By Laura Vorbach
When has a joke gone too far? It can sometimes be difficult to tell, but a recent blog post from Princeton, New Jersey has a lot to say about the topic. Written by Jamaica Ponder, the Director of Special and Nighttime Activities for the Mid-Atlantic State, the post discusses the drinking game “Jews vs. Nazis” and its implications. Jamaica posted a picture of a group of high school students playing beer pong with the cups arranged in the shape of a swastika on one side, and a Star of David on the other. Jamaica condemns the act and criticizes its participants for their actions, which have been regarded by many as anti-semitic.
In the blog post, Jamaica writes: “Pardon me if I don’t find that to be hilarious. The real joke here is that these kids weren’t only insensitive enough to play the game, but also silly enough to post it on Snapchat and leave it there long enough for me, and several others, to take a screenshot.”
While the controversial game is not new and has caused problems in the past, it has received widespread media attention from major news outlets, including ABC, NBC, and The New York Times following Jamaica’s article. Jamaica’s school, Princeton High School, has also responded to the controversy.
Princeton Schools Superintendent Steve Cochrane said in a statement released on Friday, “An incident such as this one forces us to take a hard look at our efforts in educating our children in the values that may be most important to their success in life.”
JSA Today interviewed Jamaica to learn about her feelings on her article, the media reaction it caused, and speaking up for what one believes in.
Why did you feel like you needed to speak out?
I felt like I needed to speak up because kids do this type of stuff all the time and no one ever says anything about it. Due to the silence for their actions they think it’s OK, and it’s not.
How hard was it for you to do this?
I’d like to say doing it was easy, but it wasn’t. It was really hard. I was nervous about the backlash that I would receive and if I was going to lose any friends.
What impact do you hope this will have on high school students?
I hope it will just encourage kids to think and be more sensitive before they act. Obviously these kids had no regard for anyone else or any sensitivity towards the Jewish community, so hopefully this will send a message that the type of selfishness is unrealistic and not the way to live.
How important do you think it is to stand up for what you believe in?
I think standing up for what you believe in is one of the few ways we as teenagers are able to change the world. We don’t have much power at this age but doing what one can is really imperative to making one’s community a better place.
What should someone do if they see something they believe is wrong, but aren’t sure how to call out the perpetrator?
Some people don’t really feel comfortable calling other out. In some cases just walking away is enough to send a message.
What has been the overall reaction to your post from people in your school and community?
Kids at my school are really supportive. The most vocal ones online aren’t the majority (thank god) because they all sound crazy. But I can assure you, the majority of PHS kids don’t totally suck. My community is giving me solid reviews and I’m glad that I did the right thing.
How do you feel about the widespread attention this has received?
I’m so happy this is receiving the attention it deserves. I never expected this media firestorm. I mean, The New York Times? Woah, it’s a lot to take in.
What do you think? Comment your opinions below and speak out for what you believe in!
Laura Vorbach is a sophomore at Biotechnology High School from the New Jersey Region. This is her second year in JSA. Laura is currently serving as a staff writer for JSA Today who loves JSA and learning about politics. Aside from writing, Laura’s other hobbies and interests include science, volunteering, and dogs. A big wish of hers is to make the world a better place in any way that she can.