Letter to the editor

Chad Frey

Dear Newton Rising

Recently there was a letter (published by thekansan.com) by a group called Newton Rising. An organization that purports to be for ending racism, sexism, and any other mode of discrimination. As a concerned citizen I do not take issue with any of those goals necessarily. However, I do take serious issue with the group for the insistence in assuming that the culture at Newton High School is the problem along with attributing these local issues to a much larger conspiracy.

Much of the letter is composed of regurgitated talking points pushed by ideologues. Plenty of people repeat lines about rape culture and systematic racism like religious believers spouting lines from the Bible. The problem is this; the letter will do nothing and accomplish nothing because it has no pragmatic elements nor any real commitment to the truth. It is to me a clear malalignment of the truth that squarely follows Critical Theory. Attributing all the iniquitous behavior to a larger systemic problem instead of individual bad behavior. Clearly stated; this racist behavior is not evidence of an all pervasive racist system. The people in the video are instead individuals who likely made bad decisions under the influence of alcohol and should be treated as such. Furthermore, how much is a school administration responsible for the words it students utter outside of school time? Should they always be responsible, even 50 years from now? It seems patently absurd that Newton Rising is calling for such drastic measures to be made in the light of a few racist words.

Another absurd implicit claim made in this letter is the idea that school administrations should silence individuals on the basis of emotional harm. In this particular instance that is uncalled for.

The desire for compassion and empathy is warranted in some occasions, but not in others. The constant clarion call for compassion and empathy so often overshadows other values. Other values that are crucially important to a functioning society. Not every instance of discomfort should result in silencing individual speech. This country was not founded on the principles of safety and empathy, rather it is personal liberty bounded by an implicit moral custom. This call for empathy will almost certainly result in the silencing of some individuals in favor of others, and this we must reject.

Another very dangerous aspect of this letter is the insistence that there are individuals who do not feel safe as the result of speech uttered by students. This is extremely concerning to me because the misconstruing of offense speech as violence is a mistake that cannot be mistaken. This gives the false activists the moral right on their part to justify their own violence. Since they believe that violence is being perpetrated against them they are then justified in their own use of violence and in silencing people that oppose them.

Aside from the tired talking points of this letter, Newton Rising has gone out of their way to cherry pick bad behavior to represent the whole of Newton High School. One instance of racism and one instance of supposed sexism are not grounds for a call to action such as this one. It is morally and intellectually dishonest to do such a thing and in my opinion discredits them entirely. I would encourage anyone who reads this letter to ignore Newton Rising in the future as they are nothing but echoic drones with nothing more to say than old incorrect talking points.

-Nathan Schale, Newton