Letter – Column was short on facts

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Last week’s “Short Rows” (“Censorship hasn’t, and won’t, accomplish anything”) landed somewhere between intellectual dishonesty and misinformation. Columnist John Edwards throws us a word salad of historical non sequiturs (such as the Scopes Trial, the Catholic Church and, of course, the Nazis) but fails to address any specific facts about the local controversy.

Some parents pushed for “censorship” within the school system last year, attempting to control the Wild West of internet content provided to our students. IWCS did not adopt the removal of the content. However, it did acknowledge and implement common-sense content filtering, such as not allowing elementary students to access high school “sexual and divisive” content — the same content Denise Tynes explicitly told IWCS senior staff that she wanted to “protect the public” from being able to see screenshots of during a school board meeting.

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Other “censorship” efforts removed direct student access to middle school educational excellence like “Male Snake Pose as Ladies to Sneak into Massive Orgies.” I guess Mr. Edwards could have argued this is the modern version of Charles Darwin.

School board member Mark Wooster’s policy proposal is not perfect, but at least it is based on law and not the political whims of the Virginia School Board Association. If approved, it will be difficult to enforce and may dissuade some teachers from challenging their students to think critically about controversial topics.

Students at the appropriate age should be exposed to and challenged to think about divisive issues. However, these conversations need to happen in an intellectually open environment that presents all sides and encourages students to think for themselves. Parent/educator partnership is the way to create that environment.

Mr. Wooster’s proposal is not the cause of this issue. Instead, it is a reaction to a runaway politicization of the education system. For example, any objective review of the WHRO presentation from December’s school board meeting will show you which side of the political aisle is firmly entrenched in public education.

The only thing worse than censorship is presenting one side of “divisive” subjects and treating it as undisputed truth.


Lewis Edmonds