Our View: Second Suburb exploited students


Though The Tower is an advocate of First Amendment free-speech rights, last Friday’s Second Suburb performance abused that power.

This year’s cast had no filter, explicitly calling students out by first and last name. Some of the lower blows include poking fun at special needs students, recalling alleged promiscuous behavior and making false homosexuality claims.

While in years past Second Suburb parodied teachers and the Grosse Pointe stereotype, this year focused more on specific students and their personal lives. These allegations can be harmful and do not need to be broadcasted to an audience full of South students.

Upon returning to school on Monday, fallout from the show made waves. After much buzz regarding the difference between comedy and bullying, Principal Moussa Hamka took measures to address the situation.

A letter from Hamka went out to all South parents that night saying that he expects “each student at South to advocate for a better world where each student improves the life of others rather than diminishing the accomplishments of fellow students.”

The letter also included a brief apology from the Second Suburb cast, saying that “changes will be made in future shows to prevent similar circumstances.”

Read Hamka’s letter sent out Monday, Jun. 1: http://gpschools.schoolwires.net/Domain/2805

Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank LoMonte said talking about people’s personal lives in public can certainly be an invasion of privacy.

“I don’t have the right to stand on a street corner and give a speech about my neighbors’ private love lives. I can be sued for invasion of privacy, just as the statements in this performance could be the basis of a lawsuit,” he said.

Friday’s performance jeopardized the future of the show. Prior to 2015 Second Suburb has been known for its vulgarity and degradation, though this year’s cast crossed many lines. As a result, if students wish to continue the tradition of Second Suburb they could face more backlash from the administration and community. At the end of the day, though, it is an independent event, unaffiliated with South.

School administrators are obligated to address the negative aftermath that the performance created. However, because of the event’s independence, there are limited disciplinary actions that can be taken by school administration.

“If it’s a one-time event that took place entirely off school grounds, the school almost certainly has no authority,” LoMonte said.

After venue-rental fees, cast members made a profit from their performance. Making fun of people’s appearances and personalities, should not result in a payday. Students should not financially benefit from other people’s pain.

In past years Second Suburb parodied common-knowledge events of the school year in a positive light. This year’s performance unfortunately did not do that.

Instead, eight students, who, based on their words, could arguably be described as bullies, seized every chance they could to put down their peers. They created an uncomfortable atmosphere thick with hurt feeling and sadness.

When the bell rings on Monday students should not be worried about if their private lives were relayed to an audience of their peers over the weekend. As a result of the Second Suburb cast exercising their rights of free speech, they are facing criticism from the community. There is a moment when free speech becomes hate speech, and in the future students should ensure this line is never debatable.