Wrong method, right message

Teacher's noble intent gets tangled in political correctness

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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.

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Austin Rhodes
3002
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/16/13 - 12:42 am
9
3
Hear hear..!

...and BRAVISIMO!

(I agree 100% with what the lady did and have no problem with the way she did it. Great teachers matter not because of silly rules, but in spite of them!)

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 03/16/13 - 05:25 am
8
0
Huck Banned Again

It’s worth noting that Huckleberry Finn was criticized with its release in 1884 because of its use of the racial slur. Again in the 20th century it was even banned in some schools because of the N word use. All this while the message of the book is one of the greatest anti-racist messages ever written. Lori Myles meet Mark Twain or, better still, Judith Loftus. Interesting that we can't even say the N word here as we examine why it shouldn't be used.

myfather15
57307
Points
myfather15 03/16/13 - 06:30 am
14
0
I agree....

The "N-Word" is a divisive word, which many rightfully harbor hard feelings about. I understand how someone can be offended by it; but shouldn't they be offended in the context it's being used? If it's being used to denounce the use of it, shouldn't a person be allowed to use the actual word, instead of "N-Word"?

I've been a deputy for 16 years. As a deputy, when I file a report I put EXACT words people use, in my report; of course many times using quotations. I remember many years ago, being reprimanded myself for using the full word for "N-word" in my reports. My seargent was a black man and was very upset that I used the full word. He was VERY aggresive towards me; asking me "Why the (profanity) would I put this word in my report." I responded by saying "Sarge, thats exactly what the guy said, so I put it in there, exactly as he said it." He actually told me to use "N-word" in place of the actual word, from now on or I would be written up again and face suspension.

I appealed the reprimand; while awaiting my appeal I went to the DA's office and asked them if they believed we should use EXACT quotes, because I know the DA's want detailed reports. I received a written letter from the assistant DA, stating they want very detailed reports and if they include inflammatory remarks, those remarks should be exact quotes of what the person said. I provided this letter during my appeal and I won; and the reprimand was removed from my file.

Now, the case I'm talking about; I had arrested a black man for disorderly conduct for calling another black man the "N-word" in my presence, and he did so many times. He was also using many other profanities towards this man and it was clearly making this man very upset. I warned the offender numerous times to stop using the "N-word" towards the other man. I could clearly anticipate trouble (possible physical altercation) if this man continued to use the "N-word" towards the other. So, after several warnings I arrested the offender and charged him with disorderly conduct, which includes using commonly known "fighting words" towards another person.

Now, I personally believe the problem was that it was a black man using the word towards another black man. Which, all too often people consider acceptable. In this case, is was clearly NOT acceptable to the man whom the word was being addressed to; he was VERY upset at this word. I had to stop him from advancing towards the offender several times when the offender used the word.

Now, would there have been any question if the offender had been white? I don't know, to tell you the truth. My seargent might have still been upset that I used the exact word in my report. After this incident and my successful appeal, I was never on his good side again. He never liked me after that and it was clear. I think it was more about beating him in the appeal, rather than my use of the word in the report. I believe He took the defeat personally.

I realize the word should NEVER be used in derogatory context, period. But if the word is being used in a respectful context, actually denouncing it's derogatory use; should people not dare to use the actual word instead of "N-word"? I was listening to Austin yesterday and he was talking about this case. You could tell he wouldn't DARE say the full word, only using "N-word" numerous times. So, are we afraid to use a certain word, even in proper RESPECTFUL context? It just seems to me this is going to far. This teacher did a respectful thing in trying to wake these kids up. I support her and hope she continues doing her wonderful job. Keep up the good work!!

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 03/16/13 - 06:38 am
9
0
Myfather15, excellent and

Myfather15, excellent and informative comment about what happens when the word is used.

Bodhisattva
7316
Points
Bodhisattva 03/16/13 - 06:52 am
3
1
I suggest that all who think

I suggest that all who think it's just a word follow the lead of Rex Kramer-Danger Seeker and see how it turns out.

avidreader
3567
Points
avidreader 03/16/13 - 07:13 am
6
0
Tough Love!

Lori's record as a teacher should count for something. It's apparent to me that her message was about tough love, not the defamation of a group of students, or a race in general. Even if some consider her approach a bit over-the-top, her credibility as an educator should be considered.

Many times, education in RC is slammed by commentaries on this forum, and as an insider, I read them with disgust because the general public -- on MANY occasions -- really does not get it. But this time, I have to go with the flow. The BOE needs to reconsider this situation.

Maybe Dr. Roberson should discard Lori's reprimand and send out one of his mass e-mails alerting his staff to be more careful in their approach to sensitive vocabulary. Dr. R. is a good man, and I do not consider him the type to cowtow to political correctness.

