11
   

SAYING SORRY

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 07:48 am
I just heard a story on the radio which i found truly incredible. A man was being interviewed who had graduated high school in 1970. In his senior year book, next to his picture was the single word "Fag." What ? ! ? ! ? Didn't they have a staff advisor? Even then, in 1970, how could they get away with that.

But it didn't end there. Twenty years later, when his daughter was getting ready to graduate high school, she found out about it, and urged him to do something about it. He contacted the school district, who refuse, even more than twenty years on, to apologize. They wouldn't supply a spokesman, and another guest being interviewed speculated that they won't respond because of the possibility of a las suit.

What do you think about this issue of an apology? Do you think someone should go to court just to get an apology?
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 08:48 am
@Setanta,
Simply getting more media attention will shame the school district into a formal apology. No court action needed.

My 1971 high school yearbook had an "upskirt" photo of a cheerleader. I wondered if she ever sued.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 08:52 am
Egad, a lack of sensitivity and then a compounding of that, decades later.

Stupidity, both then and now. Waste of a teachable moment. Waste of a possible positive PR moment. I do hope they're funded by taxpayers initiatives. Let's see how likely everyone is to vote for the budget now.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 09:27 am
Not surprised to hear this about a yearbook atrocity in the 70's. I suspect we'll hear a few more . . .

Lack of supervision, permissiveness and teenage entitlement resulted in many of this kind of thing slipping through the cracks during those years.

0 Replies
 
Val Killmore
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 09:36 am
Keep up with the times man. People don't say sorry as often because they're not, and most of them can't admit they're wrong.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 10:34 am
It has occured to me since i posted this that many people today wouldn't understand what an accusation of homosexuality meant in 1970. People would be physically in danger. It could affect employment prospects, too. This was just a year after the Stonewall riots in New York.
Val Killmore
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 10:53 am
@Setanta,
so can the school use some idea of ex post facto law as their defense and not say sorry?
0 Replies
 
wmwcjr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 12:01 pm
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/school-board-to-apologize-for-yearbook-slur-printed-42-years-ago/article4590458/
Quote:
School board to apologize for yearbook slur printed 42 years ago

ROD MICKLEBURGH
Vancouver and — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Oct. 04 2012, 7:48 PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 04 2012, 9:25 PM EDT





A former high-school student who had only his name and the word “Fag” printed beside his 1970 yearbook picture says the North Vancouver School District has agreed to apologize personally to him over the incident.

Robin Tomlin said that, as he waits for a liver transplant, he is gratified to finally have the school recognize the hurt he suffered long ago.

“When you’re sick and you’re old, you’ve got your bucket list, and you cross that one off,” he said. “I wanted to get a message out to the kids that you can stand up for yourself.”

Mr. Tomlin said someone from the school board phoned him Thursday afternoon with the news, after he rejected as insufficient an earlier e-mail from the board expressing regret over the incident. “They said they will meet with me and deliver a confidential, private apology and then answer to the media, afterwards, when they go outside,” Mr. Tomlin said in an interview.

He added the school board also agreed to pay for himself and his daughter to travel from the Kootenays, where they live, to North Vancouver. “Media pressure finally got to them,” he said, referring to widespread local news coverage of his complaint over the long-ago picture.

Mr. Tomlin said officials suggested Oct. 22 as a possible date for the meeting, and he agreed.

In an e-mail, the school district’s communications manager, Victoria Miles, did not confirm an apology would be issued.

“The meeting between Mr. Tomlin and Superintendent [John] Lewis is a private meeting,” she said. “If Mr. Tomlin wishes to make a public statement after that meeting, he is certainly welcome to do so, and Superintendent Lewis may choose to do so as well, but the meeting itself is private.”

Mr. Tomlin said he has been trying for an apology since the year 2000, after his daughter came across his picture with the word “Fag” attached in the annual yearbook of Argyle Secondary. But only when he posted the matter six months ago to a Facebook page for Argyle graduates and a lawyer wrote the school board on his behalf was he taken seriously, he said.

