Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why @tomamoran 's Words Matter

On Saturday, Star Ledger editorial writer Tom Moran announced his latest column with this tweet:

Reaction from NJEA leadership and members across the state was swift and loud. Moran took down the tweet and apologized to the union's President Marie Blistan and Executive Director Ed Richardson. But I have to wonder if his fingers were crossed behind his back given this tweet the very next day:

In the past six weeks, we've experienced two mass shootings, one of which was the deadliest in US history. In June, a nut job with a political axe to grind shot Rep. Steve Scalise and and three others on a baseball field in Washington, DC. There have been 307 mass shootings in the US so far this year, and Congress is in no hurry to do anything about it.

Since Columbine and Sandy Hook, schools across the country practice regular, mandatory lock down drills where staff and students hide in a safe part of the classroom, turn off the lights, lock the doors, draw the shades and sit in silence. Far too often I have to remind students to stay quiet when they try to ask if it's a drill or if there really is someone with a gun in the building.  

If a child makes a comment about wanting to hurt or kill themselves or someone else, it's a big deal. There is a strict protocol that happens immediately. This is no joke. It doesn't matter if the child is 5 or 15, there is a process and there are consequences because no school, no child, no staff member should ever have to encounter another Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris ever again. 

Congress refuses to protect our children. Elected officials like Chris Christie and ed 'reformers' around the country have made us out to be public enemy number one. So, when someone talks about murdering teachers, we take it very, very seriously.

Threatening to murder the President or other elected officials is a crime. So is threatening to blow up a plane. But to Moran, murdering teachers is a figure of speech, no big deal, perfectly okay to put that word in someone else's mouth. Yea no, "especially in this day and age":

For whatever reason, Moran has a chip on his shoulder about the NJEA. Over the years, he has written so many pieces that range from the misinformed to the flat-out untrue (see here, here, here for a sampling), so it was no surprise that he attacked us about how and where we spent our PAC dollars (not dues money, in case anyone was wondering) during the election. But that's not the issue. As an editor and columnist for the state's largest newspaper, Moran has a responsibility to maintain a certain level of professionalism that upholds the Ledger's reputation, and—I would think—some sort of journalistic standards. If I want that kind of sleaze, I'll go read the NY Post. But I don't think they would even stoop that low.

So, the next time Moran wants to make a flippant comment like that about anyone, I will invite him to my classroom when we're practicing a lock down drill. Then he can tell my scared kindergarteners why it's no big deal. 

Words matter. As a journalist, he should know better.