Friday, January 10, 2014

This Week in "Senate Conservative Coalition Doesn't Actively Oppose."

Lately you may have heard some of us on the Cottonmouth team singing the praises of a new Mississippi policy blog called RethinkMS.

It makes sense that the blog's curator, Jake McGraw (who has taken a pro-Common Core stance in the past) was in the crowd when Senator Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) made some shocking allegations and factually incorrect statements about Petal School Superintendent Dr. John Buchanan. Watson, both on his Facebook page and while speaking to the crowd in Jackson, said that Dr. Buchanan threatened to fire any faculty that opposed Common Core's standards. Despite the meeting minutes obviously disproving this charge, Huffington Post notes that Dr. Buchanan has been taken to task for the comments he didn't make...Including:
A post on the Facebook group Stop Common Core in Mississippi calls on members to call the superintendent and “tell him bullying and silencing teachers is unacceptable.” A comment on the post goes so far as to compare Buchanan to Adolf Hitler. 
While the Internet is often a tad more harsh than the public arena, a crowd member still deemed it fit to shout comparisons of Dr. Buchanan to a certain German dictator.
Rethink Mississippi (an offshoot of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation which calls itself a "service for those who seek more substantive engagement with the state's critical issues"), as you can imagine, had any number of reasons to take umbrage with the situation...take your pick. But Watson being the proud champion of the people chose to ignore the comments, saying:
Not one to "police speech," Watson didn't feel the need to trounce such notions, despite the opportunity for a real learning moment for those in attendance. In fact, Watson suggested that maybe-sort of-he-might-not-have-even-heard-the-comment, though he did take the time to pseudo-defend the right to say it.

Perhaps Watson misspelled #FocusOnTheIssue and meant to type #PlausibleDeniability.  Especially since first-hand accounts of the event say that the quarters were small, and Watson acknowledged previous comments by the same gentleman just minutes earlier in the speech.

But Watson's friends came to his defense; Mayor Hal Marx of Petal actually suggested it was possible that a"liberal" is the one who yelled that Common Core's practices were Hitler-like...And who cares if one of Watson's supporters did compare a local superintendent to a brutal dictator responsible for tens of millions of deaths? Complaining about it is just #politicalcorrectnessrunamuk.
It seems crazy to have to make this suggestion in 2014, but maybe the Senate Conservative Coalition should oppose comparing people to Hitler...and start promoting honest conversations about plausible issues.

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