I really hate this story, and all stories like it. I hope you do too.
In a perfect and perfectly disgraceful breach of the First Niggardly Principle, the Centennial School District in southeast Portland will be excising “Lynch” from three schools before the beginning of this school year: Lynch Meadows, Lynch Wood, and Lynch View elementary schools. The schools were named to honor the family that originally donated land for the the schools to be built upon over a century ago. What, however, is the obligation to appreciate and honor those who selflessly seek to assist public education, compared to the need to cater to those whose education was inadequate? Nothing, apparently. Superintendent Paul Coakley explains that “many newer families coming into the district associate the name with America’s violent racial history.”
Well, that should settle it, then! Why burden these narrow-minded and easily-triggered products of the victim culture with facts, knowledge and perspective?
More from Coakley: “There were an increasing amount of questions and some complaints from families of color around the name…there is no connection between the Lynch family and the practice associated with the term” but the name has still “been a disruption for some students.”
Here’s a creative alternative solution: educate them. How about that? Is that too challenging for the students? For Portland’s schools? From Wordorigins.com:
“This US slang term meaning to summarily execute someone by hanging comes from a Captain William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Virginia. In 1780, Lynch led a group of vigilantes, combating crime in the Pittsylvania region. Lynch’s preferred punishment was flogging, and the early uses of the term lynch law did not imply hanging. Lynch law first appears in the writings of an Andrew Ellicott from 1811:
Captain Lynch just mentioned was the author of the Lynch laws so well known and so frequently carried into effect some years ago in the southern States in violation of every principle of justice and jurisprudence.
The verb to lynch dates to at least 1835, when it appears in the St. Louis Bulletin of 21 October:
They were soundly flogged, or in other words, Lynched, and set on the opposite side of the river, with the positive assurance that, if they were again found with the limits of the state of Missouri, their fate would be, death by hanging.
There are many different tales of the origin, each promulgating a different Lynch as the genesis of the word. But it is clear from the evidence that William Lynch is the origin. Some of the others are worth mentioning though.
There was a Judge Charles Lynch (1736-96) who presided over a court in Pittsylvania, Virginia (again) that held trials of Tory sympathizers during the American Revolution. But his was a formally constituted court and not mob justice. It is not known whether he is related to William Lynch, although it seems likely that he was.
Some contend that the word is a reference to an incident in Galway, Ireland in 1493. According to local lore, the mayor of Galway, James Lynch FitzStephen, hanged his own son for murder in that year. Whether or not the incident actually took place is a matter of debate, but what is not in question is that this incident is not the origin of the word. There is no evidence linking the word lynch to this Galway incident.”
Wikipedia lists well over a hundred prominent figures named Lynch, including public servants, artists, athletes, professionals and more. (For some reason it omitted Tim Lynch, who co-founded The American Century Theater with me.) There is no just or sensible reason why one individual named Lynch should make the name a taboo. Funny, I don’t recall the NAACP protesting when Loretta Lynch was appointed Attorney General.
The First Niggardly Principle, named after the infamous incident in which a white Washington D.C. government worker was fired for using the word “niggardly” in the work place (he was later re-hired), goes like this:
“No one should be criticized or penalized because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”
In some respects, what the Portland schools are doing to the Lynch family is even worse that what the ignorant D.C. government officials did to the employee who dared to have a 12th grade vocabulary. (Niggardly (nig·gard·ly) adjective: not generous; stingy. synonyms: cheap, mean, miserly, parsimonious, close-fisted, penny-pinching, cheeseparing, grasping,
in a stingy or meager manner.) At least the ignoramuses in D.C. sincerely believed that the employee’s language was racist. The Portland cowards know that the name of the school’s has no fair racial connotations, and are acting as if it does anyway.
Educators have chosen censorship, political correctness and ignorance over fairness and fact.