“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, February 19, 2017

12 Year Old Kids Exposed to Fascist Disinhibition and What I'm Doing about It

Dear Ms. ***, 

Thank you for your apology. 

As for the explanation, you know what? No. This isn’t about free speech. 

This is about fascist violence invading social space. 

This is about a disinhibited atmosphere in the country at large. At *** School boys now think it’s okay to yell “Male supremacy!” and “White power!” in front of my daughter. 

“Free speech” isn’t speech at all if it’s being used without listening, attention or care. 

Or perhaps I should demand that I do a PowerPoint in your class insisting that ***'s dad is a ********* (insert suitable very bad words here). Free speech, right? 

This is the same atmosphere that since November 9 2016 (the election of Donald Trump) has caused quiet, introverted kids at my job (Rice U) to wear swastikas, daub them on statues, and deface a piece of the Berlin Wall with “Trump 2016” and “aloha” (aka “good riddance Obama”). 


I’m going to start by reporting this incident and that involving her best friend, *** (see below) to my friends at the Houston Chronicle, Houstonia Magazine and Huffington Post. 

Then when the New Yorker phones me up for a scheduled interview on Thursday, I’m going to report it to them too. 

I will not stop until you, Principal *** and the school at large have joined me in doing everything in our power to end this outpouring of obscenity in social space. 

Yours sincerely,
Timothy Morton

On Feb 19, 2017, at 10:19 AM, ***  wrote:

I apologize to you and most especially to your daughter. 
As I think you know, parents coming to lecture is encouraged in our *** class with community building in mind.
We had a presentation from an attorney who chose to speak on free speech. Mr. *** reviewed the concept in context of several examples. He made it very clear that hate speech is never legal or acceptable in school or any institutional setting. 
I was surprised when students clapped and thought it was due to politeness, definitely not prompted by me.
Thank you.


(February 18)

Thank you for brining to my attention.  Let me meet with Ms. *** and get all the details.  I will follow-up with you.  Please provide a number you can be reached at.


(February 17)

Thank you ***. How did it go? 

I'm afraid I have something else to report. 

It's about Miss ***'s *** class. 

Today there was a PowerPoint by ***' dad. 

It said that the KKK and the Nazi party are exercising their freedom of speech by using swastikas etc. 

It also said that the women's marches, by excluding pro life women, "are tearing our country apart." (His actual words in quotation marks.)

They were all made to clap at the end. 

What are we going to do about this?

I'm considering reporting it to the Houston Chronicle. 

With best wishes,

 (January 30)

We will follow-up.



(January 30)

Dear Ms. ***, 

I'm deeply concerned about hate speech against ***, the daughter of a Muslim. Many things have happened to her recently, but perhaps the worst happened today, where students said "she should be killed before she bombs the school," 

This is absolutely unacceptable as I'm sure you know. 

The disinhibiting effect of the current president's speech has resulted in students at my job (Rice U), who are normally very shy and introverted, doing things such as wearing swastikas in the library. 

I understand from my daughter, who is *** best friend, that students have drawn swastikas on the dividers of students who attend classes that *** attends. 

When stuff happens at my school I tell the president to make a statement--he usually doesn't do it, for whatever reason--but I just couldn't hear what I have been hearing without writing to you to share. 

Yours sincerely, 
Timothy Morton


D. E.M. said...

I don't under the explanation-- is it the KKK example was used as an example of hate speech or of free speech?
And the pro-life bit?
What a mess.
How about they teach the kids how to garden, volunteer at shelters, knit for kittens, and dance for fun.
No need to even talk about the KKK. Give them no airspace.

John T. Maher said...

I understand this is about the normalization of fascism in the minds of students. Going back to the primary source:

"It said that the KKK and the Nazi party are exercising their freedom of speech by using swastikas etc." Perhaps the problem for American society as a whole is technically dad is correct -- there is a legal right to do so. (See clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTyHW3sY9_A) Perhaps a more ordered and considered society would enact curtailments of hate speech. Perhaps schools should contextualize the use of such speech and moderate outside presenters. So dad may be an odoriferous troll but yet he is not incorrect as a matter of law. Can crosses also qualify as free speech upon the same basis? Yup. And may crosses also be considered hate speech? That faith has been indicted in genocide and oppression.


"women's marches, by excluding pro life women, 'are tearing our country apart.' (His actual words in quotation marks.)" The hatepolitik aside, this is a difficult statement for its maker to justify as a matter of logic because it contains a subjective and unprovable political component -- mere opinion. Is that the standard then? One's own prejudices? The school clearly ought not to have allowed this one.

I am sure the readers of E W/O N all hope TM pays a visit, skoolz the principal, and does so in a polite, elegant and mind-bending way. I know I want to read such a blog post next week.