In Avi’s book Nothing But the Truth, nearly everyone has an opinion, but the way each character states his or her opinion almost guarantees that the whole story will never come out. Below are two representative opinions from Nothing But the Truth. It takes careful, critical reading to get at the truth.
Transcript from the Jake Barlow Talk Show
JAKE BARLOW: Then there’s the president, who’s said he would be an education president. But he’s got his work cut out for him. I’m telling you because here’s a bit of a story, bit of a story, that came in over the wires. Don’t know if you saw this. Let me read it to you. Now, listen up! This is America. I mean it! WLRB asking you–Jack Barlow asking you–what you think of this. Now, remember, I’m not making this up. None of it. I’m reading it! “KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL FOR PATRIOTISM.” Right. You heard me correct. “KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL FOR PATRIOTISM.” But you ain’t heard nothing yet. Listen to this! “Harrison, New Hampshire.” Where in the world is Harrison? In the United States? In America? Listen up, New Hampshire. All their auto plates read “Live free or die.” Well, something died, because this is what is going on there right now! Here it is. The whole story. Right in the morning news. I’m just quoting. “A tenth grader was suspended from his local school because he sang ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ during the school’s morning exercises. The boy, Philip Malloy, who wished to sing in the spirit of patriotism, was then forced to remain home alone, since both his parents work. English teacher Margaret Narwin, who brought about the suspension, maintains the boy was making a nuisance of himself.” Would you believe it? Would you believe it. Okay, this is WLRB, all-talk radio. Take a short break, then come right back to talk about whatever you want. Man, but I’m telling you: what’s happening to this country!
HARRISON SCHOOL DISTRICT Where Our Children Are Educated, Not Just Taught
TO: MRS. GLORIA HARLAND, CHAIRMAN, SCHOOL BOARD FROM: DR. A. SEYMOUR RE: SUSPENSION OF PHILIP MALLOY
It is the practice in all Harrison schools that each and every morning–during homeroom period–the national anthem is played over the announcement system. It is part of our general ongoing program of support for traditional American values.
At such times all students are asked to “Please all rise and stand at respectful, silent attention. . . .” In past years our desire for a dignified moment of patriotism has been firmly maintained. At no time in the history of this program has any disturbance been recorded.
On March 28, March 29, and March 30, Philip Malloy deliberately caused a disturbance in his homeroom class (Margaret Narwin, a teacher of twenty years’ standing) by singing the national anthem in a loud, raucous, disrespectful fashion, thereby drawing attention to himself and away from the words. There are strong indications that he was acting out some personal animosity toward the teacher in question for reasons unknown. His school performance has been inferior. (It has been suggested that there may be problems in the home arena. Please note, however, that the law requires schools to keep such personal information confidential.)
When requested by his teacher, Miss Narwin, on the first occasion to maintain a dignified response to the national anthem, Philip Malloy did so, though reluctantly. On the second and third occasions, he repeated his disrespectful acts, and when he refused to stop, he was–as a matter of course–sent to Assistant Principal Dr. Joseph Palleni for discipline.
Philip Malloy–when given the opportunity–did not dispute the above facts.
Students who were in the classroom at the time of the incidents confirm these events.
On the third occurrence, Philip Malloy was requested 1) to promise that he would show an attitude of respect toward our national anthem and 2) to apologize to his teacher and his classmates for his rude behavior. He refused, choosing the option of suspension himself.
Dr. Palleni, following district guidelines approved by the School Board, therefore suspended Philip Malloy from class for two days in hopes that he would learn to show proper respect toward the national anthem and his school, teacher, and fellow students.
DR. A. SEYMOUR Superintendent of Schools
Some tools that will help you get at the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth . . .