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Education and the Internet

Last week, the principal of Mesa's Westwood High School gave two students, in trouble for fighting, a difficult choice: They could either each accept a suspension, or they could face the public shame of being forced to hold hands with each other in the school's courtyard.

The students, not wanting to take suspensions, chose the latter punishment and faced the derision of their peers, including mocking laughter and questions of, "Are you gay?" according to a report from Phoenix's ABC 15.

Of course, Westwood's first-year principal, Tim Richard, is in some hot water. The school district isn't pleased, and has promised to "review district protocol regarding student discipline" with Richard; of course, the Internet has a number of loud voices out there, claiming that he shouldn't have given out a punishment that allowed students to mock the perceived sexuality of these kids.

This leads us to Michigan, where a music teacher was given a three-day suspension from work for allowing a student to play Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Same Love," a song promoting gay rights and tolerance, in front of the class. According to a report by Detroit's WJBK-TV, a student complained about the lyrics (which included a reference to the word "faggot" in the context of YouTube comments), which prompted the district to suspend the teacher on the grounds of not following district policy regarding the process of obtaining approval of media used in the classroom.

I'm not seeing a problem with anything that these educators have done. Richard's punishment for these students forced them to acknowledge that their altercation was ridiculous by placing them in a ridiculous situation. They've learned that what they did wasn't worth the trouble they faced (as admitted by one of the students to Phoenix's KPHO), and, humiliation aside, they'll be better for it.

The song played by the Michigan teacher stands to me as one of the better songs of the year. It confronts homophobia within society and within rap culture, and the struggle to learn who you are and how to cope with your life from a young age. Unfortunately, the teacher had to suffer the consequences.

Maybe these educators didn't exactly follow protocol, but they took a moral stance—and should be celebrated for their positions, not punished.

The Week on our Blogs

On The Range, we told you about the filth that is Two and a Half Men; freaked out about America's obesity crisis; shared Regina Romero's opinions; considered who would win if the United States went to war with itself (again); looked at Jon Kyl's ACHIEVE Act; noted the deadlines for this year's Parade of Lights; talked about how Raúl Grijalva nearly caused a financial meltdown; shared the results of the Sweet Charity dessert extravaganza; considered cats that look like pin-up girls; shared an event that actually featured real pin-up girls; and so much more!

On We Got Cactus, we gave you a few ideas about what to do instead of attending the cancelled Maybach Music Group concert; tried to convince you to check out Australian radio; hyped up DJ BL3ND's particular brand of "rage"; asked Sara Mohr nine questions, plus one more; checked out Andrew W.K.'s response to his cancelled ambassadorship; read a great preview of last week's show featuring How to Dress Well, ... music video? and Beacon at Solar Culture; and more!

Comment of the Week

"My condolences to his zoo family and caretakers. I have fond memories of marveling at his colorful butt."

—Facebook commenter Patty Lease laments the loss of one of the Reid Park Zoo's resident mandrills, DJ, who was euthanized by zoo staff on Nov. 26 ("Sad News Out of Reid Park Zoo: DJ the Mandrill Has Died," The Range, Nov. 27).

Best of WWW

I love it when people debate in the Tucson Weekly's comment sections, and I love it more when there's a 30-plus comment chain of people discussing, in this case, Tucson's food scene. It's worth a few minutes of your time to head over to Jacqueline Kuder's review of Hibachi Super Buffet and take a peek (even if the instigator of the comments was awfully snotty). TW chief Jimmy Boegle even dropped in his two cents.

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