Thursday, November 13, 2008

The way it is

Catherine Vogt, 14, conducted an experiment in political tolerance at her Oak Park middle school and learned some valuable lessons.

Tolerance fails T-shirt test
John Kass
As the media keeps gushing on about how America has finally adopted tolerance as the great virtue, and that we’re all united now, let’s consider the Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment.

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching “inclusion,” and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:

“McCain Girl.”

“I was just really curious how they’d react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters,” Catherine told us. “I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be.”

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain’s name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

“People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn’t be wearing it,” Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

“One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed,” Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren’t the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

“In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain,” Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

“Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said,” Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

“He said, ‘You should be crucifixed.’ It was kind of funny because, I was like, don’t you mean ‘crucified?’ ” Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be “burned with her shirt on” for “being a filthy-rich Republican.”

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn’t want to jeopardize her experiment.

“I couldn’t show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing,” she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, “I really like your shirt.”

That’s when you know America is truly supportive of diversity of opinion, when children must whisper for fear of being ostracized, heckled and crucifixed.

The next day, in part 2 of The Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment, she wore another T-shirt, this one with “Obama Girl” written in blue. And an amazing thing happened.

Catherine wasn’t very stupid anymore. She grew brains.

“People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today,” Catherine said…

Catherine never told us which candidate she would have voted for if she weren’t an 8th grader. But she said she learned what it was like to be in the minority.

“Just being on the outside, how it felt, it was not fun at all,” she said.

Don’t ever feel as if you must conform, Catherine. Being on the outside isn’t so bad. Trust me.

We were just talking about how Oak Park was called the land of “wide lawns and narrow minds” by Hemingway.

And there they go again.

h/t: Sweetness and Light

Hank suggests a remedy.


  1. exrepublican11/13/2008 5:27 PM

    "Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain’s name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid." impressed that even 8th graders were able to recognize that the republicans ran a pair of mental midgets this year.....

    zane middle school results: obama/biden-700 mccane/failin-100

  2. and so the ad hominem attacks continue....and by an ex-republican no less...poor poor Catherine Vogt...

  3. greg to bad you're not an ex-jerk,what a waist of oxygen you are,you are Hemingway's narrow mind

  4. Interesting, isn't it. That message of tolerance. Where it comes from. Not.

  5. This is going to sound very snobbish so, Rose, you have permission to stick thumbtacks in me, but it makes me more sad to see liberals being intolerant than it does to see conservatives. I'm pretty fond of members of both species but I, unreasonably, I know, have higher expectations from the first group (probably because that is where I hang my hat.) So on behalf of liberals, I'll say shame on us for not teaching our children better. (Though, honestly, as the mother of teenagers, I'm working with some pretty non-compliant material.)

  6. I feel, for the first time in 8 years, relief. The Obama White House will soon begin to salvage and repair the damage done to our country by rogue neo-conservative V.P. Dick Cheney and Barbara Bush's peculiar, trash can kicking idiot son, the President. It is time we quit fawning over the mediocre sons of the privileged class before some future beneficiary mis-remembers not to destroy the world.


  7. It's not snobbish, Kym. I hear it alot.

    It's just completely out of touch with reality. I can tell you. My kids can tell you. It's a very visceral reaction when people realize you are - gasp - not a democrat, worse, you registered as a oh horrors, Republican! First there's a recoiling and then the meanness comes out. For some reason "liberals" find it perfectly acceptable to say the most vile things imaginable.

    Why? Does it automatically mean we don't agree on anything? That's crazy.

    For most people all it means is you checked a box on a form so that you could vote. For some, on the Democratic side, it meant you supported Unions, for some on the Republican side it meant you are against higher taxes. For some arguably it had to do with your stance on abortion, but not all.

    But for some reason, to 'liberals' it's like you suddenly sprouted martian horns and ceased being human.

    I got tired of it. I used to just keep quiet, because who cares anyway - but i got tired of it around 2002. And I decided not to stay quiet anymore. I am tired of it.

    And it has gotten worse, not better. The climate for kids is even worse.

    This girl's story is familiar territory.

  8. Apparently you haven't read Newsweek, Dred - it's going to come as a revelation to you the mediocre sons of the privileged class who are involved in the Obama phenom.

    Change my ass.

  9. Rose, you seem so caught up in popular media and the so called country-wide bias of the conservative opinion. Is there going to be any effort to work together here, or is all already lost?

  10. That pretty much sums up how people voting against Measure T get treated by the Democracy Unlimited fanatics.

  11. Nope. I didn't read Newsweek. I listened to Rush, for about five minutes, a few weeks ago and am satisfied that the wellspring of hate still flows from republican real estate.

    Your terrorists in the White House as dinner guests of Obama propaganda helped to reinforce that view.


