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November 14, 2008
8th Grader's 'T-Shirt Experiment' reveals the right/left divide
She's only 14 years old but Catherine Vogt, an 8th Grader at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park, Illinois is getting a lot of attention for the lesson she has taught everyone - especially liberals whose self image is so heroically tolerant - about "diversity" and differing opinions.
Confiding in a teacher prior to the election that she was going to conduct a little experiment, she showed up in the days preceding the vote wearing a McCain T-Shirt. She then tried wearing an Obama shirt the next day.
The result, according to John Kass of the Chicago Tribune who has publicized her test , was predictable:
Catherine wore a McCain shirt one day and secretly recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The next day, she wore an Obama shirt and also recorded the comments.
When she wore the McCain shirt, she was stupid and was told to go die. One kid said she should be "crucifixed," which should prompt outrage from that student's grammar/lit teacher. Crucifixed?
One student whispered—perhaps like Winston Smith in "1984"—"I really like your shirt." But she said it quietly so no one else would hear and denounce her.
And when Catherine wore the Obama shirt? Her brains grew back and she was smart again and welcomed into polite society.
Since many liberal journalists live in Oak Park, I expect to receive many snarky reviews. My crime? I dared to illustrate, through the actions of a brave 8th-grade girl, that even high-minded liberal communities can be intolerant, no matter how many times parents gush on about "diversity" at their cocktail parties.
So much for the audacity of hope.
But it's also true that if Catherine lived in a beet-red community and wore an Obama shirt, she'd get a similar negative, intolerant and ugly reaction. And certainly some Republican children would outrage their grammar/lit teachers by wanting her crucifixed as well.
Most 14 year olds don't read blogs or newspaper editorials. They don't get their political views from anywhere except their parents. The idea that the kids are as intolerant as their parents should teach a valuable lesson about tolerance.
If anyone is willing to learn it.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky