Home / General / “By Character, Of Course, We Mean ‘Doing Whatever Some Dumbass Petty Tyrant Tells You To Do Immediately.’ I Am Not A Crackpot.”

“By Character, Of Course, We Mean ‘Doing Whatever Some Dumbass Petty Tyrant Tells You To Do Immediately.’ I Am Not A Crackpot.”


The most pathetic thing about this story was that the principal really seemed to think that if he called up Wellesley and informed them that his student had sassed back about his wingnut reeducation rally they would immediately withdraw her acceptance. I mean, at least keep your narratives about Massachusetts liberal arts colleges being godless destroyers of American values straight.

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  • Pooh

    Dollars to donuts, the admission officer at Wellesley was like “wait, you meant that as a complaint?”

    • Scott Lemieux

      “Thanks for the tip — we agree she deserves a full ride for having that kind of character.”

    • rea

      Wellesley actually did send her a reassuring twitter message about how excited they were to have her there next fall.

      • aimai

        Jeez, they should have called her as well as twittered it. I hope they did.

      • Perhaps it is wishful thinking but I read that as a public FU to Principal Hemorrhoid.

        • the original spencer

          That’s how I read it too.

    • LeeEsq

      I’m sure this was a good source of laughs at Wellesley for a couple of days.

  • cpinva

    there seems to be an entire generation of school principals, currently in office, who got their phd’s in “how to be an arrogant, dictatorial dumbass”. these are the peers of this clown, who threaten students for their hair, t-shirts, books, questioning the status quo, etc. this type of idiocy has become a near daily event in this country, at every level, in city, town and country. is this like, the last gasp of the stupid or something?

    • Philip

      If history has taught us anything, it is that that last gasp will never come.

    • somethingblue

      Also, they should be put in charge of identifying “low-performing” teachers, who should be fired merely on their say-so, because merit.

      • Steve LaBonne

        This. SO this.

    • Hanspeter

      I doubt the incidence rate has increased much[1]. More likely it’s easier to broadcast that something happened. 25 years ago, would your local paper (outside the immediate area) have carried anything about some student complaining about a school assembly?

      [1] Though conversely, it is easier for students to feel more empowered when they are a very small local minority since they have access to similar thinkers worldwide.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Yusta be that Principals delegated such school-nazi tactics to Vice-Principals, so that the Principal could play the “good guy” that was above all the strong-arm stuff, sympathetic, buddies with parents, etc.

      My, how standards have fallen.

      • witless chum

        Not necessarily. My dad, class of 1962 at Jackson High School, (small city in central lower Michigan) talked about how their principal used to like to strut around the halls and rough kids up, like all the cranky grumblers who think we need corporal punishment in school think they should. Principal Tough Guy tried it with the wrong kid, eventually, and was found laying on the bathroom floor, severely beaten. My dad told this story as an example of “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

      • DrDick

        That was certainly the way it was when I was in school in the 60s.

    • Agatha Christie

      When I practiced educational law, my boss used to say that schools principals and vice-principals were just the petty little authoritarians who couldn’t hack it as prison guards, so they got a job where they could pick on children instead. I thought that was a little over the top, but after a couple years of practice, I realized it was a pretty accurate description of a certain portion of school administrators.

    • Halloween Jack

      It’s a vital part of the ongoing effort of American society to train its citizens to Shut Up And Do What You’re Told.

  • This seems to be a straight up fireable offense. I don’t think school officials are required to lie about their students to pump them up, but threatening to burn a student with a college? When you aren’t remotely in the assessment loop? Over political differences?!?

    • the original spencer

      “Forget it, Jake – it’s West Virginia.”

  • Sly

    Campbell’s last straw was what she called a “slut-shaming abstinence assembly” led by conservative speaker Pam Stenzel.

    Where have I heard that name before?Oh… right….

    There’s a woman named Pam Stenzel, who was a speaker a few years ago at Reclaiming America For Christ, D. James Kennedy’s church, who’s been at the forefront of the abstinence-only movement. She was somebody that Bush put on a 12-person panel at the Department of Health and Human Services, overseeing how abstinence guidelines should be instituted. She’s been to the White House at Bush’s behest, she’s spoken at the United Nations. She’s somebody who’s really shaped policy. Again, there’s this kind of alternative reality. Instead of finding somebody to shape policy at the Department of Health and Human Services from one of the major medical schools, you take somebody who’s known within the Christian nationalist movement.

