Public Shame or Teaching Moments

A teacher in Smithtown posted something on Facebook and now, depending on who has your vote, she should either be fired and sent into exile or lauded for being a truth teller. Follow the truth telling claim with all of the reasons you believe anyone who supports Trump is racist, ignorant, uneducated, misogynist…well, you get the idea.

Its almost as if nobody has ever said anything stupid or outrageous on social media. If you happen to be on the wrong side of the sentiment you should lose your job and face public humiliation. Right? And let’s not forget if you’re on the right side of the sentiment you are a victim of liberal/conservative thought police trying to interfere with your rights. Are you confused? Yeah. Me too.

I’d put it in the “everyone sucks and is stupid” pile except it seems that there is nothing that can ever be discussed, you know, like in a reasonable way in which people are able to express different opinions. Just once I’d love to see someone, anyone, write in a comment section or on social media, “You know? I can see where you’re coming from.” I’d also like to see peace in the Middle East and the elimination of famine, but I’ll start smaller and hope to see more reasonable conversations.

So this teacher wrote something on Facebook that was stupid. Yes. I think its stupid because she would probably be the first person to denounce stereotypes or sweeping generalizations of any segment of society yet there she is declaring that she can spot the racists based on their Trump gear. That’s like saying…well, scratch that; I won’t start throwing out sweeping generalizations because I think they’re idiotic as well.

I don’t want to see this teacher fired. I have no desire to see her publicly shamed and then exiled to some far corner of the world. Instead I would hope to engage her in a conversation. I’d like to show her that it is possible to have a different opinion, support a different candidate, even vehemently disagree yet still realize there is more to who she is as a human being than who she plans on voting for.

Trump supporters have gotten some bad press. Yes, there are some who deserve it, but let’s not forget that ugly sells so are you going to see supporters in the news who are educated nice people? Where’s the fun in that? No. You’re going to get people who say and do things that are awful because that makes a great headline and sound bite.

Let me spare you the list of Trump supporters I know that are not googly-eyed monsters just as I’ll spare you the list of Clinton supporters who are not always the nicest people in the world. I have no need to denigrate either side. Instead, I will continue to hope to have a passionate discussion that includes actual issues and not just regurgitation of a media narrative or insults wrapped up as discussion points.

I’m sorry that this teacher believes that she can spot a racist based on Trump gear. I’m sorry that she would be so quick to judge a kid who may or may not just be mirroring a parent’s beliefs. What I’m really sorry about is that even with believing her post was dumb, it has opened up more ugly instead of a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Unfortunately, the lesson we’re teaching our kids is not that different opinions are ok, but that if you say the wrong thing, you’re going to get a public lashing. Wait. Isn’t that bullying? Hmmm. I guess this is a to be continued…