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D86 Racy Movie Controversy: Readers React

Patch has compiled many of the opinionated comments left on the site regarding the showing of "American Beauty" and "Brokeback Mountain" in a Hinsdale South Film as Literature course.

As Patch has reported the controversy surrounding the showing of "American Beauty" and "Brokeback Mountain" in a Hinsdale South Film as Literature course, Patch readers have not hesitated to voice an opinion, whether it's in support of the curriculum objection filed by Victor Casini or in support of the curriculum and District 86 leadership.

Below are a few interesting comments left on our stories. The names are those provided by the commenters. Some of the comments were shortened, but none of the text was edited for style or grammar.

What's your opinion of these opinions? Chime in on this story's comment section!

Caring Citizen: "A movie that glamorizes a grown man smoking pot and fantasizing about sex with a teenage (underage/illegal) girl, for one reason right there is not only sad that it is a movie at all, but even sadder that some think it's acceptable for teenagers. We tell are shocked and sickened when inappropriate relationships happen between a teacher and a student, or any adult for that matter and a child, yet we continue to show these images to our children, or let them see us watching this garbage. What a messed up society we are, and yet we shake our heads that our young people seem so confused and make unhealthy choices. Shame on us."

Barbara Palmer: "Movies reflect life. High schoolers watch a lot of silly films about stuff blowing up. They should be introduced to the great film literature. This is a start."

chet everett (responding to Barbara Palmer): "Respectfully anyone that thinks the themes of Brokeback Mountain or American Beauty are 'great film literature' has probably spent way too much time inhaling the trash that Hollywood's mainstream profit oriented producers foist upon a brain dead class of consumers. ... If the curricular choices included instead the more universally esteemed works of Bergman,Fellini Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Polanski, and Truffant the kids would be asleep / bewildered..."

Fred: "This whole thing could have been avoided if this parent had actually taken the time to read the class' syllabus before signing the consent form, and furthermore, had the desire to sit down with his son and talk about the content of the films--and not called in the media and a political interest group to help his cause. I commend the school board for not agreeing to be a surrogate parent for its district's students in the face of the three-ring circus that Mr. Cassini brought in to embolden his position."

John Regan: "I am grateful to Ms. Barrett and Mr. Skoda for having the courage to stand up for the majority of the community. Too bad the rest of the Board forgot they are accountable to the community. I believe they will find out the next election cycle. The Board, administration, and faculty are all major disappointments. They've forgotten common sense. The administration shouldn’t have allowed the faculty’s controversial liberal (or conservative) political points of view to leach into its curriculum decisions. The Board should have corrected the administration. I’ve lost faith in them all. If they’re mismanaging this area, then what other areas are they mismanaging as well that haven’t yet been brought to light. While I don’t approve of all the tactics Ms. Barrett has employed in the past, I believe she and Mr. Skoda are indeed listening to the community on this issue at least. That plus the Board President’s threat to attempt to stifle the opinions of the posters on hinsdalehighscools.com tells me the Board has lost sight of its mission to provide effective oversight to the administration. The administration’s failure to adequately supervise the curriculum setting process makes me believe that they should be replaced as soon as their contracts expire."

Ben Telemon: "I assume that 'Brokeback Mountain' is 'controversial' because it is about a gay relationship. I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm betting that high schoolers are aware of gay people. If they watch any television at all, they are up to speed on this. This whole episode is a ridiculous waste of time and resources."

Jeffrey Neal (responding to Ben Telemon): "Ben, Your assumption is incorrect. The controversial issue in Brokeback Mountain is not a gay relationship. It is the vivid depiction of gay sex. No different than if it were a vivid depiction of heterosexual sex. Furthermore, the sex between the two men does not serve to ennoble their love, it corrupts it. Each man's marriage subsequently desolves and the lives of women and children bound to them are destroyed. Despite this, the gay sex is depicted as 'good'. I will repeat myself. This is an issue of judgement. The class is 'Film as Lit'. It is not a behavioral science or moral development course. The teacher, to the best of my knowledge, has no formal training in these subject matters. Her expertise is English. She is ill-equipped to lead a fair and balanced 'critical discussion' on the issues depicted in the movie. These movies are both unnecessary and inappropriate for meeting the objectives of the class and their choices demonstrate poor judgement."

