Vermont town fires high school lifeguard for questioning CRT

Essex Parks and Recreation

Essex Parks and Recreation offers swimming at Sand Hill Park and Pool Maple Street Park.

By John Klar

After a well spoken student from Essex High School vocally opposed the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) at a public town hall–style meeting to discuss CRT implementation in Vermont schools, he was promptly fired by the Essex Parks and Recreation Department. Initially, the contrived cause was “concerns around your ability to adhere to … core values,” but it was switched to “perceived threats” that “cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools.” This is CRT in action — shame and attack anyone who dares challenge its race-based tenets, even teenage lifeguards.

The brouhaha began when 18-year-old Alex Katsnelson read a prepared statement at the Essex public CRT discussion event. Like a sad-sack sitcom, the Essex Parks & Rec bullies pounced on the kid, parsing out his words to contrive imagined sleight:

While all of your comments are concerning, several of the comments you made publicly stand out — the first being: “the residents of Essex and Westford will not stand idly by as anti-whiteness invades our school system.” The second being: “what you people plan to do is redistribute opportunity based solely on individual identity.”  The third being: “This is why we have fifth graders coming home and saying they wish they were black.”

A grade-school comprehension of free speech law would inform these miscreant bureaucrats that this language does not remotely approach “threat speech” or “true threats.”  Alex Katsnelson’s comments are pure political speech, in a political forum — one of the most highly protected forms of speech in American jurisprudence. Parks & Rec is guaranteeing Alex a slam-dunk lawsuit.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that speech that advocates the use of force can be restricted when it is directed to, and likely to, “incite or produce imminent lawless action.”  Nothing in this student’s comments remotely approaches that strict standard.  Yet the June 10 Essex P&R letter intones gravely:

The first comment mentioned above could be taken as a threat against the school and/or our community. It is aggressive and threatening and nature, while also being vague enough to elicit fear. The second comment mentioned above uses an offensive phrase “you people” while also being very vague and intimidating in nature. The third comment, along with the rest of the public comments we have referenced, shows that you do not possess, and that you cannot uphold, the Village core beliefs and values around racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

It takes a village to unconstitutionally attack a teenager. The constitutional standards that apply to government entities do not permit the censorship of employees for saying things deemed “very vague,” that “could be taken as a threat,” or that “are vague enough to elicit fear.” These bully bureaucrats are simply censoring this young man in the name of their “core belief”:

Live the “golden rule” in every interaction by demonstrating a deep regard for the diversity, needs, feelings and beliefs of all people and acknowledging the ideas and opinions of everyone.

This perfectly exhibits the pernicious nature of CRT ideology — it pretends to be inclusive but is brutally insistent on adherence to its cultish, race-based tenets. More, it disregards merit in favor of ideological compliance: Alex Katsnelson is not criticized as an unfit lifeguard — by all indications, he is superior in those qualifications. He was fired solely for his political expression in a public forum:

We have made the determination that your public comments cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools. In addition, we feel that your public comments are likely to cause future disruption with our residents. Your comments have already begun to cause disruption amongst your peers who have seen them. Your position by its very nature requires a degree of public trust, not often found in other instances of public employment. We cannot create an unsafe environment at our pool, nor can we create a situation where any of our residents feel unsafe or unwelcome at our pool.

The Essex-Westford School Board approved the critical race theory curriculum on June 15. After thanking “those who opposed the equity policy for helping him to think more deeply about the district’s equity work,” board member Brendan Kinney exhibited his enlightened depth of thinking (and the central CRT tactic of shaming and attacking anyone who dares question it’s racist ideology):

“Historically the work of school boards has been apolitical. Yet in recent months, we’ve seen partisan tactics being used to promote a political agenda,” Kinney continued. “They spread misinformation, they take and twist comments out of context, they use false equivalence in making their arguments, and they deploy scare tactics to confuse parents and taxpayers.”

It appears as though the government actors in both Parks & Rec and the School Board are oblivious to the perverse irony in their words. Their ideology excludes the very possibility of “acknowledging the ideas and opinions of everyone” — that’s what the First Amendment does, and they seek to eliminate that protection for anyone who dares differ with their new religion.

They are eliminating lifeguards at the public pool for having differing opinions, because Vermont’s CRT advocates are determined to drown young children in a toxic experimental ideology.  But that United States Constitution remains a mighty rescuer.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.

Image courtesy of Essex Parks and Recreation

33 thoughts on “Vermont town fires high school lifeguard for questioning CRT

  1. Time for a lawsuit. A million or two does not even get their attention. ONE Billion with a B should do it, get a jury trial. Surely there are more people like me around to be on the jury.

  2. Welcome to Reichstag Vermont.
    Achtung baby.
    Leave your critical thinking classes at the door – its dangerous don’tcha’know.
    The ONLY people afraid of THINKERS are people whose house of cards would fall if those thoughts were voiced.
    Compliance and cooperation are driving this agenda.
    Stop complying and cooperating with it.
    CREATE YOUR OWN world…we have ALL the tools…it starts within ourselves and innerstanding our Sovereignty and sovereign rights as Souls.
    Do not comply.

    And…this all falls right in line with the inverted historical eugenics agenda that has existed continuously in Vermont since the 1880s…starting with ‘poor farms’… and sterilization of poor and indigent women and their children, and Abenaki descendents.
    Making the connections with how this is eugenics encoded would be true transparency of this agenda to split us against one another… again.
    Don’t fall for it.

    See one another as Human beings with 99.9% in common, and minuscule actual differences.

  3. Time to boycott Essex! It is SO TIRING that there is only ONE VOICE in the town square and it is a Marxists voice. How do we fight this!?! Don’t go to Essex’ camps, pools, no Indian Brook camping – get your kids out of the Essex Youth programs and schools, leave the adult programs and the after school enrichment programs and swimming lessons. I’m sure these are offered in other towns. NO more Sand Hill Park and Pool or Maple Street Park. Let’s give them a little of their own medicine!

    • PS I got on the Essex Parks website under “contact us” and told them I was leading a boycott and that I hoped this young man sues the hell out of them. I suggest you all do the same. These folks need some push back!

    • boycot all the businesses I think they have a town sales tax. The business leaders probably would object to the town commies.

  4. It seems that he should have the right to express his opinion even if the cowering weak kneed officials
    don’t like it.

  5. The VT GOP could start a go find me for the legal defense of this courageous young person who stood up and asked some reasonable questions and statements.

    This would cost the VTGOP no money. It would galvanize support for a just might even get them a small well deserved victory.

    Any single representative could start this? Any group of Republicans could do this

    People across Vermont are begging, pleading and dieing to send their support and leadership to a GROUP of people that will stand up to this Marxist BS.
    One person is not enogh, they can override any one person, you would think we’d know that by now.

    VERMONTERS are desperately calling out for leadership to take action.

    Who will answer the call?

  6. See you don’t have to fight the pm at all. You only need to show the public how stupid and nasty their actions are and the whole world can see what baffoons people become by following the brain trusts of Marx and Alinsky.

    These cancel culture is purely scripted from rules for radicals to which Saul dedicated his book to Lucifer. UN ironically the prescribe if you want to get your way through intimidation and any means necessary, you publically and immediately call for a firing. Bring in the press. Accuse as many people as possible. Doesn’t matter how small the percieved or actual slight is.

    The bible tells us the opposite. Turn the other cheek. If you need to confront, do it privately with the individual. If more is needed, bring in others for discussion.

    This is being taught throughout the state. Romans would publically crucify people along the appliances way, people would be tortured and left rotting on the cross for all to publically see. Cancel culture is the modern equivalent. We will publically destroy you and fire you, in a small state where the best jobs go to compliant government workers.

    The Romans would also kill very tenth soldier in line if their was any percieved insubordination, from which the term decimated comes from. Fear and real threat can keep a people compliant, it certainly doesn’t win hearts.

    Vermont has more clear paths ahead, Marxism vs Americanism, and more importantly who are you going to follow, Lucifer or Jesus Christ? Are we going to worship government or God?

    Stark choices with drastically different outcomes.

  7. One would think the Vermont ACLU would be all over this violation of fundamental civil rights……..Where are they?

  8. A year or two ago, I seem to recall seeing pictures online of some snowflake with the caption “QUESTION EVERYTHING”. I thought it was stupid then. Not so much now. Give this kid his job back and kiss his ass with an apology.

  9. This should scare the hell out of us! We are indeed boiling the frog – albeit not so slowly.

  10. Hey Alex. Sue ’em and put the brakes on this example of the “Essex Parks and Recreation department thought police” from spreading. This is so destructive, alarming and dangerous to all of society.

  11. According to Erin Maguire’s comments on WVMT’s morning drive show, the idea is listen to all sides without fear or backlash. Apparently, this idea is inaccurate. This is what scares parents about speaking out because they’ll be silenced. Very scary times.

  12. Separation of Church & State ?

    How about Separation of Education & State.

    “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities”. AYN RAND

  13. What kind of fascist do you have to be to not allow questioning of a THEORY….
    If it’s a theory it’s one or a group’s Opinion… Which should be questioned until
    it becomes fact or fiction. Sue the town for restricting your 1st amendment rights and demand the firing of all who agreed to this azznine decision to fire you.