  12. If the Repubicalan party was being conservative vs. a bunch of crazy new-con's I probibly wouldn't be 'dissed' for being Repubilcan either.

    Comair the "CULT" likes of McCain / Bush / Palin / Cheney have hijacked the party and lead us to shame. I'm NOT an ex-Repubilcan, but I sure as hell didn't vote for them this turn.

    Even the Libral media 'get' what I'm saying, last night on "HardBall" Rep Gov. Tim Pawlenty was interviewed, and what was expressed, "What the hell has the Republican party been thinking?" really expressed what I've been feeling.

    Locally we've seen the Greens "Hyjacked" by some "CLUT" types, (Cobb and company) same thing as we crawl out from under the Bush times. I don't want some robber baron in charge, give me an old time Republican conseritive like Roger Rodoni who made sence.

    Last election WE ran a Bush clone and some nut case who didn't know anything about the world, (or even US Goverment) and went on a shopping spree, and had left her own city in shambles.

    What the hell were we thinking? Is the message, I think you'll see a whole "new" (old) Republican party as it wakes up from its 'sleep with the Bushs" just like you'll see a whole new local Green party as it is now awaking from its "sleep with the Cobbs."

    Its damn embarrsing the mess we're in right now, the nation in horable shape money wise, and the county having to pay out 100K to get out from Mesure T. I wonder if the old line Greens feel anything like some of us old line Republicans as the rest of the party comes awake and goes, "what the hell have we been thinking?"

    As for this kid at school, of course she got hassled, smart kids always do! (Gawds Rose, don't you know (ahum!)) --- I used to play chess and have to hide in the library because I'd get teased so much by the other kids. They are all in low paying jobs, or in prision. I was very involved in PTA and a "Room Mom" (dad) to protect my kid from some of this. To paraphrase the Lord, "there will allways be dumb people" and they will always be teasing the smart ones.

    Teachers? Colleger Proff's? I'll have find the quote by Fraud that states, "People enter the teaching proffession for the lowest of motives."

    There is a Group Fanticy we all share that states "teachers become teachers to help the children."

    Its total bullshit, go take a class and see how your treated, teachers (and Proff's) ALL (90%) become teachers to power trip and be in charge, sobrdent to they couldn't make it in the 'real' world and also they get all summer off while feeding on the public trouth.

    What privet sector person would keep being paid, if their production was so low? (In a teachers case their grades = or lack of teaching?) It's not just the libral teachers, conseritives ones are the same, power trippers who couldn't make it in the 'real world' so they hide in ivory towers.

    Hell the only thing worst then a teacher is the admin.'s gawds why do we pay people for FAILUER?

    Base teachers and admin's pay on how many kids LEARN and we'll see if the brain power of the grad classes go up.

    If a kid fails or drops out, the teachers and partents meet and go "well we tried," "it was his/her freinds, ... TV, Rap music, Vidio Games, or drugs ..."

    If a kid does well the teachers all pat themselves on the back and go "see what a wonderful job I did!"

    We need to pay teachers on how they PRODUCE like any other job, how many kids stay in school, go to collge, get a degree.

    A teacher (and parents) need to do a better job then a Rap Star or the dope pusher at 'selling' education then they are doing. Doc their pay if they don't.

    The Flames may begin.

    as you could tell by the spelling,

  13. The "Hank Suggests a Remedy" link doesn't work for me.

  14. Thanks, Fred, I fixed it. Should be working now.

    DT! You're back. I've been wondering how you were.

    If you can change that to SOME teachers, and not all, I might be able to go there. But coming from a family of teachers, I have to say not all fit into your categories. And one thing about them is, for the most part, they are not in it for the money.

  15. Hey, I was a teacher and not all are great guys but overall they are some of the hardest working people you will meet.

    Three month vacation? When do you think they put together their lesson plans? Why do you think thrift stores, art stores, book stores offer teacher discounts because so many of them spend so much of their own money buying what is needed in the classroom. Most of us love our kids.

    I still dream about once a month of one of my kids in trouble. And I can't save them. Teachers aren't perfect even when they care with almost their whole being but, generally, they are goodhearted, hardworking people who get blamed for things they don't always have control over.

  16. Is there going to be any effort to work together here, or is all already lost?

    I figure someone needs to take over Sam Pennisi's job - and spend the next four years opening every comment talking about our "appointed" President.

  17. Hate to spill it to you dred but your hero ayers is a terrorist and is no better than tim mcvay

  18. Can we have a liquid cleanup in the toy department, Please? Liquid cleanup in the toy department.


  19. It looks like history might show that Jimmy Carter wasn't so bad after all?

  20. American Patriot11/17/2008 5:04 PM

    Rose: When Sarah Palin accused president Obama of "palling around with terrorists," who was it in her audience who yelled KILL HIM!!

    And what is the main theme of the Rush Limbaugh show every single day, if not pure unadulterated HATE?


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