Ten years ago this month while I was still teaching history at Shepherd Hill Regional High School, I created Turtleboy Sports, an anonymous blog where I planned on writing about sports and entertainment as a hobby while teaching and coaching during the day. It has evolved into something very different today. However, prior to Turtleboy I started another blog in 2012 called AidanFromWorcester.com. If you’ve read my book (available on Amazon here) then you know the whole story by now, but I called it that because I used to call into the Felger and Mazz show a lot as Aidan from Worcester.
That blog officially ended in November of 2013 when I was suspended without pay for 5 days because Principal Mary Pierangeli didn’t like what I was saying. After the State Police raided my house I went through some of my documents to see what they would’ve found, and apparently I still have my letter of reprimand, informing me of the suspension. I realized after reading it that although I loved teaching, I wasn’t meant to be a teacher.
The letter started off by saying that I was suspended for “conduct unbecoming of a teacher.”
My Facebook name used to be Stanley Foolchild, and which I used to share AidanFromWorcester.com blogs on social media. Because the account could be clicked on by anyone they argued that any student could read what I was posting, even though I had privacy settings.
One of first complaints was a blog I published in 2013 about the Boston Marathon terrorist potentially being buried in Worcester. A bunch of local yahoos showed up to protest a man named Peter Stefan, who was known for burying paupers in the worst part of Worcester. My take was basically, “Who cares where speed bump is buried? He’s just gonna get eaten by worms like all dead bodies do.”
The protesters who showed up were all local ratchets, including a woman named Jennifer Marchand from Northbridge, who was interviewed extensively in the media.
“I don’t feel bad for nobody else because they deserve nothing more than to be fed to the sharks.”
When I looked up her name I found a plethora of Google trophies for drugs, larceny, and prostitution, and wrote about it. She didn’t like this so she contacted me and demanded that I take the blog down. I refused, so she contacted the school and complained that a teacher was being mean to her.
According to Mary Pierangeli this was unbecoming of a teacher because Jennifer Marchand was “extremely upset,” and begged for their assistance. The First Amendment doesn’t exist if you’re a teacher and you offend someone by posting facts about them. But because I’m a team player and didn’t feel like getting fired I agreed to remove the part about her.
I was also reprimanded for writing a blog about my disdain for high school graduations. My argument was that going to my high school graduation was a huge waste of time because I was graduating with a bunch of kids who had a 58 average in biology and then did some extra credit at the last minute, so what were we celebrating? Why do we get dressed up and have a huge ceremony to glorify mediocrity? Graduating from high school is the easiest and most basic thing a person can do. It’s not a cause for celebration. Just send me my diploma in the mail and have a graduation party with your friends. Evidently I was not allowed to have this position because students MIGHT read it and not go to their graduation.
We took a lot of professional development courses in anti-bullying curriculums, and had to sign a social media policy at the beginning of the year. The Principal said my opinions in the blog ran contrary to both of those.
One of the quotes she took issue with was, “I make fun of people who deserve to be made fun of,” because according to the school no one can ever be made fun of. I made this statement while explaining why I was making fun of the other Boston Marathon terrorist who ran over his speed bump brother. If the poor lad read my blog on death row he might have had his feelings hurt as badly as he crushed his brother’s rib cage.
I also got in trouble for writing about Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, who claimed he was bullied by teammate Richie Incognito.
I thought the idea that Martin was a bullying victim was absurd because it is quite literally the job of NFL players to bully other players, and since Martin was 6’5″ 320 pounds I found it impossible for him to be bullied by his meathead teammate (who was a huge asshole in his own right). We pay good money to watch these gladiators beat the bag out of each other and by doing so we are glorifying violence. Jonathan Martin signed up for that job and made millions of dollars in the process. I thought the coddling of Jonathan Martin was emblematic of a much larger problem, where kids are taught to see themselves as victims instead of standing up to bullies like Richie Incognito. This was an unacceptable opinion for a teacher to have because it conflicted with the school’s anti-bullying policy.
Apparently if a kid read that blog and they were the victim of bullying they would not feel comfortable coming to me for help, even though kids came to me all the time with issues and I helped work them out.
Another blog I got in trouble for was when a mediocre Holy Cross women’s basketball player named Ashley Cooper claimed that Coach Bill Gibbons was mean to her. Coach Gibbons was the winningest coach in school history and guided Holy Cross to 12 NCAA tournaments. Like many coaches he was a hard ass who got the most out of his players. Ashley Cooper claimed she was being bullied by him, but she also was a bench player who sucked and didn’t get the playing time she felt entitled to. For pointing this out I was accused of mounting a public attack on a division 1 college basketball player who had sought media attention for what should have been a private matter.