    Speaking at Reclaiming America For Christ, Pam Stenzel was talking about this conversation that she’d had with somebody on a plane. A guy sitting next to her found out she did abstinence education and asked something like, “Does that really work? I bet you’re never going to be able to get kids to stop having sex, which nobody has ever been able to do in the history of humankind.”

    And she said, “What he’s asking is: Does it work? You know what? Doesn’t matter. Because my job is not to keep teenagers from having sex. The public school’s job should not be to keep teens from having sex.” (I would say about that much, we actually agree.) Then she said, “Our job should be to tell kids the truth.”

    This is what Pam Stenzel, who makes policy for the way some of your kids are being taught, sees as the truth:

    “People of God, can I beg you to commit yourself to truth, not what works. To truth, I don’t care if it works, because at the end of the day, I’m not answering to you, I’m answering to God.”

    Later, she added, “Let me tell you something, people of God, that is radical and I can only say it here. AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at 20 is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fists in the face of a holy God and sin without consequences is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely.”

    • So..,she’s teaching abstinence from sin rather than safe sin? Where have I heard this before?

      Also, of course you don’t shake your fist in god’s face. He’s bigger than you: you kick him in the shin and run like hell.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        I recommend insanely powerful firearms. Really, that Jaweh dude has a lot to answer for, and whoever takes him down deserves congratulations.

        • Have you by any chance read Philip Pullman’s His Dark materials trilogy?

          • Steve LaBonne

            Or Anatole France’s Revolt of the Angels, sadly neglected nowadays.

    • Malaclypse

      I beg you to commit yourself to truth, not what works.

      Conservativism in a single sentence.

      • rea

        And you know, if a preacher said that, I’d think the were silly, but that’s religion for you. But that is not an appropriate attitude for an official of the government of the United States.

      • BigHank53

        This is what you get when you invite snake-handlers and glossolalics into your party.

      • Karen

        Apparently “by their fruits ye shall know them” has been expurgated from her Bible.

      • LeeEsq

        Conservatives were no other bothered by practicality or reality.

      • DocAmazing

        Needs more quotation marks.

    • And apparently the only sin listed in the scriptures is sex, because that seems to be all they want to talk about these days.

      • witless chum

        We all remember well the part of the Bible where Jesus went up on a mountain and gave a sermon against gays, sex, abortion and anyone daring to question unregulated capitalism.

        • Green Caboose

          And guns! That everyone should have a personal armory of guns if they want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God.

          • Bill Murray

            you need the guns to shoot the eye of the needle to make it big enough to get through

        • somethingblue

          We all remember well the part of the Bible where Jesus went up on a mountain with an unholstered Glock


    • sibusisodan

      My child believing that they can shake their fists in the face of a holy God and sin without consequences is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely.”

      Wow, so her children are going to be valiant in visiting the sick, the prisoner, feeding the hungry and comforting the suffering, just like her!

      Oh. Wait, she just means sex, doesn’t she? Well, don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here excising the latter chapters of Matthew from my copy of the new testament.

      • Karen

        Chapters 5 and 6 have all that Commie crap, anyway. Just delete that one. And all of Luke, the Prophets, much of Paul other than the verses about wives submitting and gays going to Hell. Judges and Revelation are good, though.

        • The Irish

          You have to take Deborah and Jael out of Judges, though. Female agency is the devil’s torque wrench.

          • Hogan

            crud crud crud

  • LeeEsq

    Wing-nuts seem to suffer from poor impulse control.

    • NeoCon Voltron

      Another example of how much we suffer. We’re the real victims!

  • Shakezula

    This story is just dripping with awesome. That is all.

  • c u n d gulag

    “Just say ‘NO!’ to drugs!!!”

    “Just say ‘NO!’ to sex!!!”

    “Just say ‘NO!’ to sex-education!!!”

    “Just say ‘NO!’ to contraception!!!”

    “Just say ‘NO!’ to abortion!!!”

    “Just say ‘YES!’ to Jesus!!!”

    If you never sin, no one ever has to be accused of casting the first stone.

    And even if they do sin, you, as a Jesus-grifter, still get to cash your first check – and every other check.

