Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wilton High School in CT has decided to cancel a play about the Iraq war based on quotes from soldiers serving in the war. Although the idea was originally approved by the administration, and then edited for balancing the play's message, it was still deemed too controversial and/or insensitive to be performed. (Full text of the play here).

I read the play, and I think it's quite balanced. But balanced means that it includes statements praising going to war and fighting for the country, and other statements against the war. There really is no middle ground to gravitate to in this particular situation. Unfortunately, the statements in support of the war are full of patriotism but are missing any specifics about why it's justified to be at war. This contrasts with the play's statements criticizing the war, which are based on the soldiers' daily experiences with the reality of the war. But there's nothing you can really do about that....

"A school administrator who is a Vietnam veteran also raised questions about the wisdom of letting students explore such sensitive issues, Mr. Canty said."

This reminds me of the eventually successful efforts to give the right to vote to those who are also old enough to fight. If one is old enough to fight, as these students soon will be if they don't already have siblings fighting, they should be able to talk about and struggle with these sensitive issues. And I should add that the school doesn't need to "let" the students explore these issues; they already deal with them every time they watch or read about the war on the television and in the newspapers.

Other comments.

(Side note: Students of the school point to numerous examples of infringements of freedom of speech at the school, the play's cancellation being the latest of many, they say. But the requirement that yearbook quotes have a published source is probably in reaction to the yearbook scandal that occurred a few towns away, at Greenwich High School, a little more than a decade ago. When the seemingly insignfiicant letters under the pictures of a number of GHS seniors were put side by side, they spelled out "kill all n----s.")

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