Quoting Benjamin Franklin Gets Teacher Suspended — Maybe Fired

An Oklahoma teacher of 40 years has been suspended for paraphrasing a quote from Benjamin Franklin and sharing it with his class. Accompanied by a drawing of a cat, the Franklin quote read: “In the dark, all cats are gray.”

Marlow High School history teacher Steven Alcorn hung the picture and quote in his classroom to give his students a complete picture of who Benjamin Franklin was. The quote is taken from one of Benjamin Franklin’s letters, written in 1745 and titled by historians: “Advice to a Young Man on Choosing a Mistress.”

According to Fox 4KC, the controversy from the Benjamin Franklin quote comes from its sexual undertones. Franklin seems to be encouraging young men to choose older women as mistresses, because when the lights are off, all cats (women) look grey anyway. Because of this racy but otherwise harmless quote, Alcorn could be fired from teaching.

A disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for January 20, during which the Marlow Public School Board will decide how to handle the Benjamin Franklin incident. Alcorn’s attorney, Richard O’Carroll, has gotten involved over the Franklin quote and spoke to the Duncan Banner, a local newspaper.

“Just as Ben Franklin was a great man in terms of science and a founder of our nation … he was still a man. People need to know these things, not just the myths and legends, but who they are.”

The quote from Benjamin Franklin shows one of the slightly darker sides of the founding father that few Americans know about. But Benjamin Franklin wasn’t as innocent as some people might think, as this report about Franklin’s sketchy practices as an insurance salesman prove.

O’Carroll also said that if the school decides to fire Alcorn over the Benjamin Franklin quote, they would put up a big fight. Many of Alcorn’s students have backed him up in the battle to keep his job, including former Marlow student Amber Abrego.

“I think it’s awful. Why would you want to do that to someone who’s been so loyal to their school … who came to every single football game?… I hope that he gets to keep his job. I hope that he gets more respect out of this because he deserves it. He’s a good man, he’s a good teacher.”

Community members who support Alcorn are planning to attend the next school board meeting and defend his choice to post the Franklin quote.

What do you think about the Benjamin Franklin quote? Should Steven Alcorn be fired simply for posting something Ben Franklin said hundreds of years ago?