Parental Moral Outrage: When “Offended” Turns to “Offensive” - The Case of the Offended/Offensive Dad - 518 responses

May 17, 2014

When we send our children off to school, we assume that for the most part the education they receive conforms to generally accepted—either implied or written—societal rules of moral decency. If such rules are crossed in some way, however, parents are apt to voice such displeasure at a school board meeting, which is precisely what William Baer did in Gilford recently. In this case, however, the term ‘displeasure’ may be inadequate, as the media reported Baer was arrested for going over his allotted two minutes and instead engaging in a loud conversation with another parent. Bair’s protest stemmed from his daughter’s assignment to read “Nineteen Minutes,” a book by Jodi Picoult with a scene of sexual violence.

The arrest, however, did not sit well with the majority of Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) Facebook members who responded to the question, “Do you think it is okay to arrest parents whose protests interrupt school board meetings?” In total, the LFDA received 518 citizen responses, including specific comments from 135 individuals supported by 332 concurrences. Fifty-seven percent of respondents disagreed with the arrest, 17 percent expressed support for it, and 26 percent did not were unable to offer a clear opinion.  

Representing the majority opinion, many respondents expressed concern over the lack of time provided to Baer to voice his concerns. Remarked one respondent, “This father is entitled to a sufficient and satisfactory explanation to his concerns, and he wasn't getting it,” he said. “Two minutes is hardly ample time to question something so serious.”

For many who agreed with the arrest, however, Baer should have adhered to the rules of the meeting. “If he wanted to create change and have time to speak, he should have scheduled a meeting with the Superintendent,” one gentleman noted. “He was showboating, broke the announced rules of order and was arrested.”

Among many of those unable to offer clear support for either side of the issue, the question sparked a heated debate regarding the nature of the subject matter in the book. While some described the passage in the book as “pornographic” in nature, others questioned the rationale behind what effectively amounted to “book burning.”

One respondent, however, took offense to the question itself and noted the LFDA did not accurately portray what took place at the school board meeting. “He was not arrested for going over the 2 minute mark,” she said. “He was arrested for disorderly conduct, because he would not let people speak unless it was something that he agreed with…The only reason that he was arrested was because he told the police that the only way that he would leave the meeting is if he was arrested.”

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

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