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The Intolerance of Man
Author's note: My name is Marc M and I am a 17 year old aspiring screenwriter. I was inspired to write this piece when my Spanish teacher refused to let me make up a speaking test despite the fact that I missed the previous class period. It was then when I realized that my teacher was a discriminating person because she allowed the students she liked to take it, but not myself. Events in the story are loosely based on actual experiences my friends went through, as well as a personal experience of my own.
Clancy Johnson is an 18 year old senior at Farthest Outpost High School in a small county of New Jersey. He works as a part time mechanic at his father’s hardware store, Hardware Johnson, receiving an average of thirty hours per week on top of his 3-5:30 track scheduling. Among many of his close friends and relatives, Clancy is commonly taken as a hardworking, athletic, and ambitious individual who wishes to go off one day to become a professional rugby player. His father, Mr. Johnson, wants him to remain at the hardware store to carry on the family legacy and maybe even one day receive a management position. Clancy respects his father in many ways, but finds rugby to be the more desirable option at this stage in his life. Despite his son’s goals for the future, Mr. Johnson will openly support him as long as Clancy is able to keep up his grades in school. Anything less than a B- would ultimately draw his father’s support away and further complicate his financial circumstances for college.
In his Physics class, Clancy was just recently informed of an eighty-point unit test in which the total percentage would greatly affect the outcome of his final grade for the second semester. The test is a few days away and Clancy has but only a limited time to prepare for it with his track and work scheduling. Throughout the majority of the semester, Clancy has struggled with many of these unit tests, leaving his grade on the brink of a D for the first time in his high school career. The strenuous relationship Clancy has with his teacher, Mrs. Gillespie, does not help to better the situation any more. Clancy has never liked Mrs. Gillespie while Mrs. Gillespie has certainly never liked Clancy. He’s had her for his first and forth years at Farthest Outpost and there has always been somewhat of a hostile backdrop in many of their encounters. Regardless, Clancy has always followed through with her assignments and gotten work turned in, unlike the dozens of lazy and unmotivated students in his class.
Several weeks ago, Clancy dyed his hair a luminescent bright, blonde color, claiming that it was a nice “new look” for the track team. Mrs. Gillespie views this as a revolting and distasteful look for the young soul.
“You’re going against the school’s policy with that look! It sticks out like a sore thumb, you know.” stated Mrs. Gillespie.
"It's for the track team, Mrs. Gillespie. It's a symbol of our unity and commitment." replied Clancy.
For almost two years, Clancy and Mrs. Gillespie have never agreed on anything, nor have they ever seen eye-to-eye on each others' decisions; decisions either athletic or academic. That faithful morning Clancy came into class just after dying his hair was the moment when all of Mrs. Gillespie’s inner hatred would climb to the surface and effectively rob the student of all opportunity he more than deserved.
This week, Clancy's hours at the hardware store are totaled to be around twenty-eight while his track meet on Saturday demands that he makes practice Monday through Friday. The eighty-point Physics test is on Friday of this week. However, the track team requires Clancy to leave school early to travel to Cold Stone High School in Pennsylvania, which is the area where Saturday's track meet is being hosted. If he was to ever attend the meet bright and early the following day, Clancy must leave an hour ahead of time during the afternoon of Friday. There is no other way to make up the test any earlier due to this week's current work scheduling. In order to flex the rules of the course and push the test back to a later date, Clancy needs to convey to his teacher the grave importance of the track meet.
“Mrs. Gillespie, I understand that the test is on Friday afternoon, but I have to leave an hour early to attend a track meet the following morning. Is there any way I could possibly take the test on Monday of next week instead?” asked Clancy.
“A track meet? As if that really takes precedence over one of the most serious classes at this school.” replied Mrs. Gillespie, frowning at Clancy.
“I acknowledge the seriousness of your class, ma'am, but my friends and coaches have been planning this trip for well over a month now. I've drawn consent from my parents as well as an approved permission forum signed by the Principal himself. All I need now is confirmation from my teachers. Would it be too much to ask to take the test any later?” pleaded Clancy.
“I'll have to make a few exceptions, but I can't promise anything.”
“Does that mean I can go to it?”
“I'd say just about a yes.” stated Mrs. Gillespie, now focusing her attention on organizing the literal boatload of lesson plans.
