Student activism in the 21st Century


It may not be the ’60s anymore, but we students are still out there protesting.

On Wednesday, ten students from Skyline High School who are members of the Global Awareness In Action Club (www.globalawarenessinaction.com) attended the protest of the Olympic Torch in San Francisco. These students, including myself, had all been learning about the situation in Tibet recently, and felt compelled to attend the protest on behalf of Tibetans all around the world. Teachers and parents were incredibly supportive of this.

I am aware that this story has been very controversial in the news lately. I would like to make it clear that we students felt very strongly about the Human Rights Violations going on in Tibet, but we are not in any way against the Olympics, the Olympians, or the Chinese people. They have our support.

It would be very difficult to explain the experience I had at this protest to anyone who wasn’t there. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that to be condescending, all I mean is that it was overwhelming, incredible, fantastic, a bit nerve-racking, and a great learning experience.We were very organized and protested with a group called “Team Tibet”. We managed to stay completely safe, though never actually got to see the Torch. We met a lot of interesting people and can all claim that it will be one of those experiences in our lives that we will just never forget.

The whole world is watching the Olympic torch right now, there were stories on every Internet news source and in every newspaper, and it felt incredible to be a part of something so huge. I encourage every student to stand up for what they believe in, trust me, it feels amazing. Our parent’s generation experienced the protests of the Vietnam War, and now it’s our turn to make change.

However you personally feel about this issue, I would really like to request that this blog NOT become a political discussion. I know that many of you will not agree with my views, but please keep harsh discussions out of this blog. If you would like to comment, I would prefer comments about STUDENT ACTIVISM, not the Olympics. Please keep that in mind folks. (At the same time though, many of us at the protest felt that our First Amendment rights were being violated at the protest, so I won’t restrict anyone’s right to free speech).

Peace to all, Jesse.


  • Caroline

    I’m a mom in San Francisco and my son is a junior at San Francisco School of the Arts. He was at the protest too. He couldn’t understand at first why some pro-China protesters confronted him and asked why he was against Chinese people. Obviously protesting a repressive government is not the same as being against Chinese people (it’s the opposite).

    Then he learned that those protesters were brought in by the Chinese government. Now he’s proud that agents of a repressive government found him a threat.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    I really appreciate your comment (and your son) Caroline, thank you for being supportive of the youth!

  • Nextset

    Same story different generation. Students have a job to do. They are lounging in school getting what amounts to job training either at the expense of their working families or in rarer cases the taxpayers.

    Since they are living off others they have certain duties which include making normal progress to a career goal and becoming self sufficient.

    Having strong feelings about national policy is fine. But one of the things you are supposed to learn from your parents or failing that, your primary and elementry school, is the concept of duty and priority(our failure factories won’t teach this).

    You cannot substitute excercising your personal pleasures – ie recreational demonstrations, for getting your work done. It’s fine to make reasonable donations to money, time, and letter writing. It is not fine to do so at the expense of normal progress in school OR your career.

    I’m not here to debate the merits of China enslaving Tibet, I can argue that either way. In terms of history and politics it is very unwise for this nation to go around the world sticking it’s nose into the internal affairs of other nations – which is one reason why we are in the trouble we are in.

    Students I know about. There are some people in that age range that are either intoxicated on alturism or are infected with such narcissism that they spent inordinate time and energy demanding that all indulge them. I suppose it takes time to learn that you really can’t “save” people – you can make deals with people but they decide for themselves if they will pay their contracts. People do what they want, but you can get a lot with a gun to the head.

    Anyway, “students” belong in school or on class assignments and if they have none they must get a job and pay all their own bills. Then they can volunteer all the time and money of their own to the ASPCA or whatever.

    And people who go looking for trouble usually find it.

  • Doowhopper

    All I can tell you is that I am a veteran of the struggles of the Sixties,and I say”right on”to the new generation’s activism.
    Or would we rather have them be blind,unthinking careerists yearning to be a part of this capitalist rat race that never has made anyone truly fulfilled?Or perhaps we want this generation to be caught up in the thuggish and amoral world of the underclass,a world in some ways very similiar to the ethics displayed in ruling class circles.

  • Nextset

    Doowhopper: Capitalism is the only economic system that offers continuous progress to civilization. If you didn’t learn that in school, sad on you.

    Collectivism in any form offers war, death, starvation and anarchy. It’s the lesson of history.

    Having said that I’m not in favor of capitialism to the point of allowing multinational corporation to use the US people as an organ donor bank.

    Nation refers to “born here”. The US (and indeed all nations) must have a rule of law that supports those who are born here against those who are not.

    Free minds & private property…

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Nextset: I would really appreciate if you would keep negativity out of this forum.
    Of course you are free to write whatever you want, but please, keep some of the negativity away from here.

  • An OUSD Highschooler

    How about Private Minds and Free Property?

