[saymaListserv] Cookeville High School tells Quakers "anti-war material is offensive"

Steve Livingston nc_stereoman at charter.net
Thu Feb 3 20:34:19 JEST 2005

I found this article in the Knoxville Sentinel online (KnoxNews)

NASHVILLE - A Cookeville High School administrator said Veterans 
for Peace and a Quaker group can't come back into his school with 
materials considered "anti-American" and "antimilitary."

The groups plan to go before the Putnam County School Board on 
Thursday with claims they're being denied privileges afforded to 
other organizations, including military recruiters.
The war veterans, some who also belong to the Quaker group, were 
allowed into the school during a September fair for organizations. 
They set up a table with books about U.S. wars and offered 
photocopied fliers and pamphlets from both organizations about the 
war in Iraq and military careers and alternatives.

Quaker and veteran Hector Black said several students stopped by 
the table asking questions, and a couple of teachers even thanked 
them for coming.

He said there wasn't any indication of a problem until later that 
evening when he got a phone call from Principal Wayne Shank.

Shank told Black that some of the groups' materials may be proper 
for adults, but he thought they were inappropriate for the students.

"The information was brought to the attention of administrators 
because of the influence it may have had," said Shank, who 
restricted future visits by the groups. "I felt from a principal's 
viewpoint that the students were being put into a position that they 
shouldn't," said Shank, who restricted future visits by the groups.

Black said Shank specified some quotes in the literature that he 
objected to, including one from a 1953 speech by President 
Eisenhower that said, "Every gun that is made, every warship 
launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from 
those who hunger and are not fed. Those who are cold and are not 
clothed ... "

Another quote from an unknown author said, "The army that can 
defeat terrorism doesn't drive Humvees, or call in airstrikes ... It 
undermines military dictatorship and military lobbyists. It subverts 
sweatshops and special interests."

County School Director Michael Martin said: "Parents found the 
materials to be anti-American, antimilitary. That didn't come from 
us. That came from the parents who saw the materials when their 
kids brought it home."

Shank said in a phone interview from Cookeville that he couldn't 
recall everything he found offensive. He said he received a 
complaint call from a parent a day after the event and made an 
administrative decision to ban their "offensive materials."

Shank said he didn't tell the groups that they couldn't come back 
into the school. He required that all their materials get advance 
approval, a rule he said also applies to military recruiters.

The principal also said their literature could only be shown in a 
classroom setting that would allow an opportunity for a "balanced" 
presentation. Military recruiters and other groups don't face that 
restriction, the peace activists said.

Veteran Charlie Osburn said his group doesn't understand why 
military recruiters and others like the Association of Christian 
Athletes are allowed into Cookeville High School without the same 
restrictions. His group aims to inform students, he said.

Steve Livingston
nc_stereoman at charter.net
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