“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” George Santayana is often misquoted as having said. (His actual admonition was “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”)
For students at Raymore-Peculiar High School in
Lee’s Summit Peculiar , Mo., the task of learning either is being rendered impossible by censorship. A history teacher there named Ken Simon was yanked from his classroom and placed on administrative leave for having shown a 10-minute video that dealt with homosexuality.
Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV explains:
The video was made in 1959. It warns students to avoid strangers “because they might be homosexual.”
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Simon said he used the video to show just how much attitudes about homosexuality have changed over the years.
“I didn’t realize it was going to cause such a backlash,” Simon said. “It was totally innocent.”
Two students complained that the video was offensive, and district administrators took swift and decisive action.
Simon has been teaching for nearly half a century and planned to retire at the end of the school year anyway. Nevertheless signatures are mounting on a petition to clear Simon’s name. About a dozen past and present teachers and students gathered last Thursday to protest the district’s decision to suspend him.
Jennifer Schultz, a former student, said, “They just did it. I love him. He was a great teacher. If you don’t teach history and how far everything has come then you are not doing your job.” Heather Jacobson, who helped organize the protest, concurred, saying, “I think they made a rash decision and they need to reverse it.” Jacobson said.
Simon said he has been amazed by the support, but added that the district has ordered him to abstain from speaking with any students until after May 22, when school is out for the year. The report from KCTV follows:
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