Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday taught a lesson to the school that cut off a graduation speaker’s rogue speech. Senior class president Peter Butera went off-script to viral acclaim in his commencement address for Wyoming Area Secondary Center in Exeter, Pennsylvania, last week. The Villanova-bound 18-year-old called out the lack of real student government on campus and the faculty’s “authoritative attitude.” Then the microphone went dead and he was ushered off the podium. But he got a bigger platform ― national television. The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host let Butera finish his speech, telling him, “Have you learned your lesson that you should always carry a bullhorn in your pants?” He then gave Butera the best life lesson ever: “Keep being a pain in the ass.”
Anyone who’s ever graduated from high school can probably relate to Peter Butera. In most educational environments, considerable lip service is given to freedom of speech and making a difference. Until a young person actually tries to speak freely and make an impact. Too often, adults really don’t want students thinking for themselves. They want compliant, obedient drones who do what they’re told and refrain from rocking the boat.
What happened to Peter Butera was reflective of an attitude which infects so many of our schools: Shut up. Do what you’re told. Speak when you’re told to speak. Say only what you’re allowed to say. I’m with Jimmy Kimmel: “Keep being a pain in the ass.” For the sake of our future, I hope he’ll do just that.
Democratic candidate for 6th congressional district Jon Ossoff, right, greets supporters as he leaves a campaign office in Marietta, Ga., Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
[T]here’s more than one way to look at the results. We could, for example, focus on the fact that Democrats went all out to win Georgia’s special election, hoping to use it as a national referendum, and came up short. The results are likely to be demoralizing in some circles. On the other hand, it’s equally true that over the last 25 years, no Democrat has ever come close to seriously competing in this red district — formally represented by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Tom Price — and this special election was easily the closest contest Georgia’s 6th has ever seen. What’s more, the Democrat was a 30-year-old, first-time candidate, who didn’t actually live in the district, running against a Republican who’d already been elected to statewide office.
Yes, Jon Ossoff lost the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District on Tuesday. It was the most expensive Congressional election in our nation’s history and a Democrat came close to taking a very red district. While I’m disappointed Ossoff lost to
The Black Angel of Death © Karen Handel, there is a silver lining. Normally, moral victories are pointless exercises in self-delusion, but this one might actually hold some meaning. Continue reading
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told a congressional panel…she will do nothing to prevent schools from discriminating against LGBTQ students. During Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) asked DeVos about whether or not her department would continue to provide federal funding to schools that had anti-LGBTQ policies. At first she tried to dodge the question by asserting, “Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law.” But Merkley pressed, leading DeVos to say, “In areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees. That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle.”…. By asserting that her office will issue no new “decrees,” she was essentially promising that her office will not take any steps to try to protect LGBTQ students and will continue to reward schools that discriminate against them with federal funding. If a student files a complaint alleging discrimination or mistreatment, she won’t draw any conclusions about whether they’re worthy of protection.
It’s been said that one of the roles of government is to protect the least among us from oppression and discrimination. Not that the LGBTQ community should be referred to as “the least among us,” except in the legal sense. The Obama years found LGBTQ rights increasingly regarded and treated as human rights- marriage equality being the most obvious example. Now the Trump Administration is heavily invested in reducing the LGBTQ community to a second-class status once again, second-class citizens who’ll get what few rights we allow them…and they’ll like it.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made it clear in her testimony before the Senate she has neither plans nor intent to prevent schools from discriminating against LGBTQ students. Apparently, equal rights really ARE special rights.
Last week, President Trump’s White House took a significant but little noticed action. “At meetings with top officials for various government departments this spring, Uttam Dhillon, a White House lawyer, told agencies not to cooperate with [any oversight] requests from Democrats,” reported Politico. This is the formalization of an ongoing practice of sidelining such requests—which were often responded to in previous administrations—amid Republican fear that any evidence could be used against the president. As Politico reports “oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January.” What’s more, the White House Office of Legal Counsel holds that no minority lawmaker—including ranking members of a given committee—can be granted information without the approval of the chairperson. As long as Republicans hold both chambers of Congress, in other words, they can lock Democrats out of any meaningful oversight authority.
A successful, functional democracy depends on the judicious application of a system of checks and balance. Even a minority party has rights and responsibilities- most notably engage in the oversight of government agencies. Democracy works best when the sun shines on government and its actions. Since government works for the People, that shouldn’t present a problem…right??
Previous Administrations generally responded positively when the minority party asked for information. If an agency or department in question has nothing to hide, one would think that wouldn’t present a problem. Unless you happen to work in the Trump Administration…and consider the trappings of democracy to be inconvenient, inefficient, and unnecessary. Continue reading