Suspended for Denouncing Green Lies

1.  21 February, 2014,
A letter to Alfred’s father, delivered by hand, from the Principal of Hobart College:

2.  26 February, 2014,
A letter from Alfred’s father, sent by e-mail, to the Principal of Hobart College:
As I anticipated last week, I am unable to attend your “re-admission conference” this morning—wherefor I apologise; however, I shall endorse and support any promise or agreement Alfred makes today.  If his return to classes be dependant on any assurance from me (that, for instance, I should endeavour to make Alfred refrain from vocalising offensive terminology in any situation wherein a teacher or student may be listening) I freely give you such an assurance and any other reasonable undertaking.
However, this matter, for me at least, is far from over, because I consider that Alfred has not been treated fairly or justly, and I argue that many of his rights have been ignored.
According to the opening remarks in the “Secretary’s Foreword” to your Student Information Booklet, it’s “designed to give you all of the information you need about the College you are attending.” (p. 2)  All the information a student needs?  Here is the only reference to behaviour is the document of twenty-eight pages:
Code of Behaviour 
The College aims to be a harmonious community where everyone is able to enjoy and value learning, work effectively and participate positively, free from interference, in all aspects of campus life. 
Our responsibilities as a College Community:
  • we all have a right to learn
  • we all have a right to be safe
  • we all have a right to a clean environment and good health
  • we all have a right to be treated with respect and consideration.
Our Supportive College Environment Policy incorporates a structured sequence of consequences for breaches of the Code of Behaviour. (p .20)
Was a “structured sequence of consequences” applied in Alfred’s case?  The assistant principal, in her meeting with Alfred on Thursday, made no effort to recommend or even mention any remedial or redemptive act and failed to effect a “supportive, problem-solving stance rather than a punitive one” (p. 11 of the Department of Education’s “Discipline Guidelines”).
 I also refer you to the Convention on the Rights of the Child: 
Article 2 
1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s […] political or other opinion […]. 
Article 13 
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice. 
Article 14 
1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. 
Article 28 […]
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
The notion that a boy of sixteen years of age (as Alfred was when he signed his enrolment form) is bound by any petty rule a principal might invent under her dictatorial authority is as repugnant as it is risible.  Alfred’s mother did not say, when she handed him a pen, “Affix your signature hereunto, Alfred, and you thereby endorse the school’s code of conduct without having read it, and you perforce agree to be bound at all times, within and without school hours as well as within and without the school grounds, by the authority of your principal as she applies rules whereof you know nought”; no, she handed him the pen and said, “Sign here.”
Alfred’s age and the context of his enraged question at the public electoral forum was also not properly considered.  If Julia Gillard, our duplicitous former prime minister, could excuse her corrupt acts and criminal fraud when she was in her thirties as the conduct of someone who was “young and naïve”, then Alfred, at the age of seventeen, should surely be able to excuse his intemperate outburst from his being young and naïf.  Furthermore, Alfred has more of an excuse because he was affronted by the egregious, wanton lies of Nick McKim at a public electoral forum.  Alfred’s brief request [for McKim to stop lying], though regarded as excessively offensive by many tender-hearted people (who have, no doubt, carefully refrained from listening to the common language of youths, or modern music, film and television, and who, lacking familiarity with offensive terminology, can still, somehow, discern their offensiveness at one hearing), was rhetorically succinct, and predicated on an accurate assessment.
The false (and fallacious) “97% consensus” of scientists—and including not just climate scientists but scientists of all stripes—which the mendacious McKim mentioned to his impressionable audience has been thoroughly debunked.  It is unforgivable for a member of Parliament (and, until quite recently, minister of education) who claims to speak to authoritatively on such a matter to be ignorant of that debunking.  Either he knew that the “97% consensus” is a lie, and mischievously repeated the falsehood, or he did such minimal research on the issue whereof he pretends to have more than average knowledge that his lazy cluelessness might be fairly considered to constitute such wilful ignorance that, from his making no attempt to test the validity of his own pronouncements, it amounts to deliberate deception.
The dangerous lies of such misanthropic mountebanks must be exposed, and I commend Alfred for doing so, though I deplore his unfortunate choice of vocabulary.
You state that you value respectful relationships, but the way you and your staff treated Alfred was not respectful and was certainly not fair.  The way you treated me was similarly disrespectful when, for example, you refused to allow me to present any counter-argument or refutation; your saying “sorry” immediately after rudely interrupting an attempt to counter your emotional but silly claim that you would dismiss any staff-member whose vocabulary upset you with “I’m not going to debate that”, does not make your brusque refusal to listen to an argument any more respectful or any less impolite.
I note that there are judicial precedents for asserting that no strong language these days is inherently criminally offensive, and I also note that, culturally (typified by the ABC’s broadcasting—and the ABC’s subsequent rationalisations thereof—and also by the well-publicised outbursts of Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister), lamentably strong language is both common and condoned throughout Australian society.
You also failed to take account of Alfred’s reasonable and firm belief that he attended the public forum as a private individual and not as a student, and certainly not in any way representing Hobart College.
I shall appeal the severity of Alfred’s punishment he has received hitherto.
3.  26 February, 2014,
A reply to the previous letter from Alfred’s father, sent by e-mail, from the Principal of Hobart College:
Alfred, Ella [his mother], Vanessa Warren and I met this morning for the re-entry interview following Alfred’s suspension last week.
At the meeting we discussed the meaning of the school values and in particular, respectful relationships, and we discussed what constituted a school excursion.
Alfred said he was clear about our expectations when he is involved in college activities and excursions and he agreed to abide by those values and expectations.
We also discussed our school policy around taping conversations/activities without the consent of all parties.
Our focus is on ensuring that Alfred settles back into his classes and supporting him to achieve his learning goals for this year.
(By “discussed the meaning of the school values” the principal means that she told Alfred what constitutes a school excursion according to her.
Alfred denies that he “said he was clear about our expectations”; he assented to their browbeating at various points, but insists that the occasional “O-kay” in acknowledgement of their points hardly constitutes a binding agreement.
Alfred was unable to discern clear directions of their expectations other than he should be careful not to utter potentially offensive language within the hearing of students.
The principal explained the “school policy around taping conversations/activities without the consent of all parties”, whereas Alfred tried to explain that he had a perfect right to tape disciplinary hearings wherein he was a party; furthermore, the written policy he was given prohibits a child “us[ing] their [sic] mobile device as a camera” only; Alfred used his iPod as a recording device.)

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