    Nextset you’ve criticized Doowhopper for not learning your political opinions in school, and yet you say that it is a shame that schools can’t teach students how not to have a taser used on them. Anybody else smell a double standard?

    Nextset you embody the greatest problem with today’s youth: apathy.

    Now some may say that apathy is not caring and that you’ve endorsed caring but not acting. And this is where I raise my point.

    Action and thought must go hand in hand. When only one happens, it is like having a pot to cook with, but no food. Jesse and company hold weekly meetings at school, even when their host teacher is not present and they have thought about this issue long and hard. I applaud their merger of critical thinking, a skill that nobody can say a student should leave high school without, with premeditated (for safety) action, that thing that must be done by even adults for change to take place. Not only do I applaud their courage and method, but I also point to them as models in our society; for students and non-students alike.

    [Also, think what kind of a learning experience this was for ten students. This is something that, arguably, schools could not teach were they funded twice what they are now. Think of it as the “Field Trip that Could.”]

    Activism is the only thing that ever brings change, Nextset. Take for example the Abolitionist Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement. If activism had not been a part of these organizations’ agenda, we would have my father in Texas planting tobacco, my mother in Lowell sewing clothes, and no chance at having a mayor with the same ethnic background as the demographically largest chunk of the city that elected him. All this because, as you suggest, citizens of a certain type must not act.

    Nextset you are trying to take away the pot by convincing us all that we shouldn’t have the food that goes in it. I charge you to stop bullying and start supporting folks’ efforts to make the world a better place.

  • Nextset

    OUSD Highschooler – I can’t understand your post. I don’t follow your logic or chain of statements.

    To the extent you seem to be saying I don’t approve of activism, What made you think I don’t? Quite the contrary. I approve of deadly activism under certain circumstances (I usually am on very good terms with subversives.) I am a lawyer, after all.

    Having adolescents running around in the streets not under their parent’s supervision or any other responsible adult (like an older sibling, parent’s siblings…) is ill advised especially when the adolescents are in groups. I can elaborate on this but you know exactly what I mean because you’ve read my other posts.
    From that you can’t assume I oppose political action, quite the contrary.

    If you think I’m a bully wait until you get into the cruel hard world, such as your jobs, advanced training, contract law, small claims court, or just dealing with Bank Of America. I contend I sound like a bully to you because you haven’t had to deal with any kind of plain talking in the schools you were sent to, they are politically correct. When things continue to deteriorate in this state and this nation political correctness will quickly go the way of affirmative action for some of the same reasons. Get ready.

    For now you should know that if I wasn’t interested in your promotion – I wouldn’t even speak to you. Many people will not be speaking to you in life. That doesn’t mean they don’t dislike you and people who give you a hard time may well be strong allies.

    You may want to study the rise and fall of the 3rd Reich. Remember, that followed the fall of the Weimar Republic. There is some reason to be concerned the USA may be following the Weimar Republic’s superinflation economy. Facisism always follows failed democracies and are usually popularly elected. We are more likely to go that way than a Stalin Style collectivism with a socialist command economy. People are going to go hungry around here I think. If it comes it will hit hard.

    And actually I kind of enjoy Doowhopper. This is public discourse, it’s not a tea party. We duel with each other here – we are fencing with ideas.

  • Nextset

    Jesse: I’m not in public school. This isn’t an est seminar. This isn’t a sensitivity training session. I have no intention of keeping negativity out of this forum. Why do you presume to dictate otherwise?

    This is Katy’s blog. If Katy posts guidelines calling for only approving posts on a topic, good for her and I will comply.

    Until then, If I want to post a contrarian view on a policy issue It seems that’s what blogs are for. Otherwise we are sitting in a circle singing Koombayah, which the Nuns actually made us do in the 1960’s. And that didn’t change much then either.

    Have a real nice day! (Positive thought!!)

  • Nextset

    Children in public demonstrations are fine if they are beside or behind their parents or at least with senior members of the extended family. It means something when the breadwinner or adults take a public stand on an issue. that meaning is not there when children are waving signs for other than a car wash.

    The kids should always research and follow issues. It would be great to have class speakers on both sides on an issue if the school is willing.

    Nobody in their right mind concerns themselves with children out in public avocating on national for similar policy. They don’t pay the bills in life and they are not to be taken seriously in their decisions. Too bad, so sad.

    They – Teens – can be (very) effective as campaign workers and volunteers. Funny thing is that in the future they may very well campaign for the opposition as adults. Wasn’t Hillary a Goldwater Girl? I once supported McGovern for President. Can’t imagine why. Oh, I know, it was before I got a clue about economic history.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Nextset: You are correct that this is Katy’s blog, and I’m aware that you are not in public school. However, for someone who comments on almost every statement that is made anywhere on this blog I thought you would have perhaps read this one posted by Katy on one of my blogs:

    “Hello, my dear readers. A quick note about this blog to all of the newer participants:

    The purpose of The Education Report is to discuss and debate tough issues relating to education. Unlike many online forums, in which witty insults are freely traded, this one aims to keep the discussion focused on the issues — and away from personal attacks.

