Friday, October 3, 2008

Death Threats Wrong But Debbie Schlussel's Not Innocent For Her Fordson Comment

Yesterday a 40-year-old Dearborn, Michigan man who e-mailed two separate death threats within one minute of each other against ultra-conservative columnist and over-exposed blogger Debbie Schlussel was sentenced to eight months in prison.

That's good, right? Right! Here's hoping that the rest of the community, in Dearborn and anywhere else in the 50 great states and the District of Columbia knows that freedom of speech is protected in this great country, even when free speech is exercised by those who abuse it.

I'll admit Schlussel speaks the truth about many issues when it comes to the extremists and radicals from the East that have declared war by any means necessary in the West and anyone who assimilates life in the West. She's also as rambunctious and over-the-top as any warlord has ever been portrayed, and when she portrayed Dearborn's Fordson High School as 'Hezbollah High', she specifically drew my ire. I thought she was being grossly unfair and I e-mailed the Michigan native and University of Michigan graduate. I didn't get so much as a 'No Thanks'.

Schlussel points to the school's principal, a person she paints as radicalist-friendly. Schlussel goes on to identify all of Fordson with this label because she's 'discovered' that some of the Arab community at Dearborn Fordson have ties to terrorist organizations, although not all methods of discovery have been disclosed. When the school's wrestling coach was fired last year for cause due to a religious disagreement, Schlussel hung the hateful moniker around the school's neck.

Now it's my turn.

Is Fordson's community squeaky clean, upstanding and beyond reproach? I don't know. Is Fordson a pit of lawless, angry war lords hiding behind religion to further a directive of destruction against America? I don't know that, either.

What I do know is that Fordson is a place where school spirit soars. It's a place that seems to field a lot of good teams, year after year, in many different sports. The Tractors have been good for over 80 years, spanning the school's early all-white, European-based population to the days from 1950-1980 when it was a mix of Poles, Italians, English and Arab to today's near-exclusive population of Arab and Muslim students. In researching Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, I discovered that Fordson has as faithful and passionate a following as any school. This group is not bound by age, religion, gender or economic status. They're bound by their common heritage as Fordson Tractors.

I do know that a lot of good teachers, coaches and administrators care a great deal about Fordson High. They care about their students, about their school's reputation and their ability to mold a lot of different kids into graduates potential of success beyond the football field, algebra or the school yearbook, the Fleur De Lis.

Doesn't sound like a place that perpetrates hate if you ask me.

So what am I, or anyone for that matter, to think of terrorist ties? Am I to believe that because Fordson has been labeled as 'Hezbollah High' that this type of link is only to be assumed at Fordson? Does anyone really believe that just one school, one restaurant or one office in the metropolitan area can be linked to terrorism? I suppose because 9/11 terrorists flew out of Boston's Logan Airport that terrorism can be sufficiently linked to the entire Boston airport? Of course not.

And what if a teacher is found to be embezzling funds, like what happened in the mid-1990s where I went to school? Does that mean we should have renamed the school as Enron High? What of sexual assault? Does that mean we rename a school as Pedophile Preparatory? I'm not saying all the students and faculty at Fordson, or any other high school for that matter, is of upstanding conviction. What I am saying is labeling an entire high school like Fordson as 'Hezbollah High' is completely irresponsible for a journalist of any ilk.

And despite Schlussel's impressive credentials, education and credits, when a blogger takes a hateful position like Schlussel has, bloggers everywhere are discredited as a whole rather than in part. I've written some things that have been unpopular, but I've never hung that label on any entity.

Why? I'm simply not that irresponsible.

Schlussel is brilliant, intelligent writer and reporter who, sadly, sprinkles a healthy amount of hate and labels it as passion into her work as it relates to Fordson High School, and a Dearborn native, albeit wrong to threaten her life to be certain, let Schlussel know that calling Fordson 'Hezbollah High' won't get her invited to the Tractors' homecoming.

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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