The Water…

…in Boulder and Fort Collins must contain something I’m not getting down here in Denver because there are some people who may need to rethink certain things. There’s two stories below with my comments. I’d love to hear your informed, mature and thought out opinions in the comments.

Before I go any further, I should lay out my cards on the table. I’m a registered Republican of the non-denominational Christian Faith with a conservative streak. There, got that disclaimer out of the way.

In Boulder some non-voting high schoolers apparently are all upset about having to say the pledge of allegiance even though they don’t have to say it. But that’s beside the point.

About 100 other students watched as the group recited their own pledge to both the American flag and the planet.

I suppose I’m someone who becomes concerned when students become activists about things that send red flags flying through the small mind I have. I express reservations because I have come to suspect parents, teachers and others who are older in age having pushed these kids to do these things and say these things to prove some kind of interesting point about church and state. Although I had to chuckle at the pledge to the planet because that’s typical Boulder. My suspects are somewhat confirmed with the quote from the article in question,

He said the school has no choice but to say the pledge because it is required by state law. Most of the students who watched today’s protest were sympathetic, and cheered on their schoolmates. But senior Donovan Ranta, 17, said, “I think everybody is doing it to get attention.”

You’ll also want to take a look at the picture of the logo of the student group (see the link above). The red star sends green and yellow flags in my mind because I’m used to seeing that type of imagery on Communist and Socialist propaganda. Again, I’m not saying these kids should be sent to Gitmo or anything (that’d be jumping the shark before we even caught it) but I’m also cautious about these kind of things.

On 850 KOA earlier this morning there was talk from the school district about how the pronouncement of “God” is not religion specific and can be interpreted to mean a general non specific Deity. Again, the kids making the move has me wondering about outside influences. Apologies to Boulder but y’all have earned this kind of questioning.

My second story is the now blazing firestorm of a controversy where a student newspaper decided they would so something everyone else in the last four or so years has done. Bash Bush. Oh my goodness! They’re breaking the mold! However did they approach such a tired (I’m sorry, but I’m really getting bored with all this “BUSH IS THE DEVIL” junk. It’s tired, it’s lame and it’s not helping anyone) and worn out maneuver?

They referenced the tazer incident (later proved the guy was a complete phony going for attention but the college newspaper staff didn’t seem to care) in a short and unruly commentary that included the use of the four letter word that starts with “F” and ends with “K”. That was the extent of their statement. Nothing for debate, no discussion of why they believe what they think is Bush’s fault in the incident that involved a kid at a John Kerry event or any kind of explanation of the column.

They have a right to free speech and I would defend it until the day I die. However as many have said, Free Speech comes with consequences. If your foray into free speech costs your college newspaper $50,000 in advertising you’re going to be under a microscope. If you decide to take all the learning, the teachings and real world experience you’ve had in the journalistic sphere and then throw it out the window with the baby and the bathwater, you’re going to find yourself with people very upset.

As a journalist at back in the day at Littleton High School , “blogger” and even now a writer here at Denver Metroblog I’ve always found that when writing a column or post about something that careens into opinion that a explanation of why I feel the way I do and how I got there is usually required. If you’re going to be someone to be taken seriously in this world and wish to show people you perspective without seriously pushing a major button, you have to be mature about it.

I don’t believe this guy should be fired. I think the advertisers are acting to protect themselves from the fallout. They don’t want to be associated with a petulant child who can’t seem to express themselves without throwing an infantile fit. And so, they’re pulling away. That is their right. I think our editor person should take a stand. If you believe what you believe, then so be it. Say it and stand by it.

But you have to accept the consequences of your actions. Nothing is free. The one thing more people in this nation, world, planet, whatever need to learn is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For this blog post, there will be reactions. Some in the Denver community will probably have already stopped reading this column way up there where I talked about my background. Others have gotten this far and are probably steaming. And maybe a few are nodding their heads along with me.

An interesting note is that he’s retained David Lane, he of the Ward Churchill cluster of insanity and other local controversy. Most Denver news stations and radio stations have said that this guy hasn’t been charged with anything and isn’t in trouble with the law. Needless, if this story picks up much more steam and becomes another Mound of Churchill I’m going to do my best to express my opinions and feelings in a manner that is both professional, mature and informed.

