Hitler quotes in high school yearbook

A couple of high school seniors in Northport, NY are in trouble:

The article goes on to say that the school will be offering a written apology to parents this week and is investigating ways to replace the offending pages or provide tape to cover them up.

I understand that any reference to Hitler will provoke a lot of emotions in people, and that free speech has limits when we’re talking about a high school yearbook (presumably they wouldn’t print obscenities, personal insults or incites to riot). But honestly, isn’t this a bit of an overreaction? First of all, out of context, I would never have identified these two quotes as from Mein Kampf. Secondly, while the quotes are debatable and provocative, they hardly reach the level of offensive. I think the overblown reaction was just what the students were hoping for, and gives them more attention than they deserve. Am I alone on this?

Any idea on who figured out that the quotes were from Mein Kampf? Reading the quotes, my initial impression is that they were looking to find quotes that they could get some of the more politically inclined students (or teachers, for that matter) to agree with, then throw in their face that they agreed with Hitler. Compton’s father, quoted in the article, seems to disagree with me, however.

I agree with you, Skammer, that the responce probably does give them exactly what they want. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the school decides to google the quotes seniors use from now on, to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

I do recognize one of the quotes. Granted, the man was an epic world class evil individual. This however does not mean he was incapable of making valuable insight into exploting human nature or millitary strategy, two feilds he was extremely successful in. How he used those gifts was wrong, but the skills in those were extraordinary and are no less true because he said them.

That’s a pretty scary thought…who decides what is “appropriate” and which authors or figures are OK to quote from??

The Administration, as always. This is a school publication after all. Their press, their freedom to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t.

“Strength lies not in defense, but in attack.”

So, if he had said “The best defense is a good offense” he’d have been okay, huh?

To me its a free speech issue. If these idiots want to identify themselves with a genocidal maniac, more power to them. By making this a huge issue and bringing this kind of attention to such a small thing I think the school will actually have the opposite effect to what they want. Better to have just ignored it.

I’m also a bit disturbed for the same reason gigi pointed out…who decideds whats appropriate? To me this is the slippery slope some of the Euro’s are on.


It seems to me that the second quote especially is not something the school should apologize for. It’s debatable, but it’s a valid assertion about human nature.


The only thing I think they did wrong was fail to attribute the quote to its source. That’d be plagiarism wouldn’t it? And I also find it amusing that they would choose those two specific quotes given that the U.S. is in the process of putting them both to the test.

The school had two poor choices. If they let it slide, then the students get to brag about how they quoted Hitler in the yearbook, and open themselves up to legal trouble, justified or not. If they act they way they did, then they look like fools and give the matter more attention than it deserves. The school loses either way.

As for the “slippery slope” argument - the Supreme Court decided in Hazelwood vs Kuhlmeier (1988) that such control was well within the responsibilities of a public school administration. Freedom of the press applies to the owner of the press, not the reporter or the editor.

It bothers me that the source of the thought is considered reasonable grounds for dismissing the thought. Here are a couple of additional Hitler quotes:

Are these somehow rendered unquotable because of their source?

On preview, I agree with silenus, but still think it’s sad to discredit a thought because of the source.

I’ve seen the second quote cited fairly commonly and it’s not unusual to see the phrase “big lie” used in current political vernacular. I don’t know that it’s necessarily offensive or supportive of Hitler. It could well be a commentary on contemporary politics. The fact that hitler said it is exactly what makes it an effective reference.

The first quote is just banal. Neither meaningful nor offensive. I suspect that it was chosen just because it was said by Hitler and may well have been a deliberate attempt to troll the yearbook. That’s still legal, though. If that was intent, then everybody knows who the moron is now but i can’t see a justification for remiving it. The quote itself is not offensive.

Are we so sure that the kids were really that high off sneaking Hitler quotes into the yearbook. Most quotes in yearbooks I’ve seen are unattributed (mine was), so I don’t think not saying they were Hitler quotes was necessarily subterfuge. I mean they’re decent quotes and as Inigo pointed out, I’m willing to bet that the kids thought the quotes were relavant to the US’s current political situation, which is a common if debatable assertion.

I mean if the quote was actually about some of Hitler’s more objectionable beliefs, say: “everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together?” then I could see the problem. But as it stands, the quotes are just summarizing pretty common cliches making it a big hullabaloo about nothing.

And really “provide tape to cover them up.” is the best solution I’ve ever heard. In case people do not have access to thier own source of white out.

Just because Hitler said (or wrote) something doesn’t automatically make it offensive – I imagine the guy must have said “good morning” a few times in his life, after all.

Yeah. They’re making it plain that the problem is the guy being quoted, not the wording. Granted that the school obviously has control over the yearbook, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Not in this case. The kids have limited space and it’s hard to attribute; the presumption is that the words are not your own.

That first quote could have from anyone. Heck it’s verbatim (or very near that) what some of the medieval german martial artists have said. So it could have just as easily been written as: “Strength lies not in defense, but in attack.” - Fechtmeister S. Ringeck.

Much ado about nothing.

Way to quote a known antisemite, antisemite. And without attribution!

That evil bastard! Sounds like something he’d say.

When I was in high school–back during the McKinley Administration–all our yearbook quoted had to be approved by the staff, and a good number were turned down as innappropriate, disrespectful, etc.

All your yearbook are belong to us!!!

(sorry…you can spank me now.)

He’d have been okay with me. Anyone who quotes Vince Lombardi couldn’t possibly be evil.