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Those school-committee meetings with shouty adults jeering students and yelling about books? They're closer than you think

A high-school student in Franklin, one of those normally quiet towns along 495, was jeered and heckled Tuesday night when she tried to discuss how LGBTQ students are treated at Franklin High School. It got so bad, the committee chairwoman had to gavel the meeting into a recess and call in police to keep order after adults in the back just wouldn't stop yelling.

The Franklin Observer headlined its story: What Just Happened? As the student was talking about everyday bullying and slurring of, people began yelling stuff like "This is indoctrination!" The incident happened after other people protested the book selection in Franklin schools.

Watch:

The next day, Franklin School Superintendent Sara Ahern wrote an open letter to the town that starts:

It is with a heavy heart and sincere anger that I write regarding the events that transpired at last evening’s School Committee meeting. The conduct, tone, and disruption by some members of the audience was appalling and a violation of Franklin Public Schools’ core values of a safe and inclusive environment and a collaborative community as well as unacceptable with respect to public meeting procedures. It is also contrary to the community’s consensus vision for our graduates of empathetic and productive citizens who demonstrate social-awareness through inclusivity and the consideration of various perspectives.

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Comments

And apparently they show up for meetings.

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Franklin is experiencing a turnover of the 1980's housing build up.

New blood is, um, less than progressive. I wouldn't also be surprised if not everyone shouting was from Franklin. The lower 495 belt is a bastion of Floribama wannabees.

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Yes and several of these folks are running for school board and town council in franklin. They are a minority but a vocal, organized one. It’s super terrifying.

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Bring back zoom meetings where you can mute people who won't behave.

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Except for the zoning board, which uses WebEx, for what I'm sure is a perfectly fine reason.

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It would be nice if we could say homophobia is limited to just Trump supporters. My lived experience as a gay man is that homophobia like racism is pervasive. I was called a "faggot" by a neighbor in my Cambridge building as she walked her 3-year-old. Homophobia is everywhere.

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but it's only fashionable among Trump supporters. There is a difference between the inherited prejudices that people have not freed themselves from, and those they have willfully and deliberately adopted. I think that various kinds of bigotry are on the rise among certain groups these days precisely because they are offensive. It might be called the rise of Asshole Assertiveness. "It's my right to be an asshole! I'll offend whoever I want, and enjoy it too!" This is rapidly becoming the only real doctrine of much of "conservative" America.

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Back in the early 70s when I was brutally physically abused at Boston Latin (and then at another high school) on a regular basis for being LGBTQ (though there was no such acronym back then, I was just a plain old gay male) there was not a damn thing that could be done about it. It was institutionalized and it was expected. In fact, both a teacher and a guidance counselor also made homophobic remarks to me, as if my peers doing it wasn't enough. Bringing my parents into the fray would only have created problems at home I didn't need. At least this fracas shines light on something that is apparently still a problem.

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At least it's out in the open

And? What happens as a result?

Let's hold off on the "at-least"ing until something actually happens that does more than performatively "shining a light".

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Parents Defending Education, a right wing propaganda outfit funded by the Koch brothers, among others, is doing a lot of organizing to bring angry conspiracy theorists to yell at school board meetings. When the board members resign because of death threats, they can then boost their right wing candidates into office to try and swing edcuational ideology in a libertarian, anti-vax, anti-antiracist direction.

Here's an example from Connecticut:

https://www.ctinsider.com/opinion/article/Opinion-Dark-money-behind-scho...

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They're closer than you think as well. They sued Wellesley last week over efforts to help local minority students.

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Several years ago the Kochs funded a slate of Board candidates at one district and they won. After a year they were so horrendous the district had a recall election and they were all removed. Now they are back at it, this time that Parents Defending organization is offering $50,000 to people who agree to run while publicly supporting their agenda.

