Teacher fights for job after repeating student’s use of racial slur when reporting the student for using that racial slur

July 2, 2021 • 11:30 am

Of all the people who got in trouble for using racial slurs (usually the “n-word”)—and that includes NYT reporter Donald McNeil, who was fired for asking a student if someone else used the word—this case is the most bizarre and unconscionable.  It happened in the Kansas City, Missouri area of Lee’s Summit, and was reported on June 24 by KMBC News. Click on the screenshot to read:

It is the peculiar circumstances of the word’s use that make this case both unique and completely unnecessary. The details are simple:

1). Teacher and coach Joe Oswald, who’s been teaching for 20 years, heard a female student using a racial slur (another teacher heard it as well). The slur isn’t specified, but I’m guessing it was the n-word.

2). Oswald took the student to the principal’s office and wrote up a disciplinary report on the student using the specified “green slip”. After Oswald wrote the report, he read it back to the student twice, also as specified, to ensure that the student heard what she was being accused of (and, I suppose, to contest any errors).

3). Another student overheard Oswald reading the report back to the offender and also heard the use of the slur. Apparently that student reported Oswald to school authorities for using a racial slur himself—twice.

4). The student was suspended. But now Oswald is in big trouble as well.

5). A nine-hour public hearing ensued, and the school is now trying to decide whether Oswald should be “retrained”, disciplined, or fired. As KMBC reports,

The student who said the racial slur was given an in-school suspension. The school’s human resources director recommended Oswald get training. Superintendent Dr. David Buck has recommended termination.

The district said Oswald should never have said the racial slur.

“The reason we are here tonight is pretty simple. A teacher has engaged in conduct that the administration believes is wholly inconsistent with that vision and those commitments, and more specifically, with your board of education policy,” the school district’s attorney said.

“He said it was never OK to use that word. It was condescending, derogatory — a word that should never be used. He was upset that she had used the word. He was trying to be accurate. He’d been told to write down exactly what was said and that’s what he had done,” said Dr. David Carlson, executive director of human resources.

. . . . The school board will not render a decision immediately. The court recorder has until July 6 to give both sides a transcript of Wednesday’s hearing. The board then has seven days to meet in closed session and must publish their ruling within 72 hours.

This is absurd.  Oswald did what he was told to do. Or should he have simply written the word and not spoken it? What’s the difference, anyway?

In a case like this, absolute accuracy of reporting is crucial, and that’s why Oswald read the report back to the student—twice.

Despite NYT executive editor Dean Baquet’s assertion that “intent doesn’t matter” when using racial slurs, and that the feelings of the listener are sufficient to allow punishment of the “offender”, racial slurs are regularly used in court testimony. And surely in this case intent DID matter, because without reading the word verbatim, the student could contest the report. The word was used not just didactically, but also quasi-legally, in a school hearing for punishment.

Now the teacher may be punished as well as the student. I hope to Ceiling Cat that Oswald not only isn’t fired, but doesn’t get any punishment. The school should really apologize him for putting him through this misery.  Instead, he has to agonize for two weeks:

The school board will not render a decision immediately. The court recorder has until July 6 to give both sides a transcript of Wednesday’s hearing. The board then has seven days to meet in closed session and must publish their ruling within 72 hours.

Such is the country we live in. What a world! What a world!

h/t: Carbon Copy

75 thoughts on “Teacher fights for job after repeating student’s use of racial slur when reporting the student for using that racial slur

  1. I don’t know. Coach Reese made me do push-ups in 7th Grade when I told him another kid called me a bad word, and using that word. (I don’t remember what the word was.) Maybe if the punishment were push-ups? On the other hand, zero tolerance policies are always unfair.

      1. Doubly so for the female games masters. (Though she was in a mixed school, so maybe she had to exercise a couple more braincells to exercise some sort of decision.)

  2. Reminds me of the case two years ago in a Wisconsin school.

    A (black) security guard was removing an unruly (black) student from the premises. The student used language to the effect of “leave me alone n*****””, to which the security guard replied “don’t call me a n*****”, and that got him fired.

