 'could' do many things
that would, at least potentially, lead to the
dissolution of the school or to its closure by
authorities. From the beginnings of the school,
Sudbury Valley has always acted in a way that
would establish the school as a legitimate and
participating part of the community. The precept
that children as young as four could take
responsibility for their actions is enough of a
challenge to the dominant society; there is no
need for Sudbury Valley to defy the laws of the
Country, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the
town of Framingham.
>But I thought the whole idea -- or at least a big part of it -- was that
>`we' didn't.
I fear that I don't understand this last line.
Did you think that Sudbury Valley drew no
distinction between legal and illegal activities?
Or that individual people (eg staff) don't think
that it is part of their role to point out
instances of such activities and help the school
community find ways to act consistent with the
laws? The idea was to establish and operate a
school that would allow individuals to develop
free of the coersive elements that operate in
typical educational settings. Today, the thrust
is to continue operating that model and growing it
to offer the same opportunities to more kids. To
challenge society by condoning illegal activities
within the institution or as institutional policy
is tantamount to inviting closure.
>Please believe me: this is not a frivolous or provocateurish question.
>I realize that it probably cannot be answered in a final or definitive
>way. But I would really like to know how it is being answered now.
> - Charles -