Neshaminy Schools Close to Banning Students’ “Redskins” Ban

School board will override the decision of student editors.

The Neshaminy School Board of Directors is ready to pass a policy that would ban the student newspaper editors at Neshaminy High School from banning the use of the school’s mascot — the “Redskins” — within the paper itself. 

Advocates of that stance say the newspaper’s editors shouldn’t be able to impose their preferences on, say, students who want to write letters to the editor that include the term.

“Assuming that it’s a proper use of the word, such as a reference to the mascot, the school district does not believe, and I don’t believe the law allows, one set of students to prohibit another student from expressing himself or herself,” said Michael Levin, who serves as special counsel to the district.

Which makes the Neshaminy school board a fine defender of the term “Redskins” while being a lousy educator.

Here’s what editors do: They impose standards on their publication. Some are a matter of protecting the publication from lawsuits for libel or slander; some are simply a matter of establishing a sensibility for the publication. The editors decide on those standards, inform everybody in the organization of them, and seek to ensure that everybody applies those standards consistently and fairly. Sometimes, they even revise the standards to reflect an evolution in the aforementioned sensibility.

And sometimes, editors must stand tough and defend those standards in the face of fierce criticism.

The current crop of editors who have defended their standard have learned their lesson well, it seems,but future editors of the student newspaper won’t get that opportunity. Too bad. [Newsworks]

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  • gbullough

    I bet Mr. Levin would change his tune and his “learned legal opinion” very quickly if it were the n-word or (especially) the k-word that was at issue. I bet that would even be the case if said word was being used to express a political opinion, as opposed to talking about something as ultimately trivial as high school sports. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, and when it comes to a newspaper, it’s the Editors and Publishers who “own” it.

  • Use logic & reason

    gbullough, you’re reaching into hyperbolic logic (oxymoronic) when you set those two words comparatively to “Redskins”. The other words have always been derogatory while “Redskins” has been used in derogatory and non-derogatory terms and never to the extent you’re trying to achieve. Today the vast majority of the nation only uses “Redskins” as an acceptable and complimentary nickname for sports teams. If it’s still the established nickname for Neshaminy then what right does the Redskins’ editor have to censor the author? Let their community decide what to do based on a logical and reasonable approach. I suggest you should too if you want to be involved.
    btw, that editor & publisher answer to the school and the community…think about it.

    • Natalie S.

      How is redskin used in a non-deroagtory way? Yeah, it can refer to a team or a mascot, but the word’s context and creation is offensive, therefore the use of it will always reference that, just like any other racially insensitive term. It doesn’t matter if people are more comfortable using the word because they don’t understand how it is offensive or because it is not as taboo as the n-word. Just because a lot of people use it and don’t think it is offensive, doesn’t not make it offensive.

      Editors have the ability to publish and edit what they want. Most have written policies. They are not dissallowing people from using the name of the mascot on their facebook or in the halls or if they taped a lettet to their locker, but they choose not to allow it in the paper, just like they can decide not ot publish any story or letter. That is the definition of editor and does not violate the first amendment or free speech. The staff of the newspaper (multiple editors) are the ones who decided to do this. Any student can join the newspaper and therefore have an opportunity to be a part of creating the newspaper standards. There is no need to ask the community since they chose not to join the newspaper.

      I find it funny that high school kids get this but adults can’t. Good for these kids. I hope they keep fighting. As a former newspaper editor myself, I understand ow these entities work. Maybe you should use research and fact instead of your flawed logic. Or at least have the gumption to attach your name to you uninformed statement.