Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This Time The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Made A Fool Of Itself Over Policing Graduation Speeches

Something seems to have gone seriously awry at the fast failing Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Today the Star-Telegram hit a new low of journalistic ineptitude.

In an editorial titled Why graduation speeches might need policing the Star-Telegram went into full anti-freedom of speech propaganda mode over the ongoing controversy that erupted after a Joshua High School official stupidly cut the mic of their Valedictorian speaker, Remington Reimer, because he deviated from their pre-approved script.

To buttress their pro-censorship position the Star-Telegram quoted a speech by a professional baseballer and manager named Ozzie Guillen, in which Guillen said, “Man oh man, did you little [expletive deleted] pick the wrong time to graduate. For those of you lucky enough to get jobs, maybe half of you work at [expletive deleted] Popeye’s Chicken, and the other half get your [expletive deleted] blown off in Afghanistan.”

Trouble is, this Guillen guy never said this. The quote came from a satirical website called The Heckler.

Eventually the Star-Telegram re-edited the editorial to take out the part that made the paper seem like its run by idiots and then proceeded to be even more idiotic.

Of course, only the online version could be re-edited, the print version is still out there, for the few people who still buy this really sad excuse for a newspaper.

So,  what do the clever people at the Star-Telegram do when re-editing their embarrassing editorial?

They make up imaginary things a high school valedictorian might say to upset an unsuspecting crowd.

I am not making this up. I will copy and paste the current version of the Star-Telegram editorial in its entirety, before they re-edit it again to remove the latest idiocy. Before we get the new re-edited editorial, we have two Star-Telegram disclaimers, then the new re-edited editorial...

Editors note: This story has been modified from its original version. 

Correction:  A quote in the Tuesday editorial “Why graduation speeches might need policing,” attributed to former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie GuillĂ©n, was created by the writers of a satirical website. Its inclusion in the editorial was an error.

Here’s why public school administrators review graduation speeches beforehand:

“I had an abortion my junior year. Let me tell you what that was like.”

“This school did its best to suppress my ability to think critically, but it failed. As soon as I leave here, I’m going to find a way to blow up the system.”

“You want prayer in public schools? I say what they need is anarchy, the more the better. Legalize pot so we can sell it on campus.”

“Heil, Hitler. Viva Castro. Marx is my hero.”

How might an unsuspecting crowd react to hearing any of those remarks from a high school valedictorian?

On Thursday, when Joshua High School valedictorian Remington Reimer veered off the comments administrators had approved for him, school officials turned off the microphone — just as they had warned him, the salutatorian and historian that they would if anyone went off-script.

The episode has generated plenty of buzz because of suggestions that Reimer was censored for speaking about his faith. But video shows that the sound system actually went off when he said, “Yesterday, I was threatened to have my mike turned off. …”

That, school officials said, wasn’t in his approved speech and triggered their response.

Indeed, the graduation ended with a prayer, which underscored that Reimer’s invoking God wasn’t the issue. Still, the U.S. Naval Academy appointee seems to have made the free-speech statement he wanted.

The Supreme Court has said that students don’t lose their free-speech rights at the schoolhouse gate but also that officials need leeway to maintain order not just in classrooms but also at school-sponsored events. Texas law also recognizes this and gives school officials authority to set boundaries besides time limits.

If they exercise it awkwardly and video circulates stirring up debate about First Amendment values, that’s actually healthy for free speech.

Has the Fort Worth Star-Telegram lost all its editors? How did that last sentence make it to being published?  I can not be the only one reading this who finds it ironic that the Star-Telegram is opining about something being healthy for free speech.

All those suggestions of horrific things a valedictorian might say, that supposedly justifies ham-handed censorship, have any incidents such as these actually occurred?

What happened at a Joshua High School graduation that has made that school's officials distrust the judgement of their top 3 students?

And if a valedictorian did say any or all of those stupid things, which the Star-Telegram is using as examples, what would be the result? Mass upset in the unsuspecting crowd?  Or befuddled giggling?

It is rather amusing that the Star-Telegram, in its editorial, says "The episode has generated plenty of buzz because of suggestions that Reimer was censored for speaking about his faith. But video shows that the sound system actually went off when he said, “Yesterday, I was threatened to have my mike turned off.”"

It was the idiotic Star-Telegram, itself, that, for days following the episode, had an article about it with the headline being something like "Joshua Valedictorian's Mic Turned Off For Faith Remarks."

On Facebook, as the truth of the matter came out, the Star-Telegram's own Bud Kennedy was sharing the actual facts, but, apparently, did not relay those facts to the Star-Telegram.

The line in the editorial that says, "Here’s why public school administrators review graduation speeches beforehand" is also odd. This implies that this is a universal practice, rather than an isolated case of one school's administration's malpracticing of a dubious policy.

When I was in high school the graduation speeches were reviewed ahead of time by an advisor, so as to help the speaker give a good speech. There was no threat that if the student went off script the mic plug would be pulled.

I think this Remington Reimer kid showed way more mature common sense than the nincompoops who censored him. He did not like being told that if he did not stick to the approved script the mic would go dead.

Being told such a thing would have greatly annoyed me, because  I would be altering and tinkering with a speech right up the moment I gave it. If I was told I could not do that, I would likely have said I'm not giving the valedictorian speech and let my reason for refusing be known by contacting the local newspaper of record.

Except here in the Fort Worth zone there isn't an actual real newspaper of record of the normal daily sort.

We do have Fort Worth Weekly though. How much worse would Fort Worth be off if it did not have Fort Worth Weekly? I shudder to wonder.....

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