Then there was the October 2013 blog entitled, “Did I Find The World’s Drunkest Driver At Noon Today In Dudley?” We had a cross country championship meet that day in Webster and the athletes and coaches got released form school early. The coaches would take turns riding the bus since we only needed one coach on it, so I drove my car that day. On the way I turned onto Mason Road, a quarter mile from Shepherd Hill and half a mile from an elementary school, and I found this guy:
It was some jamoke rolling around on the ground who couldn’t get up. At first I thought he crashed his car, but there was nothing wrong with the vehicle, which was still running with the doors opened. I asked him if he was OK and he made no sense at all. At first I thought he might have Down Syndrome, but that didn’t make any sense because then he wouldn’t be driving. As I got closer I could smell the booze on him so I called the Dudley Police and waited for them to get there before I left. When I got home later that night I wrote about it. I was under the impression that I had done the right thing by making sure this person was OK and alerting the cops to a drunk driver. But apparently I had violated the school’s anti-bullying curriculum by mentioning Down Syndrome, and “posting pictures of a person in our school community on a public website who could be the parent, sibling, uncle, or friend of a student or staff member.” Also it was my intent to “ridicule another human being.”
Newsflash – this man deserved to be ridiculed. He was black out drunk and driving in a school zone during the middle of the day. He could’ve killed a child. But the primary concern of the Principal was that this ticking time bomb was being ridiculed for his deplorable, drunken behavior. And because he COULD HAVE been a student’s drunken uncle, I was the bad guy for posting about it.
Additionally, an unnamed teacher or parent had contacted the school to complain that I was “proudly sexist, homophobic, and transphobic.” This was before Dylan Mulvaney was a thing. I’m WAY more transphobic now. The examples that I gave were that I wrote blogs that were opposed to feminist parents giving their children hyphenated last names (because I’ve never met anyone with a hyphenated last name that didn’t wish they just had one last name), and didn’t think boys should be able to beat up on girls in field hockey.
These opinions “undermined my ability to demonstrate and maintain objectivity with my classes.”
She also accused me of only saying these things for clicks, and believed that topics like boys playing in girls sports were not “public policy matters,” therefore I couldn’t express opinions about them.
I also got in trouble in 2011 for a Facebook post about Julian Edelman after he was falsely accused of sexual assault at a nightclub. I found the woman’s story hard to believe, which Mary Pierangeli claimed was “implying that the girl was asking for it because of her attire.” I didn’t say that. I said he was a NFL player and hot women throw themselves at NFL players. In the end I ended up being proven right by surveillance video, but got a written warning anyway.
Then there was the meme incident.
Remember Joseph Kony? For like a week in 2012 everyone pretended to care about African warlords trafficking kids to be child soldiers, and Joseph Kony became the warlord who needed to be stopped by posting about him on Facebook. Someone tagged me in this meme, which ended up showing up on my page:
Obviously that is hilarious. It’s also a play on a Jay-Z song, so it works on a number of levels. I did not post this meme, but after being tagged in it I commented, “lol awesome” underneath it. But because Mary Pierangeli was a boomer who didn’t understand satire, memes, or how Facebook worked, I got written up for “expressing approval.”
I had a MTA lawyer represent me, and they were ready to fight it on First Amendment grounds. However, in the meantime I wouldn’t be able to coach and we had a track meet coming up. When the school offered me a reduced suspension of 3 days unpaid, I caved and took it. I deeply regret doing that.
The only thing I knew how to do back then was be a high school history teacher. I never thought of doing anything else, and certainly didn’t imagine where I’d be 10 years later. The thought of losing my job, which came with a nice pension and health insurance, was frightening, especially since I had my first baby on the way. So I removed the blog completely and decided to stop posting my opinions on the Internet.
That lasted for about a week. I cannot keep my opinions to myself. It’s just not the way I’m built. But I realized that if I wanted to post my opinions online it would have to be anonymously. A week later I created Turtleboysports.com, which eventually became TBDailyNews.com, and the rest is history. I remained anonymous for about 9 months before getting doxxed and being paid to leave teaching when they couldn’t fire me. Read the book if you want the whole story.
The fact of the matter is that although I loved teaching, met some great people, and built lifelong memories in my 11 years as an educator, I would never be able to meet the expectations of what they wanted from a teacher outside the classroom. I’m controversial, and I say what I feel, even if some people don’t like it. I love the First Amendment, which simply doesn’t apply to teachers who have to adhere to “anti-bullying” curriculums and social media policies. Employers want employees who don’t offend anyone and keep their opinions to themselves. They want you to go home, eat your cheese sandwich, put up your Pride flag, and otherwise be a robot with no personality.
I realized from my experience with AidanFromWorcester.com 10 years ago that I wasn’t meant to be a teacher, I was meant to be Turtleboy.