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 03/16/13 - 07:24 am
8
2
Really....

If the black leaders would worry 1/2 as much about black on black crime-deaths as they do about this word...well we probably could stop most of the black on black shootings....jmo

myfather ...thanks for your excellent post...

avidreader
3567
Points
avidreader 03/16/13 - 07:38 am
5
0
TKAM!

I have taught To Kill a Mockingbird for many years. My students fully comprehend that the use of the [slur] word is to enlighten people to its disgusting connotation. As in Huck Finn, the [slur] word is representative of the era, not included for purposes of shock value. Harper Lee also includes a dynamic question posed by Scout (an impressionable eight-year old) to her father. She says, "Atticus, do you defend [slur]s?" Atticus replies, "Don't use that word, Scout, it's common."

"Common" (bigotry) appears to be the message that Lori attempted to convey.

Truth Matters
8097
Points
Truth Matters 03/16/13 - 07:38 am
6
0
N-word

This may be a first; I agree with myfather15@7:30. Context in the case he described should have allowed his written report to stand.

I have not listened to Austin's show in years but I am sure he remembers all too well how he was pulled from the air for trying to make a point about the same word.

I could get away with what Lori did in maybe my church but I would not put it in print because of the possibility of printed words loosing context when read by others. None of us know the FULL context of what lead the teacher to this moment, but I know her and her Christian background and know she would only do this in the best interest of these kids' growth and development to be responsible citizens.

I am prayerful that now her students, and other students, and some adults, will recognize the trouble this word caused for a beloved teacher and will draw the conclusion that they, too, need to stop using it.

This incident has given me pause to reflect on my use of any word that can be offensive whether it has racial overtones or offends in other ways.

Truth Matters
8097
Points
Truth Matters 03/16/13 - 07:52 am
3
2
Leaders...

Seenitb4@8:24am

Should not leaders be concerned about white on white crime??

It does exist in this community, or do you not read the paper and listen to the news? I will say it again, most crimes are committed by persons of the same race as the victims. A dead person is no less dead regardless of what race they are. In Sandy Hook the shooter and the majority of the children were of the same race but I haven't read anyone suggesting that the solution be explored in the context of the race of either.

How do you suggest leaders curtail this violence that you imagine only exist in the black community? And don't say ban weapons because that will get you ex-communicated from the human race by NRA standards.

CobaltGeorge
176947
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/16/13 - 07:55 am
5
1
This Whole Issues Right Here In A Nutshell.

"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."

justthefacts
25478
Points
justthefacts 03/16/13 - 08:01 am
4
0
8:52

Denial. Again with the denial. Give it up seenit, it will not change in our lifetime.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 03/16/13 - 08:07 am
3
1
Lori Myles---Good Teacher

I am with Ms. Myles on this subject. Sometime, an attitude and behaviour adjustment requires a "two by four"(straight talk)! I don't like any profanity or derogatory words and/or phrases... to me, it is very disrespectful, and just plain wrong! I do not curse or say bad things, and I have no problem telling anyone around me not to do it. Like I said, it IS a "respect" thing! Every now and then, I find myself having to be a little harsh with some of our commenters and letters, but, that is because a little "tough love" is needed, that's right.. LOVE)!

deestafford
32200
Points
deestafford 03/16/13 - 08:31 am
3
1
I support the teacher; however,

one thing seems to be baffling to me not only in this instance but in many others dealing with schools. That is why in the world does everything have to go to the superintendent? Today, there are things going to the top level of the BOE that was handled by the assistant principal when I was in school. By the way, when I was in school we had a principal, an assistant principal, two secretaries, a counselor, a nurse, and a janitor. They, plus the teachers and lunch room ladies, were all the people we had who ran our high school of 1500. There was no going to the BOE to administer discipline. All, to include expulsion, was hanled at the school level.

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 03/16/13 - 08:30 am
4
3
Well hello truth matters

Do I read the news...hahahah...well let me see...at least 3 papers a day...internet also....more than I need to actually....because it makes me sick on a daily basis,...if truth really matters to YOU..what would you rather your young son face ...A bullet or an ugly word...I don't have time to spend on here today.....but I stand by my post...like it or not...I'm not a pc type person & don't plan to be either...bye

seenitB4
98561
Points
seenitB4 03/16/13 - 08:33 am
6
2
BTW

I will never say ban guns....that is the only thing keeping the baddies at bay....all color baddies...blue-yellow-black-white...if you are breaking into my house ...color won't matter..

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 03/16/13 - 08:37 am
0
0
blacks just
Unpublished

use this type of incident to further THEIR cause to keep 16 states under their thumbnail and scrutiny of the d.o.j. How many complaints have I read from whites about being referred to as "cracker", "honkie" and the like? I know blacks will come back with some remark concerning this but there are 2 sides to every story. Since 1964 only one side has mattered.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 03/16/13 - 08:59 am
4
2
seenitb4

Like I said, sometime we have to break out a "2 by 4"....I'm with you Sister!

Truth Matters
8097
Points
Truth Matters 03/16/13 - 08:59 am
5
2
"Denial" is not a river in Egypt

I acknowledge that too many many people are killed senslessly. I just take exception with the position that it effects only one community. Remember the mother-son who killed the poor wife in Windmill Plantation; 2 teens in Columbia county killed by gun in their home, and others. I am glad we agree on the need to stop crime and violence, we just disagree on ascribing dysfunction to one group.

You can have the last word.
I'm out of here.
Enjoy your weekend.

QwertytrewQ
37
Points
QwertytrewQ 03/16/13 - 09:34 am
2
3
Anytime the ACES gets
Unpublished

Anytime the ACES gets involved, im suspicious of the intent.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 03/16/13 - 09:38 am
1
5
The typical response from Hank
Unpublished

With all of the education Ms. Myles has, I wonder why she can't see how she is being used by this divisive paper and editorial team...

GiantsAllDay
10560
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/16/13 - 09:54 am
5
0
Mostly great comments here,

Mostly great comments here, and I agree with the majority here. Whoever is in charge of the golden apple awards, please give serious consideration to this fine woman. What a screwed up outfit the RCBOE must be. Reprimanding a teacher for doing what she is paid to do: teach.

itsanotherday1
48418
Points
itsanotherday1 03/16/13 - 10:19 am
4
0
@ Truth;

Yes, violence has no racial identity; but you must admit that minority youth are disproportionately represented in the violent crime stats. It may be that culturally they are more accepting of violent behavior for some reason, I don't know. I couldn't begin to speculate on the why's, but the numbers don't lie.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/16/13 - 10:21 am
6
3
Yes.....typical response from Hank
Unpublished

Don't address the topic....just insult and attack the source.

Darby
29480
Points
Darby 03/16/13 - 03:53 pm
4
2
Does anyone have ANY idea what....

TruthMatters was trying to say when he put forth the following??

"I will say it again, most crimes are committed by persons of the same race as the victims. A dead person is no less dead regardless of what race they are."
.

The statement reflects both the obvious and the inane. When white on white crime reaches the proportionality (per capita or as a percentage of the population) of black on black crime, then the "leaders" will have reason to be concerned.

In the meantime, crime of any kind should be dealt with appropriately and forcefully. Too many judges issue light sentences due to "overcrowded" prisons. The answer to that is to build more and larger prisons and provide only the most spartan of living conditions and care for the duration of the stay. By doing so, reduce costs and create an environment that makes the stay there very uncomfortable.

Jake
34126
Points
Jake 03/16/13 - 04:34 pm
4
0
Good stuff

A radical teaching tool from a teacher who knows how to make an impact on her students. I, for one, don't think words, ideas, symbols and anything you can grow should be illegal or banned. You can call me anything you like (some people have) and I might not like it but I don't think any words should banned because of it.
Of course you could skirt the issue like George Wallace did when he referred to African Americans as "Nigra's".

GiantsAllDay
10560
Points
GiantsAllDay 03/16/13 - 05:54 pm
3
1
You can't call me a crack-ER,

You can't call me a crack-ER, but it's perfectly OK to call me a crack-AH.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/16/13 - 05:54 pm
3
0
Surprisingly, Wallace wasn't shirting the issue at all with that

That is the way people in Alabama, where I lived as a child during the Wallace years, actually say the word "negro".

My brother spent a summer working at Coventry Cathedral one summer during his college years in the mid-1960s, and the UK newspapers that interviewed him and his group reacted the same way Jake did to their Southern accented pronunciation of that word, even accusing them of using the dreaded n-word.

But then, the Brits were a few decades ahead of us on the PC front.

harley_52
26109
Points
harley_52 03/16/13 - 06:56 pm
1
0
Poltical Correctness...

....is destroying America.

Being "offended" isn't the end of the world.

Speak clearly and say exactly what you mean to say.

nocnoc
49636
Points
nocnoc 03/16/13 - 07:23 pm
1
0
Understand the lesson objective

but totally disagree with the delivery process employed.

Given every one has great comments on this teachers creative
abilities, I sure she can find a process that can be applied by all teachers and not just certain teachers.

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