By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Part of the love of my work comes in the form of invitations from highschools and colleges and other institutions of learning. Being invited to discuss the Constitution and its roots, its application, and what it really means in today’s language is a joy that is beyond description.
This past week, I did my song-and-dance routine* for a two-class double class at JD High school. All went well and I am confident another generation of thinkers has been set loose upon society. Sheep; we have plenty of … as we do wolves. I choose to arm students with the two most dangerous weapons to a wolf or a sheep: Enlightenment.
After the lecture, I shared with the hangers-on responses to questions and told a few war stories. Among the stories was how I was banned as a speaker at Nottingham High School because I gave students what I thought were peaceful and law abiding solutions to cruelty perpetrated against students by administration and teachers. Well, seems that even in White affluent JD high school, their management too suffers from the same disease we see in the City.
The Nottingham Story:
One of my favorite vices and games to play is to survey the class as to what they think are their “rights”. Everything from the right to ‘vote’ to the right to possess ‘guns’ to the right to free ‘speech’ are thrown in my face. Once even a teacher raised the issue of the “right” to be at the carousel mall after hours. After the list is culled, I use modern day examples to show how none of these rights exist or do so in very limited circumstances. I try and impress upon them that my life is over and how they, as the next generation, will determine how much of their freedom and liberty they are willing to sacrifice to government.
Two years ago at Nottingham High School, the subject of the right to urinate came up. Just as I finished lecturing on how there is no constitutional right to privacy and how there is no constitutional right to life, somebody asked me about the constitutional right to pee.
At Notthingham High School, all the bathrooms in the entire complex are closed and locked … except for one bathroom … and any student needing to pee MUST have an escort. I am unaware of how many thousands of students attend Nottingham nor can I accurately state the distance in feet or miles from one end of the school complex to the nearest bathroom. Nevertheless, no matter where you are on campus or how bad is the emergency, only one bathroom at the end of the hall is open and a user must be escorted by a teacher or school employee.
When I heard this, I was in a class comprising of 90% Black students and I asked a very serious question … “Have any of you ever heard of Martin Luther King? Mahatmas Gandhi?” Does the concept of peaceful passive protest mean anything?
This went to the very core of the lesson I was hoping to leave. Namely, that the uniqueness of the American experiment that was never before seen nor replicated since, was that all political power emanates from the individual and the individual can only be compelled to sacrifice those liberties necessary for the greater good.
Is there stated a constitutional right to pee? Of course not; just as there is no stated constitutional right to “life”. It all boils down to this: The right to life, the right to pee, the right to be left alone all belong to the individual. If you do not fight to protect and challenge government attempts to take this away from you, the right will be gone forever.
We also discussed the new-age phenomena of legislating “might”s. Whether it was 9/11 that bred fear into their hearts, or whether today’s school leaders are former nerds who got beaten up for their lunch money, Administrators and teachers of every ilk have gone completely loco parentis and instilled a policy of collective punishment.
Whether it be bandanas or cell phones, t-shirts that say Bong Hits for Jesus, or dance styles, the fad in schools today is to ban all because of the sins of a few. In the United States, collective punishment offends our most basic principles. For these lazy teachers and administrators, uniformity and collective consistency make their jobs easier. Perhaps this is why Syracuse City Schools have such a high drop out rate; we are not all the same.
I also spoke of the policy at Fayetteville Manlius High School and the banning of School Dances because students were doing the Grind. Apparently nobody in that school district is willing to get dust on their designer jeans and stage a sit in or other protest to take back what is rightfully theirs.
But it is a long hop from banning after school dances to preventing students from having access to basic sanitary needs. From what I heard, the ban is in place because some students were hiding in bathrooms to evade going to class and others were using bathrooms to engage in illicit activities. Gee, there is something new and unheard of.
Locking all the bathrooms is twelve steps too far. Students at Nottingham should not suffer this selfish barbaric behavior by administrators. Where are the sit-ins? Why is nobody writing letters to the editor? If it was my kid, I would be a screaming mad parent – where are the other parents?
Ask yourself this; what is the lesson you are teaching your children? What kind of example are you setting for them as to how to be good and honorable Americans. We do not collectively punish.
I call upon every Nottingham student, parent, and supporter to meet up in front of the Administration office every day at 2:30 p.m. and sit down on the floor and do not get up until the bathrooms are opened. You may face suspension, you risk a mark on your permanent record, and you face ridicule. But together and collectively, if the Main Office is blocked so people cannot enter or leave, and police are finished doing their “thing”, the bathrooms will be unlocked.
Of course, the alternative is start peeing in the hallways. But I would wait until all peaceful nonviolent means are exhausted.
The Jamesville Dewitt Story:
Second verse, same as the first. I can understand the fear and paranoia of white teachers working with poor and Black children. No doubt they clutch their purses just a tad tighter. But, to see such barbarbism in what is presumed to be a white affluent suburban high school speaks of a serious feeling of a lack of control over the school. Administrators are so afraid of their own students, that all efforts are being made to assure the power and control of the institution belong to the whims and moods of administrators. Shame on JD High. One more reason for me to be thankful my daughter is a student at FM. The Red Rams are victims of a Red Scare. What their teachers need to learn is that we all bleed red.
(* Be aware that we are still working on the recording program. It turns out to be extremely complicated and nuanced. We did what we could to clean it up. The recording runs 51 minutes and does suffer mechanical difficulties).