June 17, 2013 at 6:34 AM
Author criticized for high-school graduation speech
Speech was thoughtful
I defend David Guterson’s speech [“Guterson heckled for gloomy speech at Roosevelt graduation,” NWFriday, June 14]. I was there for my son’s graduation.
Unfortunately, he ran headlong into some parents’ ironbound expectations that a graduation speaker must be uplifting. I came with no such preconceptions.
When I found out that he was the keynote speaker, I was keen on hearing what he had to say. The ceremony was the culmination of the graduates’ high-school career — a celebration, yes — but also a forum to listen and learn.
Guterson delivered a thoughtful, serious-minded speech about the fundamental problems of human existence. He urged the audience to be mindful and to be selfless. To me, he sounded like a father talking seriously to his near-adult children about how to become fully human. I thought it was a wonderful speech. He certainly did not dampen the graduates’ high spirits.
All of the carping is coming from the parents, not the graduates. My son told me that the vast majority of his classmates appreciated the speech. Some parents’ atrocious behavior at the ceremony undermined their kids’ tolerance for and ability to listen to uncomfortable topics.
Guterson spoke honestly and respectfully about his views. People should have the good grace to listen to what makes them uncomfortable without making a scene.
Robert Klein, Seattle
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