    So far, I’ve found your discussions to be constructive and enlightening. You have had intense, heated debates without going after each other. I’ve rarely needed to delete comments that would undermine the civil, dynamic forum you have created. But I have, and I will.

    A good rule of thumb: If you focus on the issues or opinions someone has raised, rather than on the person who wrote them, your comments will almost certainly be published. I look forward to reading them.”

    I have said that I do not wish to delete any comments, but I’m very tempted. You may feel it necessary to be negative and you have that right, but the fact of the matter is that you are attacking opinions of many students, myself, and other readers unnecessarily much. I am frequently offended by much that you have to say and I wish that you would have enough respect for us student bloggers who are writing to people who are interested in what life is like for us, that you would actually respect my wishes.

    You speak often of what children “should” do, but one thing that you “should” do is learn to listen to us. You said “they are not to be taken seriously in their decisions” in reference to the children of today. If you feel this way, stop posting rude comments on a “child’s” blog.

  • Steve Peevy


    The fact that you are even trying to defend your position to a group of highly intelligent teenagers is a sign of either your own immaturity or just plain lack of ethos and being the “bigger brother” in this discussion…

    Just one question: do you happen to be a disgruntled old man who cannot fathom that children nowadays are taking issues into their own hands? Or do you feel so tickled by our responses that you feel the need to reply again and again?

    I must warn you: be careful. You are pitting yourself against our nation’s future leaders and thinkers. If it just so happens that my generation can evoke the change that yours didn’t, then so be it. Just don’t even try to get in our way.

  • An OUSD Highschooler


  • An OUSD Highschooler


    I’m sorry that you missed comprehensive reading skills in grade school. Jesse read my reply and she agrees with me (an indication that she understands).

    I read your response and I’m not satisfied with your answers, so I’ll clarify myself some. Can you dispute that:

    1) Taking the actions that Jesse took do require critical thinking and decision making skills that everyone knows citizens need.

    2) Taking action as Jesse did is necessary in order to change the world.

    3) Anyone interested in change must also be interested in action towards that change.

    What made you think that I thought this was a tea party? I sure hope it wasn’t your prejudice against young people.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Nextset: If you would like to “fence with ideas” and cannot do it respectfully then I strongly request that you take it somewhere else. I am sure you will refuse to listen to my request, but I will be most glad if you would.

    When Katy asked us to be student bloggers, we expected positive comments and negative comments but this is no way to talk to students. You seem to have no respect for us, so if you are willing to comply to Katy’s “rules” then feel free to comment on her posts You don’t seem to fail in that aspect.

    The way you talk about children today is full of assumptions, and yet you accuse others of assuming. I guarantee you Skyline is not “politically correct” and I happen to know OUSD Highschooler and trust me, he has dealt with the real world shockingly much for a student.

    Please, I will ask again, take the rudeness somewhere else. Personal attacks are not appreciated. Especially on young people.

  • Poor student

    you guys need to get a life. Caroline said the Chines government brought in the Chines.I came on my own. Hard for whites to believe that minorties can do anything on our own.

    The students from Skyline High school and Caroline’s son attend public schools. The schools are funded by the city, county, state and federal government. Should I suggest that it’s the American government against China? I think not!

    It was people sharing their different perspectives. Why can’t you “White liberals” accept the fact that minorites can have a different perspective than you?

  • Doowhopper

    Yeah, Nextset, why don’t you tell the workers all over this country who have had their jobs outsourced how great capitalism is? Or the struggling piecework workers in places like China, Vietnam, Mexico and the Caribbean who slave all day under abysmal conditions to just put some rudimentary meal on the table.
    I have worked all my life in working class jobs. Not all were bad. In fact, the one I have now is more than OK. Yet we have union protection, a reasonable health plan and retirement benefits. Yet that type of situation is going the way of the dinosaur. From here on out, its a race to the bottom as global capitalism continues its relentless rush to maximize profits for the few.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Come on you guys. Let’s try to be civil. Seriously, I really wish people could get along, I’m sure I’m being naive but can we stay on topic a little bit.

  • Nextset

    The topic is student activism. Blogs do branch out. The activism was over foreign policy.

    Doowhopper: Capitalism is an economic construct. The collapse of Nationalism is a different thing entirely. The US Government’s rape of the people by throwing open the borders to the 3rd world while imposing forced welfare entitlements on the states is another thing. Treason is the word for it. You can’t blame capitalism for the failure of the national government to protect the borders.

    As far as Nafta and import policy, I am not in favor of worldwide free trade using long term anything goes treaties. I would have protected key industries but not all industries. I distinguish capitalism and nationalism as policies that are not mutually exclusive.

    As far as workers of other countries, their working conditions are their problems not ours. I have no problem outsourcing many industries and I have no problem taking the US workforce into more skilled labor and less unskilled labor, but not doing so while flooding the country with unskilled imported people we never needed.

