After reading this story about a kid who started a library in his locker because certain books were banned at his private school, I was reminded of a certain drama teacher I had at the private high school I attended for two (miserable) years.
Rape? That doesn’t happen to people like us.
She brought a play that was performed at the Grahamstown Festival down to Cape Town for us. It was a modern South African version of the decline of the Roman Empire. Halfway through, the headmistress stepped onto the stage and said the performance was being cancelled.
Apparently the implied rape scene, where a wealthy white landowner forces himself on one of his workers, was just too much for our esteemed headmistress’ sensibilities. This was despite sexual violence and the injustices of the past being major issues at the time (1995).
The next week, it was announced that the very popular drama teacher had resigned to ‘pursue other interests’.
I wrote a letter to a friend about how unjust I thought the whole situation was. Unfortunately one of the teachers found it and I was hauled up in front of a committee – the deputy headmistress, the guidance counsellor and some other educational sycophant.
They focussed on the fact that I had insulted the headmistress, which by proxy meant I had disrespected the school. A ‘very serious offense’ (sic) as the letter to my parents said.
Happily, my father was so furious with me for causing trouble that he decided to remove me from the school.
In all fairness, I was a rebellious shit-stirrer. And not always for noble reasons. I gave teachers lip, smoked on school property, swore too much, skipped class, hung around with unsavoury boys after school and never wore my blazer in public. I also liked asking questions about evolution during Divinity.
Ultimately, I despised the disingenuous liberalism of what was really an incredibly elitist and sheltered institution. It produced a lot of well-educated and knowledgeable people, but no amount of knowledge can give you the tools for an open mind.