A Chicago-area art teacher has been removed from the classroom for proselytizing veganism to his students according to this report. The teacher, Dave Warwak, who has been a vegan since January ( ever notice how the most recent converts, be it to veganism or religion, are always the most obnoxious ? ) , gave talks about veganism to his 8th grade students and distributed a pro-vegan book to them.
Not surprisingly, PeTA has gotten their collective panties all in a bundle over this. One of their talking heads posted about it on their blog, and this post and its subsequent comments seem to be centered around the idea that this is somehow a free speech issue. That however, doesn't wash. It is a well known fact that free speech does in fact have its limits, often dependent on the situation. If someone was to proselytize like this to their co-workers, and it was reported, in most workplaces, it would be considered a form of harassment and creating a hostile work environment. It could be mean discipline anywhere from a warning to suspension to termination. Why should this situation be any different? If it is "creating a hostile work environment" to push one's own personal views on to fellow adults in the workplace, why is not equally, or perhaps even more so, a form of "creating a hostile learning environment" to push one's own personal views onto children in the school? Additionally, there is the issue of parental consent. Children cannot give informed consent to be proselytized in this manner, so their parents must give consent for them. I wonder how many even knew about Mr. Warwak's pontificating, let alone approved of it. By not informing the parents and seeking their permission, Mr. Warwak violated those parents' right to decide what values, ideologies and philosophies are appropriate to be taught to their children. I don't have children, but if I did, I know that I wouldn't want them being proselytized to about veganism anymore than I would want them to be proselytized to about creationism, Islam, environmentalism, or any other ideology or religion, especially in a public school, that I, a taxpayer, pay for. School should be about education, not indoctrination or social engineering. Mr. Warwak is paid by the taxpayers to teach students art, not to abuse his position as teacher and use it as a bully pulpit to evangelize his students into his ideology. Every time he chooses to pontificate about veganism to these kids instead of teaching them the curriculum he is charged with teaching, he fails them. He is wasting students' time and taxpayers' money. Shame on him. And shame on the AR/vegan ideologues who support him and disingenuously claim that this issue is about something that it's not.