Steve Lopez: Another day in paradise
Well, Le Sabre, the student newspaper at Cleveland High School in Reseda, began its Valentine Day story with a V, but things got kind of jumbled after that. Student Rachel Enriquez explains:
“They decided that printing a Valentine's Day edition today was super lame, so they decided to make the front headline, "Have a Happy Vagina Day!" This happens to be a real day...it was started when Karen Obel and Eve Ensler came out with The Vagina Monologues in 1998.
“ANYWAY, the whole front page was about how this day, as well as the play, was created to end violence against women. That is ALL the article was talking about. HOWEVER they put a huge front and center picture of a vagina on the cover. It wasn't someone's vagina, but a picture from some anatomy book.
“The administrators as well as the majority of the teachers flipped ... and made an announcement over the intercom in 2nd period saying, "All teachers! Please do not hand out any school newspapers, we will be collecting them."
“I was reading one at lunch and got it taken away by a school security guard! I asked the security guard what she would do if I didn't give it up and she threatened me with "disciplinary actions". Teachers were allowed to take them away if they saw one!
Supposedly the picture and the headline were "suggesting sex" and were extremely inappropriate, except that half of the higher authority figures hadn't even READ the actual article!! It was nothing bad AT ALL! It was the picture that threw everyone off, which is too bad because since when is the word 'vagina' a curse word? or even a symbol of sex? HALF THE POPULATION HAS ONE.”
You gotta love Rachel’s spunk. But her father, my former boss, Sam Enriquez, suggested I clear it with the Cleveland High principal before posting Rachel’s pique. Here’s what Principal Bob Marks had to say:
“The article was fine. It was the picture that was not tasteful. When I say not tasteful, for the front of a newspaper to have a drawing of a vagina was not in the best interest of this article.... The decision was based on the fact that the ... drawing would be disruptive to the school’s educational program.”
Also: “The issue of the newspaper article itself we have no problem discussing, and will probably have an open forum. We want youngsters to express themselves and have an open opportunity to discuss.... The 1st Amendment ... is really not a question here.... Would a picture like this appear on the front page of the Los Angeles Times?”
Hard to say, actually. We’re still getting to know our new owner, Sam Zell. But based on what we’ve heard so far, vaginas on the front page are not out of the question.