Thursday, February 18, 2016
Stomping on the Flag: "An Expression of Freedom?"
It's the picture you have probably already seen---or at least heard about.
A kid pictured in his high school classroom stomping on the US flag, a girl standing next to him with her middle finger raised toward the camera.
Following the strong negative public reaction, the parents and child are apologizing, the school is promising to "look into the matter" and the ACLU is defending it, and threatening the school.
Only in America.
The photo was posted on social media last Sunday.
Richland School District (Pennsylvania) Superintendent Arnold Nadonley is describing the photo as unfortunate and disrespectful, saying school officials have forwarded the picture to Richland Township Police to assist them in their investigation.
He says the school district is also dealing with a wave of strong reactions to the image since it was posted on Sunday. In fact the reaction is so strong, he says, the school is taking "safety precautions" because of threatening comments made about Richland students.
The Super says, "This is not representative of the feelings of the 1,600 students in the district."
I'm sure he's right. Most of us Americans find that kind of expression very offensive.
He says, in fact, it was students that alerted school officials about the photo. "Out of respect for our veterans---both those who have defended our flag and those still serving in the military---nobody wants to see something like this," he says.
The administrators are telling the press they understand both the public and the students have a right to free speech---"one that so many in the armed services fought for," but there are times "words and images cross a line."
Indeed they do.
This is why President John Adams told the Massachusetts Militia, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
Witold Walczak, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union's Pennsylvania chapter, says the Supreme Court has made it clear that people can stomp on, damage and even burn the nation's flag when it's meant as a form of protest. For school age students, it applies too when the act---in this case posing for a photograph---doesn't cause a disruption on school property or in the classroom.
Walczak says, "As long as they were trying to send a message of protest, it sounds like they are protected to me."
Then he makes this threat to the school district: "Tread lightly."
This is a first for many of us. Did you ever think you would see a public school district stand up to the ACLU? They certainly don't in defense of religious freedom.
The school Principal Brandon Bailey says, "We still don't know why the troubled teenagers did what they did---but the school district is definitely going to use the incident as a teaching tool."
Perhaps if school districts took a step back for a wider view they would see that the over-all ethos of public education is obsessed with re-engineering the social construct of our culture-- human sexuality-homosexuality, bi-sexuality, transexuality--indoctrinating the 98% to embrace, not tolerate, but embrace, the behavior of the 2% or less who need help.
This is not how a majority of kids in public school feel I'm sure, however, neither is it an isolated case.
Over the last couple of years there have been other similar cases---in fact, a teacher in South Carolina did essentially the same thing previously---stomping on an American flag while teaching in the classroom. He did it in 3 different classes the same day.
When called out on his actions, he said, "At no point and in no way, shape or form was this lesson a negative commentary on America." He explained he was illustrating freedom and liberty.
They fired him anyway.
I personally recall the day Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed. I was in a history class at Bellevue College when our professor announced the assassination of MLK. In a fit of anger, he ripped the US flag from the classroom wall, threw it on the floor, stomping on it and wiping his feet repeatedly.
This was followed by a tirade of what is wrong with America. Red faced and hyperventilating, he continued to spew hate for the US while continuing to stomp and wipe his feet on the flag.
By the time the class had concluded, he had somewhat regained his composure. As we quietly left the classroom, he explained he had merely been expressing his right to freedom of speech, and that none of us should be offended.
We should not be surprised when these kinds of things happen in the public school classroom.
We were warned.
Noah Webster, the father of "public education" in America, said, "The brief exposition of the Constitution of the United States, will unfold to young persons the principles of republican government; and it is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is in the Bible, particularly, the New Testament or the Christian religion."
He continued, "The moral principles and precepts contained in Scriptures ought to form the basis of all of our civil constitutions and laws... All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."
The heart of the matter is this:
Do we "despise" or are we merely "neglecting" the precepts contained in the Bible?
In either case, Webster's colleague Patrick Henry reminded us all, "When we forget God, tyrants forge our chains."
May God deliver us from evil.
Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful.