Those of you who tuned in to Sex Gate the last couple of weeks know that I met with Principal Man, my administrator & department chair. He cleared the air a tad; I spoke my piece & stood up for my students; he came to the conclusion that he believed in my journalistas' right to free speech & won't censor the newspaper.
That was my big worry. But now I'm feeling bad for him. Feeling sorry for the schmoe who put me & my staff thru 10 days of Chinese Water Torture; feeling empathy for the schmuck who tried to get me to jump thru 7 hoops & 15 rings of fire because some on the faculty & in the community yelled at him; second-guessing my professional instincts because of what is about to happen to him.
Our final issue of the year comes out next week. In it, my newspaper staff will run another editorial, but this time the message will be a tad different. We're still learning, they'll say to their readers; perhaps the lead paragraph of the last editorial was a tad racy; if we had it to do all over again perhaps, they say, they'd tone it down a bit.
A mea culpa, of sorts.
On the other opinion page, opposite this teenaged apology (an oxymoron?) will be several letters-to-the-editor. Not at all unusual for the student-run newspaper, considering the talk that their last issue engendered.
But not one of these letters is written in support of Principal Man.
He, and my administrator, tell me he's "heard" from up to 100 folks about the salaciousness of the material in our mid-May issue. After talking it out last week, sounds to moi like a lot of that was talk. The reason he wasn't forwarding e-mails to me is because he didn't have many to forward. Teachers approached him in the hall; parents talked to him at baseball games. And while the e-mails in support of our student journalistas have topped 70 in the past week, only one-a brief, almost incoherent, misspelled rant-crossed my cyber-desk in opposition to the kids. And that writer didn't want her words to be displayed in print.
Two of my cherubs went to talk to an allegedly "offended" teacher last week. She's been telling her classes how horrible the student journalistas are, how they crossed the line by talking dirty in print, how their adviser (that would be moi) should be ashamed.
So my students visited her classroom to ask her to write a letter-to-the-editor. To balance things out in the last issue of the year. She refused.
"I don't want to be called out" by her students, she said. In other words, she didn't wish to put her money where her blabbermouth is.
Mr. Fairway suggests putting all the letters into the "circular file," & not running any. If they're all against Principal Man to some degree, Mr. F. argues, won't we be adding fuel to the fire?
My journalistic training, however, says those letters should run. The students certainly want them to. They believe that they've been vindicated by a positive response.
So, Dear Readers, I ask you: What should we do?
BTW, the monkey at the top of this post comes from the Artificial Duck Co.