    I would have barred immigration of people who would not fit in well to the existing population (English only immigrants – no one unable to suppport themselves, higher IQ individuals only, etc). Immigration is being used to fundamentally change the US population to create a slave population within our borders who will not assimilate – to create a permanent aristocracy here. Something that profound should have required a Constitutional change or admission of a new state.

  • Doowhopper

    As far as immigration goes,I really like what ecologist and activist Edward Abbey said when asked about illegal immigration impacting his beloved Southwest:
    “Turn every Mexican away at the border but give them a gun so they can go back and finish the Mexican Revolution”
    A clever way to make the obvious point that you can’t have a relatively rich country straddling a desperately poor one without citizens of that poor one in survival mode wanting to share some of the goodies.
    And can you imagine how total enrollment in the Oakland schools would have dropped had NOT immigrants flocked to this area? Every time I sub over at Fremont or Castlemont I thank them for a day’s pay!

  • Nextset

    To Jesse and the other student writers –

    We don’t agree on many things. So what. Like I said before, I have no problem confronting you with a contrary view of your world views – and your opinion of your position in this economy and society. Of Course you have your opinions. Say them. Don’t expect adults – or all adults – or this adult – to agree or pat you on the head. Maybe that occurs in your school, this isn’t it. Deal with it.

    Actually I may agree on some of your positions but I still may challenge your points to understand where your position comes from and where it goes.

    I don’t care if you find an opposing idea offensive. I don’t care if you are offended. We have a responsibility to be civil in public discourse and not to pleasure others. I am not here to make you feel good – or bad. I don’t expect to resort to namecalling but an apprasal on an idea may read that way at first. If you oppose what I say or how I say it I’m sure you will say so as you are doing now.

    Of course you don’t think you are going to be posting ideas in public discourse and have nothing but a list of fawning posts about how great you are. Do you?

    The world does not revolve around you or your interests – or mine either. That is why we are not going to “all get along”. We have different interests which at my end are often tied to whose ox is getting gored. Students don’t pay the rent. It’s easy for them to get carried away with their priorities in the world.

    Anyway I’m only preaching because I’ve had my taste.

    I work with students going into professions. I work with people in desperate trouble as victims and criminals. I have more than casual exposure to young people who fail to do their jobs while losing themselves in fads and flings. Watching a group of adolescents waving banners about China (or any other cause de jure) in public rather than applying themselves in other ways is not a praiseworthy thing in my book at all. I’ve seen enough of that type of thing across time to have a concern about the prognosis of the players – which has nothing to do about the merits of China.

    It occurs to me that no one in your lives have expressed this kind of thinking to you before. Good for Katy and Good for the blog. Now you’ve heard it. You are free to do as you wish. Exposure to a range of ideas that you would not have had otherwise until you are in trouble somehow, and have to listen isn’t a bad thing. Part of the power of the internet.

    And if you think this post is annoying just wait until we agree on something and I support some decision you are thinking of making – or afraid you are going to have to make. That is as scary as hell.

  • Nextset

    Doowhopper: The problem with the suggestion that we arm the Mexican-Indians and turn them back to Mexico (where they are ruled over by the Mexican Whites who own and operate Mexico) is that that also interferes with the internal affairs of the other country.

    The difference (between USA and Mexico) isn’t rich or poor. The difference is our avg IQ and homogenious population (used to be) and their lower avg IQ with the Whites dominating the Indians.

    The ruling class in Mexico looks like Finland. They run national policy there to the exclusion of the Indians (no roads, schools, industry, etc) and run the Indians into the USA as a matter of Mexican national policy. That would normally be an act of war on the US but we have agreed to import the Mexican Indians for policy reasons of our own Congress. Add a few generations of extraordinary fertility and you have our black population dodging bullets in Los Angeles and being run out of their neighborhoods (and schools?) an jobs by the iceplant.

    Ecology, and Anthropology, and fun subjects in college.

  • John

    Doowhooper, As a “veteran of the struggles of the Sixties” as you put it, I recall a lot of young sweet kids who didn’t want themselves or family getting drafted. “Hell no, we won’t go!” was the popular phrase back then but not now because there’s no military draft. The anti war movement of the 1960’s was more self serving than many of that vintage care to remember.

    We do see protests here and there on Iraq and other issues. Some, if not many, of these protests are a reaction to very limited information about a given circumstance or response strategy.

    Given the nature of the Chinese regime and public, AND the recent reporting of “sadness” of the Dalai Lama in response to Wednesday’s “torch disruption” protests in San Francisco, do you think the Dali Lama might know something local protesters don’t?

