Collinstown, Tennessee — Jennifer Hansen sits on her porch reflecting on the maelstrom that has gripped Samuel Smalley Elementary School in Collinstown in a dramatic and unexpected way.
“I got the idea from ‘Pay It Forward’ ” said Hansen, known simply as Mrs. Hansen to her students, “Every year, I ask my students to do something that will change the world. I don’t actually expect them to do anything. Maybe clean up a park or something.” Hansen sighs, “That’s a line from the movie, I didn’t make that up.”
Class projects in the past have included average eight year old inspired activism like packaging food for starving children in Astoria, spraying homeless people in downtown with Glade potpourri, and giving their mom’s coupons for free hugs.
This year, however, Pradeep Mehta, an unusually articulate eight year old, decided to get serious about the assignment.
“It was my general observation,” Mehta stated, “that the parameters for activism were severely curtailed due to an inadequate assessment of the proper avenues for dissemination of information. By utilizing various parameters of social media, we, as Mrs. Hansen’s illustrious third grade class, have embarked upon a new phase of activism.”
Pradeep’s best friend, Jay Goodwin, leans forward and whispers, “He means we decided to use the Internet and Facebook which works way better for getting people to do stuff.”
Two months ago, Mrs. Hansen’s class launched a Facebook community page called “Broccoli is sucktastic and makes your poo smell funny.” It may not be hard to imagine, given the grains of truth in the title, that this page currently boasts 135, 000 “Likes.”
“Our message here is simple,” Mehta continues in a tone whose demeanor channels a shelved character from a yet to be published George Orwell novel, “Broccoli is gastronomically untenable for many people but has surreptitiously been marketed to adult caregivers in a way that undermines this egregious aspect of its consumption. The resulting situation is that minors must endure and suffer because of the inattention of their caregivers and the nefarious ploys of broccoli industry magnates.”
Goodwin adds, “Pretty much he’s saying that broccoli’s gross, makes our poo smell and it’s bullcrap that our parents make us eat it.”
The activism of Hansen’s third grade class is not without negative repercussions, though. The Center for A More Positive Broccoli Understanding in Today (CAMPBUT) has launched complaints with the principal of S.S. Elementary School as well as demanded that Facebook take down the page based on it being both offensive and libelous.
“Broccoli is not gross has never been gross, and the idea of it being gross is just offensive. Besides, with enough ranch dip, a shoe is delicious, don’t they have ranch dip in Tennessee?” A visibly irate lobbyist for CAMPBUT emphasized, “Besides, what kind of poo does NOT smell funny?!”
Facebook has refused to remove the page on the basis that the community page is not so much offensive as much as it is simply a statement of preference. “Third graders have a right to be heard, too, you know,” a representative said, “and, seriously, broccoli is kind of gross.”
Photo courtesy of Chane.com