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War and Censorship at Wilton High

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Posted on Jun 12, 2007

By Amy Goodman

Last Sunday night, as millions of Americans tuned in to the two Tonys—the final episode of “The Sopranos,” to see whether Tony Soprano lived or died, and the Tony Awards, celebrating the best in American theater—actor Stanley Tucci (who played “Nigel” in “The Devil Wears Prada”) was in an off-Broadway theater, the Culture Project, watching high school students perform a play about war.

    The production, “Voices in Conflict,” moved the audience to tears, ending with a standing ovation for the teenage actors, still reeling from a controversy that had propelled them onto the New York stage. Their high school principal had banned the play.

    Bonnie Dickinson has been teaching theater at Wilton High School in Connecticut for 13 years. She and her students developed the idea of a play about Iraq, initially inspired by the Sept. 3, 2006, death of Wilton High graduate Nicholas Madaras from an IED (improvised explosive device) blast in Baqubah, Iraq. The play uses real testimonials from soldiers, from their letters, blogs and taped interviews, and Yvonne Latty’s book “In Conflict,” with the students acting the roles. The voices of Iraqis are also included.

    In mid-March, after students spent months preparing the play, the school administration canceled it. Superintendent Gary Richards wrote: “The student performers directly acting the part of the soldiers ... turns powerful material into a dramatic format that borders on being sensational and inappropriate. We would like to work with the students to complete a script that fully addresses our concerns.” (The students have modified the script; they perform Richards’ letter, its cold, condescending bureaucratese in stark relief with the play’s passionate eyewitness testimonials.)

    The story struck a chord with Tucci. He was already producing a video piece about his high school alma mater, John Jay High School in Cross River, N.Y., where high school girls were suspended for performing an excerpt of Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues.” Their crime: uttering the word “vagina” after being warned not to.

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    Following the performance of “Voices in Conflict,” Tucci participated in a public conversation with the student actors, noting that “Cross River and Wilton are only 15 miles apart. There’s obviously something in the water.”

    After The New York Times published an article on the Wilton High censorship scandal, Ira Levin, the author of “The Stepford Wives,” wrote the paper a letter: “Wilton, Conn., where I lived in the 1960s, was the inspiration for Stepford, the fictional town I later wrote about in ‘The Stepford Wives.’ I’m not surprised ... that Wilton High School has a Stepford principal. Not all the Wilton High students have been Stepfordized. The ones who created and rehearsed the banished play ‘Voices in Conflict’ are obviously thoughtful young people with minds of their own.”

    Wilton High School principal Timothy Canty was quoted in The New York Times article saying that the play might “hurt Wilton families ‘who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving as we speak,’ and that there was not enough classroom and rehearsal time to ensure it would provide ‘a legitimate instructional experience for our students.’ ”

    I asked the student actors about their opportunities to discuss the war at school. Jimmy Presson, 16 years old, said his U.S. history class has a weekly assignment to bring in a current-event news item, with one caveat: “We are not allowed to talk about the war while discussing current events.” The students said that they can discuss the war in a Middle Eastern studies class, but, they said, it is not being taught this year. “Theater Arts II was the only class in the school where students were discussing the war,” Dickinson said. Jimmy added, “We also get to speak about it with the military recruiters who are always at school.”

    Following Sunday’s production, Allan Buchman, Culture Project’s artistic director, summed up, “What we saw tonight was the reason to have a theater.”

    With the evening winding down, the kids were already talking about their next performance, this one at the famed Public Theater, another prominent New York institution, which will be attended by some of the soldiers the student actors play. Jimmy said: “It means a lot that we can share their stories. We got word from India, Japan ... and even Iowa.” The audience laughed. It was getting late. As the students packed up to head home to Connecticut, they wondered if they would ever be allowed to perform the play where it all began, at Wilton High.
   
    Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.
 
© 2007 Amy Goodman; Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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archeon of thrace's avatar

By archeon of thrace, July 3, 2007 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

The world is fucked.
We are fucked.
Buy lots of vaseline, then maybe it won’t hurt so much when the state fucks us all up the ass.

Of course the very people now advocating a limit to free-speach will in the end be then ones to suffer from these limits.  This is the irony of righwing reactionism.

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By cann4ing, July 2, 2007 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Cyrena, I didn’t read your June 16 post until now.  I don’t think the assault on academic freedom portends to “end times” in the biblical sense (but then I am an atheist).  I do think that it serves as a dire warning about how close we are to losing our constitutional democracy and degenerating into a totalitarian America.

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archeon of thrace's avatar

By archeon of thrace, July 1, 2007 at 11:02 pm Link to this comment

Fuck all the right wing reactionaries then send them off the the unnamable war.

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By cyrena, June 16, 2007 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

For Earnest on #78193…

Just getting a chance to read that from 2 days ago, on the Dirty Thirty at UCLA. I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of that here at my campus as well. And, for a while now.

Now we see from earlier in the week that Dr Finklestein has been denied tenure at DePaul, and that is just one more disgusting event of the ever increasing nightmare of us being a police state now.

When the system starts targeting academia, and locking up that segment of the population that encourages reason, it just somehow feels like that is pretty close to “end times”.

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By rowdy, June 16, 2007 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

ABC NEWS did a story on this play this evening. first time i’ve seen it on the MSM

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By alan benfield, June 16, 2007 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find it pathetic that in our institutions of higher learning that probably the nations most pressing problem, the war, is barred from being discussed and dissent is seen as being unpatriotic.

While surfing today I was brought to AOL and they asked if I would be willing to take a news survey test and to amuse myself I clicked on the banner.  The first question was burger king has a new spam item on the menu, how much does it cost.  Needless to say that was the first and last question I subjected myself to but I was astonished as to how much a item on a menu costs was on a “news” survey.  We are not dumbed down, we are stupefied

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 16, 2007 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Creg,

Next time don’t inhale.
————————————-
Laugh so you don’t cry

Very random indeed.

———————————
They should outlaw Unregistered commenter/posters at this site because they usually do not come back to apologize or respond when they are sober.

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By cann4ing, June 15, 2007 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment

Craig Adams advice:  Use large print, otherwise the NSA will be merciless because you caused them to strain their eyes.

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By Craig Adams, June 15, 2007 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Every one of you… every one of you has put your names in the public view of GodKing wannabees. If democracy completely fails, and it will without a long hard fight, what do you think will happen to you? What do you think might happen to your families? Do you really want to be at center stage in a “massive unanticipated population adjustment event”?
Here’s the bottom line. We are the only ones who can keep that from happening. Vote, demonstrate, rally, be outspoken, take no Fox News bullshit from friends or family. Continue to be socially catalytic. Abandon apathy- you have expressed yourselves, and will be held accountable if we lose. I’m damned proud to be on that list with you. I have kids. Lets win.

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By Dale Headley, June 15, 2007 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The subtext of this story is horrifying: President Dwight Eisenhower, a great Republican, warned America in his final speech as President, that “...the greatest danger facing America is not the Soviet Union and nuclear annihilation; it is our own military industrial complex…”  An incredibly prescient statement from a true war hero!
  This incident just serves to illustate Eisenhower’s point.  The enormous and growing power of the military and those who support it, is slowly but steadily transforming America into a military dictatorship.  The Principal of Wilton High is probably not in league with them, but he is certainly cowed by them, as is much of the American public.

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By cann4ing, June 14, 2007 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

I would again note that Wilton High must be placed within a broader assault on academic freedom and freedom of expression.  As noted by a 2/13/06 Matthew Flamm article in “The Nation,” entitled “UCLA’s Dirty Thirty,” David “Horowitz and his allies seek to impose external political control over central educational functions like curriculums, hiring and firing, and teaching methods.  A group calling itself the Bruin Alumni Association, which “appears to be a single person:  Andrew Jones, a 2003 UCLA grad who headed campus Bruin Republicans” created a website featuring “lengthy reports on each of thirty professors he targeted, but they contain nothing about misconduct in the classroom.”  Instead, Jones believed these professors should be targeted for “supporting affirmative action…, organizing a memorial meeting for Edward Said…, opposing the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice…supporting gay rights…and arguing that Bush stole the 2000 election.”