    Do you think he knows more than a reporter and twelve Skyline students who felt compelled to participate in this San Francisco protest after “recently learning about the situation in Tibet,” a participation advertised as being “in behalf of Tibetans all around the world.” Perhaps participation in the “torch disruption” wasn’t the best way to help? Don’t ask me why. Ask the Dali Lama! He not only considers this protest unhelpful, it also caused him sadness. Or is this not an issue for twelve spunky Skyline protesters. Perhaps it just felt good to protest and bolster their fledgling social consciousness resumes?

    Protesting injustice is commendable when you have more than a “recently learned” understanding of a few related issues but no idea of the consequences of your effort for those you hope to benefit from it. Heading off to ‘join the protest’ with little or no understanding of issues or the consequences of your actions is ingredient to making a mob. Sometimes the unintended consequences of uninformed action in response to a few things “recently learned” is worse than doing nothing at all. It appears the Dali Lama would have preferred that everyone just stay home. Why? Perhaps several of Katy’s young blog contributors should do some OBJECTIVE research and post their findings?

    Katy, I don’t mean anything personal by this. However, I am given to understand from several posts that you’re in your twenties. I believe you are a compassionate well intentioned person, nevertheless, some things are learned with age and experience. Quite frankly this is how I contrast you and Nextset. You are both intelligent well informed people. It’s just that Nextset has more information because he’s lived a lot longer and has had more time to learn and acquire wisdom, which he’s obviously dedicated himself to doing. I appreciate his willingness (in spite of contributor disagreement and protest) to continue sharing his wisdom with us.

    There’s nothing wrong with being young, inexperienced and filled with passion for changing the world and fighting social injustice. However passionate action absent sufficient knowledge and experience can have unfortunate consequences for the intended recipients of a compassionate act. Perhaps the framers of our constitution felt likewise when they decided to place a minimum age eligibility requirement on becoming president?

    It’s not personal. It’s developmental. Intelligent compassionate hard working folks in their teens and twenties don’t generally have the wisdom of intelligent compassionate hard working older folks who have lived twice or thrice as long. Of course there’s no guarantee that wisdom automatically comes with age. However the things learned with age (for those who learn them) are critical ingredients of wisdom.

    A young protester in one of the photos accompanying this blog piece holds a sign that reads, “Don’t let your mind become so darn judgmental, and please let your heart be more influential.” I suppose it’s to be expected that those in their teens and twenties will place heart over mind & judgment because it’s hard to appreciate something you have not yet attained. It is therefore understandable that contradicting a young heart with judgment derived from a long life of learning and experience might be perceived by young hearts and minds as “judgmental.” Although good judgment often requires compassion, it also requires other things.

    I commend Skyline student protesters for their big hearts and good intentions that will hopefully one day become informed intentions as they learn to dig deeper into the few things they’ve “just learned.”

    I commend Nextset for his big heart, acquired wisdom, and willingness to share what he knows from mature experience to be true in spite of the brat and uninformed adult attacks. One young blogger made a snide comment to Nextset about posting on a “child’s” blog, a phrase this intelligent young blogger will likely grow up to understand is more true than false in connection with some of the posts hereon. In fairness it would appear a few of the older folks posting here didn’t learn much growing up and/or want to stay popular with the kiddies?

    This should not be construed as an attempt on my part to in any way defend Nextset or side with him. A mature adult with the informed convictions of his beliefs doesn’t need defending.

    In conclusion let me repeat the old adage that will keep me ever unpopular with the kids, “Children should be seen and not heard” until (if I may add) they have learned enough to make informed contributions to the larger (global) society. In the mean time get to bed on time, do your homework, and help your legal
    guardiana(s) around the house before trying to help the people in Tibet or other places you know little or nothing about. Absent wisdom there is only “strength in numbers” and riots.

  • cranky teacher

    As usual, Nextset is completely selective in what he responds to. As if Jesse is a prime candidate for a life in prison or being a bad employee because she went to a protest.

    In fact, employers have been saying for decades that rote memorization is not the skill new economy workers need, but rather ability to think and act, work well in teams, and so on — exactly the skills Jesse was practicing at the protest.

    As for poor kids, the ones that become politically active have a much better chance of getting out of the pit than those who don’t — they find meaning, they find intellectual stimulation, they find comaraderie, and so on. Go to the youth centers, or talk to the kids in “Youth Together” to find out whether their grades went up or down when they became active. Sure, their political opinions may change over time, but the main thing is they’ve found something that inspires them to care.

    Finally, have you completely forgotten the leading role of adolescents in the following political movements:

    — Civil Rights (integration of schools, the sit-ins starting in Nashville and Greensboro, “The Childens Crusade,” etc.)
    — Prague Spring in ’68
    — Anti-apartheid protests in South Africa

    Sure, kids can be inane in their politics, just like adults. But your neat dividing line between legal adults and “children” makes no sense when it comes to intellectual or moral development. Plenty of high school students are far more intellectually developed than the average “American Idol” voting American adult.

    Oh God, once again I’ve wasted 15 minutes arguing with a man who believes idiocies like: The U.S. is more powerful than Mexico because of I.Q., not history. I need to go to a 12 Step Program for people who get sucked into debate with Nexstet!

