A number of readers have written to ask why I wrote an apology to Michelle Rhee when I had not been the one to speak the offending words (“Asian bitch”). I wasn’t even present when the words were spoken.

Frankly, the story focused on the negative, rather than the reasons that the rally was happening. The story presented a false, demeaning, and hostile portrait of the rally. It was akin to the stories about Occupy Wall Street that presented a peaceful assemblage of citizens exercising their First Amendment right to assemble as if they were a dangerous mob. Perhaps we should ask the reporter Michele McNeil of Education Week to apologize for her misrepresentation of the parents and teachers who assembled peaceably to protest school closings, high-stakes testing, privatization, and other abuses, while ignoring our positive message about the importance of providing every school with the resources it needs to succeed–with small classes, librarians, guidance counselors, social workers, the arts, physical education, a full curriculum, and professional working conditions.

Let me explain my apology for a term I did not utter or even hear.

A reader on this blog asked me my reaction to the ethnic slur made referring to Rhee. I wrote a comment, then decided to say it louder in a post.

I don’t play by the same rules as Rhee. She goes around the nation insulting teachers and trying to persuade the public to support reactionary legislatures and governors who take away their right to have a collective voice, cut their pensions and their health benefits, and remove any job security from them. That’s wrong and I will say it’s wrong again and again.

But I won’t condone the use of ethnic or racial slurs.

My rules include civility, courtesy, fairness, and reason. Is it fair that someone who makes $50,000 to give a speech for one hour attacks teachers who make that much in a year? Is it fair that she belittles people whose jobs are so hard and so valuable to society?

I don’t think so. I will argue it, say it, and insist upon it. But without any slurs based or race, ethnicity, or gender.