Teacher in trouble for exercising right to free speech

By | March 2, 2006

I have a mini-rant that I keep meaning to expand into a full-blown essay. One day, I am going to write it. But the basics are a list of differences between neoconservatives and liberals. And one of the main differences regards the right to free speech. Liberals not just tolerate a person’s right to free speech, they fight for it. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, thing that the right to free speech is spurious, and that not everyone deserves that right. In fact, they’ll go so far as to try to get good teachers fired for words that the teachers say.

Neoconservatives fear free speech. They fear open minds. They fear critical thinking. But what’s worse, they try to stifle these. They try to force silence on those who dare to voice an opinion they disagree with. And they want teachers, instructors and professors to only teach from one point-of-view: the neoconservative point of view.

Fortunately, there are rays of hope in the younger generation:

Students walked out of Overland High School Thursday in protest over the case of a teacher criticized for airing his political views during class.

Most of the students walked out in support of geography teacher Jay Bennish, whose comments against the Bush Administration’s war policy were audiotaped by a student. Bennish has been placed on paid leave by the Cherry Creek School District.

But what was so horrible, that the teacher had to be put on paid leave? Bennish’s harshest comments were, “‘I’m not saying Bush and Hitler are exactly the same, obviously they’re not. OK? But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use.'” Harsh? Sure. And it brings to mind Jon Stewart’s rant about over-using comparisons to Hitler. But is there anything in that rant to cause such an uproar?

Exposing kids to different viewpoints is a good thing! It gives them information they need to do some critical thinking, to figure out what they believe, as opposed to what they are told they should believe.

But then again, critical thinking isn’t part of the neoconservative agenda.

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