Anyone who wonders why we’re making such a big deal about Donald Trump’s 2005 tape should consider that by dismissing it as mere “locker room talk,” Trump was effectively telling every man and boy in this country that it is perfectly acceptable to treat women in this way. Well, a high school principal in Cedar Rapids, Iowa couldn’t disagree more. In a Facebook post that went severely viral before being deleted from public view, he delivered a stern message to every boy in this country–this is not acceptable behavior.
Jason Kline has been principal of Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids since 2013. He told The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette that he was appalled by the “callousness” Trump displayed when he declared that he could treat women any way he wanted because of his celebrity status. Seeing a presidential candidate act this way sent him “over the edge” and prompted him to take to Facebook to give his thoughts on the matter.
“To my students, but especially to the boys: I want to be sure you know. What we have learned about Donald Trump and how he speaks about and treats women is not ok. It’s not ok for a 60-year-old man, its not ok for a 13-year-old boy. It’s not ok for anyone.”
Kline went on to tell his students that “real men don’t treat women this way” or “talk about women this way.” Such behavior, he said, is what rapists do, “not real men.” He also told his female students to “walk far away” if they ever feel objectified.
To Kline’s mind, this was an easy call. He believed that in situations where men say it’s okay to degrade women, men who “stand idly by and do nothing” are giving “passive consent.” He felt that he needed to tell his students that “there are role models in their lives who say this is wrong.”
Now who would have a problem with that? Believe it or not, a lot of people did. Kline was bombarded with comments accusing him of pushing a political agenda by calling out Trump. So a principal telling his students not to act like sexist jerks is being political? Then again, Kline’s critics live in a world where condemning your nominee’s outrageous behavior is an act of treason.
Kline rightly sees this as a call for basic decency; he wants his students to know that “there are adults that say this is wrong.” His students and parents agree; he said he has only received supportive messages for his post. The great majority of critics came from outside eastern Iowa.
District officials say that while they did not agree with “the political framing” of Kline’s comments, they support “the sentiment regarding the respectful treatment of women.” Apparently due to concerns about this “political framing,” both the post and a link to it on Kline’s Twitter feed were either deleted or hidden from public view–but not before the Facebook post was shared 18,000 times and liked 31,000 times.
Frankly, it’s disgraceful that Kline was forced to take this post down. There is something fundamentally wrong when a call for basic civility and decency is seen as being biased. Somebody needs to get this principal a medal.