It all began in 2013, when the student editors of the Neshaminy High (Langhorne, PA) school newspaper voted to ban the school’s sports nickname, “Redskins”, from its publication. But the knuckle-dragging traditionalists of the Neshaminu School Board then voted to overrule the editors and require them to use the name (as it pertains to advertisements, letters to the editor and guest editorials).
The editors have steadfastly refused, preferring to run white space in place of any letter or ad including the word. Both sides have retained lawyers, and the issue seems to be at a standstill, with the school board refusing to comment. That was until recently, when a board member, Stephen Pirritano, broke his silence in an email to Vice Sports. It is a glorious email, and must be read. It is shown below:
When reached for comment via email, Pirritano provided the following: “But in this experience I am sure there is many concepts that may shape there [sic] thinking as they move forward in life, from civics, to personal fortitude, to expectations in private industry to the roles and many fascists that are required in operating a public school system.”
Yes, a school board member wrote that. I’m pretty sure he meant “facets”, but who knows for sure? Most likely his Freudian slip was showing.
So a school board is attempting to bully its own students into using a word that has been determined to be racially offensive by several major newspapers, online outlets, the FCC, all dictionaries, and even the federal government.
Not only that, but the school district has already spent, by conservative estimate, $17,000 in legal fees over the issue. That’s your tax dollars at work, Pennsylvania.
The editors of the paper, the Playwickian, must feel pretty beleaguered and alone. But recently they got a shot of encouragement when they were given an award by the ACLU:
— Thomas E. Haines (@hainesVI) October 8, 2014
And the word spreads:
— Cedar Post (@SHScedarpost) September 23, 2014
When kids are showing more maturity than the adults who are supposed to be guiding them through their education, it’s good to see them get recognized.
As of 2013, there were 62 high schools which still used the “Redskins” nickname. At least 10 of those are under threat and/or have promised to change the name soon, and the 62 total is down from 90 schools 26 years ago. Since 1988, 28 schools have dropped “Redskins”.
The editors will soon be moving on to college and who knows what will happen with the paper next year? But for now, the good fight continues.