“You can imagine how I felt [to see that], when I was 17 years old.… My first reaction was why, then fear, then how do I hide this?”

Asked who was to blame for the slur appearing in the yearbook, Mr. Tomlin declined to name anyone, but added: “They’re all listed in the yearbook, including the staff teacher involved. I’m not angry. I forgive them, and I do that because I know who they are, and they know who they are, and they’ve got to live with it in their conscience.”

He said a group of eight to 10 “jocks” made his life miserable at school, pushing him in the hallway and taunting him. He said he was too frightened to complain. “Back then, when you were accused of being gay, it was either be beat up or killed, and I wasn’t gay.”

He said none of those responsible have apologized for what they did.

And he said he is pleased by the support he has received since news of his yearbook photo surfaced. He expects as many as 50 former students to show up for the apology “and today, I received 266 new e-mails. It makes me feel good.” , and it makes me happy that something will be done about this. This is a victory.”

The school district has also agreed to reprint and replace the page on which Mr. Tomlin appears in all its copies of the yearbook, with the offensive word omitted.

Mr. Tomlin married in 1976. He has two children.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 01:28 pm
I'm glad to see that.
0 Replies
 
Reyn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 03:32 pm
@Setanta,
This is the story that you are referencing to (it gives some additional details than the story above):

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/labelled+yearbook+years+person+apology+from+North+Vancouver+district/7346203/story.html

Just very recently, Robin Tomlin was interviewed on a local radio station here (CKNW) in B.C. by Simi Sara. I listened to the entire segment and found it incredible, even considering this dated back to 1970.

I think he is definitely entitled to a public apology, which is what he said in the interview, and not a private one, which is currently what the board is offering.

From the Vancouver Sun article, there is no mention of a public apology, so perhaps he dropped this. He wanted the media there when it was going to happen.

According to the article:
Quote:
Tomlin said he wants to use his newfound fame to advocate for bullied kids.

“The message I want to get out to the kids that are being bullied today: stand up for yourself now that they know the school board will acknowledge them,” he said. “When it happened to me it was just the school that knew about it.

“If it happened today, the entire planet would know about it."


In light of all the emphasis on bullying these days, especially in schools, I think what he is asking for is perfectly reasonable. I am disappointed though that the school board was so slow to do the right thing.

To top it off, and what makes matters even worse:
Quote:
When Tomlin learned, on a visit to the school library, that the entry could still be viewed there, he asked Argyle to alter the book, but was rebuffed, he said. In fact, the annual - including the offending entry - was displayed at his 40-year reunion.


The irony of all this is that (according to the earlier story):
Quote:
“Back then, when you were accused of being gay, it was either be beat up or killed, and I wasn’t gay.”

So, all this hassle and hurt for something that was not even true.
0 Replies
 
wmwcjr
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 05:07 pm
Notice that none of the former bullies have been man enough to come forward to apologize. Cowardly scum! Evil or Very Mad
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 05:36 pm
I think it still stinks that it isn't a public apology. This is a public school and they publicly marauded his photograph for four decades.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 06:36 pm
I dunno....

I graduated from high school 35 years ago, and can't even remember the names of 95 to 97% of the people in my class. Whatever happened back then in meaningless in my life today.

What's the sense of a forced apology anyway?

wmwcjr
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 07:22 pm
@chai2,
The yearbook containing the smear was available in the school library for all to see.

Maybe you weren't constantly bullied over a period of years as that poor guy was. He wasn't bullied just a few times. Try putting yourself in his shoes. Just because it didn't happen to you doesn't mean it hasn't happened to others.

You might want to consider what Setanta said earlier.
Quote:
It has occured to me since i posted this that many people today wouldn't understand what an accusation of homosexuality meant in 1970. People would be physically in danger. It could affect employment prospects, too. This was just a year after the Stonewall riots in New York.


Incidentally -- and this is beside the point -- he wasn't even gay. He was falsely accused of being gay.

