Letter: Barrington play should have gone on


To the editor:

I am writing to comment on the article appearing in the Oct. 30, 2013 edition of the Barrington Times concerning the middle school play.

In general, I have high praise for the teaching at our middle school. Both of my children benefited from their time there. The teachers earned my trust by always valuing the growth, although sometimes painful, of my children’s abilities. I would have completely supported Mary Roberts’ decision to stage the play, because I trust her judgment as a teacher.

I now turn my attention to Mrs. Black’s comment, “There is nothing that can justify putting on a KKK costume.” That comment seems to me to be short-sighted and narrow-minded in the extreme. There are myriad reasons that justify putting on a KKK costume. Let me offer just two.

First, those acquainted with the theater know that in many plays there is a hero, a heroine, a confidant and a villain. (The other characters are known collectively as “Fifth Business.”) Playing a villain, even a KKK member, may cause a child to begin to consider what it means to be villainous, and to begin to learn how to eschew acts of villainy.

Second, our country guarantees freedom of speech, not because all speech is worthwhile, but rather because, when exposed to the free marketplace of ideas, both valuable and worthless speech can be judged for what each is.

I regret our children and our community were not given the chance to learn these valuable lessons.

Sean C. Connor



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"There are myriad reasons that justify putting on a KKK costume."

"Playing a villain, even a KKK member, may cause a child to begin to consider what it means to be villainous..."

"...worthless speech can be judged for what each is."

This speaks for itself.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Report this

Jonathan, I respect your point of view. There are many ways to look at a situation like this. Please know that Mrs. Black did not, and did not have the power, to cancel the play. The decision was made by those in charge. If you feel you have a valid complaint you should contact the school board and the principal. Mrs. Black merely sent an email stating that her daughter would not be participating. Do you know if a reason was given for the cancellation? I would check with the school and see what their response is.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Report this


My daughter also went through the Barrington schools. and I would have fought this issue the same way the Blacks did, by simply not participating.

The Blacks position asking that their daughter not participate was taken to the next level by the school administration, not by the Blacks.

Society figured out long ago that children do not rationalize good from evil the same way an adult does. We have the established rating system in our theaters for a reason, even for works of art with powerful social messages.

As to the constitutional argument, I think that freedom of speech was what the Blacks were practicing when they elected not to participate.

I trust you weren't suggesting in your letter that the Blacks should have been denied their right to not participate.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 | Report this

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.