    “Hello, my name is cranky teacher and I allow Nextset to get under my skin.”
    “Hi, cranky.”

  • cranky teacher

    I seem to remember in a recent post you arguing that you and Nextset are not the same person and that you are very different. Yet, here you are writing an epic homage to Nextset’s brilliance and wisdom and they reiterating his trite “Children should not be heard” garbage AND bashing anybody who disagrees with him as immature adults trying to curry favor with the kids.

    Sorry, but I still think you’re the same person.

  • Nextset

    Cute, Cranky.

    It changes nothing. Your cultural references are not inspiring to me. Run your classroom anyway your school district lets you. It’s a free state, people are voting every day with their feet, their money and their hiring decisions.

    You produce your factory goods and I produce mine. Let’s see what even the next 12 months brings all of us.

  • Katy Murphy

    I don’t see what my age has to do with this, since I didn’t write the post — or share my opinions about it.

    But, if you must know, I’m no longer in my 20s.

  • Doowhopper

    To John:
    Darn right many of the anti-war protests were self serving and that was GOOD. Why would I want to die in a racist imperialist war against the Vietnamese people?
    Yet I NEVER chanted, “Hell, no we won’t go “I chanted, “Hell no, NOBODY goes “because the former is classist and racist when used by middle class college students.
    And, Nextset, your IQ statements on minorities are real close to the Shockley-Jensen-Murray theories promulgated by the racist right wing in this country. Doesn’t that make you at ALL uncomfortable?

  • John

    RETRACTION: Katy, in your previous piece, “In Search of a Good Civics Lesson” you make the following comment: “I still remember casting a pretend ballot for the Reagan-Mondale presidential election in 1984. I was in first grade at Sr. Mary Grace…” So if you were six or seven in 1984 that would presently put you at thirty or thirty-one, not your late twenties. Sorry about the mistake on that point.

  • John

    OK Dooowhooper! How come we don’t have the level of protest today that we had during the Vietnam era? But if you must indulge in the mental opiate that everyone back then was largely protesting against “a racist imperialist war against the Vietnamese people” POWER TO THE DELUSIONISTS!

  • Nextset

    Now do you people still think I’m John?

    Doowhopper: I think Charles Murray was an optimist.

    And I don’t like it being said I have a big heart. Far from it. I have reasons for what I do professionally – and have always had very sharp elbows. You get that when you went to largely white schools in the East Bay in the 1960’s. There was little room for excuses. Whatever.

    Maybe it was the times my siblings, my cousins, my cohort and I grew up in. We all gravitated to power positions and broke through barriers our parents stopped short of. (Even our black girl babysitters became Judges and Madison Ave publishers) Actually I’m nicer than the older cousins – they are 10 years ahead of me and just vicious! Kind of like my parents generation. Where they came from there was always an undertone of violence, White on black violence and black on black violence. Everybody had guns. The 1960’s was one big power struggle. If our parents were firsts, we were more advanced firsts.

    Kids nowadays don’t understand my attitudes without studying the past. If I’d been used to half measures I wouldn’t be here. And my teachers and trainers were all WWII vets (as were the father, grandfather (WWI) & uncles), one was a Japanese POW while in the USAF. One long time boss read The Art of War at the office. So I have absolutely never had a premium on being nice. Try competent, effective, able to deliver on a contract, unusually resourceful, willing to hurt people, and nobody messes with my staff either. My opinions are a reflection of my college and grad school training and work experience. It won’t match yours for that reason.

    I think the East Bay is full of older baby boomers with my type of background. Don’t cross them. We’re old school.

  • Cranky Teacher

    “Cute, Cranky.
    It changes nothing. Your cultural references are not inspiring to me. Run your classroom anyway your school district lets you. It’s a free state, people are voting every day with their feet, their money and their hiring decisions.
    You produce your factory goods and I produce mine. Let’s see what even the next 12 months brings all of us.”

    What does student protest have to do with my classroom? With my ‘factory goods’? Are you implying kids like Jesse are protesting because teachers tell them to do so?

    Your whole commentary on this post was ludicrous — students who are active politically are almost ALWAYS at the top of their class in school, both in the ’60s and today. The idea that protest is getting in the way of these kids’ homework is laughable.

    I’m sure you enjoy seeing how every item on this blog can be twisted to fit your theme.

  • Doowhopper

    John, we don’t have the same level of protest today is because we don’t have effective leaders or organizations to mobilize anti-war feeling. Back then we had SDS, Yippies, National Mobilization Committee, SNCC and numerous others who tapped into the militant attitude of the youth and counterculture.
    We don’t have any of that now. Too bad but you can’t bring back the past. Those days are forever gone.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Thank you Crank Teacher, you are completely correct.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    I guess I’d really like to share something now. I’m sure I will be attacked over and over for this too though, but I’ll take that risk.