    (He was later re-instated.)

  3. I hope there is a way to sue the school board for doing this to the teacher. My response as a teacher watching this would be not to punish students at all because it isn’t worth it. Nice incentives the school has created.

  4. Completely absurd. Don’t they realize that punishing a teacher for accurately reporting bad behavior will lead to teachers not reporting bad behavior?

    To Diane’s point: well, if he’s part of a teacher’s union, I have to imagine that the union would have some strong words to say about a teacher being fired for doing something his contract insists he do.

      1. Sorry, it wasn’t intended as a personal criticism, but rather asking a general question: Why do most critical discussions (including not just you but those who comment here and, indeed, elsewhere) about the absurdities of taboo words, such as the one discussed above, also fail to mention the words explicitly? Isn’t that the irrational position which is being criticized?

  5. Now we see clearly why “Huckleberry Finn,” a brilliant castigation of bigots and slavery, has been cancelled. The n-word is used extensively, but only in dialog and introspection. (I was tempted to type it here; is it allowed?)

    We should not be surprised this madness engages at absurd depths. The protocol of “no tolerance” has been issued as official and required by the NewMarxism, and it has permeated all the way down to levels deeper than common sense or rational consideration.

    NoTolerance has been weaponized. Unleashed to corrupt the culture. The neoMarxists are fierce in its use.

    James Lindsay has exposed this tactic brilliantly, and at length, tying it to the full project to overthrow capitalism and the original American Idea.

    At YouTube, just google James Lindsay + tolerance

      1. (i was reluctant to link directly)

        I absorbed Lindsay’s 4-episode “Repressive Tolerance Series,” and it grabbed me. He specifically uncovers why ‘economic justification of Marxism’ has been abandoned, and ‘cultural assault, featuring exploitation of America’s racism guilt complex’ has been deployed. He’s got the chain of intellectuals, from Plato to Kant to Hegel to Gramsci to Popper to Marcuse — to the founders of BLM.

    1. They are certainly no Marxists involved in this. This is a right wing fantasy without merit. The woke don’t care about class or workers and suchlike.

      1. It is Marxism. By any other name. Lindsay and many other intellectuals are showing how “Classic” Marxism failed (because the proletariat was too comfy under capitalism) and how the Left specifically chose cultural destruction – devoid of Marxist rhetoric – as the new spear.

        Call it neo-Marxism. Still the same goal.

        Lindsay is not a right-winger; he is a moderate liberal.

        1. It’s called Neo Marxism because “Marxism” is a rallying cry and boogeyman for the right, and to tap into cold war era rhetoric, i.e. unAmerican etc. It’s called “neo” as a trick word to say “it’s not really literally Marxism, but we still like to call it Marxism”.

          Lindsay said he voted for Trump, i.e. Republican voter, thus right wing.

          1. Do you think Woke is just some random flavor of the month by the friskier side of the Democrats, and they’ll grow out of it?

            If not, and if not ‘Marxism,’ what is the foundation political philosophy driving its ferocious rampage through the culture?

            1. I view it as an outgrowth of Democrat identity politics, which was an element of the US liberal side for a long time. As an amplified form, it often surfaces ideological tenets that are reminiscent of previous subcultures such as US anti-racism, multiculturalism, post-colonialism and some critical race theory. Many of the tenets are also associated with postmodernism, but without its key tenet, which is radical scepticism. There are connections to the “postmodern subculture” of the 1990s, and 3rd Wave Feminism.

              Importantly, I believe the academical or theorical origin stories, as told by Lindsay, are totally overwrought. I‘ve been there, too. When I encountered this strange phenomenon, a melange of Tumblr fandom, ultra hostile, histrionic behaviour, mixed with metaconcepty academese and buzzwords — I thought it was “thing” too. I thought there was something to learn.