It is the one thing J. David McSwane needs to take away from this.

So, what do you think?

14 Comments so far

  1. Scott (unregistered) on September 27th, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

    I’ve no doubt that the kids pulled that read star from its socialist roots. There’s not any problem with that. There is certianly room in America for all sorts of descenting opinion. That’s why I also don’t have a problem with their electing not to say the pledge. It seems they were respectful and will suffer no consequences which is great. I love to see students active so long as they’re not being overly disruptive or disrespectful. Maybe they were “pushed” maybe they weren’t. We all had people and groups that we admired as kids and that often informs your actions. You act like those you admire often without prompting.

    Student papers should get a fair amount of leniency. It should be about learning what it means to be a journo. Being a student means pushing the envelope often to the breaking point. It sounds like they’re failing to do that, rehashing current issues in the news and adding nothing new. So no firing should happen, unless it’s firing the teacher or editor for not working them harder.


  2. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on September 27th, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

    “You act like those you admire often without prompting.”

    You may have a point…but I’m still leery of those Boulderites. “The Peoples Republic of Boulder” is a nickname that’s stuck pretty good…:)

    “So no firing should happen, unless it’s firing the teacher or editor for not working them harder.”

    I think that’s where I got the most upset. If this is the best our educational system could produce…may the Good Lord have mercy on the future of our nation…:) Thanks for pushing me a little Scott on the first item. I’ll munch on that nugget a little more.


  3. hubs (unregistered) on September 28th, 2007 @ 12:34 am

    You were a journalist at Littleton High? Yearbook or school paper? I went to Columbine, 1991. A note on student editor David McSwane: When he was a senior at Arvada West High School he posed as a pot-smoking, high school dropout to expose unethical recruitment practices in the army. His expose actually launched a Senate investigation. I’d say this kid has a future. Just so you know, he puts his money (reputation) where his mouth is.

    also, we need to a stop to this boulder before it gets out of control!


  4. Jason Ackerman (unregistered) on September 29th, 2007 @ 8:21 am

    hmmm. well, the pledge thing is pretty silly. If I remember the story right, no one was *required* to say anything. Now for this moderately conservative Christian pastor, I would prefer the schools did not put the pledge of allegiance in the classroom. While I get the students’ point… ugh. The whole ‘walk out of class’ thing just doesn’t say what it used to.

    I remember a group of students at my Jr. Hi. walking out of class in protest of something, don’t even remember what it was… but approximately 3 students cared about the issue and the rest wanted to walk out of class en masse. Are they making their point? Maybe. Is it the battlefield of protest that they want to die on? Doubtful. Just respectfully shut your mouth, ignore the pledge, and move on. The school might find over time that fewer and fewer students participate, and that perhaps it’s not the correct time and place for it.

    As for the newspaper editor thing… dude. I agree that if this is all that can be said (F-Bush), then God help us. I’m not first in line to be a Bush apologist, but rest assured that if the headline said “F-Pelosi”, or “F-Clinton” (either one), we wouldn’t be having this discussion, because the firing would already be done, in the name of swift justice.

    If the editor is fired, it should be for being lazy and being unable to state a coherent argument. Resorting to f-bombs and insults is a tool of school children (and the occasional senator), not a means of meaningful, adult public discourse.


  5. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on September 29th, 2007 @ 11:52 am

    Hubs,

    “You were a journalist at Littleton High? Yearbook or school paper?”

    School Paper. I graduated in 2001 so a little beyond your time…:)

    And Jason,

    “Resorting to f-bombs and insults is a tool of school children (and the occasional senator), not a means of meaningful, adult public discourse.”

    AMEN! This is something those in my generation don’t seem to understand. Boggles the mind.


  6. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on September 29th, 2007 @ 11:55 am

    And Hubs in regards to him putting his mouth where his money is or whatever…sure, he proved himself a impressive feat doing the undercover work. That’s the power of the reporter and the media.

    But this little infantile incident overshadows all that hard work he did and to me…wipes out the respect I had for him before.


  7. Valerie (unregistered) on September 30th, 2007 @ 8:01 am

    The first time I wondered who was running BHS (adults or kids) was when I stopped by the principal’s office to pick up a school newspaper and saw the feature story about different pleasures that the kids enjoyed.
    There was a sidebar, plus a photo and 1/3 page story about how much this one boy enjoyed oral sex.
    Who do you complain to when your son’s English teacher is the faculty advisor for the paper and the school secretary is giving out the papers?


  8. dicker (unregistered) on September 30th, 2007 @ 6:54 pm

    Bush bashing may be tired and unproductive, but so is bashing Boulder in general and the High School in particular. Bill O’Reilly seems to be making a career out of it.

    And as far as students being “put up to it” by outside forces, well, sure but let’s also level the same criticism at every politicized Christian youth group…


  9. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on September 30th, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

    “so is bashing Boulder in general and the High School in particular.”

    I think considering what my response *could* have been it was a rather reasoned and even handed statement I put out there. I think the only time I directly “bashed” Boulder was the following,

    “Apologies to Boulder but y’all have earned this kind of questioning.”

    I don’t see my bashing. If you can give me some specifics I’d be happy to apologize if I find my words were misplaced or offensively written.

    “Bill O’Reilly seems to be making a career out of it.”

    I don’t think I directly insulted Boulder. I questioned the students actions and cast doubt on the intentions of the young minds, but I’m not sure where I went to the sometimes uncalled for level of Bill O’Reilly.

    Also,

    “well, sure but let’s also level the same criticism at every politicized Christian youth group…”

    Start me a list please. I’d like to know which churches/groups/organizations you’re referencing and the incidents in question. If you want to make blanket statements about general things without specifics for me to examine and clarify, this discussion is heading into straw man territory.


  10. dicker (unregistered) on October 1st, 2007 @ 10:27 am

    Perhaps bashing was too strong a word. But Boulder is an easy target, no?

    Also, what’s the point in getting worked up about high school activism? I mean, whether it’s left or right half the time it’s just kids acting out or getting their feet wet in the political fray. It’s usually quite meaningless.

    I don’t have time to catalogue every right wing Christian youth group that’s politicized by outside forces, i.e. their parents and pastors. But a cursory look at the creepy “Purity Ball” movement and any number of anti abortion groups will give you a hint. Yes, I know it was a bit of a freak show but see the documentaries Hell House or Jesus Camp for a taste of what i’m talking about.


  11. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on October 1st, 2007 @ 5:37 pm

    “But Boulder is an easy target, no?”

    If this kind of stuff was happening in Denver, Pueblo, Durango, Littleton or anywhere in this state I would make a post and write out my issues and concerns.

    “Also, what’s the point in getting worked up about high school activism? I mean, whether it’s left or right half the time it’s just kids acting out or getting their feet wet in the political fray. It’s usually quite meaningless.”

    The whole immigration thing down in Cali when we had kids walking out of school, jumping fences, putting up flags upside down? That’s where my concern lies. Sure, we’re far from Cali but I believe it’s a valid concern.

    “Purity Ball” movement and any number of anti abortion groups will give you a hint. Yes, I know it was a bit of a freak show but see the documentaries Hell House or Jesus Camp for a taste of what i’m talking about.”

    Well, if you’re using that demographic to make your statements, then you’re not looking at the whole picture. The Jesus Camp video gives me the creeps when I see the clips and read about the details. There’s a line between evangelizing and freaking everybody out with your approach. I understand *what* that group believes but don’t think that is the accurate manner in which to go and I think you’ll find a large portion of Christian groups that sit in my corner.

    And Anti-Abortion groups with the signs and all that are despised within most circles. Again, you’re looking at extreme groups and in your words, “Freakshows”. Everybody has them. You have to look beyond those groups. Usually they don’t have a following in mainstream Christian churches.

    And Hell House was another black mark on our faith. I hated the idea when I heard about it and knew it was not going to help reach out to people or show what Christianity is really all about.

    So the groups you’ve pointed out are ones most Christians tend to not support. Also,

    “I don’t have time to catalogue every right wing Christian youth group that’s politicized by outside forces, i.e. their parents and pastors.”

