Re: DSM: RE: name calling and swearing (FWD)

From: Mitch Berg (
Date: Sun Apr 08 2001 - 15:37:56 EDT

Disclaimer: Nothing in my post is intended as a direct attack on Mr.
Axtell, his views or beliefs.

That being said: I am so totally, completely sold on the Sudbury concept
that, when my workload and personal financial stress dies down, I plan to
enthusiastically pitch in to ANY Sudbury (or SVM-type) school I can find in
my area.

My ONLY reservation is one that's sprung from lurking on this list for a
time; that while Sudbury would seem to couple learning with responsibility,
some parents seem to have a *vastly* different idea of responsibility than
I do.

At 11:56 AM 4/8/2001 -0700, you wrote:
>It would seem to me that not allowing name calling and swearing is a good
>example of the lack of real freedom in our society in general. It would appear
>that society and some free schools value freedom as long as it is politically

Is it just me, or is the difference between "dissent" and "abuse" that

This is, for me, a very important issue. I'd suspect I'm in the minority
among Democratic School devotees - a thoroughly unapologetic
Republican. The whole notion of Political Correctness is close to my heart
(more later).

And if the School Meeting and Judicial Committees are to be trusted at all,
shouldn't they be trusted to tell the difference between abuse and
dissent? Between calling someone "wrong" and calling them a "moronic
wetback", for example?

>I think it is similar to the reactions a number of students recently had on
>college campuses to the add suggesting that slavery was a real and lasting
>benefit to slaves. The student's position seems to be that freedom is fine as
>long as it conforms to the concepts approved by all segments of society. This
>attitude is similar to that of your friends that choose to have certain words
>defined as offensive.

While the controversy is indeed illuminative, it's worth pointing out that
you completely mischaracterize David Horowitz' ad when you say he claims
"slavery was a real and lasting
benefit to slaves". I urge you, please, to read the actual ad before
mischaracterizing his statements.

>For the life of me I can not see the importance of a student being allowed to
>tell someone else that they find their speech offensive. How judgmental can a
>person get ?

Here's how - by gratuitously imposing *personal* offense on an unwilling
recipient. Example: I'm a Christian. If you're an atheist - fine. If you
want to debate the existence of G-d with me, fine (if I'm in the mood and
not busy). I'd be wrong to take excessive offense at that.

But if you gratuitously insult my beliefs with no purpose other than to
offend, then I have the right to tell you it's offensive.

And no, those who are censoring David Horowitz don't fit under the latter
criteria - the notion of reparations is political and social and open to
debate beyond any personal feelings, (just as is the existence of my
G-d). I'd much prefer the debate be open and civil, but you pays your
ticket, you takes your chances.

In either case - while the line between disagreement and abuse can be
blurry, it's not usually excessively so. And I think that people involved
in divining the difference learn an important lesson - how to civilly
disagree in a society that is supposed to not only be democratic but ALSO

> Just allowing someone to express such a judgmental thought seems
>to go against everything of value in the model. Either we believe in the
>ability of children to discover what is best for them to learn or we do not,
>without the intervention of a bunch of adults.

Hold it - weren't you referring to students, rather than adults, taking

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