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

From: John Axtell (
Date: Sun Apr 08 2001 - 16:12:02 EDT


I was also referring to a mother taking offense at her son's language.

You are right I did not read the add, I just saw the very offensive response of
students in colleges that are supposed to be teaching our future leaders.

My basic point is that we are raising a nation of politically correct kids that
have very little concept of the right of free speech or the value of diversity.

If I find a neo nazi march to be offensive I can just not go to the parade route.
If I find a person offensive I simply do not need to associate with that person in
the future.

I would agree if a student or staff member is running around behind a student or
other staff member making offensive statements in a constant stream then that
would seem to be wrong. However if a student or staff member refers to certain
individuals that hold certain beliefs by the use of a certain phrase then I see no
problem with that.

My concern is that we are moving in a direction that does not allow free speech
nor free thought. I would hope that such a move would find little room in a SV
model school. Unfortunately I have noticed that some SV schools do not allow
"derogatory" comments or expressions of opinions "against" certain groups. I just
read an article about how one public school has certain rooms that are marked in a
special way where discussions about the homosexual lifestyle is protected, but
certainly no such rooms are marked to protect speech about anti-abortion life

I also do not understand how the words "dissent" and "abuse" come into the
discussion. I am simply talking about the use of words without trying to be
judgmental about them. There are almost no words or concepts that someone does not
feel offended by. The entire concept of a free school is very offensive to many as
is the concept of a public school. I am urging people to allow all views to be
expressed and not get upset about them. Being tolerant takes a certain level of
maturity but is something I think everyone benefits from striving toward.

So my take is this - we must work hard to ensure that students and staff have the
right to freely express their valid opinions even if those opinions offend others.



Mitch Berg wrote:

> 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
> >correct.
> Is it just me, or is the difference between "dissent" and "abuse" that
> nebulous?
> 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
> civil.
> > 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
> offense?

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