It seems paradoxical, but we don’t think it is.
We feel that while society desperately needs to be more civil, at the same time we should chill a bit and give one another a little more room to be inappropriate.
Especially when it might be appropriate to be so.
Lori Myles, a language arts teacher at T.W. Josey Comprehensive High School in Augusta, was reprimanded this week for using handouts to – get this – discourage students from using the “N” word.
You read right. She’s been reprimanded for trying to tamp down the casual, even affectionate, use of the “N” word among black youths.
Even the school district, in its letter to Myles, acknowledges that her intent was to “shame these students by indicating their behavior was an affront to the memories and brave examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.”
Myles probably went overboard, to be sure. For one thing, her handout repeated the word several times. And the district alleges she gave the handout to a select few students and asked them to sign a pledge stating, “I have this letter because my actions, my life and my ways show that Martin Luther King wasted his time! Thanks for nothing, My (N-word)!”
Still, her intent was noble. And, as she notes, the same word can be found in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – over 200 times.
We fear a day – perhaps we’re already there – when teachers, and all others in society, are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they end up saying nothing of value. We fear that political correctness has gone over the line more than Ms. Myles did.