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Once upon a time, it was considered tacky for high school teachers to inflict their personal political opinions on their students. Teachers thought of themselves as educators committed to training their pupils the art of critical thinking and expanding their young minds, not indoctrinators suppressing debate and imposing their ideology. Sadly, that is no longer the case. A student video recently leaked to the internet provides another depressing glimpse of a North Carolina classroom, where a teacher can be heard angrily censoring student remarks mildly critical of President Barack Obama.
The nine-minute video, shot with a student’s cell phone or other video device and uploaded to YouTube, is aimed at the ceiling and shows neither teacher nor students. Much of the audio is crowded with crosstalk, as the class sounds fairly disorderly throughout. But it does capture a heated confrontation between a desperately, illogically, and inarticulately defensive social studies teacher and a couple of her freethinking students who dared to express irreverence for Obama.
The footage begins with the teacher in a North Rowan High School classroom discussing the recent allegation that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney bullied a classmate in prep school over four decades ago. “Didn’t Obama bully somebody, though?” a student asks. “Not to my knowledge,” the teacher replies.
Apparently her knowledge isn’t as broad as that of the students, who proceed to inform her about an incident Obama describes in his purported autobiography Dreams from My Father, in which he details how he teased and shoved a middle-school girl — the only other black student in his grade. The teacher’s response is a dismissive “I don’t know.” When she tries to shut the discussion down, the students quickly and correctly point out the unfairness of her bias: “If you’re gonna talk trash about one side,” a student says, “you gotta talk trash about the other.”
“Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” the teacher says sharply. Romney, she says, is merely “running for president. Obama is the president,” and he “is due the respect that every other president is due.” When the student perceptively notes that they’re both “just men, they’re equal,” the teacher retorts, “No, they’re not,” and continues to argue that Romney does not deserve the same respect as a sitting president.
“But Obama is not God,” one student protests, a taboo statement certain to cause the heads of leftist educators everywhere to explode. “Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the President of the United States in this classroom,” the teacher says. The student asserts that he’ll say what he wants. “Not about him, you won’t,” the teacher shoots back. The student persists in arguing that he intended no disrespect; he was merely asking a question. Just as persistently, the teacher sidesteps his point and lectures him about slandering the president. Apparently she is unacquainted with the definition of “slander,” since the student was merely referring to an episode from Obama’s own autobiography.
“When Bush was in, everybody talked shit about Bush,” another student counters. “’Cause he was shitty,” interjects another student, and the teacher does not berate her for it. Instead, she changes tack and continues to target the original student: “Do you realize that people were arrested for sayin’ things bad about Bush?… Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?” She knows that neither of these statements is true. If it were illegal to slander a president, half the country would have been incarcerated during the Bush administration.
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