The letter below describes an incident that occurred during a free crafts class at the local library. The incident led to me walking out of the class and deciding not to go back. More details and questions follow the letter.
To: Head Librarian
Re: class policy
Iíve been taking a crafts class offered by the library. The teacher is "Wilma LastName", who is an excellent teacher, and there have been no previous problems. However, on <date>, Wilma began discussing political issues that offend me during the class session. She mentioned a political candidate by name in a disparaging tone and was very obviously about to state a negative opinion of a controversial political topic involving this candidate. I quickly interrupted and requested that political issues not be discussed in class. This seemed to anger Wilma, and she said in a loud hostile voice, ďItís not political. Itís the truth, and people need to know it!Ē I replied that it was political and was inappropriate for class. She repeated her previous statement, more angrily. I left the class and do not intend to return.
I donít believe that controversial political opinions belong in crafts classes being offered by the library. Students should not have to make a choice between listening to an opinion they find offensive or leaving the class.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
More details: The teacher is a rather crass, crude, rude woman. It is not unusual for her to relate personal stories of questionable taste during class. I do not expect her to apologize or to admit any wrong doing.
Although I cut her off before she had a chance to state a definite opinion, it was clear to me that she was going to say things that I consider to be ďhate speechĒ. Unfortunately, her opinions are shared by many in this area. I donít expect any of the other students to support me. Whatever their political opinions, most are very meek and would not be willing to rock the boat.
Prior to the incident described in the letter, Wilma had been complaining for several minutes about a government policy that affects her family. While I sympathize with her situation, the bottom line is that sheís angry that the government wonít pay for services that her family has the assets to pay for, but doesnít want to. I didnít mention this in the letter because although the subject was inappropriate for class, it didnít bother me much.
Was I wrong to speak up or to walk out of class? How could I have better handled the situation? I need to know if Iím being unreasonable, or a Special Snowflake, or if I come off sounding like a nut job. If my concern is justified, does the letter have the right tone and the right amount of detail?
I could add how a student is powerless to express an opposing opinion without turning the class into a political battle. I could request that if the library policy allows teachers to express controversial opinions, prospective students should be made aware of the teacherís political leanings. I could note that itís unlikely I will ever sign up for another class at the library and will probably steer my friends away as well.
I'm very upset about the incident.