The recent kerfuffle in Randolph over the cancellation of a Chick-fil-A fundraiser for the school’s baseball team exposes the utter failure of the sham social justice ideology that has been imposed on Randolph Union High School. One of the first schools to fly the Black Lives Matter flag, RUHS has extended its one-party domination to prohibit students from wearing conservative (but not far-left) messaging, such as “Let’s Go Brandon!” or “”There are only two genders” t-shirts. The school is enforcing a free speech blackout on conservatives, while encouraging the most extreme of leftist “theories.” This is political indoctrination in action: it is patently unconstitutional.
The First Amendment applies in Randolph, despite persistent efforts by Orange Southwest School District Superintendent Layne Millington to dismiss the law with school “policies” that give him complete authority to filter speech. He seeks to make a free speech exception for “social issues” — abortion, gun rights, climate change, and wealth disparity are all social issues that are political issues, the most important part of free speech. He is moralizing, then abusing his position to unilaterally impose his self-righteousness on others.
Parents and children at RUHS have tolerated this abusive brainwashing effort for years: the Chick-fil-A debacle popped this simmering boil. There is a pattern here — attack and agitate Vermonters, and when they react to the bullying and oppression, label them as hateful and their resistance as proof of their barbarism.
In a recent school board meeting, a woman named Kathleen Mason, who has worked for nine years as Vermont Technical College’s coordinator of equity, diversity and inclusion, scolded parents and the Randolph community for resisting this rabid ideological domination of their school. Ms. Mason’s degree in “Communications Disorders Sciences and Services” did not equip her for social justice or constitutional law, or even civil discourse — she employs finger-jabbing, condemning the entire community. She tells parents their opinions don’t count because this is about children and only her opinion counts. In her public comments, she declared:
I’m here because this isn’t about Chick-fil-A. There has been a longstanding underlying rumbling of homophobia and transphobia, running through our community for a long while, and this past week the Chick-fil-A fundraiser emboldened parents, community members, and children to outwardly express hatred, disdain, and just terrible things for anyone who either is gay or transgender or aligns themselves with a gay or trans community, and so I believe that [the community and school board] want and intend to create a just, safe, and inclusive learning environment, but unfortunately we are at a time when that is not fundamentally true. We must have quick and thoughtful responses to challenging issues that come up in or community, because when issues arise in the community it’s not just about the adults’ responses. It is the message the adults send to our children.
Well said. Only, this whole thing is not about attacking gays but opposing this tyrannical, one-sided ideology. And the school’s response has been anything but thoughtful.
In his book “The Madness of Crowds,” gay author Douglas Murray raises the alarm that weaponizing sensible social justice initiatives is counterproductive and seeds backlash — just like screaming at racists doesn’t “convert” them, and anti-racism “work” is the opposite of MLK, Jr.’s teachings. Mr. Murray, who possesses the academic credentials that Mr. Millington and Ms. Mason lack, describes these school agitators quite well:
The aim of the social justice campaigners has consistently been to take each [issue] – gay, women, race, trans – that they can present as a rights grievance and make their case at its most inflammatory. Their desire is not to heal but to divide, not to placate but to inflame, not to dampen but to burn. … Perhaps the advocates of the new religion will use gays and women and those of a different skin colour and trans individuals as a set of battering rams to turn people against the society they have been brought up in. … But anyone interested in preventing that nightmare scenario should search for solutions. (pp. 247, 248).
The solution is the U.S. Constitution. Ms. Mason admits that the behaviors she identifies amplified after the cancellation of the Chick-fil-A event. These children aren’t acting out as oppressors, but as oppressed — children and their parents have tired of this blatantly illegal left-wing conditioning of their children. Mason is condemning the entire community from her race-priestess pulpit, and she is as disconnected from reality as Millington. Proving that the students are rebelling against this speech policing, she states:
And here is a little bit of what has happened in the past week alone. Two children wait at the top of the stairs to pour water on the head of a child because she wore a pride shirt. “Oh, you’re one of them,” they said. After the Chick-fil-A fundraiser was canceled, a student athlete wore a homemade shirt saying “I heart Chick-fil-A,” walking past other children, and children that have two moms. The message was, the Chick-fil-A fundraiser was canceled because it was not inclusive of all identities, and that response of a child who was considered a leader in the community wore a homemade shirt expressing that disdain. Is that what we want to show our children that that’s what a student leader does?
What Mason is shamelessly advocating is content-based speech discrimination, an illegal government action, but very much part of her ideology. The children are rebelling against an oppressive, one-sided political abuse of their public school, and Mason seeks to weaponize that resistance as proof they and their parents are evil. Similar tactics were employed against Native Americans.
Douglas Murray offers sound advice:
To talk about our societies in the hostile tone of judge, juror, and executioner demands some questions to be asked of the accuser. … Those who claim that our society is typified by bigotry but believe they know how to fix any and all societal ills better make sure that their route maps are well plotted. If they are not then there is reason for everyone else to be suspicious about a project whose earliest stages are being presented as rigorous science when they more closely resemble an advocacy of magic. (The Madness of Crowds, pp. 249, 251)
By attacking parents and their children for “wearing a homemade T-shirt” that challenges her moral orthodoxy, Kathleen Mason has intruded herself so forcefully with her finger-wagging that Vermonters must hear more — what are her credentials to waltz in and spew such lies and hate? How can she justify government action that so blatantly violates free speech laws? How can she sit there with a straight, enraged face and not see how unsafe, unjust, and non-inclusive this school’s policies are? As Murray warns, the backlash of this oppression threatens the very identity groups Mason pretends to care about.
Social justice “theory” is a smokescreen for a hateful, unconstitutional ideology that has no place in any of Vermont’s schools. Social justice warriors are doing the opposite of what they preach, and the bad fruit being produced is now falling to the ground — hurting children, not helping them.
As Douglas Murray observes, “this form of dogmatic, vengeful liberalism may, among other things, at some stage risk undermining and even bringing down the whole liberal era.” (p. 232). That seems to be the plan. Vermonters must reaffirm the historic liberal virtues cast aside by RUHS and its deluded SJW elites: Martin Luther King, Jr., free speech, and the primacy of constitutional law.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2022. All rights reserved.