Wednesday, December 31, 2014
"We're # One!"
Last month I stated that unless a major catastrophe occurred which, thankfully, did not, the March 8 Blarney Blowout would be my 2014 "story of the year" -- as it was for the year 2013. And indeed it is.
But because the aftermath of that debacle has been so subdued, with our college aged youth falling in line through better behavior, I have great hope -- matched by confidence -- that it will not repeat in 2015. After all, a third time is not very charming.
Thus what was to be my #2 story climbs into a tie for #1: When Political Correctness collides with teen-aged angst under the roof of the Amherst Regional High School.
Specifically the way school officials treated Dylan Akalis, a white kid from Holyoke who dared like a lot of kids do to use the (modified rap version) N-word with an African American friend, who took no offense.
Other African American kids did, however, and responded with bullying both online and in person that was reported to school authorities, who did nothing. Dylan, in self defense, took matters into his own hands and made a "threat" on Facebook suggesting he came to school packing a pistol.
In a panic, the school was closed for a day. Dylan was summarily suspended, but his tormentors were not. His father who worked (with his hands) for the schools was later fired for using a common electrician term in front of an African American school employee.
Although his diploma reads Amherst Regional High School, officials would not let Dylan march in his cap and gown with fellow students and friends at the June 6 Mullins Center graduation ceremony, or attend the senior prom the week before. Although a young woman who violated his privacy rights with a public Internet petition was allowed to march in the graduation ceremony.
Had Dylan not been white, the story would have played out in a radically different way.
From cancelling "West Side Story" because it was "racist" to allowing kids to perform the R-rated "Vagina Monologues," ARHS is a shining example of the mayhem that results from Political Correctness run amok.
As usual the response of school officials is to throw money at the problem: They spent $38,000 enlisting smooth talking Calvin Terrell, who terrorized 7th and 8th graders back in October and should have been instantly fired. He returns next month.
The schools spent $48,000 hiring a "Media & Climate Communications Specialist" (fancy term for PR flack) to deal with racial issues, and the first thing she does is get into an embarrassing public fight with a long-time prominent local radio station over transparency.
And of course the Carolyn Gardner affair was mishandled at the start when school officials kept the original graffiti incident in October a secret, something that could come back to haunt them when the Mass Commission Against Discrimination takes up their investigation.
No, I don't have high hopes that 2015 will be any better when it comes to the race game played in our little "college town."