              I then read Crenshaw, Delgado et al, and discussed my findings also here on WEIT many years ago. I found that most buzzwords, like intersectionality, have a completely different meaning online. What you see is a Frankenstein syncretism, evolved around a few weaponised buzzwords to appear more morally superior on the internet, fueled by the social media omni-panopticon.

              I think it’s mostly shallow posturing in communities that whipped each other into a moral panic, and are now in a state of siege mentality, not unlike right wing talk radio addicts. I repeat in every second post here that they aren’t very left wing, actually, and the woke’s biggest achievement this far was the prevention of Bernie Sanders.

              The best discussion of wokeness is from Prof. Mueller, Carefree Wandering, adding many more facets. https://youtu.be/GnUqrF9mAA8

              1. @Aneris

                Well, the street wokes are on the barricades. They absorb the “not a true Marxist” grief from moderate Democrats and Oldish-Left. The underlying goal is still that of The Real Karl Marx … the overthrow of capitalism.

                I wish you were right, that it is just an internet phenomenon and shallow posturing.

              2. “Cultural Marxism is a contradiction in terms” –Mueller. Even better: “Identity politics is the left wing of neoliberalism,” attributed by Mueller to Adolph Reed.

          2. If Amazon, Nike and all sorts of international mega-corporations heartily embrace this kind of ideology, it’s pretty quixotic to link it to any kind of deep strategy to overthrow capitalism. Bezos did not become arguably the richest guy on the planet by enthusiastically embracing a cunning plan to eliminate private property and redistribute trillions of dollars in private sector profits. And offhand, my guess is that he’d be smart enough to recognize any such plot for what it was.

            So if I need to judge whether or not woke ideology is a real expression of any kind of Marxism—old-left, neo- or whatever—on the basis of either Bezos’ and his fellow multi-multibillionaires’ corporate policies on the one hand or Lindsay’s strange connection of alleged dots on the other, I don’t think I’m going to be in much doubt as to which one to put my money on. I’ve read a lot of stuff by Lindsay; I’d recommend you read Woke,Inc: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam by the extremely successful biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, due to come out this August, but overviewed here (in the clearly neo-Marxist-sympathizing Wall Street Journal): https://www.wsj.com/articles/can-vivek-ramaswamy-put-wokeism-out-of-business-11624649588

            1. @ Type Logician


              No. Tolerate it out of fear. Intimidated into talking the talk by the Woke sword of guilt and shame over “racism.”

              Nike wants its young customers to feel the warmth when paying $150 for sneakers which are awash in wokish virtue.

          3. “Lindsay said he voted for Trump, i.e. Republican voter, thus right wing.”

            I have agreed with almost nothing John Donohue has written since he started posting in the comments a few weeks ago, but I do not consider myself “left wing” just because I’ve voted for Democrats my entire life, and I don’t consider anyone and everyone who voted for Donald Trump automatically “right wing.”

            This kind of binary thinking is destructive and will only lead to further division and continued drift from the political center by both sides.

            1. I believe Lindsay said that he only voted for Trump because he was against CRT. The problem with Lindsay, IMHO, is that he believes fighting CRT to be the most important thing in the world. Even more important than, say, retaining democracy in the US.

            2. If you vote for a Republican candidate, you support right wing politics. Also, the US political system is practically binary.

              1. You’re not making an argument, just a statement. Your contention is that, if you vote for a politician, you automatically support all of that politician’s policies and politics? Because that is the only reading of your statement that makes sense. People vote for candidates for all kinds of reasons. Taking your line of thinking to its logical conclusions puts an awful lot of voters who don’t support various policies and positions of the people they voted for in a basket in which they don’t belong. I don’t think every person who voted for Rashida Tlaib wants to see an end to Israel or the abolition of police.

                The fact that our system is so binary is what forces people who otherwise don’t support right- or left-wing politics in general to vote for right- or left-wing candidates. Voting for them does not necessarily mean supporting all or often even most of their policies. In fact, voting for someone often just means hating them a little less than their opponent/opposing party.

