Tutor Fired For Teaching F-Word Fires Back And Wins
He couldn't say it was a "lost in translation" moment.
When British national Luke Webster wanted to test his Australian students at the Mercury School in Sydney on verbs and nouns, he reached into the Webster's of even the most basic speaker of the English language. He created an exam based on the word, "F***."
As the popular shirts have made plain, there may be no more versatile word in our language than "F***," and Webster created a worksheet to prompt his charges to prove their grammatical mettle. Judging from the context, the students were asked to identify the part of speech for each instance.
Deeming his action "offensive," Mercury College's director of studies Andrew Waters dismissed Webster. The loss was a double blow for Webster: As a non-native Australian, Webster was forced to leave the island nation back in 2009.
But, as The Australian reports, the presiding Australian board Fair Work Australia has ruled that Mercury must pay Webster $16,874.36 for the manner of the dismissal. (For further details of the case and the tribunal's findings, please see the original report from The Australian here.)
In other parts of the English-speaking world, there is a precedent of courts protecting the use of the "f-bomb" for myriad purposes, even politically-motivated ones.
Most famously in the U.S., the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a protester of the Vietnam War in 1971, in Cohen vs. California. Paul Cohen was originally charged with "disturbing the peace" when he walked into a Los Angeles Court to make a statement about the ongoing conflict in Southeast Asia. His weapon of choice? A jacket with the words, "F*** the draft," inscribed on the back. The court ruled the statement was a protected form of freedom of expression enshrined in the First Amendment.
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