    Until you actually get to meet Jesus, and, like in that scene from “Annie Hall,” he looks at you, finger on the “Down-elevator” button, and says, “You know nothing of my work” – and you realize that you’re alone in that elevator, and that it’s getting hotter…

    • LeeEsq

      You for got “Just say NO to taxes” and “Jyst say NO to Obamacare.”

    • the original spencer

      I’m not religious in the least, but if it does turn out that I’m wrong about Christianity, I really hope that that’s how Jesus spends his time – escorting fundie souls to hell on an express elevator.

      • Malaclypse

        Part of me wants Christianity to be true, just so that I could see a really pissed-off Jesus at the Last Judgement looking at them and saying “You thought I meant what?!?!”

        • Rhino

          I try to avoid using this phrase, but all I can say is ‘I know, right?’

          In Parke Godwin’s two books about god, heaven and hell, this is a recurring theme. If you haven’t read them you should…

        • witless chum

          He’s a Jew, so I figure him to drop an “Oy vey” or two.

    • Rhino

      I see you got your name back ;) I was starting to worry you, one of my favourite commenters, has suffered some sort of aneurysm.

  • Another Anon

    Sadly, our Supreme Court would probably hold the principal could punish the student based on his “fear of disruption” … what, 5-4? 6-3?

    • calling all toasters

      5-3. Kagan would recuse herself because she had attended high school in her past.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Bong hits for Jesus.

      • Tyto

        In Loco Parentis. With emphasis on “loco.”

  • JBJ

    the principal really seemed to think that if he called up Wellesley … they would immediately withdraw her acceptance.

    I caught this too. Mind-boggling — I can’t imagine what college would kick her out based on this display of “low character” — Liberty U., maybe. West Virginia U., certainly not.

    I am cringing more than snarking about this one — My family lived in Charleston until I was in the 3rd grade. I probably would have gone to that high school. WOW are the public schools in West Virginia screwed up.

  • Unsympathetic

    I’m not sure the principal thought far enough ahead to have an actual concept of what Wellesley might believe. He probably is just used to having people obey his ridiculous whims without calling him on his unverified assertions.

  • Am also wondering why (as Ms. Campbell noted) a TalEvangeical firebreather was going to speak at a public school.

    That’s what makes Campbell mega-brilliant in my eyes.

    She was going to the ACLU about this and that’s when Principal Abenfuherer tried to intimidate her by threatening to call the college.

    It’s like he was wearing six pairs of pants and Campbell snapped her fingers: They were all down around his ankles.

    • Bill Murray

      and that’s when Principal Gauleiter Abenfuherer tried to intimidate her

    • Davis X. Machina

      There are broad swaths of this country where there are no public schools, not really, not in the secular, non-sectarian sense. Public prayer, assemblies like this, other stuff.

      It goes un-reported and un-challenged most of the time.

      • CaptBackslap

        “Today we learned why Obama voters are going to hell, and then after lunch we all made our family trees webs!”

  • witless chum

    I graduated from a tiny, poor, rural high school in 1996 and either my senior or junior year we had a scare the kids into not having sex assembly where the morons asserted that the treatment for gonorea in men was put your penis on a metal table and hit it with a mallet, along with other science facts. They weren’t overtly religious, as I recall, but nobody who’s not a crazy wingnut believes that, right? Also, graphic pictures of alleged crazy growths of genital warts.

    In hindsight, I wish I’d made trouble like she did.

    • the treatment for gonorea in men was put your penis on a metal table and hit it with a mallet

      It’s not? I have to have a word with my doctor.

      • Rhino

        Don’t complain, that’s an extra 100$ here in the big city brothels…

    • JBJ

      I guess you’ve got to grade on a curve since it’s West Virginia, but Charleston is the state capital, and GW High School (an educated guess w/o looking anything up) is the biggest public high school with the best reputation in town. If this could happen there, there’s no telling what could happen at a rural school.

    • snurp

      I heard the same presentation (mallet and all) five years later as a freshman in Orange Park, Florida. At the end we were asked to sign some sort of abstinence pledge card, which was not exactly treated as binding by the student body.

  • FLRealist

    I grew up in Charleston – Kanawha County has a history of screwed up school/religion relationships. I’m lousy at links, but Google the Kanawha County textbook controversy. Bomb threats, etc. It really messed up my 7th and 8th grade years.

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