              2. I see where you are coming from, but your interpretation is not adequate. The US has two parties of note. The Republicans are unambiguously right wing, or even far right, with a strong theofascist, libertarian and conspiracy theory factions.

                It’s true that you don’t need to support every last bit by voting them, but you say two things with your vote: 1) you are okay when they do their thing. 2) you prefer that set of politics over the alternative.

                Since the US is a two party system (others being unviable); since the Republicans are unambiguously right wing; and since it’s a winner takes it all system, it’s fair say that you are right wing by voting them. I wonder why that bothers you at all. It’s not a magic word. You can also say James Lindsay is a Trump voter, and it will be heard as “i.e. (far) right winger”.

            3. Just a small note: I’ve been posting here for many years. At least eight. Sometimes I am quiet for a while.

              Appreciate your direct chiding of the simplistic binary thinking that spins off Donald Trump. I voted for Trump, to oppose the Progressive Blue Wave. I am not a republican, and I despise Trump.

              1. Apologies. I only saw your name pop up a few weeks ago and didn’t remember it.

      2. Wokism is indeed not a species of Marxism. Marxists have been among its most vehement critics; see discussions on WEIT concerning the “1619 project”, and this paper on “Antiracism: a neoliberal alternative to a left” by Adolph Reed (an actual Marxist).

        Responses by wokists to their Marxist critics usually accuse the critics of “class reductionism” (=seeing class as the only socio-economic factor worth talking about), but as a non-woke, non-Marxist, I think the Marxists have a much better argument that wokism is “race reductionism”.


        1. I respectfully disagree, Professor. Wokism is the street-level manifestation of activist Marxism, which has penetrated institutions with breathtaking rapidity and depth.

          I just responded to another comment below on this.

          Even the left-leaning post on Wikipedia (antecedent to digging deep) for Frankfurt School confirms this, and supports the analysis of Lindsay, Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose. And others.

          This is an open ‘secret.’ It is not deeply veiled. Not some deep dark conspiracy. It is the reality of critical theory.

          1. I agree with GCM here. To paraphrase one of his most pithy comments ever on this site, the Elect can hardly be considered Marxists because the Elect don’t care whether 1% of the people own 50% of the wealth. They just want to ensure that 13% of the 1% are Black.

          2. The gaping hole in your story—and Lindsay’s, which is basically what you’re repeating here—is an account of how a completely Woke utopia would be in even a small way incompatible with capitalism. There is absolutely no historical dynamic that in itself leads from compensatory discrimination in favor of formerly oppressed racial minorities to the breaking up of private property and of capital formation, and culminates in the withering away of the state. Your explanation seems to have the following logical structure, at bottom: the Marxists despise Western capitalist democracies (true, because they see the latter as a political projection of capital). The Woketariat despise Western capitalist democracies (true, because they see those societies as structurally racist and founded on the ethic of colonialism). Therefore, the Woketariat are (neo)Marxists. This is an analysis???

            1. @Type Logician

              Ok … for the sake of argument only … let me stipulate that the Woketariat is not a Marxist movement, as you claim.

              Under that umbrella, we have two completely unrelated paradigms that both hate capitalism. Since both of these deserve utter condemnation, why are you (and other commenters here) so vehement about not seeing the bridge between the two? Just to point out the stupidity of Lindsay et al, and myself?

              Do you champion one, none, or both?

              The gaping hole — even in this stipulated thought experiment — is to posit that Woke is merely a quest for reparations for past oppression and that Marxists actually believe the communist totalitarian state would wither away (I know the ‘say’ it will, but in what universe would that ever by feasible?) Such simplistic construction of the two is not the basis for analysis.

              1. Since Marx is long dead, any claim that someone or some group is Marxist, unless of course the person or group say they are Marxist, is more an attempt to end or derail any meaningful discussion. It’s a bit like claiming someone is like Hitler or a group are Nazis. It’s an attempt to suppress any nuance and stoke a bonfire. If you want to be constructive, drop the silly labels.

