Look, I don’t want Joel Ward to score another series-winning goal this playoff season. No. Not at all. And if he did, I would probably be very upset and vent my frustration on Twitter.
The reason why? Well, Joel Ward plays for the Washington Capitals and I … well … I’m a New York Rangers fan.
If you don’t know why I brought this up, I suggest you check out this piece on Deadspin: “Here’s How Racists on Twitter Reacted to Joel Ward’s Series-Winning Goal Against Boston.”
Joel Ward is a light-scoring winger for the Capitals, who was in the right place and the right time to put home the overtime series-winner to send Washington past Boston in game 7. Completely unrelated, for most of us, is that Ward’s parents were Barbadian immigrants to Toronto. So there were a good number of viewers who didn’t see a Capital, or an unlucky rebound, or the heartbreaking flukiness of the playoffs—they saw a black guy.
More relevant to our particular conversation here is the fact that some of the people Tweeting racist sentiment in the direction of Ward and his accomplishment happened to be high school students who are now suspended for their Tweets (“Students who made racist Twitter posts face sports suspensions, more” –Gloucester Times, 5/4/2012 and “High School Students in New England Face Suspension From Team Activity For Racist Joel Ward Tweets” –Deadspin, 5/5/2012)
According to the Gloucester Times story, the superintendent of schools justified the suspension, saying:
“I want to state how profoundly disturbing such remarks area att any time and in any context,” Safier said. “The racial epithets expressed were compounded by their publication on a national sports website. We take this issue seriously. Such misconduct contradicts the values and standards of Gloucester High School and the Gloucester Public Schools as a whole.”
In contrast to the Gloucester story is this one out of Tennessee: “Tennessee High’s Yearbook Advisor Slammed for Allowing ‘It’s Okay to Be Gay’ Student Profile” (Huffington Post, 5/4/12). In this case, a student wrote an essay in his high school yearbook about being openly homosexual and several people including a school board member, are being intolerant:
However, one person who is not OK with the article is Loudon County School Board member Van Shaver, who is calling for a criminal investigation of the yearbook’s faculty adviser, James Yoakley.
“Some might think I’m intolerant toward homosexuals but that would be wrong,”Shaver wrote on his blog. “If an individual wants to be a homosexual, that’s their own decision and they will have to live with the consequences of that decision. What I am intolerant of is an adult, a teacher no less, inflicting their personal beliefs and sexual orientation decisions on impressionable students.” He concluded, “I know many other parents and members of our community expect a full and open investigation by school administrators and law enforcement into this issue and to hold accountable any and all those who had a hand in this despicable act.”
(btw, you can read the entire essay here)
So what does one have to do with the other? Well, they’re seemingly unrelated, which is why you have a blogger like me innovatively stringing them together for material. Both cases do have to deal with students’ expressing themselves but in the first case, the students expressing themselves need to be taught a lesson and in the second case, the school board member needs to be taught a lesson. Both lessons involve the First Amendment and tolerance. Read the rest of this entry »