These assaults on academic freedom have a disturbing historical precedent when, during the waning days of the Weimar Republic, Nazi students promoted the dismissal of pacifist professors, promoted the establishment of racial studies and military science and advanced the idea that academia should serve only the national interest, as opposed to the pursuit of knowledge as an end in itself.

The suppression of this play at Wilton must also be placed within the context of an image-conscious information dominance system in which the right to peaceably assemble has been relegated to “free speech” zones, far removed from events like the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and removed from the watchful eye of the corporate media cameras.

Inside and outside academia, the rights embodied in the First Amendment are under assault.

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By Laugh so you don't cry, June 14, 2007 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t it ironic…that hte very absence of critical thought on behalf of the American people and American media that led us into this conflict is now a mandated status quo for the curriculum in school’s?

Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, grand pooh-bag of brilliance: is it possible…stick with me on this…is it possible that what we call ‘democracy’...isn’t? Does paying taxes make it a democracy? Does paying MORE taxes make one person’s voice more valuable than another’s?

Just random thoughts…

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By don grillo, June 14, 2007 at 4:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although I agree with the vast majority of the comments
on this site, and I wholeheartedly feel that the students should have been able to present this play as long as it was the students work (with absolute minimal oversight), not the teachers (see comments from Dr. Knowitall #77586), I cannot support, nor do I really understand, why so many of the more liberal among us do not seem to recognize the many so called right wing efforts that take place daily in our country, particularly in the education sector, that are censured.

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By rowdy, June 14, 2007 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

thermonuclear holocaust for everyone. it would be glorious.

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By SamBrown, June 14, 2007 at 10:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The of this play was bad enough, but the kids are not allowed to bring up the war in Iraq for current events?! What kind of “education” are they getting at that school? Where are the parents?
I wonder if the kids have been taught about victory gardens, war bonds, rationing of many everyday items, etc..during WWII and contrasted that with the fact that they can’t even TALK about the current war we are in.
Astounding.

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By Hemi, June 14, 2007 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What do we teach young people on the taxpayer’s dime? Do we suppress opinionated work? If we do, why not the old nuggets such as Lincoln freed the slaves? Seems a no brainer but even that is simply an opinion in that Lincoln wanted the freed blacks sent to reservations. Much of what is taught are half truths. Neutered and politically palatable fables. There appears to be much to fear from people self-educating. The plight of Galileo comes to mind. Perhaps we need to wait hundreds of years for popular opinion to accept factual accounts as more than propaganda. In the mean time we can dress our children as Pilgrims and recount how those folks taught the Native Americans the evils of sustainable, self-reliant living.

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By Matt, June 14, 2007 at 9:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From #77450 by PatrickHenry:

“I wonder what Sen. Lieberman (I-Israel) thinks of this since he would be the first to send these constituents in harms way.”

———-

Yes, Patrick -

Maybe Lieberman should ask Alan Dershowitz to use his legal powers to bankrupt and ruin everyone associated with the production. The treatment the ZioNazis dished out to Norman Finkelstein shows promise for all sorts of applications, doesn’t it?

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By Dr Mike, June 14, 2007 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Dr Know,

As you can see, I don’t subscribe to name-calling or character attacks. I am trying to understand your point of view on this topic. What continues to escape me is how “tax-payers money” has any bearing on the nature of a play. Our country is a democracy, but high school curriculums are NOT formed through a democratic process. The concerns of tax-payers are voiced through duly-elected school board members, not through referendums.

Why does any play have to equally serve both sides of an argument? Are you saying that, because the students are identified as coming from Wilton, CT, people who see the play will leap to the conclusion that Wilton is some kind of east coast Berkeley?