              2. I can’t resist….

                The Marxist dream of the withering away of the state was: creation of new man. The Soviets used that phrase explicitly, The New Soviet Man. The man who despises any selfishness, who rejoices in egalitarianism, who considers anything ‘unfair’ to be unjust, and who will sacrifice for the collective with delight.

                Well, neither Mao nor Lenin/Stalin was able to obliterate self-interested man. People either cowed and hid their self-interest in order to not get arrested, or they departed China/USSR to find free nations.

                However …………………
                Isn’t it interesting that the Woke don’t care about the economics of politics. They are focused on attacking the mind and spirit, the cultural beliefs, of the populace. Identity.

                “Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.”

                Trotsky or Kendi?

              3. @Paul Topping

                No problem. The founders of Black Lives Matter confidently and openly call themselves Marxists, so I’ll confine my comments to them.

              4. I’m sorry, but could you please explain to me the relevance of my mental biography to the points I’ve raised? How exactly does it impact anything I’ve said?

                You seem to find it altogether beyond credibility that two fundamentally different ideologies find common ground in hating the West. Do also find it beyond credibility that two fundamentally different ideologies—in fact many of them—find common ground in hating the Jews? The far left stigmatizes them as international financial manipulators who, in their distorted fantasy of history, were behind the Atlantic slave trade and have traded on ‘white privilege’ to gain a disproportional representation at the top of the professions and the financial sector. The far right stigmatizes them as evil subhuman parasites who,stigmatizes them as international financial manipulators who, in their distorted fantasy of history, were behind the international financial manipulators who were behind the Bolshevik revolution, the dilution of ‘the White Race’ by promoting the immigration of supposedly inferior ‘races’ in order to ‘replace’ good honest American (or French or English or Russian or…) stock. Jihadist Islam stigamatizes them as… well, take you can fill in the rest, eh? Pat Buchanan, the organizers of the Chicago Dyke March and Osamu Bin Laden, on your line of reasoning, could not possibly agree on anything, give their vast ideological differences. Yet here they are, all together now, on this particular attitude. By your line of reasoning, Buchanan must be a covert far leftist. Or a secret Jihadist. Or…

                If you can’t figure out at this point whether I ‘champion’ any of these political/social/religious views, well, what more is there for me (or anyone) to say? But if you want to discuss things in a forum like this, it would probably be best to avoid attempts to shift the conversation to the personal beliefs of your interlocutors in what looks awfully like a classic red-herring move. Doesn’t help your credibility—it really doesn’t.

              5. @ Type Logician

                Your objection to me asking for your person convictions noted. I withdraw the request, but stand amazed at the degree of your ruffled feathers.

                “… two fundamentally different ideologies find common ground in hating the West.”

                Your contention that varying ideologies might excoriate certain beliefs or cohorts noted. Like a Venn diagram with coincidental overlap. I deal with this daily with respect to my own convictions – irrational hatred incoming from diverse quarters. I dig deeper to find the common essential characteristic of them, and always find one.

                However, in this case, you challenged that my case for the bridge between Woke and NeoMarxism is baseless (“This is an analysis???””)

                With your reply to my reply, you did not address my final paragraph: your thin characterization of each as evidence they have nothing in common.

                I find the denial of the link from the Middle through the Moderate Left overwrought, to the point of “Methinks they dost protest too much.”

                The Woke and far left does not deny it.

                Many intellectuals are pointing to the chain of linkage. James Lindsay is not the only one. Not even the only liberal!

      3. I think Donohue is using the definition of Marxism in the Donohue Standard Reference Dictionary, where the entry reads : “Marxism – anything I don’t like”.
        He probably hasn’t actually read much Marx – a fate which it is not worth inflicting on your worst enemies, since they’d simply see a long, long (oh, so long!) sequence of symbols passing in front of their eyes, engaging nothing.

