More updates from the front lines of Fond du Lac and the censorship machine that is the high school administration…
ONLY MOSTLY DEAD: The update from the kids today has them trying to punch down the changes requested/demanded/suggested/whatever by the administration. They’re determined not to let this issue die, even if a little of their freedom has to die this one time. If I knew I could get away with it, I’d send them pizza tonight. Something tells me that the administration would enact “prior review” on my Papa John’s order if it showed up at the school. If I hear anything else about the life and death of the final issue, I’ll keep you posted.
TOSS MY SALAD: Found out through wisoapbox and a few kids that one of the things that was forced to be “reworked” was the headline “DeMarco Tosses Out ‘Salad Days,’” a reference to Mac DeMarco’s new “Salad Days” album. According to a couple sources, Assistant Principal Peter Snyder demanded that this inappropriate “street slang” be removed from the headline. The kids were clueless as to exactly what he meant, only to be told that they had to cut it.
If I’m a parent of a Fond du Lac student, I’m immediately concerned that an authority figure (either Snyder or Superintendent James Sebert) had this Chris Rock routine in mind when forcing the students to kill the headline:
The reference is from 1996, or before most of the students in the school were born. It lives on in the urban dictionary, but it’s pretty clear that the reference is about as dated as “Whoomp! There it is!” It also makes it clear that if I ever go to dinner with either of these guys, I’ll be asking for the soup…
The second A&E headline to bite the dust was “Freddie Gibbs Busts open Pinata,” a reference to Freddie Gibbs’ new album, “Pinata.” Again, busting a piñata apparently was a euphemism for “something naughty” according to what the students were told. Even as the resident “12-year-old boy” around here who can turn ANYTHING into a sexual reference, I had to look that up.
These lyrics of the song below are the best I can do:
Even urbandictionary.com doesn’t have a “bust a piñata” reference. The closest thing is about banging a rich fat chick. At least the rap reference would be from this century, as opposed to the salad issue.
Look, I get that people try to “trick” administrators and that there needs to be some level of vigilance. That’s how we avoid quotes from “Chuck U. Farley” and “Heywoode Jablome” in your paper. However, constantly being on a “seek and destroy” mission has you seeing enemies around every corner. You need to step back a bit.
Of course, the best way I’ve always found to avoid that “sneaky stuff” was to give the kids the right to run whatever they want, but then hold them responsible for their actions. Seems way too easy for FDL HS…
VAGINA MONOLOGUES: The male administration in Fond du Lac has apparently been spending a lot of time worrying about what the Cardinal Columns thinks about women and their bodies. Of course the “Rape Joke” article is what started all of this, but in this issue the boys were once again in a dither about “lady bits” and what can be said in relation to them.
Perhaps one of the more interesting stories in this issue was on teen pregnancy (see the cover shot above) and how it impacts a student’s life. The students talked honestly about how they had to give things up, what life was like with a child and how hard they had to persist to get to graduation. One young woman, who was drugged, raped and kept the child spoke bravely about her experiences and then provided some important advice to her fellow students:
“The best way to not have an unplanned pregnancy is to stay abstinent,” Rose said, “but life is always going to happen. You will at some point in your life have sex, so keep it safe. Get on birth control, don’t be appalled if a male or female has a condom. In those unexpected situations where it happens and it wasn’t safe, seek medical attention right away, go online, do whatever it takes to find out your options and what is the best choice for you. You can get opinions until you’re blue in the face, but you must understand it’s your choice.”
The administration demanded this quote be cut, because it was about birth control and “apparently we tell people to get it,” a student explained.
I went back through that quote about six times, looking for a) advocacy by the paper and b) something that wasn’t true and I couldn’t find either. The quote primarily advocates abstinence, but notes that sometime life happens and you need to be aware of that. In the case of this student, some drugged her and it led to her being raped. All she was saying was that you need to be careful and that you need to take care of yourself. This isn’t mind-shattering commentary that is radically different from what people would see from any health class on the issue or “student assembly” on sex and VD.
It wasn’t as if she said, “Men are all out there hoping to rape you, so carry a switch blade and de-nut everything male you see…”
In addition, the students were told to cut a reference to Planned Parenthood and a paragraph that outlined what abortion is and how it works because both were apparently advocating abortion and the school doesn’t approve of it.
There are about 927 things wrong with this situation, so trying to cover all of them would just wear my fingers to nubs. So here are the three I’m going to touch on:
- You have pregnant students in your school. We know this because the story tells us this. They’re known to other students. We know this because a) it’s impossible to hide a pregnancy for 40 weeks and b) we’re not living in the “Cider House Rules” days where the students get “sent away” when they start to show. Given what I assume Snyder and Sebert have learned about pregnancy during their lives, sex precedes pregnancy. Therefore, we can draw a pretty clear conclusion that your students are having sex. (Some of them even have these cute little “sex receipts” called children!)
Thus, writing an article about students with children will at some level involve a) a discussion of sex and b) a discussion of the options the students examined during their pregnancy. This is called reporting.
- Earth to Sebert: Not approving of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen (unless of course we’re talking about publishing journalism). The students quoted here tell your students THE BEST thing you could hope to hear: If you don’t want to be pregnant, don’t have sex. Then, she weaves in reality: If you have sex, be safe. I think that was on every PSA poster I have ever seen regarding sex.
- Go to school and see the reality of these kids’ surroundings. They’re unsure of themselves. They’re awkward. They’re overcompensating. They’re hormonal. They’re freaking out. They’re dealing with all sorts of shit that always seems like the end of the world. They’re scared. They’re driven by all manner of impulses. This is their reality.
If you were to force the student publication to be “more positive” in terms of its stories, do you REALLY THINK that these things would change? (And, side note, my GOD are there positive stories in this issue, including a nice send off of the Censor-In-Chief Jon Wiltzius, who is leaving the school for an “exciting opportunity” in campground management.)
When I was in high school, a kid brought a rifle to school, collected a series of alcohol burners (jars with wicks from the chem lab) and kept them in his locker. He was expelled before something happened. Kids in my class were having sex before and after school dances. At least one kid was rumored to have had an abortion (we didn’t have Twitter or Facebook to help us figure out the veracity of that stuff back then). One kid got caught jerking off in the men’s room and was immediately nicknamed “Fingers.” Another kid was busted for coke. AND THIS WAS IN A PAROCHIAL SCHOOL!
If I had to bet all of the money in my pocket on one thing, it would be that at some point in during their teen years, the administrators of this school faced some of these same issues. There is nothing you can do to convince me that Sebert, Wiltzius or Snyder went to a school where the closest anyone got to Friday night action was if they did that “Lady and the Tramp” pasta eating thing by accident. I also can’t imagine that they all sat home on weekends reading Dickens instead of occasionally acting like the dickens.
Stop hiding your head in the sand. Stop thinking you were “better than” back in your day. Honesty and integrity go a long way. Give them a try.