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Letter to the Editor

To the Editor;

I am writing this letter with regard to the controversy over certain literary works at Pocahontas County High School.

While there seems to be a plethora of philosophical arguments both for and against the material being used, I believe we need only look to the Pocahontas County High School 2020-2021 Student Handbook, page 10 under Level II Violations, number 4. “Using or writing any profane, vulgar, or abusive language. Disciplinary action: administrative discretion.*”

This exact language has been used since as far back as 2016; likely, far longer. One could read this rule as not being an overly important rule unless those with administrative discretion are offended by the use of profanity, vulgarity or abusive language. Also, it may very well be a rule that is on its way out. However, if you were wondering what the asterisk represents: On the same page just under number 4. “*NOTE – PCHS administration considers the conduct prohibited by paragraphs 3 and 4 above to be very serious. As such, the severity of discipline will be determined by the severity of the violation.”

The use of, or permission to use, materials for instruction that contain profane, vulgar or abusive language at a high school level certainly has the potential to open Pandora’s box. A student cited for cursing in the halls of our high school may very well see this as a double standard.

It could be said, due to my not having a student in the high school at this time, that I don’t have a dog in this fight or that I don’t have standing to offer this opinion. However, I believe there is a larger lesson that, in many ways, is similar to what we see happening in our country.

It can be argued that many of the permissions or restrictions (laws) that are enacted by our government have no basis in our Constitution, and the further we stray from the Constitution the more controversy we invite.

Likewise, the further we stray from our established Code of Conduct for students, the more controversy we invite.

Whether or not you agree with my analogies; a sure-fire way to lose respect is to appear hypocritical.

J L Clifton

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