Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Corrupt Louisiana School District Arrests Teacher For Criticizing Superintendent's Pay

Photo shows a Louisiana teacher about to be arrested for
the high crime of asking why a superintendent is getting a
pay raise but not teachers. 
What seems to be a corrupt school district in Louisiana really stepped in it last week, and as always, that created its own even more intense firestorm on social media.

Let's back up here.

Recently, the school board in Vermillion Parish, Louisiana agreed to renew Superintendent Jerome Puyau's contract for three years. So far so good. But the school board also decided to give Puyau a pay raise, which didn't necessarily go over terrifically with everyone.

The trouble began when Deyshia Hargrave, a middle school English teacher spoke up during the public comment section of the meeting and asked why Puyau was getting a pay raise while teachers were not. 

Well, you'd think Hargrave was making some sort of terrorist threat by asking that simple question. I guess the question did strike terror into the hearts of the school board because they promptly had her arrested.

Just for asking questions and speaking up at a public meeting. She made no threats, she didn't yell, she didn't get violent.

I guess the public comment section a Vermillion Parish school board meeting can only involve opinions that the school board endorses.

School Board President Anthony Fontana is having none of the outcry. He says you're only supposed to express an opinion during the public comment section, not ask questions. (Every public comment period I've been at during public meetings, and I've been to a lot ot them, often involve lots of people asking lots of questions, so I don't know where Fontana is getting that.)

By the way, when ordered to do so, Hargrave left the room, but was still arrested and tackled to the floor outside the room. The school board later decided not to press charges against her.

Says Fontana "This is not about the board, it's about the teacher and everybody wants to side on the poor little woman who got thrown out.... Well, she made a choice. She could have walked out and nothing would have happened."

Yep, she could have walked out, and not ask any embarrasing questions of the school board, because really, why should a public school board be held accountable? I guess he thinks they should do whatever they want, huh?

I have a feeling that Fontana won't stick to his guns for long. This story took the familiar arc when it went viral. Many of the nation's major news media picked up the story, and it's been rocketing back and forth through social media for a few days now. 

Public opinion, unsurprisingly, has come down with the teacher and not the school board. What most people seem to object to, including me, is this apparent trend among people that have any power to freak out and overreact when somebody questions authority, like Hargrave did.

As Isaac Bailey wrote for CNN:

"She wasn't screaming hysterically or uttering a rapid-fire succession of four letter words. She didn't pull out a gun or knife. She didn't rush the board members or threaten them with bodily harm. In their eyes, and in the eyes of a police officer providing security, she did something worse -- she questioned the rightness of their decision making and the morality of their authority to their faces, for all to see. 

That willingness to question authority, more than anything else, seems to put fear in the hearts of those in power."

As Bailey points out, there's other examples of this mentality as well, the kind in which you question authority and they swat you down like somebody trying to kill a mosquito with a bazooka.

For instance, there was that case in Utah last year when a cop arrested and dragged out of a hospital a nurse who refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient. The cop was demanding it to see if there were drugs or alcohol in the patient's blood. The nurse was following the law, and hospital protocol by not drawing the blood without a warrant. But the cop took that as ignoring his authority, so he cuffed her.

Charges were later dropped, and thankfully, the cop was fired.

With every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction, so they say. About as ridiculous as public officials objecting to being held accountable by the, um, public, there's also what some people in the public do when they hear about the latest outrage.

Sure, it's OK to react. I sure as heck don't mind the outcry against this Louisiana  school board, it's totally warranted. What I don't like is, every time somebody does something stupid, or rude, or illegal or tasteless, the perpetrator gets death threats. As if every transgression deserves death. It happens every time. Somebody does something stupid. The response is a bunch of idiotic death threats.

People screw up all the time. Sometimes in small ways. Sometimes in big ways. But if we all deserved death for the times we've screwed up, there would be nobody left on Earth. Logic and proportion, of course, are lost on the legions of death threat trolls on this here internet thingy.

Could somebody explain what the thrill is of issuing death threats against somebody you don't like?  Because I surely don't get it. Maybe I'll get death threats for not understanding the logic of death threats? God forbid.

This school board in Lousiana definitely needs to be held to account. Wouldn't it be cool if for once, we did so without going nuts on the internet?

Can't we just all calm down? The answer to that question, in these divided and stupid times, is definitely not.

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