Vitriol does little to further dialogue

  • Saturday, January 17, 2015 1:31pm
  • Opinion

What’s the point of lecturing children on cyber-bulling if parents cannot be bothered to extend the same courtesy to each other?

During a recent debate over a faculty-led assembly at Nikiski Middle-High School, the nasty tone of the digital debate took over what could have been a reasonable discussion over what is appropriate for the school’s sixth- through 12th-grade students to see from their role models.

The parents who complained were called “crazed,” “uptight,” “overly-sensitive,” and told to pull their children out of the school as they were lacking a sense of humor.

The complaints and fallout stemmed from the Jan. 5 revelation that the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District suspended two administrators and two teachers, with pay, as the school district investigated allegations of inappropriate behavior. The teachers have since been reinstated and the school district is refusing to release the results of the investigation — so it’s difficult to know whether any corrective action will be taking place, or if staff received sensitivity training, rebukes, congratulations on a job well done or any feedback at all for the assembly.

When the story came out, many seemed to think that in order to defend the schools and its teachers, they needed to go into attack mode — ignoring the fact that any parent whose child expresses discomfort about something they learned or saw at school, from an administrator no less, has the right to investigate.

Some seemed to believe that bashing those with dissenting opinions was the only way to validate their own.

It’s alright to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by others. But that doesn’t give you the right to villify someone just because you dislike what they’re saying.

We lost the opportunity to have a community-wide discussion about an excellent school that has had a somewhat difficult year. The backbiting and infighting on line, we’re sure, were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the vitriol that was expressed on both sides, in person.

Unfortunately, some parents said their children had been treated badly at the school after being linked to people who complained about the assembly — proving once again that children will imitate their parents and in this situation a lot of parents ignored decorum and attacked their neighbors.

Adults should model the same behavior that we’d like to see in our children.

The next time you come across a link or article you disagree with, take a deep breath and count to ten before you respond. Attempt to persuade your friends, neighbors, and Facebook followers, with logic and avoid inflaming mob-justice situations and fighting on the internet — you can’t reason someone out of an opinion that they didn’t reason themselves into.

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