Cindy Novak: "If there are indeed other parents who are shocked and passionate about this issue, why didn't they file with Mr. Casini? If they are as shocked and passionate, would these 'busy' parents take the time?"

Crystal Megaridis: "Let's remember: this in an optional class and all parents for students in this class -- including Attorney Casini -- SIGNED AN AGREEMENT -- to allow their student to watch these films. Why would any ATTORNEY SIGN AN AGREEMENT without completely understanding it? The entire list of movies was presented on the syllabus - surely an attorney who is concerned about their child knows how to find out about the movies on the list, make an informed decision, and then choose to sign / not sign something. If he's so incensed, he should just force his (probably deeply humiliated) kid to drop the class. End of story. No other parents want Mr Casini to decide what the rest of the kids in the class can / cannot watch. The District has done an EXCELLENT job in setting up this enrichment class with parental signatures required, as well as, options for kids whose parents do not want them to watch certain films. Kudos to the Superintendent and the Board of District 86 for having a well thought out process for this class."

Floyd bellman: "Many parents were unaware of this issue since their students were not involved with the class. Mr. Wahl made one reasonable decision when he sent out his e-mail and now parents like myself are responding. This is unacceptable content for high school students to experience in a public educational system. To create a culture that pushes the envelope to promote a particular social or political agenda is again unacceptable in a public school system that serves a community of different religious and political views. Pursuing this particular curriculum which serves minors is irresponsible and displays an arrogance which is unbecoming of any individual that has responsibly for the education of our children. Sadly this type of arrogance is becoming all too common."

Steve Woodward: "Our fellow taxpayer, Mr. Casini, deserves our gratitude. He has caused an awakening to a chilling truth -- parents cannot trust our educators to present classroom content consistent with the community's traditional American values. We must be always vigilant. But there is something else we've learned here. Rather than considering the merit of opposition to vile, offensive films scheduled for screening in the elective class, district administrators chose to characterize dissenting email communication as a 'threat', and even enlisted law enforcement to assess it as such. Is it just me, or does this feel like a reaction one might expect to encounter in the old Soviet Union, or in today's China or Syria? Since when does the exercise of First Amendment free speech pose a "threat"?"

robert rizzuto: "We live in an age where virtually anything is available to young people with a computer. These movies are tame in comparison to what high school kids are viewing on their own. I think it is great that students can have an intelligent discussion about these two films with a teacher guiding the discussion. Those parents that want to opt out have the opportunity to do so. If anything, I would like to see more courses offered that deal with the issues young people have on their minds (teachers are in tune with these) and have mature discussion about it."

Other Patch stories on the District 86 movie issue:

  • D86 Movie Controversy: Board Member Wants More Oversight
  • D86 Board Decision on Racy Movies Not What Most Audience Members Wanted
  • D86 Parent on Objection to Racy Movies: 'Maybe Mine Will Open the Door'
  • How Does a Curriculum Objection Work in District 86?
  • Complaints About Sex-Heavy Films in School Prompt Cops to Review District Emails

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Linda Burke October 05, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Hello all, Having attended the Sept. 24 meeting where audience comments went on for two hours, I feel that an important issue has been omitted from media coverage and online discussion, so I will attempt to fill in the blank for those who weren't able to attend or watch the video. Speaker after speaker rose up to demand that the Board obey the will of God--as they perceive it. One speaker read the Bible to the board, along with an argument that the board should defer to his interpretation. One board member repeatedly cited the negative judgment on these films by a Catholic website, together with his belief (repeatedly expressed) that our curriculum should be ruled by the views expressed on this website "because 40% of our students are Catholic." In short, these audience and board members called for the establishment of a religious test for a public school curriculum. If that sounds familiar, it should, as a clear violation of our First Amendment rights. At the same time, it was heartening that some speakers affirmed our law-abiding curricular process and the right of parents to decide whether or not their children take this course or view these films, as they already have under current policy. To their great credit, our adminstration and five our of seven board members stood up to the onslaught. Linda Burke
Jackie Frett October 05, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Thank you Linda, I thought that is what this was all about. I appreciate you "filling in the blank"

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