The resignation of Hudson Mayor Craig Schubert over his remarks associating ice fishing shacks with prostitution provides a tragicomic ending to an episode that gave Hudson national publicity its residents did not seek.
However, the resignation should not mask the problems Mayor Schubert helped stir up that led to the resignation of Phil Herman, a well-respected superintendent of Hudson Public Schools. Remember the timeline, most of which appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal a few months ago in the fall of 2021:
September 10: Hudson High School principal Brian Wilch announces that a book of 642 writing prompts used in an advanced college writing course is being removed because some of the prompts have drawn complaints from some parents as being inappropriate because of their references to sexual subjects.
September 13: Hudson Mayor Craig Schubert is telling Hudson School Board members to resign or face criminal charges over the 642 guest book.
September 14: Hudson Superintendent Phil Herman issues a statement saying an investigation is underway to determine how some of the material deemed objectionable was made available to students.
September 15: Hudson School Board President David Zuro said while the write-in prompts may have been inappropriate, he has no plans to step down and, in fact, is running for re-election in November.
September 16: Members of the Hudson Board of Education report receiving threatening emails, many from sources in Texas and Pennsylvania, as the issue receives national media coverage.
September 17: Summit County District Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh reports her office has concluded that none of the written prompts constitute child pornography, but is investigating whether any laws may have been violated.
September 21: Members of Hudson City Council ask the mayor to apologize. Hudson has a town manager system of government, and the mayor’s role is largely ceremonial.
September 27: About 400 people show up for an education council meeting, mostly to support council members who the mayor says should step down.
September 29: Superintendent Phil Herman announces that the school library has removed several books from its shelves for review. A parent objected to the book “Lawn Boy”, which has sexual content.
October 6: A Hudson resident announces an effort to recall Mayor Craig Schubert.
November 10: Outgoing school board members who refused Mayor Schubert’s request to resign are re-elected.
November 15: Hudson Superintendent Phil Herman reports an investigation indicates the 642-guest book did not violate school policy.
November 16: Summit County District Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh calls Hudson Mayor Craig Schubert’s behavior reckless, but says her office will not charge him.
November 18: Hudson Mayor Schubert reaffirms his accusation that the materials he cited are pornographic and school board members are responsible for them. The mayor and Hudson get national exposure on Fox News.
November 30: Hudson Superintendent Phil Herman announces his resignation.
I phoned Marianne Martens, an associate professor at Kent State University’s School of Information and an expert in library science and children’s literature.
She said schools and libraries across the country are experiencing similar situations and cited a few:
TEXAS where a state representative, Matt Krause, has a list of 850 books he wants banned.
TENNESSEE where a school board banned “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust book that depicts Jews as mice, Germans as cats and Polish collaborators as pigs. The school board said the book contained swear words and one of the characters was depicted naked.
VIRGINIA where Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently established a parent hotline to report class incidents at school that could divide the general population.
FLORIDA where its legislature, with the apparent blessing of Gov. Ron DeSantis, introduces a bill that would ban public schools and private businesses from causing white people “unrest” during classes or trainings on discrimination. The Ohio legislature is considering a bill with similarities.
The dissolution of consensus is an important theme in James Patterson’s 50-year history of the United States after World War II as minorities and groups find their voice. African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Seculars, Evangelical Christians, White Supremacists, Chauvinists, Zionists, Islamists, Feminists, Gays, Lesbians, Environmentalists, Hillbillies, Urban Sophisticates, Educated Snobs, Business, Labor, Straight, left-wing, moderates and others, amplified by social media and percolating into the pot of the rapidly changing global and high-tech economy, have turned America into a bewildering cacophony.
Censorship is one answer, but will it teach us how to live positively in America’s pluralistic (and argumentative) society today?
Last year, at Hudson’s American Legion Memorial Day ceremonies, the microphone of the keynote speaker, retired Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, was deliberately silenced as he referenced the constructive role that African Americans played in starting the Memorial Day tradition after the Civil War. .
It works wonders.
David E. Dix is a former editor of the Record-Courier.