    2. I don’t know that ‘neo-Marxist’ covers the situation. True Marxists insist on the priority of class over everything else; the World Socialist Web Site, a Trot outfit down to its bones, has written scathingly about woke racialization of social conflict, and plenty of people on the left have attacked the ‘movement’, if that’s what it is, as an elistist diversionary attempt to distract from the exploitation of workers everywhere by putting racial identity front, center and everywhere else. The editor of Jacobin, which pushes what I think might be called a ‘soft Trotskyite’ line, has a number of columns in the Guardian of all places denouncing the standard obligatory DEI training mandates imposes by academics and sweatshop-based outfits like Nike. Further towards the center, Randall Kennedy, a left-winger despite the white SWJ crowd’s efforts to paint him as an apologist for mainstream American cultural ideals and practices, has insisted that the fundamental sources of black oppression are based on centuries of economic exploitation and abuse, with racial bigotry a consequence rather than a cause. So while the style may be Stalinist/Maoist, woke pathology seems to me to something very different in content.

      1. I won’t repeat except to say again that James Lindsay, and others, have the explanation. The hard-core Marxist Left changed tactics, and left the older Jacobins and Guardian et. al. behind.

        1. You keep referencing Lindsay as if he is an undisputed expert on the subject – but his ‘expertise’ is very much disputed.

        2. “The hard-core Marxist Left changed tactics…”

          Marxists changed tactics from abolishing class to ignoring it entirely?

          1. Not really “ignoring it,” rather masking it.

            This was a proactive strategy initiated by the Frankfurt School, headed up by Herbert Marcuse and Jürgen Habermas. They invented “critical theory” on the principle that economic/materialist Marxist theory was not leading to revolution, thus switching to cultural upheaval to overthrow.

            Same goal, different strategy.

            Not that True Believer Old-Left (and status quo New Left) have stopped the usual teachings of Marx – just that they are left in the dust. The torch was passed to descendant activists of the Frankfurt School, and are now manifesting with stupendous force world-wide as Woke/Antifa/BLM.

            1. Your thinking, and that of Lindsay, is a sort of Christian magical belief system, where people can be corrupted by the devil, if exposed to black magic. The devil is Marx in this modern version.

              No matter, how long he’s dead and how much change happens in the ideas, which Limdsay acknowledges, the satanic element is always present in anything it touches. So when in sociology and economics, where Marx is a scholar of note, people mention him, your heart races as you see the devil’s work being acted out.

              Lindsay’s podcast is full of this. Even though nobody cares much about, say, Marcuse, he sees a demonic influence there. But students didn‘t need to read Marcuse to pull fire alarms to prevent a right wing speaker from speaking at an event at their uni.

              Another problem is that Lindsay very quickly sees connections based on loosest associations, but ignores conflict or different ideas. Some incidental aspect of Marxism is enough to make everyone a Marxist, but complete departure from the core — class — is ignored. He wants to draw the lines, so he picks what he needs. Frankfurt School and postmodernism don’t go well together, especially not Habermas, but Lindsay doesn’t care, he draws his lines around that.

              1. @ Aneris

                You nailed it. I am triggered by Marx. That is my only reason for condemning Woke. So, thanks to you, I have found freedom: I humbly reject the bridge between Marx and Woke. The Woke are not the Marxists I am looking for.

                On rising from sleep, however, I still find myself calling for utter condemnation of both Marxism (and all its weak manifestations like Social Democracy and Progressivism) and the vast invading Woke plague. Separately. Not linked.

                I guess I am monotheistic in my devils.

            2. I generally side with your opposers on this thread, but I do actually know a number of people from the extreme left who live with the illusion that furthering instability, e.g by continued 2015-style mass immigration into Europe, will lead to revolution (at least that is what they say in discussions among German Left party members, me being one). I see such people are useful idiots who do the bidding of libertarian and finance capitalism. The only “revolutions” that ever came from furthering group identities and intergroup grievances were the ones that involved ethnic or religious militias.

