In what must be regarded as a genuinely innovative measure, the Principal of Lowham, Pennsylvania’s Rutherford B. Hayes High School, has now banned all politeness on school grounds during regular school hours, and for at least one hour before and one hour afterward. The measure, while primarily directed at students, also affects faculty, staff, and administration. A copy of an interoffice memorandum, circulated school-wide following its interception by an alert student, read as follows:
“Let them kick each other’s butts and slap each other around, for all I care. To hell with politeness, that’s what I say!” The memo was written and sent from the Principal’s office to the Superintendent’s office. The student passed on a copy of the memo to the executive office assistant, who then read the memo and passed it onto student and faculty affairs offices for implementation. The principal’s executive assistant responded to our inquiry with a question of her own. “Do you suppose,” she asked, “that the Principal might be attempting reverse psychology?” If true, it would mean that the Principal’s plan may be even more clever than it seemed at first glance.
The Office of Student discipline hastily put together a supplement to the student handbook advising of examples of now prohibited behavior. Examples from the supplement: “No one shall hold a door for anyone else, or hold a chair for any other person at any time on school grounds. No one shall allow another person to walk in front of them or make room for them to pass. Saying Please and Thank You are RIGHT OUT.”
Faculty and Staff response has been generally blasé about the new directive, saying that they probably won’t notice much change. But the students we spoke to seemed confused. “Now how are we supposed to get on their nerves?” complained Jupe Carless, a Junior at Rutherford B. Hayes. “I think it’s about time the rules reflected on our needs, not just on their wants,” said Sophomore Kimberling Bilge. "I mean, if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be here, right?” she added.
Implementation of the new rules seems to have gone into effect immediately, as this reporter found out near the main entrance of the High School. I attempted to hold the door for a teacher on her way back from a cigarette break outside, and she said, “Don’t bother, it’s not worth it.” Clearly she was advising me on the new rules, and that the Principal’s new policy had already begun.
The Office of the Principal would not address the chief aim of the policy. Was there something pernicious or harmful, malum in se if you will, about politeness? “Harrumph,” was the not polite reply this reporter got. The Office then pointed out they were only following the new guidelines, but that the explanation of this was not to be misconstrued as politeness.