And so, Mrs. Gillespie's Physics test was skipped while Clancy was able to attend the track meet in Pennsylvania. The competition was a success, with Farthest Outpost beating out Cold Stone High School forty-one to eight! Upon returning to his home town, Clancy was able to spend the majority of his weekend studying and preparing accordingly for the Physics test amidst reflecting back on his team's sweet success at the track meet.
To show heightened pride for the team, Clancy paid another trip to the local salon to dye his hair even brighter than before. It was now later in the day and the time finally came for Clancy to make up Mrs. Gillespie's Physics test. A number of paranoid thoughts came into mind as class began. I hope she didn't forget. Will she actually allow me to take it? Somehow, I can't ever see this working out. She's never liked me one bit. The bell made it's usual high pitched ringing noise and the students hopped into their chairs, chatting and conversing among the ever-so hectic classroom. Mrs. Gillespie was seen going over some unfinished paperwork, as noticed during her and Clancy's most recent discussion. She looked slightly more preoccupied than usual, but Clancy was determined to win her attention. Clancy approached the teacher with caution.
“Ahem. Excuse me, ma'am? I understand the Physics test was last Friday. I was wondering if I could make it up this hour.”
It took several moments for her to respond. When she did, it wasn't friendly.
“You mean the test that you've clearly known about for over a month now?”
Gillespie grunted and gave Clancy the usual disgusted expression she projected with one of the students that she did not like. “You've known about this test for a quarter of the semester and yet you still come to me a week before grades are due to tell me that you need to make it up. I'm disappointed with your lack of initiative, young man.”
“I asked you about it on Friday and you said that it would be-”
Mrs. Gillespie quickly interrupted Clancy's line of reasoning. “I said that it was just about a yes. Not that it was actually a yes.”
“What am I supposed to do then? Take a zero for the grade?”
“I'm afraid so, young man. Sometimes we must accept the consequences of our actions in a way that provides us some insight into the conditions of society.”
Now on the Friday preceding the track meet, Clancy took the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Mrs. Gillespie concerning the test. There is no possible argument to backup why Clancy could not have taken it because it was made clear early on that he possessed a deep, unrelenting commitment to the track team. A kind of commitment that could not be broken by any tests, grades or school matters. A kind of commitment that was justified by the consent of Clancy's coaches, team members, parents and even Principal. The fact that Mrs. Gillespie even denied Clancy's request is an accurate representation of classic discrimination. It is practically the exact same kind of discrimination we as a human race have experienced for eternity. This particular form of discrimination, physical discrimination, is the type this story is focusing on and is still considered universal by today's standards. For example, the teacher who assigned this paper may decide to stop reading solely because the story is over two pages long, where in fact he could be able to finish it if he made time for himself. However, a college professor or avid psychologist will read this story from start to finish if he or she is interested in the subject enough. Comparatively, the teacher might not be consciously aware that he is discriminating against the student, but in actuality, he is discriminating against the student by refusing to read through all of his hard work. While not an entirely adequate example of average physical discrimination, the same concept applies to any certain situation.
To start off by asking, why do we discriminate? Is it made to object against another person's physical and emotional attributes for personal satisfaction, or is it a natural-born tendency contrived by mankind to establish an equalized balance between the pillars of good and evil? A wise man once said that the world cannot survive without good or evil, for one level of balance must rely on the other in order to persist in the universe. If this is true, than the world cannot carry on without either of the two. Although this type of discrimination, a more personalized discrimination, resembles a balance that leans more on the side of the teacher rather than the student.
Mrs. Gillespie admittedly stated to Johnson that he must, “accept the consequences of [his] actions in a way that provides some insight into the conditions of society.” Then again, the measure of sincerity in this claim is practically nonexistent and therefore establishes itself as a mere excuse for her inexorable hatred toward Clancy. The whole truth behind the matter is that Mrs. Gillespie could have allowed Clancy to make up the test and should have allowed Clancy to make up the test, but was too off-course in her pathway to deciphering what was right from what was wrong. This is where the question of balance comes into play, however, Gillespie never truly expressed any reasons for denying Clancy the opportunity to make up the test; simply that his hair was “too blonde” and that it “stuck out like a sore thumb”. To put it quite bluntly, Clancy's future was effectively crippled in direct response to his Physics teacher's typical disapproving nature.