I repeat myself: Isn't it interesting that the former bullies have nothing to say now? That's because they're gutless cowards. I'm sick and tired of people who minimize bullying in the schools.
wmwcjr
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 07:58 pm
To quote from Reyn's article,

Quote:
In Grade 12, Tomlin, who was just five feet, five inches tall and 122 pounds, was a favourite target of a group of about 10 jocks in his class.

“(I’d be) walking down the hall, they’d give me a shove. ‘You little faggot, get out of the way,’ - all that, every day,” he said.

When, near the end of his final year, Tomlin flipped open the newly printed yearbook and found the name he had been called so many times made permanent - with the tacit approval of school staff - he was crushed. And more than that, he was frightened.

“It scared the friggin’ hell out of me,” said Tomlin. “Homosexuals were beat up and killed back then.”

When some of his tormentors told him he’d get hurt if he showed up to graduation, he chose not to go.


I thought sports were supposed to build character. Confused
wmwcjr
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 08:11 pm
@wmwcjr,
The yearbook was even on display at his high-school class' 40-year reunion. Absolutely pathetic ... Oh, those cherished memories! Rolling Eyes Mad
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 08:18 pm
@wmwcjr,
Just speaking from personal experience, I knew a time in my growing up years in Sacramento when we were discriminated against because we were Japanese-Americans. Most know what happened to us during the war years against the Japanese-Americans, so I won't repeat it here, but George Bush apologized to us Japanese-Americans for the injustice we suffered many years after the war.

It mean a lot to me personally, and I'm sure many like me appreciates that fact that our government acknowledged their wrong-doing.

I'm sure Tomlin appreciates the apology he received from the school; I believe it's always better late than never.
0 Replies
 
Reyn
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 08:40 pm
@wmwcjr,
wmwcjr wrote:
I repeat myself: Isn't it interesting that the former bullies have nothing to say now? That's because they're gutless cowards. I'm sick and tired of people who minimize bullying in the schools.

I certainly agree 100%.

And, even Mr. Tomlin says that at this point, it's not even so much about himself. But rather about the many kids that are still being bullied now.

He's trying to bring attention to this and have attitudes change.

In Canada, we now have Pink Shirt Day:
http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/

I'm glad to see inroads have been made.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 09:08 pm
I dunno. My gut feeling is to go along with Chai and to say, hey, this happened ages ago. Get over it. On the other hand, I'm in total agreement that these bullies who perpetrated all this stuff are despicable cowards and that the school administration which allowed these bullies to have editorial control of the yearbook have shown an appalling lack of responsibility.

See, I have some personal experience with this kind of bullying in high school. Because I came from an immigrant family that came here to the USA after World War II, I was bullied primarily because of my poor command of English and my atrocious foreign accent. We "furriners" were pretty well despised. OK. This despicable unwanted attention actually had some benefits for me: (1) it motivated me to quickly develop my language skills so that by the time I was ready for university I spoke the language like a native-born Yank (with a Boston accent, alas Laughing); (2) it also motivated me to learn how to take care of business physically so that I lost all fear of bullies and/or street toughs, if you catch my drift.

As for that show of disrespect in the yearbook photo caption, that would have been unthinkable at my school. I don't know what the situation was like in the 1970s but in 1957 when I graduated, the faculty advisor to the yearbook staff had complete control over what could and what could not go to the printer's. If anything like that "faggot" caption had somehow sneaked through, Mr. Ronan would not only have been out of a job but would probably have been blackballed in the entire public school system of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I think that'd have been enough of an apology to satisfy me.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2012 09:44 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Your brought back some memories from my grade school days when the yearbook was supervised by a teacher. Also, since I wore glasses from early on, about 4 years old, I started fighting when kids started to tease me, because I learned that they stopped teasing once you engaged them physically.

Yea, my report card used to say, "ci fights too much." That's when my older brother got gold stars and the American flags on his report cards.

Mr. Green
0 Replies
 
 

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