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This is indeed organized from outside, and carefully crafted to appear to be genuine and spontaneous anger from local residents. In reality, insofar as such residents exist, they're being used as stalking horses for a nationwide campaign. The DOJ has made some motions in the direction of investigating this, and Congressional Republicans responded by hauling Merrick Garland in to scream at him, basically a "halls of Congress" version of the same bullshit that is going on in school board meetings around the nation. It's the standard right wing DARVO playbook, and it needs to be called out. There is nothing authentic or worthy of serious consideration in these demonstrations; they merit only condemnation and lack of tolerance.

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If outsiders are in fact disrupting School Committee meetings, would it be possible to verify voter registration status before someone is allowed to speak, similar to a Town Meeting?

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would it be possible to verify voter registration status before someone is allowed to speak, similar to a Town Meeting?

Maybe? Town meetings are kind of special - there are laws governing how they can be conducted (btw, people who are not voters can, in fact, speak at town meetings, but you have to go through a little rigamarole where someone has to move that they can speak and it's seconded and all in favor say aye, you get the idea). I'm pretty sure that nothing like that is mandated for school board hearings, and so you'd have to go through some stuff to create this structure.

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So the Kochs have given up on charters, private schools and home schooling and now want to start fights in the public schools. Too bad.

In other news, it’s damn hard to spread tolerance and equality of opportunity when students aren’t taught about intolerance and injustice. But that’s kind of the point of this school board siege.

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So the Kochs have given up on charters, private schools and home schooling and now want to start fights in the public schools.

No, they aren't giving up on that other bullshit. They have more than enough money to hire unscrupulous lawyers and legislators to do it all.

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Showing up to fuss about certain books being hypothetically harmful to children then screaming at a real child in front of you for speaking of their traumatic experiences shows that you don't actually care about children.

n.b. I have no way of knowing if the exact same people that came for the book issue were involved in the student yelling, but if they weren't, I sure hope they spoke up for this student! You know, because the children must be protected from harm.

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I cannot believe they continued the meeting after one of the young people they invited to speak was yelled down by adults in the room. Just unreal--no matter what the subject was.

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And let the mature students say their piece.

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Stopping the meeting gives the fash a win - they aren't there to have a good faith debate. They're there to throw sand in the gears of the democratic process, attack its legitimacy, and sit around shrieking to the point that no one can get anything accomplished. The only thing to do is toss them out and get back to business. Good on the kids for sticking it out.

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So this is the world we are living in, huh? Grown-ass adults will go to meetings and yell hateful things at children who are explaining how they already are attacked daily by their peers. These people wake up every day and look themselves in the mirror and say "yeah, I shouldn't kill myself today" and I just don't understand how that's possible.

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Mackenzie, if you're out there, thank you for being you and standing up for what's right!!!

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Anyone acting like a total jackass needs to be removed from the premises until they either grow and/or sober up.

No place for this nonsense. This is what losers do when they know they have lost. Let them howl at the moon - outside.

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The famous Koch brothers are actually three now. One of the two most famous for their political work, propaganda and funding organizations and universities to spread their version of democracy died in 2019. The more active brother Charles, still makes his will felt.

William and late Frederick Koch Jr. apparently were not invested in politics as their more famous brothers were. A boat belonging to William Koch sat in front of the MFA for a season or two. Don't know if the ever resulted in actual donations to the MFA. Frederick was a philanthropist (ah, to have a career as a philanthropist...) and died in 2020.

William and Frederich versus Charles and David. Infamous family conflict. Nothing like being billionaires and having armies of lawyers to fight out family dramas.

I just wonder what will happen to the Koch empire once Charles passes away? How will his political empire evolve or devolve? Given it already is a prime example of the devolution of democracy one can only hope that it will evolve the way Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick's legacies evolved: from waging literal war against miners using Pinkerton employees in the 19th Century, to turning their profits (both bloodied and not) to the benefit of museums, libraries and other philanthropy.

Yet spending billions on philanthropy after the fact does not atone for the destruction done during a person's lifetime.

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