PZ of Pharyngula posted today about the principal of a high school in Franklin County, Virginia (near Roanoke, but very…rural in character) who held up the publication of a student’s essay about evolution on the basis of…well, judge for yourself:
Brandon Creasy, a 16-year-old junior who attends the Leonard A. Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration, claims that an opinion piece he wrote backing the theory of evolution is being censored by the school’s principal.
Creasy submitted the piece for a school news magazine, but Principal Kevin Bezy said this week he decided it wasn’t proper to publish, at least until it was revised. Creasy says he believes Bezy had problems with the piece because the principal doesn’t believe in evolution.
When asked his opinion of evolution and how that may have factored into the situation, Bezy declined to discuss his feelings on the theory. He said he considers that irrelevant to the matter, believing it important to remain unbiased when making decisions.
“The law gives the principal the responsibility to edit publications of the school,” Bezy said. “It is an important responsibility because the principal has to look out for the rights and sensitivities of all students, especially in a diverse and multicultural area.”
Reading the comments at Pharyngula is the best way to follow the arc of the weirdness. Come to think of it, it’s the only way. As a matter of fact, it is the weirdness.
Initially, people joined PZ in jumping all over the principal’s back, as they should have. I really felt bad for this kid. It’s an educational crime to have this thing held up. It’s hard enough to get kids to actually put effort into essays they write–I’ve taught hgh-school English, and most kids just try to fulfill the minimum word count by excreting sentence after sentence of arrant bullshit. Here we had one with passion, and he was being rewarded with a slap in the face thanks to the pernicious yokelry of his environment.
But then, about 130 comments deep, folks began drawing a sharper focus on Brandon Creasy’s essay itself, and it was observed that the paper was awfully good for a 16-year-old. Maybe too good. And sure enough, it wasn’t long before “MP2K” demonstrated beyond all doubt that Mr. Creasy had plagiarized the paper. Soon afterward, Blake Stacey discovered that “plagiarism” was too gentle a term by degrees for what the youngster had done.
I went to the Roanoke Times site to review the comments about the article there, and by 5 p.m. EST today everything on the forum had been pulled.
So now we have a situation in which a principal who is either anti-evolution himself or shackled by fears of repercussions from the community refused to publish a perfectly good paper from a student who accused the principal of censorship for not allowing the plagiarized paper through. This school community has probably seen better days, and I wonder even now if the kid is aware of his marauding at the hands of ScienceBlogs.com visitors (assuming he wasn’t already caught).
If the principal has a real politician’s sense of spin and panache, what he’ll say is that he knew all along that the paper was swiped, but that he was hoping to settle the disciplinary side of things quietly and “in-house” so as to spare the kid any more embarrassment than he would already be facing. That’s actually a plausible scenario, but no way is it true.
Also, if you must know, a cousin of mine who lives in Roanoke has an in-law who discovered a Ku Klux Klan outfit in the attic of an old family home in Franklin County. Not sure how that ties in with the rest of the story, but I thought I’d share.