The fact that you used the term “elitist agenda” suggests that you feel that objecting to the war is somehow an elitist perspective. Where’s the justification for that conclusion?

These students did nothing wrong, and the reaction of the administration is nothing more than censorship. I have seen nothing mentioned about a “community outcry” over the play, so I wonder what’s happening behind the scenes. You have been arguing on behalf of the taxpayers, but why haven’t we heard from them?

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 14, 2007 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

Public schools are run by parents, all parents, through their school boards/committees.  Their purpose is “make students into life-long learners” or some such broad mission.  You can try to push some “elitist” agenda but it’s probably not going to fly, not in a taxpayer funded public school. There may have been a teaching moment here where students could (and maybe were) guided through research and dialogue/debate about pros and cons of public schooling, about academic freedom, about school control, about democracy in public education, about freedom of speech, etc.  I still say the drama club trod on shakey ground and, if their goal was to make a statement, they accomplished it.  But like the Imus flap, you can say what you want but be prepared for the consequences, which might include dressing down and censure and maybe even losing your job.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 14, 2007 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

BilltheDik, I agree with what you say.  Students ought to be allowed academic freedom.  How do you accomplish that in public pre-collegiate schools financed by taxpayers?  If you have half the taxpayers who think as you do and half who disagree with you, what do you do?  Tell the latter they’re stupid and you’re going to go ahead and spend their money as you see fit.  I don’t think that’s very “democratic,” do you?

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By Debra Istvanik-Strotman, June 13, 2007 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Communism is alive and well in our country. Discuss current events with the exception of the Iraq war? Are these so called educators at Wilton high, high? or are they crazy. Bet they burn Harry Potter books, even though the pope said there is nothing wrong with Harry Potter books and movies…We had all be careful as this narrow minded, ignorance is contagous.

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By cann4ing, June 13, 2007 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

Wilton High is but a single example of an ongoing assault on academic freedom by the hard-right’s thought police.  The effort is headed by David Horowitz, author of “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangers Academics in America.” 

Horowitz, a former Marxist turned right-wing intellectual who subscribes to the Leninist doctrine that in “political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent’s argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth,” heads “Students for Academic Freedom” (SAF).  At the SAF web site, Horwitz takes the position that a professor has no right to criticize the war in Iraq or President Bush unless the subject of the class is war or contemporary American presidents.  He contends that such offending remarks are a violation of a student’s right to academic freedom—a rather Orwellian twist that suggests that the radical right has the “freedom” to suppress all forms of thought, speech and expression the far-right feels should not be heard whereas the basic concept behind Academic Freedom involves the free flow of information sans outside political interference and censorship so as to maximize the diversity of thought and study.  Horowitz encourages students to report offending professors.

James Madison, in setting forth the proposals that would become our Bill of Rights, proclaimed:  “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwakrs of liberty, shall be inviolable.”  Nowhere in the documentthat is our Constitution is there any hint that “liberty” entails the freedom to silence others with whom you do not agree.

Aside from his neo-fascist views as to the permissible range of speech within academia, Horowitz does not seem to grasp that criticism of Bush administration policies can be quite relevant to a broad range of subjects beyond war and contemporary presidents.  Such criticism may be essential for a biology professor lecturing on the benefits of stem cell research, the dangers of global warming or evolution.  Likewise, a law professor lecturing on constitutional law would be compelled to address the administration’s tortured views on unchecked executive power. 

Omnimously, Horowitz, et al, have not only targeted professors but are actively seeking legislative intrusions into the realm of academia under an “Academic Bill of Rights.”  In Ohio, for example, Sen. Larry Mumper introduced legislation to “restrict what university professors could say in the classroom…”

Despite the fact that the war in Iraq is, for most Americans, “the” most important current event, Ms. Goodman quotes a student as saying that they are not allowed to talk about the war when discussing current events.  If that is the case, whatever the students are getting at Wilton High, it certainly can’t be called an education.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 13, 2007 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

Dr Mike, I guess I’d have to see the play before I could go any further.  War is by nature political and this one has divided the country.  Maybe the play isn’t political.  I’d be surprised if it weren’t. Don’t the students perform Richard’s letter in the play?  In fact, I don’t see how it couldn’t be.  I’m very surprised, knowing how public schools work, that the teacher even went ahead with it.  It may not be fair for you to characterize the objectors as “reactionaries.”  They simply could be people concerned about what’s being taught in the town’s schools and how the tax money is being spent.  When those kids perform, they are known as the drama group from Wilton, CT high.  That’s significant.  This kind of thing goes on all the time.

