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EDITORIAL: Celebrate poetry, speak your mind

It's time to celebrate National Poetry Month. Let's do it with a healthy dose of suppression.

The fuss has died down for the most part, but unfortunately many at UNM are unaware of the gross display of administrative abuse of power that has occurred during the past month and a half at Rio Rancho High School.

They say that the poets are the first ones to be shut down in a revolution because they are the first ones fool enough to open their mouths. That's what the Albuquerque poetry community has learned since the poetry club at Rio Rancho High School was disbanded last month and teacher Bill Nevins, the school's poetry club adviser, was suspended.

A senior at Rio Rancho High School was allowed to read her poetry over the intercom at school Feb. 20 and chose to do a poem she wrote, titled "Revolution X." The poem only contained material critical of the Bush administration. It did not have any profanity or harmful material, but was merely a poetic commentary on her beliefs.

According Nevins, who spoke to the Albuquerque Journal, "A day after she read the poem, Sue Passell (assistant principal for the Humanities Academy) burst into [his] classroom and demanded a copy of the poem." That was the beginning of the end for a group of impressionable high schoolers.

Next, the poetry club/slam team disbanded on its own and Nevins was suspended for encouraging students to attend the monthly MAS West Side Poetry Slam and Open Mic at Barnes & Noble. The event's only affiliation with Rio Rancho High School is that a collection is taken up to raise funds for the school's slam team. However, the school's administration told Nevins that he did not get any of the students to sign permission slips for this non-school event and he was suspended.

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Why should we care? We should care because the freedom that our troops are over in Iraq fighting for right now includes freedom of ideas, freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Why are we fighting for this when it's being stomped out right in front of our faces?

We all remember being 15, 16, 17 years old and how impressionable we were. If we were blatantly told that our ideas are wrong and should not be expressed, we might have grown up with very different ideas. Right now, a group of teenagers is confused, upset and not sure what to think. They're not sure what they did wrong.

They didn't do anything wrong. They only did what this country is so famed for doing. They spoke their minds and they did not do it in any harmful way. They should be proud of their peer for performing her poem because this whole incident has shown that there is, indeed, a "Revolution X" already happening.

Do not think that this can't happen at a University level. Until we stand up and demand that our freedoms be maintained and that the people can't be silenced, we will simply watch our civil liberties slip away.

Happy National Poetry Month, everyone. Viva la rÇvolution!

Angela Williams

Editor in Chief

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