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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Reader submits follow-up letter on students condemning others to hell for high school assignment

A reader from Ocklawaha, Jessica Beam, submitted a letter to Ocala-News.com last week to voice her concerns about a high school assignment that asked students, including her son, to condemn nine individuals to hell. She recently wrote a follow-up letter to further discuss the school assignment after another reader submitted a response.

“I have indeed read Dante’s Inferno, and in high school we wrote essays on comprehension of it as well. I have no issues with my son doing the same.

But I want to be clear that the assignment itself was not for the kids to complete the assignment using fictional characters. The assignment was to use anyone whom the student thought fit to be punished. The teacher was clear, it was permissible to use your own parents if you so felt they were deserving of hell.

As a result, these kids wrote stories of gruesome detailed punishment of their own parents and grandparents, and of law enforcement. I am not sure how one can justify a child sitting at home at night and thinking of ways to torture someone that they deem fit for hell. How does this play out in the end, when thoughts become words and words become actions? The experience of “actions have consequences” does not work in this situation, where they choose the consequences of someone else’s actions punishable by torture and eternal death.

I do agree with the reader that many of today’s kids are of the video-game reality; I believe that pairing that with the push to think about how to punish someone by torture is not a mix that should go hand-in-hand. And the “eye for an eye” was an Old Testament notion; if your brother slaps your cheek, you should turn the other to him and then react with love. An eye for an eye leaves a room full of blind men.

In this case, a room full of teenagers left to their own creativity of torture leads to actions that we are currently seeing every day in the nightly news.”

Jessica Beam
Ocklawaha resident