The Huntsville Times is working particularly this week on the student spying story that broke yesterday, and we should all say thank you. Today, there were about five new articles/opinions posted concerning Wardynski’s Big Brother fantasies. Each of them are well worth your time:
“Big Brother is Teaching You: Huntsville Students Learn About Life in the Surveillance State: Opinion”
Whitmire points out the lunacy of harassing students for posing with their guns when it is a requirement to get elected in this state to do so, and he also draws attention to the fact that, so far as we are currently aware, every student that has been targeted by the Orwellian named SAFe program, were black. More on this little tidbit in a moment.
“Huntsville Student Explains Tweets that Led to Spying on Students”
Auseel Yousefi tells Stephens that his tweets were the reason that the spying program was begun. It also raises yet more questions about Wardynski’s use of the NSA red-herring.
“ACLU Inquired About Huntsville Schools Monitoring Students Online; Concerned Blacks Disproportionately Punished”
Based on the race of every student that we know has been caught up in this spying operation, the ACLU is correct to be concerned.
“Secret Program To Spy on Huntsville Students’ Social Media Should Be Shut Down: Opinion”
The editorial board of The Huntsville Times after praising Wardynski’s computer folly last week, this week has decided that Wardynski has gone too far in this program.
Finally, there was Crystal Bonvillian’s interviews with the District Three school board candidates who will be involved in a run-off election on October 7th (there’s still time to cast an absentee ballot), Elisa Ferrell and Anson Knowles, “District 3 Board Candidates Elisa Ferrell, Anson Knowles Weigh in on Huntsville Schools’ Social Media Surveillance.”
SHOCKER: Ferrell Approves of Wardynski’s Spy Program
Continuing the tradition of Dr. Jennie Robinson whom she seeks to replace, Elisa Ferrell has yet to come across any program, any recommendation, any idea proposed by Dr. Wardynski that she didn’t find some way to love. Here’s what The Times shared that Ferrell had to say about the district hiring T&W Operations at an approximate cost of $1 million dollars to spy on children:
“What she learned [as she began to make calls about the SAFe program] reassured her that administrators are not ‘hunting down’ students.”
Do you notice her “hunting down” phrase? If not, you should. It is a classic example of the Reductio ad absurdum fallacy. Specifically, she’s trying to paint anyone who is concerned about Wardynski’s child-spying program as absurd for believing that the district is “hunting down” students. Her goal is to reduce any argument against her beloved superintendent to the level of absurdity so that it can be easily dismissed.
No, Mrs. Ferrell, those of us who are concerned that the district is spending extensive resources on a program to spy on children, and who knows who else, do not believe that the district is “hunting down” students.
It isn’t absurd to be concerned about spending a million dollars without a contract. It isn’t absurd to be concerned about a superintendent’s unchecked power. It isn’t absurd to be concerned that the only students targeted by this spying program seem to be black.
It is absurd that she finds it necessary to defend this program by saying, “Well, at least they’re not hunting children.”
She’s Nothing if Not Consistent
She continues her support of Wardynski’s unchecked power by claiming:
“They are specifically looking at kids who have been in trouble at school, students who have posted things on Facebook or Twitter. They are looking at those kids who are already causing problems.”
This is again intended to be reassuring to the public because clearly, “they” are only targeting those “bad kids,” or “evil-doers,” perhaps?
There’s a really dangerous precedent that Ferrell is attempting to establish here. Specifically, she’s attempting to claim that the only people who should be concerned about Wardynski paying adults to spy on children are the people who are doing bad things anyway. This is her, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” argument.
No, Mrs. Ferrell, it is not true that the only people who desire privacy are criminals. Neither is it true that the only people who desire privacy for their children are the bad parents who have stuff they wish to hide.
I’m not being a “bad parent” for not wanting my school district to pay a bunch of middle-aged, white guys to sitting around in a darkened room stalking my daughter’s Facebook page.
Ferrell has consistently demonstrated that there is no action too extreme, no power too abused that Ferrell cannot find some way of supporting it.
Anyone unwilling to question power is unsuitable to be elected to the school board.
No Evidence Supporting Ferrell’s Claims
Do you, again, notice what else is missing from her claims here? Evidence.
Ferrell believes that the public should be “reassured” by a complete absence of details and evidence supporting her claims. Here are just a few of the questions that she has seemingly failed to either ask or offer answers for:
- Who are the “they” or the “administrators” she spoke to?
- How does she know that “they” are “specifically looking at kids who have been in trouble at school?” (This isn’t really supported by Wardynski’s claim yesterday that one of the kids caught in the sting was an “A student,” is it?)
- What evidence does she have that the spying operation is only “looking at those kids who are already causing problems?”
- What evidence does she have that the monitoring isn’t happening via the school laptops?
- What evidence does she have that the program isn’t investigating parents?
- What evidence does she have that the program isn’t investigating students’ siblings? (Wardynski claimed otherwise when he spoke of the “WolfPack gang” as being related to one another, yesterday.)
The answer is, none. She’s following in her mentor’s footsteps of making wildly unsubstantiated claims. Robinson must be beaming with pride somewhere. Interestingly though, Ferrell does not attempt to debunk the claim that I made yesterday that this spying program was being used to spy on teachers.
Anyone incapable of providing evidence supporting her claims is unsuitable to be elected to the school board.
Ferrell’s Claims Defy Logic
Ferrell wraps up her adoration of Wardynski’s spying program with the following claim:
“They are looking at those kids who are already causing problems.”
Let’s give Ferrell the benefit of the doubt here for a moment and assume that she does actually have clear, compelling evidence that this is actually true. Let’s assume that the only kids that Wardynski’s “SAFe” team are watching are the kids that they already known for “causing problems.”
If this is completely true and accurate, why, exactly, does the district find it necessary to pay these three and T&W Operations to watch children who are already being watched?
Her logic here, as often happens to those who seek to support positions they’ve already adopted as truth rather than seeking the truth, is fundamentally flawed. If they are only watching the children who are already being watched, then this expensive, invasive program is completely superfluous.
Anyone incapable of making a reasoned, logical argument is unsuitable to be elected to the school board.
All Kids Are Our Kids
Ferrell concludes her illogical defense of Wardynski by claiming:
“If they start looking at all of our kids, I would not agree with it.”
Excuse my frustration for a moment, but what the hell point is she trying to make with this statement? It has been well-established that the three of four kids who have been targeted by this spying program were black. And the fourth was of Yemen decent. Auseel Yousefi was the “straight A” student that Wardynski claims the NSA contacted him about.
So is Ferrell claiming that since “they” are only looking at black kids, or kids born to parents who are foreign nationals, that spying on “their” kids is justifiable?
I ask again, what the hell is her point here? Who, exactly, are “our kids” to her?
It’s a shame that Ferrell seems incapable of recognizing the simple truth that all of the kids (red, yellow, black and white as the song reminds us) in Huntsville City Schools, are our kids. Should she actually win her race for the district three seat, wouldn’t it be important for her to remember that all of the children in her district are actually worthy of the same level of concern? Are the “good” kids more important than the “bad?” Are the rich kids more important than the poor? Are Huntsville natives more important and transplanted families? Are kids at Grissom and Huntsville more important to her than those at Lee, Johnson and Butler? Are white kids more important than red, yellow or black?
One would hope that someone seeking to represent a section of a city as diverse in history, ethnicity, economy, and educational background as Huntsville, would be able to clearly claim that All Kids, despite their differences, are Our Kids.
Anyone incapable of seeing the children of our community, all of the children of our community, as our children is unsuitable to be elected to the school board.