The following statement from Graham Weinschenk, President of the Yorktown High School Young Democrats (YDs) in Arlington, refers to the above video produced by the YDs. I watched the video a few times, and it’s clear that it’s overwhelmingly positive, with inspirational clips of FDR, JFK, MLK Jr. and Hillary Clinton. Oh yeah, and also one clip of the 2016 GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Note that the clip of Trump is not altered in any way, but is Trump himself – in his own words and gestures (in this case, mocking a disabled person, just as he’s had vicious, nasty, insulting and incendiary things to say about women, Latinos, African Americans, soldiers “who were captured,” and many others during this campaign). That, in and of itself, should be disturbing to all Americans, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a good reason to reject this video from being aired. Again, to the extent the video’s content is offensive in any way, that’s because Donald Trump’s words and gestures were offensive, not because of anything the Yorktown YDs said or did. As Graham Weinschenk puts it, “we are just juxtaposing the two Presidential candidates.” Yep.
With that, here’s Weinschenk’s (very diplomatic) statement about free speech, the importance of encouraging young people to become involved in the country’s civic and political life, and the YD’s promotional video for their club.
On Monday, September 12th, the Yorktown High School Young Democrats submitted a promotional video (see below) to air on Yorktown’s video morning announcements, The Dailies. The purpose of the video is to encourage participation in our club, especially during this election season. The YDs were told that the video could not be aired, citing concerns about creating a competition between the two party clubs, with The Dailies serving as their medium for audiences that include students, faculty and parents. One of the leaders of the Yorktown Teenage Republicans and I agreed to meet with the teacher sponsor of The Dailies to demonstrate that, regardless of our views on other issues, we believe that any club should be able to air any video whose purpose is to encourage civic and political engagement by teenagers.
The teacher sponsor did not change his decision, but did allow both clubs to place regular announcements without video. I believe that The Dailies should air our promotional video and any promotional video that the Yorktown Teenage Republicans create. At a time when there’s a common opinion that teenagers are inactive civically or politically, it is important to encourage teenage engagement. This is an unusual election year, and many of Yorktown’s seniors may even be of voting age. So long as all clubs have the same rights to air their videos, which are clearly not political advertising, but about political participation, there should be no reluctance by Yorktown. I hope that Yorktown and Arlington’s other high schools will consider the importance of allowing free speech during this important time.