Teacher assaults student that uses a racial slur against him

So, in Maywood Academy High School in Maywood, CA, south of Los Angeles, a well respected African American music teacher, Marston Riley, asked a male student that was not dressed in accordance with the school’s dress code policy leave his classroom. The student refused to leave the classroom, threw a baseball at the teacher and yelled. "Why you wisecracking, my n-----?”

What would you have done at this point if you were a high school teacher?

Well, Mr. Riley. decided to hand out his own punishment. First he called for back-up and then proceeded to lay down a whoop-ass beatin’ on that poor boy.

As with anything in this day, there are multiple video accounts of the beat down. The kid was taken to a local hospital and the teacher was arrested for child abuse. The school is considering dismissing the teacher.

But wait there’s more. Some sympathetic members of the community started a go-fund me campaign and have raised over $85,000 for the teacher to be used for his legal defense and to help him if he gets fired by the school. Some of those donating said they don’t necessarily agree with teachers beating up students, but they definitely don’t agree with racial slurs being used against teachers.

So my question is: Is violence justified against hate speech?

I don’t think so. Mr. Riley did not act appropriately, and defending himself against hate speech is not justified. He is the adult and should act like one. He should face the consequences of his actions, whatever his employer and community decide.

I don’t think he was right to get violent.

Was it somehow strategically right, in the broader scheme of the world? Is it necessary somehow that racists learn you will end up in hospital for being racist? I can’t say.

Two wrongs don’t make a right


the teacher was 64 years old, and he beat up a teenager!

People on other boards have been blaming cell phones, video games, even MTV for this (when’s the last time you heard of THAT being blamed for wayward youth?) but this was a class for “troubled kids” in the first place, and many of those youngsters have been through things many of us could never imagine. These are not just kids who have, for instance, divorced parents or even alcoholic parents; these are kids who were born addicted to drugs, their “parents” are in and out of prison, they live with relatives who don’t want them and are no better, etc.

I like how we’re at a point where a grown man beating up a 14 year old boy is being asked if it’s justified.

We’re going down the same path when that pro-Israeli reporter got sexually assaulted by Palestinian protestors and people on message boards were claiming she deserved it for not being sympathetic to their plight.

Far too many people think that if teachers COULD do this, all of society’s problems would disappear overnight. :dubious:

I think generally the trend in our culture has been away from taking the idea of integrity as something that can be damaged by third parties so seriously, and also towards the idea of proportionality and heirarchy of attack such that verbal fights should stay on that level or higher and not be met with physical responses.

So usually I would say, nothing a person says except physical threat should be met with a physical response. That’s kind of the whole point of the marketplace of ideas and so forth.

This specific incident is a little muddled of course by two things

  1. the baseball being thrown is actually kind of a bigger deal than the N word. Even so, the response was no where near proportional.

  2. This was both a professional environment, in which procedures should be followed, and also a situation with great disparity of position, and also complicated by being in loco with possible conflict of interest with the parents.

So what should happen here is a different issue that if it was just the N word and not also the baseball, and also if was a different environment, or between peers.

Also “my N” while still frowned upon in many contexts, while offensive in a different way, isn’t quite the insult the regular N word is.

IMHO, only one of the two is at risk for a repeat of this kind of incident, and it isn’t Mr. Riley.

And whatever the criminal justice system decides, since I’m assuming that assaulting a minor is a prison-worthy crime.

The article in the OP says that the student threw a basketball at the teacher. Presumably, a basketball is less likely to cause serious injury.

That’s a telling quote. Are we at the point where some people think that the only reaction to a slur is violence? The kid is probably getting more sympathy now than if he was dragged off to detention for the rest of his natural life.
I wonder how the teacher’s supporters would feel if a cop did this kind of thing. Or even a standup comic beating up a heckler.
I wouldn’t want a teacher who loses it in my kids’ school, that’s for sure.

As nearwildheaven pointed out, this is actually a much less draconian attitude than prevailed fairly recently. Corporal punishment for “troublemakers”, especially ones who got physically aggressive in any way with teachers, was formerly such a routine feature of schools that a grown-man teacher beating up a 14-year-old boy would be automatically assumed to be justified.

Correct me if I’m wrong but corporal punishment wasnt just wildly beating students with your fists right? They had to have certain rules and guidelines to both make it seem legit and also to teach other students a lesson.

The format of school corporal punishment nowadays is pretty regulated AFAICT (though that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be excessive and/or abusive). But not so long ago it was more no-holds-barred, especially if it was “provoked” by a student physically assaulting a teacher in some way.

The student was wrong to throw the baseball and probably should be charged with assault.

This does not excuse the teachers assault on the student. He clearly acted in an immature and unprofessional manner and should be disciplined.

There is no doubt that these two have a history. However, the school and the teacher are clearly not doing their professional duty in allowing a situation like this to keep spiralling out of control.

Another issue is why the hell does this school allow to students to have cell phones in class. The bloody things should be seized at the door.

This teacher lost control of himself, pure and simple. He lost control and reacted violently and way out of proportion to what was not ever a real threat to his physical safety. He was a vigilante in this situation and should be held to account. Expel the student, sure, but also fire the teacher. If I was a parent I would not want my child in this teacher’s classroom, if for no other reason the example he set that said the proper way to handle provocation is violence. It never is.

One thing that’s pissing me off about this incident is how I see it reported. The word used by Spanish newspapers (and they all report from the same agency using the same word, so I guess the translation is in the original) falls under “slang but not a slur”. Negrata means “big black dude”; it doesn’t mean “black person I want to insult”. But then, in Spain 99% of what makes a racial slur a slur is tone of voice. If you don’t have a way to translate a word, explain it instead, damnit; among other things, this counts as a PSA to your readers who can then file this explained word under “do not use unless you want to get in trouble”. This PSA has been adressed to anybody from AP who may encounter it, thank you for reading!

I’m actually confused. Is saying “my n…” the same as saying “n…”? I thought the former was friendly-ish? Or should a white person never say either (I think this is probably the correct answer but not sure).

I think the difference between “nigga” and “my nigga” is trivial in this circumstance. The student certainly wasn’t saying it in a friendly way.

Teachers can’t hit students. Period. Full Stop.

Old dude should be facing jail time.

Yeah, I guess I can see that. Thanks.