    I came home from school today, and I read these posts. After reading them, I cried. Sure, I’m an emotional person, anyone who knows me could say that. But only one person who has responded to this blog actually knows me.

    It is SHOCKING to me how little faith and hope many adults have in the youth. I was so taken aback that I couldn’t bear to respond to any of it.

    Public discourse is one thing, telling the leaders of tomorrow that they should be seen and not heard is another. I was angry with myself, only for a minute to think that I might have such a little impact on the world. I was angry with myself for having written this blog at all.

    But I thought about it some more. And I realized that people are always going to look upon the youth as less than. I may never live up to Nextset’s standards. He said so himself, that’s scary as hell to think we could agree, right? But what I do know is that after hearing what you all have had to say about me, my friends, and people my age.

    I can’t wait to prove you wrong.

  • John

    Doowhopper: The past would be back in a flash with draft!

  • Jason Seals

    I truly appreciate young people fighting for what they believe. I too fought against several issues while in high school and college and It is good to know that there is a group of young people that will continue the fight against oppression, injustice, and inequalities.

  • East Bay Natvie

    I applaud the students who went to protest in San Francisco, and know all of them personally. I would like to point out that the phrase “just learned” that was thrown around so much and used to attack Jesse and her fellow protesters was used very very lightly in this blog. I know that at least one of the students who went to this protest is going to be studying IN Tibet for college, and I know that they have watched several films on the subject of Tibet. Now I can also appreciate the value of knowledge that can only be gained from age, and experience, but I would thank people such as john, and Nextset not to think that that mere age and experience is any replacement for cold hard study.
    Further, I would like to point out John, that in your long-winded response, you point out that they should not have gone with only “just learned” knowledge, and yet, you only put up your own “recent news article,” as if the news in this country were reliable any more.
    Whether or not the draft in this country would up student protest is irrelevant. I agree that it would, but I think that there is much more merit to people going out to protest for something other than their own personal gain. Not to say that the protests of the 1960s were not tremendously important, and impacting, but rather that perhaps as a country we need to be more like Jesse and her classmates, and think more about the other people in this world. For instance, the Tibetans, who are being killed for their religion, who are being used as organ banks, and whose culture is being meticulously wiped out by the Chinese government.
    Maybe if we were able to think in this way we would also be able to read a high school student’s blog on the internet, and be able to read it for its content, and meaning, like the adults we claim to be, rather than only hearing that she is a high school student, and taking that opportunity to look strong, and old and experienced.
    Thank you, Skyline’s GAIA club, for being a part of something that you believe in. Try not to let old lawyers get in your way, just imagine where our country would be if MLK jr, or Mario Savio, or any of the great protest leaders of the past had listened when lawyers told them it wasn’t possible.

  • Nextset

    It’s amusing to see all this emotion over a difference of opinion on time, place and manner of student activity.

    My observations that students still in high school have higher obligations than public campaigning without their parents seems to be read as objections to public protests altogether.

    The emotional response I see appears to me centered on not getting the attention and recognition wanted. It’s not about you. That’s the real lesson the students miss here. At 11th grade or whatever you are not going to take center stage in any way, shape or form. that will come later. Comparing high school students with historical protest leaders just makes my point.

    You are high school students not Ghandi. Unbridled activitism at this point shows something that is not desirable in my book – which has nothing to do with the politics of the day. In other posts on other threads I’ve already discussed what can happen to kids marching out of class.

    If the politics of the day is so noble your parents and families will be out in the streets with you. Fine. If you are going to an organized and structured public campaign for McCain, Hillary or Obama, fine.

    Throwing your own party in the streets for Tibet or any of the other numerous issues de jure shows a touch of mania to me. Do what you want, maybe it will lead to an aadvertising job one day.

    If those on the other side of my view can’t ignore one contrary opinion and get so upset that anybody wouldn’t praise them, my point is made. Genuine devotion to a cause doesn’t need a lot of approval. Is this campaigning being done to get approval and attention for yourselves? Or are you just concerned about friends and relatives in Tibet?

  • cranky teacher

    Nextset, go re-study the sit-ins and SNCC and see what MLK said about the role of young people in rejuvenating the then-flagging Civil Rights Movement. Young people ARE leaders in EFFECTIVE protest.

    As to the seeming Quixotic nature of protesting China, don’t forget that countries like China are sensitive to world opinion because it can hit their bottom line. World pressure on South Africa wasn’t the only reason De Klerk brought whites to the table to negotiate with the ANC, but it certainly was a prod. And people like you mocked Cal and Berkeley High students at the time for demanding UC divest.

    “Unbridled activism” — what is that mean? Could it be that “bridled activism” and the more “manic” kind can co-exist and even support each other?

