You can't shame irate nuts into acting like sensible parents, but you can shame sensible parents into feeling as though they're acting like irate nuts
>> Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's a turn or two past on the news cycle, but Lance Mannion is making sense:
I'm sure the school districts that didn't show the speech live got calls from sensible parents but most of the calls were likely polite and...sensible, making them easy to listen to with half an ear and then shrug off with a polite and reasonable sounding "I appreciate your concern" or "Thank you for taking the time to let us know what you think" or a completely insincere and certainly not bought for a minute "Let me get back to you." Officials can also lie without fear to the sensible parents. They can say, "I appreciate where you're coming from, but we did have a lot of parents calling in with the opposite view and we have to take everybody's opinion into consideration," and be fairly confident that the sensible parent on the line won't demand to know how many parents is "a lot." They also know that they can turn things around on sensible parents. If a sensible parent starts to challenge them or calls their lies lies or loses his or her cool even just a little bit, the practiced official can say, "Please don't take that tone with me" or "We need to be adults about this" or "I understand you're upset, but we're not going to get anywhere if you won't listen to me" or something equally unctuous and hypocritical that works to make the sensible parent feel not quite so sensible. You can't shame irate nuts into acting like sensible parents, but you can shame sensible parents into feeling as though they're acting like irate nuts.No doubt. The people who convinced the principal at my wife's school to forego showing the speech were -- literally -- some of the same people who insisted several years back that the 7th grade social studies curriculum needed to incorporate bogus archaeological theories to the effect that "white people" arrived in North America long before anyone else did. In a school district with high percentages of "at-risk" youth, and in a district that's encouraging teachers and staff to wear buttons that read "Connect!" -- as in, "connect with students so they won't drop out someday" -- a handful of irate nuts managed to keep an entire middle school from watching a speech from someone who, while perhaps not fitting the narrow definition of "at-risk youth," nevertheless came from a background that many kids would have been able to identify with. If, by comparison, I lived in a school district filled with affluent white kids who were likely to grow up to be coke-snorting Ivy League frat boy sluggarts, I'd like to think I'd be magnanimous enough not to complain if George W. Bush wanted to offer them a few words of inspiration.