Standing Up and Standing Out

Those who attended the walkout the Friday before last noticed Jack Hallinan’s sign right away. Standing off to the side, where everyone participating walked past to get to the Lincoln statue, Jack stood alone holding up a sign displaying two statistics. One side read “Riots caused by BLM (the Black Lives Matter movement): 2370. Riots caused by the NRA: 0.” The other side: “Children killed by Planned Parenthood: 500k. By NRA: 0”. If you don’t agree with Jack’s political stances, fine – good, actually – that’s all the more reason to keep reading. People tend to understand what they agree with better than what they don’t. Jack and I spoke about the event last week, and my first question was something along the lines of “You were obviously in a minority with regards to political beliefs. Do you feel it was a risk to do what you did?” Jack’s response was quick. He feels as though the difference in the number of conservatives vs. liberals at Latin, at least with regards to gun regulation, isn’t as big as liberal students tend to think. To him, liberal students and faculty at Latin are just louder and as a result conservatives ones are quieter. Jack said that he had spoken about gun violence with some unnamed students before the walkout and they agreed with his support of the NRA and defense of the second amendment. But then he saw them at the walkout standing outside with everyone else… To Jack, there could’ve been two reasons for this. Either the students were eager to get out of class and don’t actually agree with the gun regulation promoted by the walkout, or they are too afraid of the consequences that will follow voicing their conservative beliefs, so they went with what everyone else was doing. When conservative students consider speaking up, Jack said that it’s not the response of their peers that they fear. “True friends will stand by you regardless of your political views,” he said. Rather, students at Latin are afraid to voice their conservative perspectives because they fear their teachers will think of them differently and become unable to engage in the same way. Jack said some of his teachers have continued to regard him the same way as before and some haven’t. Other students, he says, have voiced this exact concern to him before the day of the walkout. I asked Jack whether he would do the same thing again if he could go back in time. “If I could go back the only thing I’d do differently would be to have bigger and more signs,” he said. He’s thankful that the walkout took place on public property, though, because otherwise, he fears he wouldn’t have been allowed to advocate for his beliefs. Private schools don’t have to guarantee freedom of speech, which Jack says he’s felt the effects of several times in classes. As soon as he states a conservative viewpoint, he’s often shut down and the teacher directs attention to another student. He said “Latin’s classrooms can be very one-sided. If the walkout had somehow taken place at Latin it would’ve been one-sided too.”   [caption id="attachment_8720" align="alignnone" width="225"] Photo by Margo Williams[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8718" align="alignnone" width="300"] Photo by Lily Campbell[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8719" align="alignnone" width="225"] Photo by Jack Hallinan[/caption]]]>