              Large parts of identity politics as well as environmental issues are bourgeois concerns. You have to be economically comfortable to care so much about impolite words and the environment. There were no Fridays for future climate school strikers in the poorer and immigrant neighborhoods.

  6. Such is the country we live in. What a world! What a world!

    Or, as the OG Latinxs put it, O tempora, o mores!

  7. I showed with that case a while back why a “hard taboo” on both use and mention cannot work. A quick refresher, to use a word is to convey some meaning, including to insult. To mention a word is to talk about the word itself, like how it’s used, how many letters it has and so on. The “hard taboo” on both use and mention cannot work, because the defused version (“n-word”) and the written out form (“nigger”) become synonyms.

    You could theoretically punish someone for literally saying “the n-word” and justify this by announcing “person said the n-word”, which they did, implying they said “nigger”, which they didn’t say. The defendant cannot say they didn’t say the “n-word” (meaning “nigger”) when they actually said the “n-word” (literally, “n-word”) . Even tricks like “literally said the n-word” doesn’t work, though language is powerful and you might circumvent this somehow.

    All of this feels acutely like a religion by now, as many have noted years ago, but mostly more in a polemical sense. Of course, it‘s customary to mention the “Life of Brian” sketch where the clerical judge is stoned himself after reading out that the accused person said “Jehova”.

    1. Nobody is to stone anybody until I blow this whistle, even – and I want to make this absolutely clear – even if they do say “Jehovah”.

      That scene totally nails it.

    2. All of this feels acutely like a religion by now,

      There’s a strong element of “traditional” “ideas” of “witchcraft” in there too, and the power of words. As if, in the fervid imaginations of the sweatier elements of the God Squad, saying “Avada Kedavros” could actually kill someone. And it’s a short step from there to not painting the pupils into the eyes of your painting of Mohammud’s “body double”.
      Mr (I presume) Donohue upthread seems to think “Marxism” is a similar curse word which he can attach to anything he doesn’t like and thereby damn it from consideration by other people.

  8. The supreme court has pretty well told us that voting rights do not matter and therefore the 15th amendment does not either. So now what, we need an amendment for that word so that can be ignored as well. Maybe then the teacher’s job could be saved.

  9. From my experiences on a local school board in VA from 1988-96 and our guidance from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Acts, this all seems a bit odd. Normally these student and staff personnel matters are carried out in closed hearing as default, though the student or teacher can demand a public hearing, something i only saw happen once. In that case the teacher thought that she was being unjustly discriminated against and wanted to make a public show trial. Also, while the board can meet in closed session for this particular personnel issue, in VA, it must convene in public session to take a vote.
    But i would also say from my experience, that having a superintendent take this action is not that surprising…extremely disappointing but not surprising. The decision of the board next week should give the superintendent clear direction regarding his actions in this case and for future action. The board makes policy. The superintendent carries it out. This is an opportunity for the zboard to be clear about its policy.

  10. Recent history of the Lee’s Summit school district shows an ongoing problem with parents & superintendents over diversity, inclusion, and equity. I imagine this poor coach was just caught in a snare waiting for him.

    1. So he has appealed the superintendent’s recommendation of termination to the school board, the superintendent’s boss. If the board supports the teacher against the super’s recommendation, then it is likely the superintendent will not repeat this type of disciplinary action and may find his contract on some shakey ground. If the board upholds the termination recommendation, then it is likely/possible that the teacher still has recourse to appeal to the chief judge of his local circuit court which will provide an opinion that is independent of the school system.

  11. “Another student overheard Oswald reading the report back to the offender and also heard the use of the slur. Apparently that student reported Oswald to school authorities for using a racial slur himself—twice.” Notice the process here. A report by a busybody student sets in motion an administrative process; the administrative machinery will grind on automatically, wasting Oswald’s time even in the best of circumstances; and the school authorities will of course defend the administrative machinery as a matter of ass-covering. For consistency, school authorities should subject themselves to administrative trials if any of them murmur the forbidden word (or refer to it?) while discussing Oswald’s trial for using it.