    Then don’t say something that you can’t explain or back up without falling back on groups that are far from mainstream and generally ignored.

    Look, I can see from your past posts on Denver Metroblogs that you don’t seem to like the Christian based or Republican based crowd at all. And I doubt based on the language you’ve used previously and now that I’m going to change any of this impressions you’ve formed.

    I can hope that I’ll be able to give you a different perspective that may give you something to think about.


  12. dicker (unregistered) on October 1st, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

    I don’t think these groups are all that extreme within the context of conservative evangelicals in the culture wars. And I can back up my point, thanks.

    In the examples I mentioned the tactics, like you suggest, may be offputting to mainstream Christians. However, the underlying commitment to making real a collective aspiration for a biblically correct lifestyle writ large o’er the nation is not.

    If I pointed solely to Fred Phelps and friends, that’d be too extreme. But I’m not.

    Prior to last November Ted Haggard was certainly a mainstream American Christian. When you read his books and listen to the speeches he made for his congregation (as opposed to CNN) you realize his views weren’t terribly moderate. I’m talking territorial spirits, demonic possession of cities, countries etc…

    So it’s not like Jesus Camp or Hell House is so isolated or freakish, even though it does seem that way on initial viewing. They didn’t exist in a bubble. One gives tacit support to the other in much the same way that, say, you couldn’t have had 911 hijackers without the Saudi government creating the ideological space for them. Ditto that for James Dobson who’s in many ways a Leninist for the Christian right. Check out the FOTF Visitor Center, it’s very Chariman Mao, i.e. a cult of Dobson shrine. But Spongedob is considered mainstream for no other reason than the size and reach of his listnership.

    Since you’re arguing that I’m painting the extreme as the norm I thought I’d throw these back at you and see if you still think that’s the case. My point is that the norm isn’t that far off from the extreme. Exhibit B: the coming Iran conflagaration.

    FYI: I often comment in ways that are a lot more critical of the left than the right. I’m just having fun with these ideas right now. It certainly isn’t personal.


  13. Aaron DeLay (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

    “I don’t think these groups are all that extreme within the context of conservative evangelicals in the culture wars.”

    Then we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.

    Also, Dobson is not someone I like very much anymore. He’s one very much off the reservation. Very much. As for Ted Haggard, if he wasn’t a Christian this discussion wouldn’t be happening. I understand people look at “us” and expect more but the real reality is that we’re just like everyone else. That’s part of the fun and dangers of being a Christian. Every person is a hypocrit but Christians are even more so because of what we believe and follow. Do I excuse Ted Haggard? By no means. I’m just saying this anti-Christian (or you could even say anti-faith) bent this world seems to be careening down needs some re-examining.

    “My point is that the norm isn’t that far off from the extreme. Exhibit B: the coming Iran conflagration.”

    If we attack Iran, all is lost. I don’t believe we will because of the massive blowback it would cause. Do I think Iran’s ruling government and President are a bunch of goob’s filled with anti-Isreal venom that seems to be boiling to a nice simmer with “US IS SATAN” mixture and is a anti-woman nation with it’s laws, Sharia mindset and all? Yes. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to attack. I think we’ve learned our lesson (the hard way) about what we can and cannot do in this day and age.

    “It certainly isn’t personal.”

    You’ve held that line very carefully and I appreciate it.

    Exit question. If September 11th had happened in Communist China and the same suspects were involved, would this situation had played out differently? It’s something I’ve thought long and hard about.


  14. dicker (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2007 @ 7:42 am

    Hi Aaron,

    I figure we’re pretty much talking to each other in public at this point, which is fine by me.

    Good question on China. I haven’t a clue.

    Just one clarification, I was talking about Haggard pre-scandal. His advocacy of spiritual mapping, spiritual warfare, etc… That seems, in your words, off the reservation.

    As for Iran, I just got through with the Seymour Hersh piece in the current New Yorker and it does seem to point to the likelihood of surgical air strikes against Iran.

    There was a bit in there about how most Republicans don’t want this at all, but that the administration doesn’t really care about their political concerns. Creepy stuff for sure.

    Anyway, I’m sure we’ll pick up this conversation in a subsequent post.

    Best,
    John



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