Recent controversy has sparked at Zionsville High School, where a photo posted by a student has gained traffic and generated conversation over freedom of speech and targeted hate.
In mid-January, a photo posted to a Zionsville High School student’s Instagram depicted members of an indoor soccer team posing for a picture, with around 10 of the 14 students doing what seemed to be a Nazi salute. The indoor team is known as the Rumblin’ Bumblers, which is not affiliated with the school. The photo was taken inside of the school, and one of the students in the photo is wearing a Zionsville jersey. The photo has since been deleted from the author’s profile.
“Rumblin’ bumblers isn’t just an indoor soccer team we are a cultural phenomenon, (sic)” the post’s caption read, accompanied by the hashtag #RB4L.
This hashtag remains on the Instagram account of the original author of the post.
The photo was distributed throughout a number of officials within the Zionsville High School faculty. An email was sent out by the Superintendent, Scott Robinson, to parents and other staff at the school, where the photo was officially confirmed.
“Our school community’s efforts to foster cultural understanding will proceed, though they are set back mightily by this repugnant image,” said Robinson.
A website on Weebly that represented the Rumblin’ Bumblers was taken down recently. It was said to reference many of the nicknames of the players on the team, those including names such as “Judenschlau” (meaning ‘clever Jew’ in German) and another, Albert Fish, the name of a heinous serial killer. The website was found to include other examples of racist and offensive language.
Some use these names as evidence to show that the members of this team had malicious intent by posting the photo, but others argue that this was only a harmless joke and was not meant to display a serious degree of hate towards any specific group.
The Pennant has attempted to reach out to certain members of the team for a chance to gain their perspective or an explanation regarding the post, however the attempt was unsuccessful and it appears that none of the students are currently willing to speak publicly over the issue.
History teacher John Goodwin was asked to reveal his opinion on the photo.
“It is troubling to see, I’m sure there is some peer pressure involved with these kids. I do not like seeing it, but I excuse some of it by assuming that it is just teenage stuff. My problem is where and when they did it. I am a free speech guy, I believe in that, and I believe that anybody can have unpleasant opinions. I do not, however, think they had a right to do it in the place that they did,” said Goodwin.
Goodwin added that he did not think the kids should be harshly punished, but they need to be more conscious of the things that they post online.
“I did not want any of the kids to be terribly punished, I wanted them to just be aware of how insensitive they were to many, many people. Many of these people gave their lives to stop the Nazi movement and there ought to be an appreciation and a tolerance by the younger generation. They need to recognize that 500,000 plus people died in World War II to end that kind of bigotry and that kind of racism,” said Goodwin.
“As far as the broader scheme of things that are taking place in society, teenagers do not have a broad perspective of things. I see that daily in my classes. I think that something like this could definitely happen here because the school cannot be at every place all the time. I can see this happening at any school where someone would just say ‘hey let’s do this’,” Goodwin said.
Students at Lebanon High School with a variety of different backgrounds were asked their opinions on the picture and how they perceived it when they heard about it through social media.
“If I had to sum up the picture in one word I would say disrespectful. The boys involved in the picture are all old enough to understand the consequences of their actions and the repercussions of posting on social media. The picture does not only reflect badly on them but also on their community, as they were representative of their school’s soccer team. Anyone in the public-school education system has learned the horrors of Nazism and the hate behind the salute. For these boys to make a mockery of suffering and to post it on Instagram for all to see is just plain disrespectful,” said junior Kaitlyn Stitch.
Some students did not take the photo as seriously as others, but still agreed that it should not have been posted.
“I was not offended by the photo, I think it was an immature thing to do, but I do not think they deserve backlash,” said junior Cole Asbury.
“While I do think it was stupid to do something like that, it looks like they were joking first and foremost. I think that certain backlash is justified. They did something stupid and they need to be shown that they should not behave like that today,” said junior Jeffrey Hart.
Certain students found an issue in the way the news had been publicized, and those like senior Celeste Jones thought the consequences should have been handled in a more private way.
“Personally, I was not offended, the picture did not affect me but I can see how it would affect other people. These kids are young so they have room to learn and grow from this experience, but to take a public hostile aim towards them I do not think is right. For them to be publicized, that can affect their future. I’m sure by now they know posting that photo was wrong,” said Jones.
The students were then asked if they could see something similar happening at Lebanon High School.
“I have heard people making jokes about the same kind of sensitive material and I think that a lot of kids would go along with it if their friends were able to convince them. I completely believe that something like this could have happened at our school, but now that everyone has seen the Zionsville photo and the backlash that it received, I do not think anyone at our school would participate in a photo like that,” said junior Allison Nelson.
Although the atrocities committed during the Holocaust are part of the curriculum taught in history classes in public schools throughout the nation, Asbury admitted that he has seen worse things happen at LHS, although they were not publicized.
“I feel like something worse could happen here. I just think that people in Lebanon are prone to doing something that would be seen as more offensive,” said Asbury.
Although Jones said she has not seen anything similar happen herself, she does believe that people are reluctant to take these matters as seriously as others.
“Most definitely I could see this happening. I know like, ten people that would do it. I know people’s sense of humor, and they like to push buttons. Of course, that is not okay, but not much is going to stop them,” Jones said.
Many said that they think instances like this can surface anywhere, no matter the location.
“This is something that could happen anywhere really. It is childish, and there are people everywhere that would be immature enough to do this,” said Hart.
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