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AACO student's satirical essay prompts outrage

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Posted at 7:34 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 06:16:45-04

It was an assignment in an AP English class.

Jonathan Swift's 1729 essay, “A Modest Proposal,” deals with the idea of poor people selling their babies as food to the rich; the rich eat well, the poor make money.

The idea is absurd, Swift knew that, it was a satirical essay illustrating his disdain for England and it's political treatment of the Irish at that time.

Almost 300 years later, Swift's essay is used to teach argument and satire.

The assignment in 2016 at North County High School in Glen Burnie was for students to write a satirical essay of their own, but much like Swift’s original work, one student's essay caused immediate outrage.

"I was upset,” a sister of a student Therese Walker said, “I was appalled that in this timing that those things were said because they aren’t... to me it wasn't satire because there wasn't any comedy behind it."

The student chose race as his topic and as assigned, used exaggeration, irony and ridicule to expose stupidity or vices – in a word, satire.

But the absurdity of the essay's plot and words used to convey it inflamed students and some parents.

"He should not have chosen such a sensitive topic. I understand the purpose of the assignment but that is too much of a sensitive topic nowadays," said North County High School Senior Nick Morales.

It was a feeling prevalent in this school this week, enough that the district made sure it addressed it.

In addition to a letter from the principal Tuesday, Anne Arundel County Schools made sure there were more resources on hand the next day.

"What the school has been doing yesterday and throughout the day today is providing students with the opportunity to talk and to express their feelings and to express their anger or concern or frustration," said Anne Arundel County Schools Spokesperson Bob Mosier.

Instruction continued Wednesday without disruption.

Anne Arundel County Schools says it will continue to support its students and possibly change the guidelines of this assignment in the future.

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