We live in a world of free expression. It's just that sometimes we pay a large price for it.
I give you--for she is now free to express herself however she wants--Melissa Petro.
Petro was an elementary school teacher in the Bronx. She taught art. And it just so happened she used to be paid for performance art. Yes, Petro used to be a stripper and a prostitute.
You can imagine that, when her school found out, it wasn't overcome with pleasure. Indeed, it suspended her, which, according to CBS New York, drove her to a resigned state.
She told CBS New York that she would rather move on with her life than face a termination hearing. Perhaps it would have seemed like an audition for a job she knew she wouldn't get.
Which, strangely, she didn't feel about the teaching job in the first place. She passed the Department of Education's background check. She seems to have been a good teacher for all of the three years that she worked in the Bronx.
It's just that she decided to write about her past for The Huffington Post. Her post was thoughtful. She wrote about what it felt like to use Craigslist to advertise for clients. She suggested Craigslist was wrong to shut down its adult services section.
Unfortunately, this led to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying: "We're just not going to have this woman in front of a class."
Petro offered CBS New York what some might find a healthy perspective on her difficult situation: "My writing existed long before I was teaching. I write for adults, I write on sites that speak to adults, I don't think my students could comprehend my work--and if they did, they deserve an A."
Petro has, indeed, given herself an A, for she has hired the noted, feared, and fearsome lawyer, Gloria Allred, to help her put her case before the public's eyes and ears. However, she will not be suing, as her teaching contract forbids it.
Allred offered a firm and forceful pose to CBS New York: "We all hope and expect that our government will respect constitutional rights. We know that there is always a risk that they will not."
It seems that this weekend is the weekend of the Controversial Blogging Teacher. After a Pennsylvania teacher was suspended for blogging very honestly about her less than stellar students, some might be overjoyed that schools are taking a firm stance against such vocal private expression.
And yet, as Allred herself declared: "Everyone has a past." So, especially in the land that prides itself on giving people second chances, shouldn't everyone be judged for who they are, rather than who they were?
Somehow, Mark McGwire managed it. And his lawyer didn't seem half as talented as Gloria Allred.