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After three weeks of preparation, research and numerous rewrites, Gerald Molen –a motivational speaker, former U.S. Marine, and Oscar-winning film producer – drove ninety minutes from his home to Ronan High School in Montana last month to deliver a graduation speech. He was shocked upon his arrival to find that Principal Tom Stack had decided to disinvite him and cancel the speech. He was further stunned to learn the reason that he wouldn’t be allowed to address the students – it was because he is “a right-wing conservative.”
Molen has an impressive 25-year Hollywood résumé. He is the producer of such films as Rain Man, Days of Thunder, Stephen Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, the first two Jurassic Park films, Twister, and Minority Report. He has spoken at dozens of schools but doesn’t accept a fee. When one is offered, he asks that it be donated to the Shoah Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by Spielberg and dedicated to Holocaust remembrance.
When speaking to students, Molen usually invokes the name of Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist credited with saving 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust and the subject of the Oscar-winning 1993 film that Molen and Spielberg co-produced. He points to Schindler as an example of what courageous individuals can accomplish, and Molen had planned to do so again in his presentation at Ronan High School.
He had also planned to ask the students to “imagine your future is a movie. Forty years from now, you’re writing a script about your accomplishments. What would that script look like?”
Since my career had centered around the motion picture industry, I had set out to challenge them with the thought that they might each write their own movie script. A script that would have them as the writer, director, producer and star… Silly idea? Maybe. But of course we’ll never know.
We’ll never know because, even though his message to the students wasn’t overtly political, Gerald Molen is a conservative, and that alone is enough to incite censorship from the intolerant left. Apparently Principal Stack had received calls from some concerned parents who “didn’t want the kids exposed to that, despite not knowing what my message would be,” said Molen.
In a piece written by Molen himself and published in a Montana newspaper, The Daily Inter Lake, he reported that the principal
apologized for the inconvenience of being canceled and said the decision to cancel was his alone… No, he didn’t ask me of the content. No, he didn’t ask to read the speech for any clarification as to content. No, he would not tell me who the complaining party or parties were, nor would he give me any further explanation.
The principal could have simply ignored the unknown number of complaints and allowed Molen to proceed. After all, schools regularly now ignore parents who complain about the rejection of patriotic songs, the removal of the American flag, and similar assaults on pro-American culture. At the very least, Stack could have queried Molen about any political content of his presentation, and then reassured the complainants that they nothing to worry about (which would still have constituted caving in to them). In the absence of any more explanation from Principal Stack (and neither he nor Ronan School District representatives have commented publicly about the incident), one has to assume that since he took full responsibility for cancelling Molen’s appearance, he must agree with the complainants – if indeed there were any. Whatever the backstory, a school cancelled an apolitical speech solely because the speaker is conservative.
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