The Tinker Tour came by Brockport last Thursday.
Mary Beth Tinker was that little girl who was suspended for wearing an armband to school to protest the Vietnam War. It turned into this whole big thing for protecting students’ First Amendment rights that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Tinker’s lecture made me feel like I was twelve. I’m guessing that’s the age group she usually visits. The way she speaks is very animated and she says her words slowly and plainly, kind of how my third grade teacher Mrs. May spoke to us.
Sometimes it felt a bit more like a history lesson or like one of those speakers that goes and talks to little kids at school to try to get them civically engaged.
When she turned questions back on kids asking them how they felt or what they thought about it, it hovered back and forth between genuine or a way to deflect because you lack a real answer.
Some questions students asked at the end were mildly interesting. I especially noticed this one kid who didn’t think affirmative action was fair and was struggling to explain why. You could tell Tinker didn’t agree with him and was trying to be really nice about it, but it seemed like she hoped someone else would speak up and say something in argument, no one did.
I don’t know, maybe I’ve just become way too cynical about people feigning caring or interest in things. I appreciate the importance of the Tinker case. It’s a case I’ve gone over in many different classes, in many different schools, so it was definitely interesting to meet the person “responsible” for it. But I always wonder about whether these people live up to the pedestals they get placed on, or if it was just chance and they got caught (or jumped) in the current.