View Full Version : enemy of the state

10-07-2005, 02:48 PM
Civics Student...or Enemy of America?

By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive. Posted October 7, 2005.

Selina Jarvis is the chair of the social studies department at Currituck County High School in North Carolina, and she is not used to having the Secret Service question her or one of her students.

But that's what happened on September 20.

Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says. One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb's-down sign with his own hand next to the President's picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster."

According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent. But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect.

An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service. On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High.

"At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had taken his poster," Jarvis says. "I didn't believe him at first. But they had come into my room when I wasn't there and had taken his poster, which was in a stack with all the others."

She says the student was upset. "He was nervous, he was scared, and his parents were out of town on business," says Jarvis. She, too, had to talk to the Secret Service.

"Halfway through my afternoon class, the assistant principal got me out of class and took me to the office conference room," she says. "Two men from the Secret Service were there. They asked me what I knew about the student. I told them he was a great kid, that he was in the homecoming court, and that he'd never been in any trouble."

Then they got down to his poster.

"They asked me, didn't I think that it was suspicious," she recalls. "I said no, it was a Bill of Rights project!"

At the end of the meeting, they told her the incident "would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted," she says.

The student was not indicted, and the Secret Service did not pursue the case further.

"I blame Wal-Mart more than anybody," she says. "I was really disgusted with them. But everyone was using poor judgment, from Wal-Mart up to the Secret Service."

When contacted, an employee in the photo department at the Wal-Mart in Kitty Hawk said, "You have to call either the home office or the authorities to get any information about that."

Jacquie Young, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart at company headquarters, did not provide comment within a 24-hour period.

Sharon Davenport of the Kitty Hawk Police Department said, "We just handed it over" to the Secret Service. "No investigative report was filed." Jonathan Scherry, spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, D.C., said, "We certainly respect artistic freedom, but we also have the responsibility to look into incidents when necessary. In this case, it was brought to our attention from a private citizen, a photo lab employee."

Jarvis uses one word to describe the whole incident: "ridiculous."

John of Phoenix
10-07-2005, 02:56 PM
...the incident "would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted." What would the charge have been?

Gary E
10-07-2005, 03:02 PM
Originally posted by John Teetsel:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> ...the incident "would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted." What would the charge have been?</font>[/QUOTE]Making a "Pin the tail on a Donkey Poster" ?

Phillip Allen
10-07-2005, 03:29 PM
The thought of such events is troubling. I understand that children have been expelled for pointing at other students in the classic child-like immitation of a gun. Others have been sent home for drawing such pictures on their Big Chief tablets...where are the NEA, teachers and their administrators taking us?

Keith Wilson
10-07-2005, 03:41 PM
Phillip, this incident had nothing to do with the NEA or any school teacher or administrator. It was reported by some yahoo at Wal-Wart, and investigated by Secret Service folks who obviously had WAY too much time on their hands.

10-07-2005, 03:41 PM
Nice try phillip, but in this case the teacher is defending the student against the republicann controlled government.

Phillip Allen
10-07-2005, 03:47 PM
I see that Pat...I just can't help thinking of the other stuff too...worries hell outa me

edited to add: Keith is also right...still worries me a lot

[ 10-07-2005, 04:49 PM: Message edited by: Phillip Allen ]

Phillip Allen
10-07-2005, 03:50 PM
Brave New World

Nicholas Carey
10-07-2005, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by John Teetsel:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> ...the incident "would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted." What would the charge have been?</font>[/QUOTE]It's a violation of the law to "threaten" the president (18 USC 871 (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000871----000-.html)) &mdash; 5 years hard.

I have a hard time seeing that student's poster being interpreted as a threat, though. That might be a hard sell in court.

I suppose it has to do with the relative size of the shrubbery's head and the red thumbtack. Perhaps the Wal-Mart clerk exercised editorial judgment and determined that the thumbtack represented a bullet hole?

Phillip Allen
10-07-2005, 07:26 PM
I would like for that Wal-Mart employ's name to be posted for the world to see lest we return to something like the Committee of revolutionary France.

George Roberts
10-07-2005, 07:41 PM
Nicholas Carey ---

I believe that the code referrs to mailing a threat to the president.

Posting a threat at a school fails to involve the proper people.

Now if this thread is mailed to the president the mailer might be guilty even though he did not make the threat.

[ 10-07-2005, 08:41 PM: Message edited by: George Roberts ]

10-07-2005, 07:56 PM
A few years ago a number of San Jose (CA) students were actually arrested after a photo-store clerk (Longs, Rite-Aid, something like that) developed some photos of the students posing with rifles and ski masks. The clerk apparently thought they were planning a Columbine style attack.

Unless there is a clear evidence of a crime (such as child molestation) it would appear to me that clerks in that case and this are over-reaching and violating the privacy of their customers. It may not in itself be illegal, but to me its unprofessional.

That being said, its a poor teacher who can't figure out a way to teach social studies without politicizing the classroom. IMHO, this one doesn't cut the grade. (And, yes, I do have professional experience with teaching).

[edited to fix spelling mistakes]

[ 10-07-2005, 10:35 PM: Message edited by: Jagermeister ]

Peter Malcolm Jardine
10-07-2005, 08:38 PM
Making a "Pin the tail on a Donkey Poster" ? Well, this one make me snork cereal milk up my nose.... :D :D :D :D

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
10-07-2005, 09:16 PM
Hmmmmm......what a crock. tongue.gif
I thought Nixon was bad but Dubya makes him look like a choir boy. :D

Quote...."That being said, its a poor teacher who can't figure out a way to teach social studies without politicizing the classroom. IMHO, this one doesn't cut the grade. (Any, yes, I do have professional experience with teaching).