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By cyrena, June 13, 2007 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment

Everybody is right about how sad this is. However, having been there and fought the “dumming down” for most of my life, this really IS a vindication for those students, and in the long run (and I hate to sound trite) but this really has turned out to be a blessing in disquise. It’s the kind of thing that more and more people are experiencing these days, once they understand that it actually IS a blessing.

As most of you have noted, this kind of stuff happens all of the time…teachers and professors being fired for teaching, a definite lack of any comments in the mainline media. It’s as if the war isn’t happening for over half the nation. When Rumsfeld was “fired for show” last year, an independent reporter in Iraq told the story of how two soldiers were on patrol and having coffee or tea in the residence of one of the Iraqis.(which I know for a fact that they regularly do…at the beginning there, the Iraqi civilians were feeding our kids because they weren’t getting fed by the Halliburton contractors assigned to those duties)Anyway, the Iraqi civilian serving them the coffee or tea asked the young soldiers what they thought about the firing of Donald Rumsfeld. One of the kids asked him who Donald Rumsfeld was.

Now this is of course horribly sad. The troops ALREADY don’t even know WHY the hell they are THERE, and this kid didn’t even know who had SENT him there.

So, I’m delighted that these kids thought-up their show, and did it ANYWAY, with the help of their teacher. I’m sure she’s exceedingly proud of them, and they will probably share their message to a far wider audience, since the principle made this very bad decision. It backfired. That’s what’s been happening in the campaign to dumb people down. It’s blowback. People are beginning to take back their minds, and that is a very good thing!!!


So, this is a good thing

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By Random Passer By, June 13, 2007 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“We the people…”

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By Dan Uu Noel, June 13, 2007 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment

Folks, please, don’t stop here. How about sending brief, firm and polite Emails to the main actors? [OK, I just did it, so kindly follow in my footsteps so I don’t feel alone in cyberspace, lol]

Teacher Bonnie Dickinson: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); she sure could use a bit of support!

Superintendent Dr. Gary Richards: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); how about asking him to embrace the force of reason in his work?

Complaining is fine, acting is better still!

Love,

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By Dr Mike, June 13, 2007 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

Dr Know,

Admitting that I don’t know all of the details surrounding the play, what exactly does this have to do with it taking place at a public school? The students were inspired to express themselves in part because an alumnus was killed in Iraq. As a result of this search, they collected FIRST-HAND accounts of the difficulties encountered by soldiers in Iraq.

A dramatic rendering of these accounts is not a political exercise in any way, shape or form. The students were merely trying to better understand the emotions and thoughts of soldiers living each day under threat of death. The only other way that these students could gain the knowledge that they sought was to enlist in the military.

Not only that, if any of the parents were concerned about their childs participation in the play, they could have insisted that they not take part. Do you think that their parents didn’t know what their kids were doing in drama class? The play got cancelled because some reactionaries in the school board put pressure on the Principal to “not make waves”.

There was nothing partisan or “left-wing” about the motivations of these kids. They were using the medium of theater to expand their horizons. It was a healthy outlet and I am glad that they prevailed in the end. The Principal and the school board should be ashamed of themselves.

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By PaulMagillSmith, June 13, 2007 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment

As the bard so rightly stated, “The truth will out”. Despite attempts by this administration to twist reality the fact remains history is not re-written with spin & propaganda. It is re-written with newly discovered facts. Fascist regimes will use any means to be secretive & not allow the populace any opportunity at discovering what the historical truths are.

It took the public at large awhile to discover the truth about this war, despite attempts like the censorship of this play, and the Amererican people are becoming aware it was poorly conceived, breaks numerous international laws against war crimes, instituted for the sole benefit of a few large corporations (read oil companies & material providers within the military-industrial complex here), and conquest driven in the same pattern as the meglomaniacal Nazi attempt to rule the world.

The initiators deserve the rope, chair, chamber, lethal injection, or firing squad, just as any other traitors to American democracy & world peace do.

Actually, if Prescott Bush (W’s grandfather)had been held to task for aiding & abetting the Nazis in WWII we wouldn’t be in this situation today, because with Prescott strung up for the traitor he was little Georgie wouldn’t even be around today. It just goes to show the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree, especially when an errant family that is blessed with funding sets it’s sites on dynasty & eventual world conquest.

This is a very perverted family that has no concept of real ethical considerations, common decency & morality, and the sooner they are gleaned from the gene pool the better off the world’s citizens will be. I’ll settle right now for just seeing Bush & co-conspirators behind bars for a long long time. And I don’t give a tinkers damn about what Pelosi states about ,“Impeachment is off the table”. She doesn’t speak for me or the majority of Americans now.

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By DR. BOB BROGNA, June 13, 2007 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

M.Spelling (an old friend of Bush) high school ed. only, is sec. of education. She’s also a radical right wing theocratic christian who is working for elimination of separation of chuch and state, along with multitudes of educators imbedded in our schools, dedicated to censorship, mis- and- false information (faith based initiatives and abstinence only)and creationisim alongside (and in some cases in absence of evolution.)  These people believe it is better to lie and deceive than to tell the truth, because the truth is an enabler for sex and other so called vices (personal liberties).  We’ve been “dumbed down”  and are lower than tenth on the list in world class educational standards and testing.  This is what you get with a fascist dictator who promotes dominionistic theocracy.  They’ve “stealthed” their way in and hypnotized us.  It’s called MIND CONTROL. They have stolen democracy and the constitution, and they are powerful.  We need to wake up.

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By big Dave from queens, June 13, 2007 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How ironic that the Stepford Wives, one of the most brilliant exposes of sick right wing women ever written, was inspired by Wilton.

And how amazing that kids as wonderful as the kids in Bonnie Dickinsons’ class could become such thoughtful people despite a town that obviously has many many sickos.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 13, 2007 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

#77673, Billy, I hear what you’re saying, but this is about the teacher/advisor, the school department and tax money.  How did you propose that the school and the advisor produce an anti-war play while respecting the probable divergent views of the community and all its taxpayers?  If you started a private school and made it known at the outset that students might get involved with political controversary in their curriculum, then parents could make an educated decision about whether they wanted their kid in that kind of school.  I don’t think you have that freedom in a public school, which may be one reason parents opt out.

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By david newell, June 13, 2007 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I wonder if the school would permit them to stage my play ‘The Great Decider’ about a wealthy, priviledged child who, despite his advantages, manages to become the most despised war criminal since Adolph Hitler?  I don’t have an ending yet but hopefully the sets from Oz are available.

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By steve, June 13, 2007 at 10:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So these kids are not allowed to talk about the war during their current events class?  What do they talk about then?  The latest news about Paris Hilton the latest American Idol and the trial of Ana Nichol?

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By Anna Catherine, June 13, 2007 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Congratulations to the sudents and the teachers who presented this play. And relax, there’s nothing in the water. It’s called being young.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 13, 2007 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

When public school teachers venture onto political territory with students they’ve got to be careful.  I know I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole.  It would be pretty difficult to judge whether or not the end product was the result of the teacher manipulating students to advance his/her own political agenda (not altogether unheard of) unless there were ongoing supervision by some party (possibly parents) to make sure that the work was completely the students’ own.  I understand the concern here, even though I’m all for kids becoming more politically astute and I detest the war.  Parents, school administrations and towns are kind of sensitive about stuff like this.  If the kids wanted to be creative, maybe they should have chosen a “safer” subject or found some neutral forum and advisor to write, rehearse and perform this work.  Do you know what might be the fallout these days if a high school orchestra teacher programmed Wagner, notwithstanding Wagner’s creative genius?

