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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Principal Needs Refresher on Constitutional Rights

Dan Savage has brought another example of puritanical persecution to our attention with the case of a high school coach who was fired for sending "adult-oriented pictures" to his girlfriend, a college student.

The principal, Donna Richardson, defends her action with talk of teaching students to become "good characters," but evidently needs some instruction in this department herself. In a case like this it seems appropriate to emphasize the pedagogical issues, so I've sent the following message to her email address (

Dear Ms. Richardson:

I am very disappointed by your dismissal of Jason Robinson. By taking this action, you have set a very bad example to the students under your supervision. You have modeled:

1) Endorsing and rewarding the violation of someone's privacy;
2) Punishing other people's consensual activity; and
3) Worst of all, by implication, attempting to coerce other people's consensual activity through threats to their livelihoods.

By doing these things, you have sent all the wrong messages to students about responsible behavior as members of a democratic society. It is urgent that you rehire Mr. Robinson, which would have the added merit of modeling the ability to admit when you have made a mistake.

To refresh your own appreciation of these principles, you might do well to re-read the Declaration of Independence. For a more in-depth treatment of them, you could also read John Stuart Mill's On Liberty.

Eric Hamell
Philadelphia, PA

You can read more details of the case in Savage's column here:

1 comment:

joven said...
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