[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]
Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 2 [Issue #6]
Moving the Schools
[By Michael Letwin]
With all the constant turmoil around the school rules pertaining to distribution of material on campus, we have a classic example of how the schools react to pressure, and in fact how all institutions in this society work, in regard to change. The example that we have been living with since Oct. 1971 is the distribution of materials on campus, in particular, the Red Tide.
We first distributed the Red Tide in November of 1971. At the time the Board of Education had a rule that stated that (§ 1275): “No circulars, publication, or bulletin whose purpose is to spread propaganda or to foster membership in or subscriptions to the funds of any organization not directly authorities, shall not be distributed or shown to the pupils on school premises during the school hours or within one hour before the opening or within one hour after the closing of the school” (except of course their own propaganda).
This rule was legally in effect until March 4, 1972 at which time State Education Code 10611 went into effect, which gives students the right to express their views on campus.
But let’s look at how this works out in reality. The second issue of the Red Tide came out a day or two after the date of effect of the new law. Law 10611 had stipulated that the local school boards were to adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the new law, by the time of its effective date.
But as we all remember, the School Board did not react to this new law, even after they were informed of it, until after a student demonstration at University Hi, and a substantial amount of publicity forced them to do so. When the rules finally did get changed (and their position has only finally been made clear on Oct. 20’s hearing), it was the result of a law suit, media publicity, and the unknown possibility of student action. And one day before the preliminary hearing on the new law suit, the rules on “non-school literature” were finally sent around to homerooms at Uni. Some coincidence!
Why did it take so long for the Board to react to a law which they knew about since Oct. 8, 1971? They had five months to prepare for new local rules. But they didn’t. It took the threat of drastic action to get them to more just a little bit. You can’t even find out what their rules are unless you present a real threat to their isolated security. Only when public opinion or legal opinion have scrutinized their actions, have they taken care to make sure that they were within their legal rights.
Well, what does this mean? It means that when the school authorities finally do get off their asses and make themselves clear, and a little bit legal, it is not out of the milk of human kindness in their hearts! It is because they are pushed into a situation in which they feel that they have no choice. It has taken 8 months to finally get the Board to make its position vaguely clear.
We are told in this society that we have certain guaranteed rights. Not true! We have rights only as long as we fight for them, and as as long as the rulers feel that they can maintain their present system with those rights in existence. When someday the existence of this system is in real immediate danger of crumbling, then we will not have these rights. As soon as real change in people’s ideas and actions take place to overthrow the system, our rights will be denied.
We are told that this is the greatest country in the world because of the right of people to express themselves freely. We feel that this past year has shown that we do not have all of these “divine” rights, especially if you are in school, prison, or on the job.
This is not unique to the school system. There is a law against murder in this country, yet that did not stop the government from killing strikers on the picket line ever since the 1840’s, “legally” killing Black Panthers, and committing genocide in Viet Nam.
America does not stand for “good”. It has a history of denying rights to its people ever since its conception, and the only reason that we have any these days is because America has been forced to allow them. By strikes, rebellions, and threat of revolution.
It‘s kind of different than what we’re told in the history and civics books, huh?
What we have to remember is that every right we do have was brought about by a struggle, and that if any are to remain we will have to fight for those also.