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

I guess the only theater we want kids to be in is the Theater of War.

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By Nitro, June 12, 2007 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment

Didn’t Hitler do the same thing with the SS in WW II ? Maybe it won’t be long before King Bushit orders gas chambers and concentration camps built here in the U.S. for those who do not support him….

I mean since It’s “HIS GOVERNMENT” Now…

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By Archie1954, June 12, 2007 at 9:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The school board and the principal of that rural area school are the reason your educational system is failing. They are reactionary fools. Please excuse my stating the truth so baldly. As long as you have these kind of jackanapes running the system you will continue to fall behind the rest of the world in educational goals and please make no mistake you are falling behind.It’s not because your students are any less inteilligent than the students of other states or other countries, it’s because of administrators like these who wouldn’t know an educational opportunity if they fell over it.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 12, 2007 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

War is not to be discussed in history class, is this because history is doomed to repeat itself? 
Do they have sex education classes,  guess as long as they do not discuss sex?  Let’s stay away from numbers in math class and their school library must be as big as The Bush’s library in the Royal John.  Well, now I know were Republicans come from.

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By DennisD, June 12, 2007 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Land of the Free” - might as well delete that line.

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By mynameisjob, June 12, 2007 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I had a strong passion to be a high school teacher for many years, but it is incidents like this that have broken down that passion. We are so fearful of the parent’s and/or the government’s rath that we are forced to mold children into idiots until they they should choose to pursue higher education.

Interesting fact: what really curbed my interest was finding out that if a child were to fall unresponsive with out a pulse or breathe on school grounds, a teacher is prohibited from performing CPR…How pathetic are we?

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By PatrickHenry, June 12, 2007 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

I wonder what Sen. Lieberman (I-Israel) thinks of this since he would be the first to send these constituants in harms way.

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By vet240, June 12, 2007 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

This is more about thought control than simple censorship.

Many of us are aware of the “Brain washing” of students in other lands, particularly the middle East.

I believe as many others do, that there is a concerted effort to dumb down our population. Look at what is being aired every day. Look at how many students quit high school.

If we want our young people to be able to lead in the future we must give them the freedom to think, talk and learn about anything they find important.

There are a lot of teenagers fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan while we discuss this issue. Ironically, many of these same High-school students will find themselves fighting for this brand of “Freedom”.

This incident is not unusual. It is the norm driven by the religious extremists that control this country.

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By Michael Traudt, June 12, 2007 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It was inspiring to read that high school kids from an affluent community like Wilton were commited to such a noble cause. While most upper middle class students are focusing on colleges, sports and dating, these students chose to dedicate themselves to examining the horrors of a present-day war. I am humbled by their perserverence in the face of a small-minded school administration.

What are kids to think when their own teachers don’t allow a critical examination of current events into the curriculum? Why does it scare a school administration when students actually start thinking for themselves? From my perspective, the teachers and the Principal at Wilton High should switch places with these enlightened students.

I just hope that these students have found vindication in the positive attention they received from Mr Tucci and the NYC theater establishment.

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By RyeLiz, June 12, 2007 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

It is really unfortunate that we, as a nation, are stifling the words and thoughts of students.  Whether we agree with them or not, education should be teaching critical thinking, allowing students to speak their mind, think through issues, current or past and make informed decisions and choices.  Unfortunately, Wilton High School is not alone in this.  It used to be that civics and political discussions thrived in high schools, now teachers are fired for voicing opinions or trying to engage teens in forms of civil discussion.  Add to that the lack of serious debate in the Main stream media, and you get a sadly mis-informed, uneducated populace likely to vote for the same warmongering politicians now holding court in DC.  What a sad state our nation is in.  I’m embarrassed and saddened by this, but not surprised.

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