Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Freedom Of Speech...Even For Voices In Conflict

Freedom Of Speech...Even For Voices In Conflict

The United States Supreme Court may not believe that First Amendment rights to free speech extend to high school students, but New York's Vineyard certainly does.

Next month, The Vineyard will stage three free performances of the controversial Voices In Conflict -- a documentary-style play constructed by drama students at Wilton (CT) High School as a class project that gives voice to actual interviews, letters and essays from American soldiers serving their country in Iraq. Wilton's students will perform the work.

Voices In Conflict originated when the students were confronted last September by the death of a 2005 Wilton High School graduate who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq. That soldiers's legacy included a written letter. The students began to compile other soldier's writings and soon had a series of monologues that were ready to be staged.

After deeming the original high school production as too controversial this past April, Wilton High School Principal Timothy H. Canty canceled all performances at the school. He was quoted in The New York Times saying, "'It would be easy to look at this case on first glance and decide this is a question of censorship or academic freedom....In some minds, I can see how they would react this way. But quite frankly, it's a false argument.''

Ironically, the high school bills itself as "a community of learners dedicated to academic and personal excellence. Within a nurturing, respectful environment, we foster scholarship, character and citizenship."

While the school's claims are specious at best, we can be thankful that these students will understand that there are far more Americans who care about the proper protection of First Amendment rights and are willing to join in teaching school administrators a thing or two about what those rights actually mean.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for ticket information.

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At 27 June, 2007, Blogger Nicole said...

I've been following this story for awhile now. The school administration behaved outrageously.

I'm thrilled, however, to be a part of an open, accepting theater community that is giving these kids a chance to show their work, however controversial some might find it. It's an important lesson for these students about fighting for what you believe in.

At 27 June, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I agree wholeheartedly. To be honest, I'm a bit outraged that the school's mantra says one thing, yet they don't trust their students enough to live up to that mantra.

I'm even more concerned by the erosion of our fundamental freedom of speech by both the left and right. It's chilling.

At 27 June, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just boggles the mind that we send these soldiers to Iraq to defend our freedom and to bring greater freedom to the Iraqi people, and then their own words on what they're seeing, what they're going through every day, are deemed "controversial." It's unbelievable. The more I think about it, the sadder I get. I mean, these are the soldiers' own writings. Whatever you think about the war, they're in the middle of it and they deserve to be heard. Bravo to these students for giving them a voice. Their efforts should be applauded.

At 27 June, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther - You nailed it right on the head.


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