Monday, August 20, 2012

What the H E double toothpicks is your motivation for using certain words?

A high school diploma is being withheld from an Oklahoma girl, a valedictorian by the way, because she used the word hell in her graduation speech. Here's the link:

My first reaction was probably the same as yours: Some ultra socially conservative southern school officials  who don't have enough things to worry about are going way overboard on this.

But then I read the story all the way through and started to think a little deeper. The copy of the speech she gave to school officials ahead of time used the word heck instead of hell. Could she have had a slip of the tongue in her speech? Or could she have changed the word at the last second? Yes to both, but I don't think either was the case. In my mind, the girl intentionally deceived school officials. 

That's not a nice thing to do. Does it merit withholding a diploma? Of course not. In this case, I think it's a no real harm done sort of thing.

But I do wonder why she changed it. Would she have received less of a positive response by using heck? Probably not. So why change it? And if she thought there was nothing wrong in using hell, then why not include it in the copy given to school officials and discuss the issue then? Because she knew they would object and she knew she would lose.

So, I think she made an end run around the wishes of school officials in the form of a mini teenage rebellion wrapped in a valedictorian speech.

In the grand scheme of things, is it a big deal? No, not even close. But it might make for an interesting discussion. So, what do you think? Let me know.

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