    This comedy, like so many similar contemporary ones, somewhat resembles events in Salem, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, from February of 1692 through May of 1693, which included elaborate judicial procedures. Hopefully, these modern counterparts of the witch trials will not end up with hangings, but who knows? Stronger measures might be needed against evil words, as were then required in the struggle against magic spells and other manifestations of the invisible world.

    1. What I want to know is, when this second student filed his report on the filing of the report, did he use the word? If not, and wrote (say) “bleep”, then presumably Mr Oswald is on record only of saying “bleep”. Or if, following the same proper procedure as Mr Oswald, he did say what word was actually said, then why wasn’t a report filed against him for his conduct?

      1. A question easily answered. A report cannot be filed against the student who filed the report because, I’m willing to bet, his report was filed anonymously. That is the case with the “bias reporting tools” at an institution of higher learning I am familiar with. The anonymous feature is, of course, a virtual invitation for abuse in the form of reports based on misunderstanding, malice, or as pranks. Typical of the mind-set behind these reporting systems, when they were set up no thought whatsoever was given to their possible abuse. After all, how could anyone conceive of abuse in a system designed to usher in Social Justice and stamp out evil emanations of the invisible world?

        1. We do know for certain the identity of *one* student who overheard Mr Oswald explaining his report to the first student.

          Amazing progress. The original 80s version of mutually assured destruction needed machines the size of a bus, in air-conditioned bunkers. Now every teenager can cary one around, all day.

    1. Sounds about right. It also reminds me of Black Adder and the Witchsmeller Pursuivent. About as much evidence is required for a public (career/reputation) execution these days.

    2. That scene, referred to by Aneris above, has obviously become reality. Great farce on film, not so much in real life.
      They should have recommended Oswald for wanting to establish the facts meticulously.

  12. I was initially confused, as I knew there was a biology teacher under fire in Harrisonville, Mo (just south of Lee’s Summit) but no, same word, different teacher. In the Harrisonville case, the word came up in class during a discussion about rap music (why? Wasn’t this a biology class?) and three students claimed they heard him say it. They also claimed that the teacher said the there is no racism and did not approve of BLM, so his ship was as good as sunk.

    I don’t know either teacher, how good they are or how they treat their students, or if they actually said what was claimed. However no matter what you think about it being a free speech issue, it’s certainly not a SMART speech issue. It’s clear, don’t say it, don’t read it, don’t spell it, don’t quote it, don’t listening to music that says it. Don’t listen to rap and try to be hip with the kids. Don’t read books that have it in them in public or at work. It’s just not worth the punishment.
    The rats are waiting. Big Brother is watching.

  13. Meanwhile, in the real world, one can hear black lads in Los Angeles, unexpectedly bumping into their friends, exclaiming, “you meet some N’s everywhere!”

    And so much rap today is rich in the N-word.

    It reminds me of the sad loss of the black doll called the Gollywog, usually seen holding a ukulele, which, in my youth, represented the long history of American black entertainers, from comedy actors to jazzers. It is a sad loss of a lovable symbol of the Black contribution to popular culture, and i hope some day, someone revives that doll.


  14. Black Americans began using the “n-” word to describe themselves “–igga” because it walled them off from white society. It gave them a private preserve on which no outsiders were allowed. From that point on, there was a “safe space” for the young ghetto dweller to live in.

    — Catxman


    1. You might read John McWorter’s book Nine Nasty Words. He explains where and how the words evolved. Available on Audible.com

      1. Yes, I’ve just started reading it – I’ve only got to page 89, but very informative and entertaining so far. Highly recommended.

  15. As far as newsrooms and most workplaces go, Baquet is right – intent doesn’t matter. But context does! And that includes the use/mention distinction explained by Aeneris above.

  16. The Woke are irrationalists believing in word magic: “magic involving the use of words in a manner determined by a belief that the very act of uttering a word summons or directly affects the person or thing that the word refers to” (Merriam-Webster)

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