Our search for censorious jerks in positions of power takes us now to Columbus, Indiana, where students on the Columbus North High School paper prepared a four-page spread on oral sex and its consequences.
The article was "what you might find in a magazine like Playboy or Hustler but should not be in a school newspaper," Russell Barnard, a school board member in the district, told television station WISH in Indianapolis.
But the school's principal, David Clark, said the students took the issue of oral sex seriously.
Clark told Indianapolis television station WRTV-6 that he trusts the student journalists' judgement.
"I didn't say you can't do it. I didn't say you shouldn't do it. I think it was a trust," Clark said.
Clark told the tv station that he was initially uncomfortable with the story, but came around as he recognized its importance and how well student journalists did their job.
"You got a whole generation of kids with that whole mental attitude, well that's no big deal we can do it. There's no attachment," Clark told the station. "Let's go to lunch. Let's have oral sex. Let's go back to math class."
Clark said the article focused on providing education about oral sex and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sounds reasonable to us. Clark seems like a pretty good principal, in fact.
But Russell Barnard, a school board member, was offended by the story. He's proposing that all material for the school paper gain the approval of the newspaper's sponsor, the high school principal and the district superintendent before it is published.
"The administration needs to have control of what's published with the name of the school appearing on it," Barnard told a local newspaper. "Right now it looks like the children are running the school and can do as they please. It's time that the adults run the school."
The Columbus North journalism advisor, Kim Green, said she'd resign in protest if the school board adopts Barnard's restrictive policy.
"I don't do pretend journalism," Green told the newspaper. "It'll be hard to find good journalism teachers when their expertise is turned over to someone else."
According to The Associated Press, Nikki Shepherd, a senior at North and Triangle tri-editor, said submitting to prior review would be a step backward.
"It wouldn't be our voice anymore. It would be theirs," she said.
So let's praise Shepherd, Green and Clark for standing up for good journalism.
And let's add Barnard to our Hall of Shame and hope that board members with vulgar agendas can't just do what they please.
It's time Americans with a faith in freedom stand up against jackasses like him.Associated Press: Officials want to restrain school paper after oral sex report