    This is the same as saying the science is settled which is another fascist left saying which bastardizes the word science.

  14. John,

    Another wonderful article….

    The sad thing is you can preach and preach and preach but no one is listening…

    I spoke via zoom to the mill river union high school board last night because the marxists on the school board want to fly the black lives matter flag…

    I think there were five people that spoke and I was the only one opposed to it….

    This is going to have a detrimental effect on our young children by having these so-called educators cram this racism down their throats…

    Where are all of the psychologists that are always needed at the schools to prevent our children from facing everyday issues?

    I guess the so-called educators find this acceptable along with their psychologist friends.

    We need every parent who wants their kid to grow up normally and not be convinced they are a racist by a morally corrupt bunch to stand up andspeak out at the school board meetings..

    If you really love your children it is time for you to educate yourself as to the people that want to destroy them right in front of your eyes with a corrupt educational system chipping in to help…

    Our schools should be places of Education not indoctrination!

    This is what I read to the mill river school board last night.

    MRUHS 6162021

    Good evening,

    After watching the 6/2 meeting I have grave concerns as to the intentions of some members.
    When did it become necessary to vote to say the pledge of allegiance before a school board meeting? Who in their right mind finds it acceptable to disrespect the flag of our nation?
    When did it become acceptable for some to dishonor the lives of my friends and the many people who served and died to make this the best country in the world to be disgraced by people who do not respect them or America?

    At the same time discussions of flying a BLM flag on our school and the introduction of critical race theory into our schools is being promoted.
    It is upsetting that members would support Marxists who burn buildings, assault and kill and loot businesses of people of color. The same organization that collected 93 million dollars and didn’t spend a single penny supporting people of color. Oh… one founding member did help herself to millions to purchase 3 homes and then resigned!

    Why is it that intelligent, educated people of color denounce this racist agenda?
    Why is it that people with common sense see the level of racism being pushed on their children and the destruction it causes?

    You can not lift some up by beating others down because of the color of their skin. This is pure racism.

    We are failing our students miserably right now!

    Our schools rate at the bottom…Why?

    We need to root out all evil from those that have contact with our children.

    We need every taxpayer that contributes to the exorbitant fee of eighteen thousand dollars to educate students to stand up to this radical movement to destroy the lives of our children and eventually the last beacon of hope around the world…AMERICA

    We need to begin to educate students with reading, writing and arithmetic along with history. These are the things needed for the success of our children.
    BLM…burn loot and murder. A proven movement of chaos and destruction

    The Pledge of Allegiance …one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

    If you do not support America you can not properly educate our children.

    We need EDUCATION not INDOCTRINATION in our schools.

    The only flag that should fly on any school in America is the American flag.
    Our freedoms are brought to us by the brave Americans who honor the Red White and Blue.

    May God bless America!

  15. The accuracy of Orwell’s predictions do not fail repeatedly to amaze me. Has the Conservative Extremist Mr. Katsnelson’s name been provided to Biden’s NKVD? Will the dangerous Lifeguard cult be persecuted? Will no one rid us of these troublesome Progressives?

  16. How many black employees does the Essex Parks and Recreation Department have? If they are like our governor they spew anti-racist rhetoric that they themselves don’t live up to. Cancel the cancelers. School choice.

  17. The Vison Statement for the Essex equity Task Force that has now been created:

    “Essex and Essex Junction are racially and socially equitable, welcoming and engaged communities where all can thrive because community members and leaders hold each other accountable to ensure a safe, supportive and just environment.”

    So that we are all clear here on what these words mean here are dictionary definitions of the words used above:
    Just means: based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair
    Equitable means: fair and impartial
    Accountable means: required or expected to justify actions or decisions
    Thrive means: prosper; flourish

    Substituting their definitions for clarity:

    Is it fair and impartial that a young person loses their job because of what they believe in?
    Is it socially fair and impartial to terminate a young person from their job publicly?
    Is it welcoming to fire someone publicly because of something that they did outside of their job?
    Is it morally right and fair to fire someone from their job publicly because of their beliefs?
    Is it supportive to fire young people publicly for speaking out against something they find morally wrong?
    Is it going to help a young person prosper or flourish when they are not allowed to speak their beliefs and publicly denounced for it?

    The real question now is who will be: REQUIRED or EXPECTED to JUSTIFY ACTIONS or DECISIONS.

    Time will tell but I hope that some high-priced lawyer makes an example out of Essex.

    • Excellent set of questions. However, the problem with high-priced lawyers is that our governments at all levels are restricting our rights and then forcing us to pay high-priced lawyers to recover the rights we already have. They know that most people cannot afford litigation, so they win easily. Someone organize a protest on the lifeguard’s behalf. The weather is good, people will come.

