Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WWCS (What Would Carlin Say)?

The principal of Shaker Heights High (Shaker Heights, OH) has taken matters in hand after discovering that the senior in charge of designing the cover of this year's yearbook imbedded a four-letter word somewhere in there. He sent a letter home to parents of the students in the graduating class; it was accompanied by an apology by the offending student. Said the designer: " I cannot begin to explain the miserable feeling I brought upon myself, when I betrayed the trust of all of you. I apologize for offending anyone and everyone. It is unfortunate that I did not recognize the big responsibility and honor given to me when asked to design the cover of the Shaker Heights yearbook. I offer my sincere apologies."

The school stopped distributing the yearbook when it learned of the not so fleeting expletive and is now issuing "cosmetically altered" books. Students with the old version who want a new cover can bring in their yearbooks to get the offensive word (apparently it starts with an "F") disguised. But not everyone who has the original version wants a sanitized cover. Said one senior, "Thirty years down the road, it's kinda funny to flip it upside down and be like, oh look what's hidden!" Read more here and here.

I spoke to Peggy Caldwell of Shaker Heights High, and she clarified some points for me. By the time Shaker Heights High's administration learned of the issue, about half the books had been distributed. The school's art teacher and some of her students actually made physical changes to the artwork, saving the cost of re-issuing the books. This process took much time and dedication on the part of the teacher and students, but saved much expense. The school district is the official publisher both of the yearbook and of the school's newspaper. Finally, the student whose offending art work caused the problem also agreed to pay for the cost of a substitute teacher to fill in for the art teacher who spent time altering each of the remaining as yet undistributed yearbooks. He also spent some time cleaning up the school's art classrooms.

Pop culture reference: Ah, those golden student days. Remember that Roseanne episode, when the Connors thought Becky had flipped the bird during the class picture? (Bird Is the Word, airdate November 13, 1990).

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference WWCS (What Would Carlin Say)?: