Monday, May 25, 2009

Standing up to the Man

One little story on the Yahoo Answers board has been picking up steam online lately, and I have to say the whole thing makes me jealous.

Back in high school I had a rep for earning the enmity of the school authorities for a certain political outspokenness, and a willingness to agitate and organize. There was one principal in particular who I did not see eye to eye with, and we had a certain run in that ended less than amicably. The end result being that though I won my little battle, I most certainly did not win the war, as I learned after barely avoiding several subsequent attempts to have me (unsuccessfully) removed from school, and being prevented from being the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.

Whatever issues I had, they were always small issues that blew up into big ones over time, and my cause, as I look back on it now, while not entirely laughable, would have been better served by a more thoughtful approach. What all happened, and what was done about it, I'll save for another day, but bringing it up allows me to segue into a very interesting story of rebellion, and making a stand that is being approached in the right manner.

An American high school student posting under the alias of Kat Atreides, recently reached out to ask others if their small campaign of civil disobedience was a good thing. Basically, Kat objects to the notion of a banned books list at their school, especially a list that goes for more than a few pages. In response, Kat has stuffed an empty locker with 62 books off of that banned list, and runs a small "illegal" library out of that locker, signing out books, assigning due dates - the whole deal.

In response to Kat's actions, students at the school have taken up reading as the thing-to-do, and that little illegal library is doing a roaring trade in spreading literary subversion to the normally illiterate teenage masses.

Kat is quite certain that when knowledge of the little library finally makes its way to the wrong authorities, suspensions and even expulsions may be in order. And seeing as how the Supreme Court of the United States has regularly come down on the side of school authorities where questions of free speech on school grounds are concerned (schools are mini dictatorships - there is no real free-speech protection), Kat cannot rely on a first amendment defense.

That said, I am sure that if this story makes its way to the court of public opinion, especially through the televised media, this story will become very interesting, very quickly.

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