      • You’re not wrong. Maybe we should all give a few bucks to help him get a lawyer? Seems as though it should be a slam dunk case considering it’s violating the 1st amendment so openly.

        Protest is good but Alex would have to want that.

        • I was going to say. Make it a major case. Even if the lib-press forgets to report it which they have a bad habit of doing when it goes against their interests. Bad state of affairs.

  18. Well, if someone has a problem with CRT, they will obviously not know anything about pulling a drowning person from a pool, correct…so what’s the big deal…? Honestly, I hope they have a hell of a time trying to fill that job now that any skeleton opinion in one’s closet or the wrong “core values” will get you canned.
    On one day the leftist/statist/collectivist contingent is commiserating about how traumatized the children are by the COVID pandemic, the Trump Administration, and climate change. Now they want to make all the “white” kids hate themselves. There is certainly a bright future for the counseling and psychology professions and in the pharmaceutical industry producing all the necessary remedies for OCD and traumatic stress disorders. If this national and regional unhealthy obsession with race does not get cured in the next election, we are in for the full Venezuela treatment by the Biden “administration” (or lack thereof). Elections have consequences. This madness has got to stop.

  19. Our taxpayer dollars so well spent! Time to defund the schools and defund teacher retirements. Organize and start protesting – just don’t burn anything down or loot your local retail outlets.

    • I didn’t think about that. That’s an excellent point if this continues we should just defund their retirement.

      It’s simple it’s clean and I guess that their whole union should have behaved better.

      After all it wouldn’t be “equitable” for all of us to pay for their retirement Now would

    • What if lifeguarding was Alex’s only job, and what if he was relying on his income from this job to pay his rent and buy his food. What if his firing, public shaming and tarnishing by the Essex Rec Dept. meant that he could no longer find employment. In that case would they show any remorse for their action when Alex finds himself hungry and homeless, perhaps eking a scant living by panhandling outside the all-inclusive, equitable swimming pool from which he was fired?

      Or is it all fair game to these elite wokists? To destroy a young man’s life because he happens to have a difference of opinion about a highly questionable postmodern political ideology? Do they justify it because he happens to be white? What if he was BIPOC? Would they still have fired him?

      CRT is a Marxist cult and the Essex Rec Department are among its senior members. THEY need to be doxed, shamed and fired for heir heinous, illiberal, undemocratic, unconstitutional, abusive and unAmerican actions against this fine young man.

      • They are following the rule book, it’s all laid out in Rules,for radicals.

        They are following military play books in how to subvert a country.

        It’s all written down for everyone to read and see.

  20. It is not hyperbole to compare “these people” and its Critical Race Theory movement to Mao’s Cultural Revolution or Hitler’s Nazi regime. Just as the latter two, “these people” employ the same psychological social conditioning methods and intimidation tactics to silence dissent and aim to use force to achieve domination. Ignorance of both American history and political philosophy, gullibility in intelligence and manipulation of ‘White Guilt’ largely drive this following. Lincoln’s House Divided speech is worth reviewing as – seemingly like now – it was a precursor for ominous things to come.

    • Correct – not hyperbole. We a witnessing a neo-Totalitarian revolution in real time. VT is at the forefront

  21. CRT is a theory that dehumanizes people. Individuals no longer have beliefs, opinions, hopes and dreams– like Alex Katsnelson– but are seen first and foremost as members of a class that does or does not adhere to an ideology, or that has a certain color of skin.

    This theory is blatantly racist itself, and it has an obvious kinship with totalitarian regimes that insist on adherence to whatever doctrine the ruling party says you have to adhere to, under penalty of expulsion from favor or worse.

    The amazing thing is that so many people can’t see what this is really about. It’s incredible that what we can only assume were formerly good and tolerant people have now become intolerant and racist, yet consider themselves the woke, the enlightened, the leaders.

    Covid-19 must have made too many Vermonters insane, that’s my theory. Otherwise it’s hard to see how people can support such nonsense and strut around proud of their allegiance to such terrible intolerance that reduces people to either/or: either you follow the doctrine or you don’t. No subtlety, no shades of gray, no room for dissent. Maybe Covid-19 erased all historical sense that tells us that the way of intolerance and unquestioning allegiance to doctrine isn’t the way to go? Will eugenics be next to cull the wrong-thinkers among us, to purify us of misinformation and wrong attitudes? I can’t wait to hear what brilliant story they come up with to justify it; if people can swallow CRT, then nothing would surprise me.

    CRT purposely throws reason in the trash bin. What could possibly go wrong?

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