Hey Monadnock students (& others) – I hope to see you at the Keene Starbucks at noon this Saturday, March 31st!
On December 13th I went to Monadnock Regional High School with the intention of offering Who Owns You? cards to students exiting the building. Most present were receptive or indifferent, though a handful of individuals – those ostensibly seen to be “educators” – were a bit hostile.*
As I noted in the video I later published from our exchange: “I just want to share ideas. And I would hope that you and your colleagues, being in the field of education, would support that.” The response I received: “Well in general we do.” Really?
Merriam-Webster includes as a definition for the root of “educators” (educate): “to provide with information.” Not only did this educator, by his own actions, fail provide information, but he actively tried to prevent the free exchange of information between consenting individuals. That sets a terrible precedent.
Eventually some students – who are likely well-intentioned but motivated to some extent by the tacit support received from vocal school employees – formed the “Remain Respectfully Silent” crew. In addition to hanging posters in school that encouraged their classmates not to “remain respectfully silent”**, they literally stood in (mostly) silent opposition to outreach activities. Cool, that’s their choice, but their actions coupled with those of school employees chilled the receptiveness of others probably on the fence. I concluded continued visits to Monadnock to do outreach weren’t the best use of my time.
Others returned, unabated. Their actions violated neither (arbitrary) man’s law or natural law, and I think the end-goal (sharing ideas/education) worthy, but I personally didn’t think the tactic the most-effective due to the pushback***. That itself isn’t insurmountable (in fact it’s vital for a healthy, productive conversation), but it is very difficult to overcome in such short window – seconds or at most minutes. I advocated instead for a different approach****.
At one point I spoke on the phone with a Monadnock student. He asked if I’d be interested in sitting-down with him and the school employees depicted on my video. I said that’d be fine, but encouraged him instead to ask if those same school employees would be willing to have a conversation/discussion with me (and a friend or two if that’d make it more palatable) in front of students (perhaps during school or after school for extra credit). I was told the question would be posed and that I would get a response but unfortunately I never heard anything back on that front despite follow-up.
I was hopeful that perhaps a proactive Monadnock student would, through their organization or class, request that such a forum occur. That too has yet to transpire.
Hence, my video invitation to meet with anyone who wants to sit-down and have a conversation. I’ll be at the Keene Starbucks at noon this Saturday, March 31st and again at the same time each Saturday in April.
*which honestly isn’t too surprising. The knee-jerk reaction to censor and block as students walk by is probably done not out of spite or ill-will but to erring on the side of “protecting” the students. While that’s an admirable goal it only reinforces the idea that one person has the right to censor information from another person. That’s just not right. Perhaps this essay, this video, and this concept will help shed light on what’s really going on?
**aka don’t be receptive to ideas that a third person (school employee) claims must first be approved by a fourth person (another school employee)
***after visiting Monadnock a couple more times (on Jan. 6the & Feb. 3rd) one friend was detained. The week prior police had visited his residence. Think about that: men with guns visited the residence of an individual because he dared to peacefully share ideas. That’s the bad precedent set. Fortunately bad ideas can be replaced with better ideas. Information – ideas – is meant to be free and unhindered.
Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
-A. Whitney Griswold
****and yes, we’ve all spoken about this issue numerous times so this post/vid isn’t a surprise. And while I decided it wasn’t my preferred use of time, I obviously support my friends who’s actions are aligned with their conscience and again, don’t cause any harm to person/property