Truth According to Mainstream Media by Robert Socha
The beautiful little city we choose to call home, Hillsdale, Michigan, has been in the news lately. The British tabloid headlines blasted “Invoking Jesus Christ in Valedictorian Speech is Out, Michigan HS Principal Tells Girl.” One of 13 valedictorians this took considerable offense when asked to rethink the way they addressed expressing their Christian faith. The convincingly written article paints the Principal negatively, castigating her as this opponent of free speech when it comes to declaring the Christian religion. The quotations used are convincing, and the conservative media picked it up and reprinted the infraction. Although I have not seen the entire original speech, only the articles in the news online, with fuller information, it appears the debacle escalated unnecessarily.
I must admit when I first read the article, I was shocked the Principal would take such action, but upon further consideration, I hope I am correct in my conviction she did not act with malice. I do not believe she needed to wade into the waters of curtailing religious speech, with the appearance of restricting the same; I also do not believe the valedictorian needed to engage the First Liberty Institute. I can confidently assert they would have reached an amicable consensus had the parties come together in-house, with the superintendent, to resolve the disagreement. They could have and should have handled it locally.
I do not know the student or her family and have not spoken to them for their perspective. I would hope I am correct their motives pure. I have not taken the time to talk with the Principal nor the school superintendent, but I know them both and have worked with them on projects in tandem with a local service club. Their character and commitment to the students is admirable, and their desire is for the students in Hillsdale to have the best education possible.
Being on the city council, two people, pillars in the community, have come to me independently and unsolicited to explain the situation more fully. The first said that the Principal’s language was unfortunate and not taken in full context, with a significant portion the Principal wanted to address omitted from the exposé. They continued to tell me the school approved the girl’s speech in full on Tuesday (the story exploding on Thursday), before the rewrite request. The second person echoed the first’s statements. They felt as if there was an ulterior motive in the escalation of this narrative because after the Principal’s response and the student’s understandable aversion to it, instead of going through the chain-of-command and speaking with the superintendent, they immediately went to the First Liberty Institute, who with the information provided responded appropriately.
A friend reminded me to consider Scripture’s admonition in Matthew 18, “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” I think they did this through email correspondence.
Matthew continues, “if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you.” I do not presume they did this. I think the graduate could have gone to the superintendent and given her complaint. I know he would have handled it to her satisfaction.
Matthew continues further, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” After engaging the superintendent, had they not found an amicable solution, the First Liberty Institute would have been fully justified.
Time and again, we witness the media’s manipulation of a story’s narrative to inflame passions and breed discontent among the masses. The left is particularly adept at the practice by picking and choosing qualified events to paint narratives that fit specific agendas. The right, too, has been guilty of the same.
It is high time the press corps took their freedom seriously and maintained the utmost integrity in their reporting, eliminating political bias and print facts devoid of emotion. They should take time to fully understand the exposé and ensure the piece’s integrity. It is shameful that the pliable public has to wade through oceans of demagoguery to glean the truth. It is dishonorable that any news reporter would manipulate the narrative to perpetuate a specific agenda. Unfortunately, the masses must take valuable time parsing the massive information blitzkrieg to glean the truth, which most are loathe to do.
Those who Believe must continue to speak freely and have a platform to express their faith unencumbered. Those in positions of authority must return to original principles and not cower to the misinterpretation that seeks to eliminate religion from the public square.
In this particular instance, looking from the outside, it appears all sides overreacted. It is also apparent the media hyperbolized a sensational premise for click-bait. I reiterate, this could have and should have been handled locally without legal engagement.
May we use this example to encourage self-control in these uncertain times and use caution when responding to sensational events, ensuring we fully understand what we are witnessing and acknowledging.
About the Author
Robert Socha, BIO Robert Socha (so-ha), was born in southern California. He served 5 years 3 months active duty in the United States Air Force; honorably. After his service he took an Associate’s Degree in Practical Theology, where, through his studies, developed a deep love of God and Country and sincere appreciation of the value of Liberty. Robert and his beloved wife of 21-plus years are raising 4 beautiful Texan children. They moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, in 2013, to put their children in Hillsdale Academy. Robert is a sales professional. He and his wife consider Michigan a hidden gem, and absolutely love this city and state (current political environment notwithstanding) they’ve adopted.