A college professor or avid psychologist might continue on reading this story with hopes of an unrealistic, happy fairytale ending. But reality indicates that there is no happy ending because human beings discriminate against one another day in and day out, conclusively never reaching a positive end result. Logically speaking, one might argue that Clancy could have gone to his trusty Principal in an attempt to resolve the situation and snitch out Mrs. Gillespie for her wrongdoings. Again, reality indicates that there is no happy ending here. In this case, both the Principal of Farthest Outpost and Mrs. Gillespie's relationship is so strong, so impenetrable, that any attempt to exploit Gillespie's depravity would deem unsuccessful in Clancy's exhaustible efforts.
“Sir, there's something I need to tell you.” stated Clancy to the Principal.
“What would that be?”
“It's my Physics teacher, Mrs. Gillespie. Lately, she's be treating me somewhat poorly. I find it hard to understand why. Perhaps it has something to do with my hair color or athleticism. Just recently, I was rejected the opportunity to make up a Physics test. I now have a zero in the grade book due to her refusal. As Principal, I was wondering if you could do anything about it?”
The Principal has always been known by the staff as an understanding man in a given position, though Clancy's accusations stray so far off his respect for Gillespie that he would never even consider helping the student out.
“Lad, I've known Gillespie for fourteen years now and she would never do anything like that. Even if she did, there would have to be a damn good reason for it. And I sense very little validity in your complaints.” responded the Principal, denying Clancy's request.
“But this leaves me with a D+ for the rest of the semester! There's gotta be something you can do!” shouted Clancy.
“Out of my office.”
Clancy Johnson was then forcefully removed from the Principal's office and suspended for the remainder of the day as final punishment for disrespecting the school's authorities. It was now the last week of school and there was nothing he could do to further improve his grade before report cards were sent out. Hope was nowhere to be found.
As what was predicted, Clancy was later stuck with a D+ in Physics for good. Any and all respect his hardworking father had for him evaporated into thin air, sickened by Clancy's failure to follow through with a satisfactory grade point average for the semester.
“It wasn't my fault, dad! I swear! She wouldn't let me make up the test!” cried Clancy.
“Tell that to the college graduate with thousands of dollars in school debt five years from now. You should be ashamed of yourself! What would your mother think?” challenged Mr. Johnson, snarling at his son's excuses.
The conversation reached a dead-end. Clancy had no one else to rely on in his time of need. Consequently, he would lose his father's financial support for college and be drawn into a life of extreme hardship. From this point on, it was all on Clancy to make a step forward in life's course. The question now placed itself into full view, where to go from here?
An average mind seeks out the usual happy ending to the oppositely sad story. But the average writer on discrimination seeks out the reality by which it centers around. We do not know what ever happened to Clancy, yet he is assumed to be fashioning himself in the image of a wealthy businessman; the blonde-haired, stuck out like a sore thumb dead-beat transformed into a hardworking member of the world. Weakened by the bitter memories of Mrs. Gillespie, strengthened by the determination for a successful life.
We must remember that the only reason Mrs. Gillespie had for preventing Clancy from taking that test was not that he was irresponsible or carefree, but that she simply did not favor his lifestyle and physical appearance. By bleaching his hair luminescent blonde and taking priority in the track meet rather than the class, Gillespie felt that Clancy did not deserve to make up the test at all. However the events would play out, it was unfair for Mrs. Gillespie to substitute Clancy's grade in for a zero when she never truly had any justifiable means for doing so.
The focal point of the narrative fetches a general assortment of truth to the reader on the tides of discrimination and how it can happen to any person at any time. We declare it as vile and immoral in our own eyes, though we have all partaken in it at some point in our existence. It is true that the victim and the criminal are two different beings, but sometimes the victims may turn into criminals themselves, merging them together as the same entity – working toward the same, singular goal: to discriminate against a person's physical and behavioral characteristics for personal satisfaction. The story was written not for the sake of devising a character only to leave him in the dust at the very end. Instead, to convey a significant message to the human race, victims and criminals alike, that could later be translated into a real-world occurrence. We may all agree on that we have been instruments of this type of practice at some point. If this is correct, then it is time we set up a new practice for once. A practice that deflects the advancement of the intolerance in man and places himself into a mannerly suspension, never to strike against his own kind for unjust purposes again.