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Guest Opinion

What to make of “extremism” accusations at Pennridge


In the Sept. 21 issue of the Herald, there was a column entitled “Extremism that has infiltrated Pennridge is rampant.” The article is important because I believe the writer has shown what may explain some of the recent controversies at Pennridge — namely, people who seem to have no sense that those who disagree with them may have a point worth discussing.

The author states it well when he accuses the other side of behaving as if “free speech is only free to those who agree with them.” Except he is the one labeling as “extremist” those who disagree with him.

To illustrate, here are thoughts on some of his comments.

Used as one of the proofs of rampant extremism is the fact that the school board disciplined students who walked out of class to go to a protest rally. Perhaps the board realized that if it allowed this action on the part of the students then they would have had to allow it for all others. Would the writer be happy if students were allowed to leave class to go to a Trump rally? Or students just up and leave class en masse for whatever they feel like. Besides the need to maintain order in the classroom setting, there is also a question of legal liability to the school to be considered.

Another school board decision seen as more proof of extremism is the forbidding of any “image or object” being used by teachers unless it is related to the subject being taught. Again, the school board is judged to be extremist as it tries to set rules for neutrality and head off intimidation in the classroom. In this case where it applies to all ideologies and political views, it would seem the rule is fair.

Describing Hillsdale College as “Christian arch-conservative” made me wonder if being Christian makes you extremist. Or is it the “arch-conservative?” By the way, what is an “arch-conservative?” One of the definitions of “arch” used as an adjective is “mischievous.” In any case, somehow being affiliated with Hillsdale College (recently ranked 39th out of 211 National Liberal Arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report) adds to the charge of extremism? Huh?

And similar cases can be made for the other comments in the letter but the examples above should make my point. I know little about Pennridge but am reacting to the letter that I feel is itself extreme because it does not show any consideration for the valid concerns of the school board and uses negative sounding phrases without substantiation to label others.

Dick Sakulich lives in Doylestown Township.

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