Responding to the Small Falmouth School “Walk Out”


On Wednesday morning, tens of students briefly left school to protest the Maine Wire’s journalism. The real story here is that 97 percent of Falmouth High School students decided to skip the walkout and declined to join in baseless smears against a journalist. We applaud the vast majority of Falmouth students who decided to stage a sit in of their own rather than succumbing to peer pressure from left-wing activists.

It seems the protest has been driven at least in part by a few adults, and it’s unfortunate that adults feel the need to use kids like political props. One of those adults posted an image on social media accusing the Maine Wire of all kinds of isms. The poster didn’t say exactly what the offending position or language was, nor did it link to an article or attempt to make a reasoned argument of any kind. It just asserted as a given that we here at the Maine Wire are very bad people, and we ought to be silenced.

We will not be silenced. We apologize for nothing.

The proximate cause of all the fuss is the story we published based on audio from a public school meeting. We were approached by half a dozen parents who were at the meeting, and all of them were alarmed and outraged over what occurred at the meeting. The public nature of the meeting made it newsworthy, the conflict that occurred there all the more so. And given that the meeting was about the controversial diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts that are roiling school districts across the country, covering it and publishing the audio was an easy decision. We attempted to contact all the adults involved in the story; some talked with us, some did not. Various social media comments have suggested that it’s somehow wrong or illegal to publish audio recorded from a public meeting. That claim is preposterous and contrary to the American traditions of journalism and self-government.

Nonetheless, the assertion seems to be that we’re very bad people for publishing audio from a public meeting, and for characterizing the content of that meeting in what we believe was a very fair and even-handed way. That complaint has also triggered allegations that it is improper to report on other areas where diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are causing conflict in Maine schools, particularly the recent push regarding left-wing theories about gender. We strongly dispute those allegations and believe they are being made or amplified, in part, by misinformed or bad-faith actors who just want to shut us up. It’s not going to happen. We will continue to report aggressively wherever progressive theories and practices about health and education threaten parents’ constitutional rights.

We received an email that someone with a Falmouth Schools email account was sending around to Maine media outlets trying to drum up coverage for the brief, small assembly. That email contained so many false allegations, made up quotes, malicious lies, and half-truths, that it is not worth addressing — not by us, at least. The media outlets that responded to cover the little gathering should perform some introspection as to why they responded to such an obviously flawed and easily disprovable invitation.

Superintendent Gretchen McNulty and other Falmouth officials have been placed in a tough position. However, to the extent Falmouth school officials condoned or encouraged these activities, they owe the community an explanation. But so far they have eschewed openness and transparency, and they have allowed baseless smears of Falmouth community members and the Maine Wire to stand unaddressed — a tacit endorsement. This lack of leadership will do little to make the 97 percent of Falmouth High School students who avoided the walkout feel included. Nor will such silence give comfort to the parents of all those students.

Lastly, regarding threats various people say they’ve received as the result of this conflict and other recent conflicts in Portland: the Maine Wire does not condone cowardly anonymous threats or political violence, nor can we control how some people behave on the Internet. We encourage all Maine Wire readers to engage in political debates thoughtfully and respectfully. The answer to speech you do not like is not censorship or “cancelling” the speaker but rather more speech. To that end, if any of the students or community members at Falmouth High would like to publish an op-ed or Letter to the Editor over this matter, they can send a letter to the address below. And if any readers of this find themselves looking for something to read during, say, an upcoming detention, I would highly recommend one of Douglas Murray’s recent books.

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