Navigating Power and "Free Speech" in a Liberal High School
Cal Quinn-Ward

Equally dangerous to the encouragement of bigoted ideals is the equivalence of conservatism to bigotry. The articles published highlight the issue at Grant, which in my experience has been a reluctance of the general student body to consider and appreciate points of view that are foreign in the political bubble that Portland truly is. It is not an act of aggression to hold a conversation, and while much progress has been made through radical means, that doesn’t mean it is universally appropriate. ‘Militant action’, for example, is not the appropriate vehicle to encourage your fellow high school students to understand viewpoints different than their own. I respect the argument made, and certainly there is value in bringing up sociopolitical divides in our school. Simultaneously, though, there is value in listening to the people around you. While free speech may be only a legal bar against individual prosecution, the importance of understanding why one has developed their ideas and what motivates these beliefs is absolutely essential to cultivating a social environment in which free thought can be developed. This response makes me unsure of whether you have thought of why these beliefs are being held, which is essential to recognizing another’s humanness. This article and the claims of chauvinism, bigotry, and hatred you see in your classmates concern me. The ‘reactionary agenda’ you both speak out against and utilize in your own piece makes me think that you do not feel these students deserve an opportunity for their beliefs to be understood, not that they could be with labels of fascist leanings stamped on. Writing off another’s beliefs as indigestible because they are reminiscent of a systemic power dynamic is dangerous, and to undermine the ideas presented by your classmates with the labels mentioned prior is equally so. If I am wrong or misunderstanding you in some way, please let me know. Because I genuinely want to hear your beliefs and develop for myself a more nuanced view of this issue.