Wednesday, June 21, 2006
High School Quashes Free Speech
-By Warner Todd Huston
U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
I am not one to fall all over myself for the "rights" of children to say or do whatever they want in our schools. I usually come down on the side of decorum and order when considering how much "freedom" to give our students. I am for a dress code, for instance, and I don't think kids should be told that they can say anything they want to say to their teachers and administrators in the general course of the day.
However, a little common sense on behalf of those same teachers and administrators is called for, too. After all, they are the ones that are supposed to be the adults. And this story is a story where the school administrators were definitely in the wrong with their efforts to stop a valedictorian from being able to give her commencement address as written. And it is another example of an attempt to eradicate religion in America.
Brittany McComb, valedictorian for Foothill High School, Clark County, Nevada, had her microphone cut off by school administrators before she could finish her speech this year in a blatant example of an attempt by the school's administration to eliminate religious allusions being heard that day. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
McComb, graduating with a 4.7 GPA, dutifully submitted her speech to the administration ahead of time. In the original 750-word speech, she made two references to the lord, nine mentions of God and one of Christ.
The school was not amused.
In the version approved by school officials, six of those words were omitted along with two biblical references. Also deleted from her speech was a reference to God's love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciated death in order to cover everyone's shortcomings and forge a path to heaven.
Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, had read the unedited version of McComb's speech and said district officials did the right thing by cutting McComb's speech short because her commentary promoted religion.
"There should be no controversy here," Lichtenstein said. "It's important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech."
Certainly "there should be no controversy" if one is an ACLU miscreant dead set on subverting the actual wording of the Constitution and trying replace it with your warped desire to destroy any vestige of the Christianity that this country has always known.
The rest of us beg to differ.
One does not need to be a Constitutional scholar to merely read BOTH of the clauses dealing with religion in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights (excerpted at the start of this piece) to see that McComb's rights were violated by the school's administration.
There is no legitimate way to read the phrase "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" to mean that any mention of God, Christ or religious terminology should be mercilessly squashed by the power of authority.
No one in that gathering listening to McComb's speech imagined that she spoke FOR the state OR even the school. Nor did anyone imagine that the school would be forcibly imposing religious observance on McComb's audience merely because they allowed her to mention Christ in her speech.
It is a simple-minded demagogue that would misconstrue the Constitution to say that all religious sentiment should be eliminated from the public square and that this is the true meaning of the Constitution when religion has been a part of America's Public life for nearly the first 200 of our Nation's existence.
But, simple-minded demagogues are all too common in our Public schools, not to mention the membership of the ACLU.
A heartwarming sign occurred, though, that surely must have driven the members of the ACLU and the school's administration mad with anger. When McComb's mic was cut the action drew jeers from the graduates and their families. It is reported that it went on for several minutes, too.
If the school and the ACLU are not serving the people, at least those people weren't too afraid to show their distaste for the cowards and anti-Constitutionalists who cut McComb's microphone.
McComb, soon to take up studies at Biola University in La Mirada, California, said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "People aren't stupid and they know we have freedom of speech and the district wasn't advocating my ideas."
Smart woman. Expect great things from her. Too bad the Clark County School administrators aren't as intelligent as she.
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