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Your Views for February 27

Ploy for attention

The saga of the on again, off again, on again visit of Mr. Jim Albertini to Hilo High is much ado about nothing (“Activist allowed to speak at school,” Tribune-Herald, Feb. 26). In fact, it is a manufactured media event, and here’s how.

What forced Hilo High’s principal to cancel Mr. Albertini’s original visit was the direct result of Mr. Albertini forwarding to the World Wide Web the private message sent by a librarian to a teacher. What other point could there be in doing that than to create drama? This act tells the whole story.

That civic discourse and debate are good is true, with the assumption that it is with reasonable people under reasonable conditions. It must be remembered that not all of the public is reasonable and that the situation created by Mr. Albertini quickly became unreasonable. It seems that those who assert Mr. Albertini’s right to speak must not be paying much attention to the news.

In today’s world, schools simply cannot take chances with the health and safety of the students. There should be no need to recite the list of violent acts that have taken place on school campuses nationwide in recent weeks. Little Hilo High has had at least three real lock-downs this year due to potentially violent people near campus. Schools cannot, and should not, take even a small risk.

While Mr. Albertini may be a peaceful man, the hoopla generated by his own hand created a situation with potential for, at best, disruption and at worst, violence. Does anyone truly place their right to speak above children’s right to safety? If their children were here, I seriously doubt it. Mine are, and I say no.

If Mr. Albertini truly had speaking with the students of Hilo High School as his first priority, he could have quietly met with the school administration and worked things out (which one might expect of a humble man of peace).

But instead, he chose to create a media event. Interesting that the consequences of his actions resulted in his name in the paper and his exploits re-told. I’m thinking a 40-plus year activist just might have foreseen those consequences and just might enjoy a windfall of attention.

The only trouble is that he had to besmirch the reputations of some dedicated public servants and an entire high school to do it. This is the real story here. An activist who has trouble getting attention standing on the front lawn of the Federal Building saw an opportunity to get his name in the paper by creating the very conditions that precluded his opportunity to meet with those students.

Mr. Robert Dircks should be commended for hanging in there and eventually working things out. It’s not his fault that this was turned into a circus. And because of that, it is clear he had no choice but to cancel activist Albertini’s original visit.

John Casey Carpenter

Hilo High School counselor


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