Hey some people think Hitler was a great guy. And when this teacher compares Bush to Hitler your going to piss those people off!


Teacher is placed on leave for Hitler reference to Bush

Nicholas Riccardi Los Angeles Times Mar. 4, 2006 12:00 AM

DENVER - It was the day after President Bush's State of the Union address, and social-studies teacher Jay Bennish was warning his world geography class not to be taken in.

"Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say," Bennish told students at the suburban high school. "We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward, and our job is to conquer the world."

The teacher quickly made clear that he wasn't equating the president with Hitler, but the damage was done. A sophomore in the class had recorded the lecture on an MP3 player and this week turned it over to a local conservative radio show.

Bennish, a five-year veteran of Overland High School, was placed on unpaid leave by the Cherry Creek School District on Wednesday, sparking an uproar over issues of free speech and proper classroom behavior.

About 150 Overland students walked out Thursday to protest Bennish's absence, and the teacher's lawyer, who met with district officials Friday, has threatened a federal lawsuit. Attorney David Lane argued on the Mike Roem radio show, which originally played the tape, that what his client said is not so outlandish and was intended to provoke his students into thinking about current events.

"Maybe it's not mainstream, middle-American opinion," Lane said Friday morning. "But the rest of the world agrees with him."

Lane added that if Bennish had spoken strongly in support of Bush, he would not be under investigation.

Tustin Amole, a spokeswoman for the school district, said officials were investigating whether Bennish had violated a policy that says teachers cannot intimidate students who hold political beliefs different from their own.

"Teachers do have a First Amendment right to express their opinion," Amole said, "but it must be in the context of the material being taught, and it must provide a balanced point of view."

The Cherry Creek district, with 47,000 students, encompasses an arc of suburbs to the southeast of Denver; voter registration within its boundaries leans Republican.

A partial transcript of Bennish's class taken from the student's recording showed the teacher voicing a range of criticisms of U.S. policy and the Iraq war. He has not disputed the accuracy of the recording.

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