Where Do High School Students Learn It’s Okay to Say They Want To Kill Someone?

You might think with all of the publicity about death threats being written on school mirrors, and the serious work and hullabaloo it creates for authorities, that students would be taught that it’s no joke when you talk or write about wanting to kill someone – anyone.

Wouldn’t you like to think that teachers in our schools also discourage talk of senseless physical violence?

So it was a bit to surprise to see a few items printed in the Huntley High newspaper, “The Voice.”

Before you go off and whomp me with a “Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press”
lecture, let me first explain that Huntley High’s newspaper is put together in a journalism class. The students receive credit like in any other class. While it is true it is a “student publication,” a teacher, as part of regular coursework, supervises content–at least that’s my impression.

Normally, I would show exactly what was written, but two students’ names were used.
What was printed was two students’ “Bucket List”, “A list of things to do before I die.” There might be nothing unusual about this except for what was included:

  • Fight and kill a man
  • Slap someone with my fist

Apparently the teacher and student editors think both are funny.

At least we now know where students in Huntley get the idea how writing about wanting to kill someone might be acceptable as potentially “funny.”

In their high school newspaper, created in journalism class.

This one (also printed) might fall into the category of attempted humor:

Let criminals loose from a penitentary

Yes, “penitentiary” was spelled wrong, but this was how it appeared in the student newspaper. You would like to think journalism students would run a spell checking program prior to publication.

Don’t we hear a lot about schools teaching “sensitivity” and about “religious, ethnic and racial diversity?” Wouldn’t you like to think the line one below might have raised the eyebrows of the teacher or the student editors? It is doubtful Jewish parents in Huntley School District 158 would appreciate the humor or insensitivity about this item being printed as part of a student’s “bucket list.”

Visit Hitler’s grave

Especially since there is no grave site for Hitler in Germany.

High School Principal David Johnson deliberately chooses not to read the paper before it goes to press. In fact no administrator does. He must trust the teacher a lot.

Maybe at Huntley High, if a student writes on a bathroom mirror,

“I want to kill a man”

the anonymous potential threat wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Somehow I doubt that.

But can’t you imagine what the culprit would say if asked,

“Why did you think writing that was okay?”

The Huntley High student could say,

“It was funny when I read it in The Voice, so I thought I would let more kids see it.”

What was the Huntley teachers union slogan again? “Quality Education Is Our First Priority.”

That’s right. It doesn’t say anything about teaching students values.

I would say the chances of Huntley administrators taking any disciplinary action are about zero. Doing nothing about this sets an interesting precedent for all Huntley teachers. You see the Huntley teachers’ union leaders can then use this instance of “did nothing about it” as having established “past practice.”


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