*you must be one of those rare conservative California teachers planted by the CIA.
What exactly do you teach? tongue.gif

10-07-2005, 09:25 PM
rare conservative California teachers planted by the CIA Well, I thank you for recognizing my uniqueness. :D It's always great to be appreciated. As for the rest: as it turns out, I think of myself as more libertarian than conservative, and I've never taught in California, and if I DID work for the CIA I couldn't very well admit it, now could I? But thank you all the same.

I taught software engineering at one time. Currently I succumb to the "golden handcuffs" of industry. Its much more profitable than government employment.

[edited to add]

Here's what I mean about not politicizing the classroom.

It's difficult to teach a subject if people are overly emotional about the content. The goal (at least for me) is to develop critical thinking, reasoning, the ability to debate ideas, AND the ability to listen and respond appropriately to the other party. You can't very well do that with highly charged topics such as religion, current politics, abortion, gun control, and a host of others. Discussions of those types will tend to arise in any situation, but for the good of the class, to avoid alienating any of the students, and promote learning, a good teacher learns how to avoid such topics, and steer away from them if they come up in the classroom. IMHO, "jingoism" has no place in the classroom.

I always tried to teach skills that would be useful in real life. No employer wants to hire someone who can't resolve their differences. It is very hard to teach people how to resolve their differences if the subject matter is one about which they hold emotional views, as opposed to rational views. As I said, politics, religion, etc. Not good subjects for teaching rational discussion.

That's all I meant.

[ 10-07-2005, 10:41 PM: Message edited by: Jagermeister ]

Wild Wassa
10-07-2005, 09:29 PM
Google 'failure'. Then klick the 'I'm feeling lucky' tab ... if you feel like it.

I did expect to see the Lying Rodent ... Little Johnny but I ended up with a bigger rodent.


Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
10-07-2005, 10:58 PM
You would have had fun teaching high school or college back in the late 60's and early 70's. Everyone was political and emotional. My father did it and I have alot of respect for his experience. "The times they are a changin". :D

10-08-2005, 02:04 PM
Jagermeister - I fail to see how a unit on the Bill of Rights and the expression thereof is "politicizing" the classroom?

If people don't know and defend their rights, they might as well not have them - which would suit the plutocrats that run this country just fine. :mad:

Nicholas Carey
10-08-2005, 10:13 PM
Originally posted by George Roberts:
Nicholas Carey ---

I believe that the code referrs to mailing a threat to the president.Nope. It just starts with the mails and then goes on for a blanket prohibition:
...or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.Mouthing off at the bar (or making a silly poster) can get you 5 hard.

[ 10-08-2005, 11:24 PM: Message edited by: Nicholas Carey ]

10-09-2005, 12:46 AM
I should think you'd be a pretty unique teacher if you did manage to politicize a software engineering lesson. On the other hand teaching social science is often going to be close to the line where it will look politicized to someone of a slightly different viewpoint. The photolab employee shouldn't even be lookin at the dam photos.

10-09-2005, 01:59 AM
What would you think if the teacher allowed a student to do a presentation of their support for the NAZI party and their eugenics program? You might think that Jewish students, for example, deserved to be protected from such expressions in the classroom. Sometimes students must be told that certain opinions are best expressed outside the classroom. I read it often enough on this forum regarding religion in the classroom. I think most people know what is "politicizing". Some are just willing to endure it as long as it is their opinions that are expressed. I think that is called hypocrisy.

As far as politics in a software class. You would think that wooden boats wouldn’t be political, but look at this forum. People feel driven to express their ideas and try to convince others. Even myself, who knows the futility of my actions, engage in it. If a teacher doesn’t avoid it, it will come up in almost any class.

Social studies and politics can certainly be taught without politicizing the class. It might start with an essay on what administration policy the student dislikes, and what they would like to see done differently. “Down with Bush” might make some people feel good, but it isn’t enlightening. It is sloganeering and politicizing – no different from “So’s your mama”. The fact is that most students, and most Americans, don’t even know how policy is made, how budgets are appropriated, who is responsible, or for that matter what are the limits and rights of the First Amendment.

Look how often threads on this forum deteriorate into name calling, mud slinging, out-of-context quotes, and game of “got-cha”. None of that that advances a discussion – it just fuels rage. Why do people react that way? I put forward that much of it stems from their patterning – the education they received at home and in school that taught them how to resolve conflict, negotiate, frame a debate, put forth their ideas and defend them. I fail to see how making a picture of Bush with a “thumbs down” meets any of those goals beyond the most trivial expression of “free speech”.

As to the excesses of the Wal-Mart clerk reporting the picture. In some areas photo-processing clerks are required by law to examine the photos they process and report criminal behavior. No doubt it was some “good intention” that spawned such a law, such as preventing child pornography. However, once you let the government into your private affairs don’t be surprised if they move in completely. It is absurd to expect a clerk to exercise the judgement to report one and recognize the legality of the other. Too many people seem to expect “freedom for me but not for thee”.

George Roberts
10-09-2005, 10:13 AM
Nicholas Carey ----

My error.

I hope the president does not feel threatened by anything I have said.

Ian McColgin
10-10-2005, 07:15 AM
Many teachers besides myself have brought controversy to the classroom. It's a great learning experience when students learn to express, defend and attack with reason and with the aim of persuasion. They can then realize the difference between the full democratic process, involving as it does persuasion and compromise, versus the fascistic perversion of majority tyranny.