Two Norview High School teachers were placed on paid administrative leave this week after a parent complained that they distributed classroom materials that gave advice on how to deal with police if stopped.
Let’s see now. Senior year in High School. Government class. Nope, that’s not the time to teach them about their Constitutional rights as American citizens. We need to wait until… never?
The really disturbing part for me was reading the comments to the article (and I did not read all of them). Fortunately, there were a number of good commenters about the situation (and more joining in all the time), but a disturbing number of early commenters seemed to feel that teaching this material was completely inappropriate.
Now, I’ll say that the teachers probably should have found a slightly better vehicle, given their geographic location and the volatility with which people deal with controversy in the public school system (I would have recommended flex your rights’ new film, which is more professional in appearance than “Busted” and less likely to be able to be described as a video that “teaches kids how to avoid getting caught for pot” (it isn’t, I know, but it’s going to be described that way).
I would never teach anywhere but in College, because I don’t want to put up with the bullshit of oversensitivity (or zero tolerance policies, for that matter).
Still, this is teaching the Bill of Rights in a government class!
I grew up believing that the Bill of Rights was the default position â€” that everybody (except a few weirdos) at least believed in that… it was so… basic, so true, so logical, so critical to freedom.
Yet it’s been said that the Bill of Rights wouldn’t pass if brought up for a vote today, and after years of political reading and writing, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. Sad, scared, and depressed, yes. Surprised, no.
It’s why we can’t depend on simply telling people that the drug war is a violation of their rights and expect them to come running to our side. We have to find the buttons to push to get them involved (whether it’s the environment, medical marijuana, harm reduction, prison reform, violence in Mexico, etc., etc.), and then, once they realize that everything they’ve been taught about the drug war is wrong, we can teach them more (like how rights are not given by the government, and how rights make us safer, and how rights are for the innocent, and how rights are essential to freedom).
It is also another reason why our battle is so important, because the drug war is one of the prime mechanisms for dismantling the Bill of Rights. If we allow the drug war to win, our rights are in further trouble. If we can stop the drug war, then we have a chance of at least partially reversing the damage to the Constitution over time.
And it’s why we should be supportive of others who keep an eye out for authoritarian over-reach in a wide variety of areas (why Glenn Greenwald is often a must-read, for example).
Keep an eye on Flex Your Rights for more details on this story as it develops.