Last night I spoke with Bonnie Dickinson, the teacher who created the "Voices in Conflict" project at Wilton High. All I can say is it's too bad there aren't more teachers out there with this woman's creativity and courage.Boy, the wingnuts in Wilton are really a class act (wouldn't Sean Hannity be proud). I hope each one of these jerks who are spewing this crap have the guts to proudly walk over to the Army recruiting center RIGHT AFTER GRADUATION...maybe military can teach these morons a thing or two about respect.
She's put her job on the line in the defense of intellectual freedom - as she said to me last night, "When this all blows over and people stop writing me 40 e-mails a day offering their support, I'm still going to be at this school teaching."
I can't imagine it will be such a great atmosphere for her either. I met with four of the students from Ms. Dickinson's class today, and these kids are being seriously hassled in the hallways of enlightened Wilton High. They're being called "faggots" and told that they should be "hanged for treason" and have been brainwashed by their "liberal pig parents". Ms. Dickinson is being referred to as a FemNazi.
Blogger Saramerica also provides the origins of the whole dust-up and let's just say that we're not surprised.
What it all boils down to is that Principal Canty caved into pressure from ONE parent of ONE student. According to Ms. Dickinson, Barbara Alessi got wind of the script and said that she wanted her daughter Gabby to take the class and not only that, they would be able to provide material for the script because her son, 2nd Lt. Zach Alessi-Friedlander is currently serving in Iraq.Absolutely unbelievable. Principal Canty whimps out and censors who student based on ONE complaint from ONE parent who's now going from news outlet to news outlet spouting about how this play is a slap in the face to the military (although the play is BASED ON LETTERS FROM SOLDIERS IN IRAQ).
Unfortunately it appears that Mrs Alessi was inserting Gabby as a mole, rather than to actually attempt to contributing toward the production in a meaningful way. After a few days Gabby dropped out of the class and Mrs. Alessi was pressuring Principal Canty to silence the production.
What's supremely ironic about this is that Gabby Alessi-Friedlander is self-righteously spouting on the news outlets how the play is "insulting" to currently serving troops. But meanwhile, Gabby's brother, 2nd Lt. Zach Alessi Friedlander, wrote the following in an article about how his unit was helping two Iraqi schools that was published in the Fort Drum Blizzard last October:"Quality education teaches students how to think critically about their own lives and illuminates the variety of opportunities available only to those with the necessary academic training."
Is this America? Does free-speech matter?
Well, Saramerica was able to contact Paul Reickhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to see if we would talk to the students in Wilton as well as do a write-up on the situation (which he has agreed to do).
For those who don't know Reickhoff, here's an interview he did recently on Keith Olbermann's Countdown.
Reickhoff blogged about the situation in Wilton for the HuffingtonPost.
Even after four years of war, the lives of most Americans have gone on unchanged. Most people have never met an Iraq veteran, and far too few have had the chance to ask one of them what it was like to serve in a war zone.Saramerica will have a full write up on her experience with the kids at Wilton High, which will be published in the Greenwich Time. I for one can't wait to read it.
At Wilton High School in Connecticut, students decided to try and bridge this gap between the troops and the public.
Using first-hand accounts from troops in Iraq, they created a series of monologues to perform as the school's spring play. But the school principal Timothy H. Canty feared the script's political implications and chose to shut the play down before it was ever performed. This decision was an insult to the students at Wilton High and to all veterans of the war in Iraq.
Principal Canty should allow the show to go on. He should also apologize to Iraq veterans nationwide. He has chosen to squash his students' freedom of speech--one of the very rights vets like me joined the military to defend.
As Tim O'Brien said in his classic novel about Vietnam, The Things They Carried, ''If you don't care for obscenity, you don't care for the truth; if you don't care for the truth, watch how you vote. Send guys to war, they come home talking dirty.''
The truth is sometimes vulgar--especially the truth about war. And any real discussion of the situation in Iraq is going to be controversial. The stories of troops coming home from war will not be pretty or pure, and will rarely be black-and-white enough to align with extremists of any political persuasion. But however ugly and uncomfortable, it is our duty as Americans to understand the truth about the war in Iraq....