    To get back to the Civil Rights example: Malcolm X, MLK, SNCC, CORE, children, teens, adults, Northern whites and Southern blacks, the Black Panthers, fair judges, lawyers, Democratic politicians, even white businessmen worried only about the color green — all played a part in changing what had been basically a fixed system since the end of Reconstruciton. They all employed EXTREMELY different methods, had different motives and represented different interests.

    Methinks the world is much messier (and more interesting) than Nextset’s black-and-white pronouncements of what is acceptable or effective or good would imply.

  • John

    East Bay Naive: As I stated, “A mature adult with the informed convictions of his beliefs doesn’t need defending.” However it’s good you’re there to support the sensitive children who cry upon reading certain posts and “too taken aback to respond to any of it.” No one told me this blog is a high school opinion forum where adults are expected to nurture student ‘self concept’ over substance.

    Actually, a high schooler “leader of tomorrow’s” expression of self concern about someone saying “children should be seen and not heard” IS of great concern to me! I’m concerned about the absence of concern or curiosity on the part of this leader of tomorrow in response to today’s leader of the Tibetan people expressing sadness about the recent torch disruption protest in San Francisco. Aren’t these kid protesters curious to know what the Dali Lama thinks and feeeeeeeels about their contribution to the protest in behalf of his people!?

    Opps! I forgot you’ve already decreed that the “recent news article” about the Dali Lama’s related sadness was put up “by me as if the news in this country were [was] reliable any more.” Wow! You really knocked that out of the very Little League Ball Park!

    Many of the concerns expressed here seemingly have more to do with the emotional “needs” of Skyline student protesters than the human rights and suffering of Tibetans. If I’m finding it nauseatingly difficult to ‘stay on (your) point,’ Please don’t excuse me.

  • Mr. G


    Nicely done.

    I usually agree with what nextset says but not the way he says it. In this case I’m with you. Kids have to start somewhere with respect to developing their political beliefs. Too many kids your age simply adopt the perspectives of their parents. That said, not everyone has a family that can afford to take time off to go to a protest. Not everyone feels strongly about the organized campaigns for the next president. Nextset, I don’t actually believe that you would approve of campaigning for one of the established candidates anyway, because I’d be willing to bet the farm you believe they are all part of a broken and corrupt political system anyway. You would see that as an even bigger waste of time.

    Do your homework, pay attention in class, take care of your family. And if you have time after all that, do what is important to you and what you are passionate about. If that means participating in a protest, respect the police and the people who are passionate about the opposing point of view, but be loud and strong with respect to your own beliefs. I see nothing wrong with any of that.

    Without wild protests that the world thought futile, America would not be what she is.

    God Save the Queen,
    Mr. G.

  • Nextset

    People please.. I agree with John – if you are really interested in Tibet (which I seriously question) have the courage of your convictions and not look for approval to go demonstrate for Tibet.

    The only reason anyone would react to any post of mine is because the real reason they are out waving signs is not the cause, but because they are after attention and approval for themselves. I give no attention or approval of what I’ve seen so far. But why would anyone with convictions need it from John or I or anybody else here anyway? We don’t even know the writers and are only speaking rhetorically.

    Anyway if you really want to hurt Red China about the Tibet treatment the best thing to do is lobby for a boycott of the Olympics.

  • Sue

    Nextset Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    “The only reason anyone would react to any post of mine is because the real reason they are out waving signs is not the cause, but because they are after attention and approval for themselves.”


    I’ve seen lots of reactions to your posts for lots of reasons other than seeking attention and approval.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Well I was right, there seems to be no end in sight for the personal attacks.
    To clarify, we were not “Throwing our own party in the streets for Tibet” and to clarify further, don’t even think to question our devotion to the cause or say that you doubt we care about Tibet. All does is prove MY point of how sickeningly ignorant you really are.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Nextset and John: If you care so little for the opinions of students, or seem to believe very much that we have no power to change the world, WHY are you spending so much time fighting with students on this blog? WHY are you reading a blog written by a student if you think my opinion will never matter? WHY do you feel the need to put so much effort into this arbitrary argument if my voice will never matter to you? WHY not just ignore me?

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Oh and hopefully this will be my last comment (but I doubt it)… no Nextset, we are not all as selfish as you seem to think. I don’t feel the need to protest because I want personal attention. Nor do I write this blog for personal attention. I do both of these things because of people like you. People who I think could use a little wake up call. Though I doubt you’ll ever get one.

  • Nextset

    Jesse, your post # 46 is a good one.

    I’m through with this thread and maybe we will talk on some other subject.

    It’s not all about you, it’s not about me either.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    I’m impressed you could say anything I had to say was “good” considering this comment:

    “And if you think this post is annoying just wait until we agree on something and I support some decision you are thinking of making – or afraid you are going to have to make. That is as scary as hell.”

  • Katy Murphy

    OK… I’m glad to see things have simmered down a bit. I guess people do care about what high school kids have to say, whether they agree or not.

    This will be the 50th comment, at least, for this post, more than twice what most of my ramblings generate. Maybe I should turn the keyboard over more often.