The principal of Hilo High School intervened yesterday to cancel the scheduled appearances at the school early next month by local peace activist Jim Albertini.
It was an abrupt about face for Principal Robert Dircks, who had informed Albertini on Tuesday that problems had been resolved and that Albertini’s presentations could go forward.
Albertini said he was informed of the cancellation late Wednesday afternoon by Joseph Watts, the teacher who extended the invitation and organized presentations to several classes.
Albertini, in a press release, said Watts “informed him that in the last 24 hours Principal Dircks received threats and decided to cancel my speaking because ‘it was going to disrupt the school.’”
The source or nature of the alleged threats was not identified. However, an email blast on Tuesday from Robert Gowan, a Kona coffee grower who heads a conservative veterans group, Gathering of Eagles, called for opposition to Albertini’s appearance. The email subject: “Albertini and crew attack military Mom who is Hilo H.S. librarian.”
Gowan’s email was brief: “this is how they invade our schools and indoctrinate our youth, right here at home…” It then linked to my post here on Sunday (“Controversy brewing over academic freedom at Hilo High School“). It was sent to an undisclosed list, and later forwarded by several recipients, including Carolle Brulee-Wilson, currently the East Hawaii representative on the State Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Services.
Oddly, the “mission statement” of the Gathering of Eagles organization includes explicit support for the First Amendment and right to dissent.
We believe in and would give our lives for the precious freedoms found in our Constitution. We believe that our freedom of speech is one of the greatest things our country espouses, and we absolutely hold that any American citizen has the right to express his or her approval or disapproval with any policy, law, or action of our nation and her government in a peaceful manner as afforded by the laws of our land.
So far, I haven’t seen any references to Department of Education policies regarding such situations. The previous post referenced the DOE-backed “Students Bill of Rights” that includes the right to hear and discuss a full range of viewpoints.