The Prison Education Project would like to congratulate Ronald Keebler, a first-year student who joined the program in June 2019, on recently receiving an honorable mention for his submission to a contest hosted by the Washington University Common Reading Program. Keebler’s winning submission was a poem titled “Double Edged Sword,” which can be read below.
Common Reading Program
All first-year students at Washington University are invited to participate in a common reading program geared towards providing students with a common intellectual experience and introducing them to the nature of inquiry and debate that is found at Washington University. Before arriving on campus, students are asked to read a common book that has been selected by a committee of students, staff, and faculty. The goal of the Common Reading Program is to encourage students to explore different themes and begin thinking critically, even before the start of classes. From its conception in 2003 to its now 17th year, the Common Reading Program has been a long-standing experience that welcomes and propels students into the rigorous and stimulating academics of Washington University. This year, incoming students were asked to read HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen.
In addition to reading and discussing the common book, students were given the opportunity to take their ideas and thoughts further through a contest that responded to the following prompt:
Strossen argues the importance of addressing ideas that we disagree with using “counterspeech” rather than censorship. Throughout history, individuals and communities have used creative mediums to express their own “counterspeech”. Examples of dissent abound in creative mediums as diverse as operas, pop art, poetry, T.V., fiction, and cartoons. Using any creative medium (visual art, poetry, music, written prose etc.) produce a piece of “counterspeech” that demonstrates your opposition to an idea.
“Double Edged Sword” – Ronald Keebler
You want me to shut up
You don’t want to hear it
You refuse to listen to reason
You say it is your way
You use your voice to say this
You want others not to speak
You want them to listen to you
You want things only one way
You say no to everyone
You make life hard
My voice is not for you
My voice is clear
My voice is strong
My voice does not hurt my feelings
My voice does not make me cry
You say my words should not be heard
You say my voice is too strong
You say there should be laws
You say my voice should be banned
You use your voice to say these things
You don’t know…
The laws you talk about Would stop you from saying too.