Now that the ghastly cat* has escaped from its dungeon (fearlessly guarded by a fierce terrier), I might as well talk about this again, but hopefully for the last time. An other reason for talking about this is that I, and I think other critics as well, feel that sometimes the only option is to reject — or at least to take exception from — certain kinds of behaviour that is undertaken in order to, supposedly, further waldorf criticism, but seriously risk doing the opposite. (If I’m even actually doing, or wanting to do, much of that waldorf criticism anymore is another matter, which perhaps I’ll deal with in another post.) Not that it should matter, but sometimes one feels that one should say something, in order not to be associated with something one can’t accept.
As some of you know, although perhaps not all (since there has been little reason to draw attention to any of this), a European couple residing in New Zeeland has chosen to take action against a Steiner school (the Titirangi Steiner School), claiming that the school has abused their ‘human rights’. Angel Garden’s and Steve Paris’s children were expelled because of the behaviour of the parents. Even the school has conceded that this was the case. And this is where people might come to develop a certain understanding for the school’s actions. I don’t know what really happened, of course, but the incidents that led to all of this were, according to the parents, incidents of bullying of one of their children. What seems apparent to me, though, from the parents subsequent behaviour, is their propensity for exaggeration and distortion. Not to speak of that unfortunate tendency to communicate in a way that is aggressive — basically, every other sentence is formulated as a kind of ultimatum — and making more or less thinly veiled threats. I’m not sure they realize any of this, but that is another matter. It is how they come across, and I’m personally not interested in being the recipient of such tomes.
Perhaps it’s better to say as little as possible. It’s difficult to deal in any reasonable way with accusations that are patently ridiculous, and to defend oneself against them only has you falling into that bottomless pit of your ‘opponent’. Moreover, I have generally suspected — and hoped — that people who come across the couple will fairly quickly see that things don’t quite add up. I never co-operated with them and never agreed to assist them, apart from answering a couple of e-mails before I knew better, and to sum up what happened (as far as my own involvement with them goes): I disagreed with some things they were doing and they wished to post unacceptable comments (containing, just by the way, things that had nothing to do with waldorf or anthroposophy) on my blog. The demands and expectations they place on other people significantly exceed what any human being is likely to be able to give them. (Or, for that matter, want to give them.) And I think this is yet something that might have played a part in their relationship with the school, as well.
One might ask what they mean with terms such as ‘human rights’, ‘bullying’, ‘anti-feminist’, ‘anti-child, to mention just a few. However, as my reason for writing this post at all was to say how thankful I am to Diana for what she wrote, I’m going to bring up the definition of ‘hate-speech’, which Angel Garden and Steve Paris claim I’m guilty of. I’m going to quote Diana in full (I have edited the links).
This (published by Steve and Angel):
… is ludicrous. Almost beyond belief. I don’t actually recommend reading it, as it’s entirely pointless and content-free. I am just posting the link because I would like to respond to this:
“Hey why doesn’t somebody have a look at Alicia Hamberg’s hate-speech and actually speak up in defence of it? Who’s got the balls for that?”
Me, that’s who. I urge others to read what Alicia wrote, too. This is what they are going around the internet claiming is “hate speech”:
It is an eloquent piece of writing. I applaud Alicia for “writing so that every word can be used against her.” Steinermentary is right up there with Sune Nordwall in mindless incomprehension of someone who can write like Alicia can write. If Alicia writes two sentences, people like this misunderstand both of them, and fly into a rage.
I formally request that the brainiacs at Steinermentary quote me quoting Alicia now, and defending Alicia, all over the net … we’ve gotta spread this “hate speech” around a bit, it’s too good to keep to ourselves.
As Pete points out, this calls Angel’s definition of the word ‘bullying’ into question. (And other words she uses, one might add.) On their twitter-accounts as well as on their websites, Angel and Steve have amply showed that their definition of ‘bullying’ is equally wobbly. For example, they appear to believe that not giving them attention is tantamount to bullying and mobbing. The web page Diana links to is by no means the only one of its kind. There are numerous similar ones (on several websites), where, in a similar manner, the couple goes after a number of people who have supposedly wronged them. And as they seem to do this so easily, it casts further doubt on their version of what has happened between them and the school.
From a perspective of waldorf education and anthroposophy, this is all utterly uninteresting. In my eyes, this case appears to be more about attention, distortion and personal vendettas towards anyone who happens to get in the way or does not heed the couple’s wishes, expectations and demands. Perhaps there are people who can put up with that; I’m not one of them. Which is why I’m going to continue to refuse to recant my support for the Titirangi school. Whatever actually happened initially, I suspect they have been punished enough by now and regret ever enrolling this family. Making a charge of ‘human rights abuse’ appears to me a ridiculous move that makes a mockery of human rights and real abuses.