Sunday, March 2, 2014

Whose culture?

In the debate over our school board’s proposal to regulate how members of the public express themselves at board meetings, some board members argued that the policy is just an attempt to establish a particular culture of respect and decorum. I do think the board wants to enforce a particular culture, but that’s one reason I think the policy is a bad idea.

Not everyone shares the board majority’s view about what is appropriate decorum. There are all kinds of cultures of public participation out there, even in Iowa City. Some cultures (and some individuals) are freer with the “amens” and the audible expressions of disapproval. In some cultures, people are more comfortable with using strong language, or expressing strong emotion, when speaking publicly. That is not a reason to treat those cultures as somehow “wrong” or “impolite” or “threatening.”

Yes, there is a point at which the speakers and the audience could prevent the board from conducting business or could drown out other speakers. The proposed policy, though, goes way beyond what is necessary to prevent those problems. Some degree of audible audience reaction is to be expected at any public meeting; a board that wants to be inclusive should put up with it. It’s not for the board to tell the public what kind of culture to have.

There’s another “culture” at work here, too: the culture of bureaucracy and the establishment, which naturally values “positivity” because it favors the status quo. Loud applause for the school district’s accomplishments has never provoked any regulation. Loud booing, however, would almost certainly violate the policy’s requirement of “respect and decorum.” If that isn’t viewpoint discrimination, I don’t know what is.


Julie VanDyke said...

Coincidentally your blog topic is also the discussion topic Tuesday, 3/3, 5:15pm Policy & Engagement Committee Meeting
1725 N. Dodge, Iowa City, IA 52240.

Those of you that can should come and witness the meeting with your own eyes and (only lasts 45 minutes) because our board and administration will not visually record it (that would be transparent after all)'s where the real board "game" is most of the time, or at least where they usually play them. They intend to do the second reading at the board meeting on 3/11 but the decision on what that policy looks like will be "finalized" in prep for that meeting in the Tuesday 3/3 5:15 committee meeting.

Julie VanDyke said...

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

---United Nations General Assembly (December 10, 1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Palais de Chaillot, Paris: United Nations. pp. Article 19.

Anonymous said...

There is so much happening and it's difficult to know in what way to perceive one's every step. I read in a different blog that overall happiness existed last in the fifties, which when there was a less populated planet, for every second to count has too many layers of perspective, and much to peoples preference - there's only few classic ways to a human being with very different outcomes depending on what category and class of people one is surrounded with and for what reason the one's before us, such as parents decided to settle before having their child. What made it so interesting to have me? I don't think there is an answer, only that of being in need to culture from one social class to another. And that is exactly what my life is about - to be a part of a social class rather than making every second count. Social being too many layers and schooling so mandatory that the price is more exclusive than the information, because the population in LAW makes it more clear who they are and what kind of power they refuse to give up on.

Anonymous said...

In the world, there are original countries and America being a lot of countries shows what cultures do. In a business point of view - some work harder and some think harder. Otherwise, the way you inhabit is through a battle, fight or making of some sort - simplified in court if agreed. It seems like higher education suits those with less hard work, and those with more hard work don't have the same pressure as the people who need to say something or makes other people be seen. Original cultures are serious about staying the way they are, and if you don't because your culture has failed you, it's almost like you need to convince other cultures that you can impress them, or somehow being pressured to. Once you know what makes your own culture stand out, they try to bring you down. There really is no point to higher education if your form of Art already suits you and you know to reduce and add on to it. Knowing where to buy food, where to shop for clothing and how to preserve yourself is sometimes better than climbing the ladder in universities when your own culture of people simply betray and hate you to love their own standards and immediates, and refuse consequences that would follow in lower classes, because of harsher authority and automatic leadership and politics between neighbors. There is a movie to almost every subject in and people have it easier giving up books and information, but to be in high school is almost a must. I think that math will be for those less in to Art in the future, because it's very difficult to count when a specific culture strives to hate you while you are in to Arts. Math does come very easy to some, and those come off as bullies in the matter of Culture when not putting an effect to counting, such as doing real research or making bigger panels and stuff to make for effective use in engineering. Those who consume realize everything is done - cities are built. Some live only to fill in the gaps and this can be disturbing to those who need to study math while studying Art, because they could be filling in gaps only, and so they need a feeling of pride to be in school compared to those who don't go to school. It's competitive when it should be a ladder, and not a sport.