The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Why Have Democrat-Controlled Schools Become Such Cesspits of Racism?

Posted on | December 29, 2022 | Comments Off on Why Have Democrat-Controlled Schools Become Such Cesspits of Racism?

The headline phraseology is borrowed from Glenn Reynolds who, in a different but related context, calls attention to the concurring opinion of a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

“I write separately to express my views on the topic of hate speech, disturbingly present in both the facts of the case before the panel and regrettably, a reemerging threat to society throughout the nation today. . . . The continued prevalence of hate speech and crimes against American citizens and residents on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability is evidence of the enduring threat of hate crimes to the fabric of American democratic society and to the safety and security of individuals.”

What bothers me most here is that casual conflation of (a) “hate speech” with (b) “hate crimes,” suggesting that suppression of (a) will prevent (b), a suggestion offered without evidence. And it is my belief that, not only is this false, but that the opposite is true, i.e., that there is likely to be more violence motivated by “hate” if people are forbidden to express whatever resentments and grievances might inspire such violence.

Consider the fact that the case before the court involved two students — Cedric Epple and Kevin Chen — who were expelled from Albany High School in Alameda County, California. This is on the east side of San Francisco Bay, barely three miles from the Berkeley campus of the University of California, which is to say that this school is nearly at the Ground Zero of Wokeness. Less than 5% of the voters in the town are registered Republicans. There is perhaps no place in America where “hate speech” is more strongly condemned, and yet here’s what was going on among these teenagers:

In November 2016, at the suggestion of a friend, [plaintiff] Epple created a private Instagram account to share comments “privately with my small group of friends.” . . .
Chen “followed” the account using the Instagram username “kkkevinkkkkk.” Chen likewise understood that Epple’s second Instagram account was to “be a private forum (by invite only), exclusive to [their] friends, and a place where [they] could share sarcasm, jokes, funny images, and other banter privately.” Not all of the persons who eventually followed the account knew who the owner of the account was.
Between November 2016 and March 2017, Epple used the account to make a number of cruelly insulting posts about various AHS students. These ranged from immature posts making fun of a student’s braces, glasses, or weight to much more disturbing posts that targeted vicious invective with racist and violent themes against specific Black classmates. For example, in early February 2017, Epple uploaded a photograph in which a Black member of the AHS girls’ basketball team was standing next to the team coach, who was also Black, and Epple drew nooses around both their necks and added the caption “twinning is winning.” In another post, he combined (1) a screen shot of a particular Black student’s Instagram post in which she stated “I wanna go back to the old way” with (2) the statement “Do you really tho?”, accompanied by a historical drawing that appears to depict a slave master paddling a naked Black man who is strung up by rope around his hands. On February 11, 2017, he posted a screenshot of texts in which he and a Black classmate were arguing, and he added the caption “Holy shit I’m on the edge of bringing my rope to school on Monday.” Other posts, although not referencing specific students, contained images either depicting, or making light of, Ku Klux Klan violence against Black people. One post included what appears to be a historical photograph of a lynched man still hanging from a tree; another depicts a Klan member in a white hood; and a third combines the caption “Ku klux starter pack” with pictures of a noose, a white hood, a burning torch, and a Black doll.
Epple also created several posts that, while omitting references to violence, still aimed highly offensive racist insults at identifiable Black classmates. In one, he uploaded an image of a Black student sitting in class that was captioned with the statement “The gorilla exhibit is nice today.” . . .

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The issue before the court was whether the school could expel students based on private communications that happened off-campus, a relatively narrow question about the limits of public school disciplinary policy. What is of interest to me, however, is what the behavior of these students says about the apparent presumption of the Circuit Court judge who thinks that censoring “hate speech” is the best way to deal with what he calls “a reemerging threat to society.” As if California public schools weren’t already in the iron grip of wokeness?

Isn’t it likely that these teenagers were pursuing the thrill of defying authority — the frisson of rebellion — by expressing beliefs and attitudes they knew were forbidden? Maybe these kids aren’t actually any more racist than their classmates, but instead are just doing what adolescents have always done, rebelling against the prevailing social norms which, in Alameda County, are those of uber-woke liberalism.

While it is certainly not my intention to defend such behavior — crude and deliberately offensive “jokes” — or even to argue against expelling these students, it seems to me that the facts of the case contradict the Ninth Circuit judge’s argument in favor of more aggressive suppression of “hate speech.” It’s not as if Epple and Chen were doing this in an environment of tolerance toward expressions of racism — quite the opposite. So, the judge seems to be arguing, the answer to acts of rebellion against repression is . . . more repression?

Count me as skeptical — or call me a RAAAAACIST! for doubting that more stringent political correctness will solve anything.



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