It’s time for a brief respite from the lunacy and treasonous intentions of those who are doing their best to destroy liberty via unconstitutional gun bans. There will be more than enough time–and material–for that topic in the near future. For the moment, let’s turn to the Eric Owens at The Daily Caller:
A high school teacher in South Carolina is under investigation and has been placed on long-term administrative leave after he allegedly threw an American flag on the floor and stomped on it in front of his students.
Scott Compton, an English teacher at Chapin High school in Chapin, S.C., reprised the unpatriotic deed in three classes over the course of one day…
As is often the case in these matters, a student reported Compton’s actions to a parent who complained, and explained:
He drew a couple of symbols, like one of them was a cross, and he said, ‘What does this represent,’ and everybody said, ‘Christianity…’
Then he proceeds to take down the American flag, and said, ‘This is a symbol, but it’s only a piece of cloth. It doesn’t mean anything,’ and then he throws it down on the floor and then stomps on it, repeatedly…’
‘I asked what was he trying to get, the point across? And she said, ‘I don’t know,’ and he said, his explanation was there would be no consequences, it’s just a piece of cloth that doesn’t mean anything.
Compton’s school district is not amused. According to a district spokesman:
Our superintendent served in the military, I served in the military for 20 years, our flag is a symbol of our freedom, and so many people have fought and died for that liberty, and so we take this action very seriously…
This will surprise no one:
According to FITSNews, a South Carolina-based conservative news and entertain website, people in the Chapin High community describe Compton a ‘good teacher’ who is ‘very liberal’ and ‘wears it on his sleeve in the classroom.
Mr. Compton is certainly in bad company. Bill Ayers, one of President Obama’s close friends and business associates, was depicted in 2008 in Chicago Magazine, stomping on an American flag.
For those whose memory needs a bit of jogging, Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground responsible for many deaths and heinous robberies and bomb plots during the heyday of that terrorist organization. He later became an education profession at the University of Illinois at Chicago (he is now retired), and Mr. Obama told many lies about his relationship with Ayers, claiming he was only a guy who happened to live in the same neighborhood despite working closely for years on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with Ayers, and despite Mr. Obama’s beginning his political career with an event in Ayer’s home. Ayers has recently said he didn’t do enough as an active terrorist.
The Marxist View:
Teachers have freedom of speech, which is particularly important in the classroom. Academic freedom is the foundation of free inquiry through which the boundaries of the culture are explored, expanded and understood. The courts have often ruled that even burning the flag is a constitutionally protected expression of free speech, and no speech deserves greater protection than political speech. Stomping on the flag is surely a political act. In fact, there may be no greater expression of patriotism than stomping on the flag, and no greater act of political bravery.
Mr. Compton deserves the support of all patriotic Americans, and should be lauded, not disparaged for having the courage to make a political statement that can only cause his fortunate students to examine their own assumptions and beliefs. Compton did a patriotic service for his students and community.
The Constitutional View:
While teachers–and students–do enjoy freedom of speech, that freedom, like every other, is not limitless. Based on the admittedly limited information available in the press, Compton’s actions appear to be unmistakably indefensible.
No public school teacher has an unlimited right to free speech. All rational teachers understand that there are limits to speech based not only on the lack of suitability of some language, ideas and beliefs for a given student audience, but based on the prevailing standards of their community. There are also always curricular limitations imposed not only by a teacher’s discipline (math, English, science, etc.), but by the boundaries of the curriculum itself.
For example, considering Compton is an English teacher, it would be difficult indeed to imagine how stomping on the flag could possibly fit into any rational, professional English curriculum. In the same way, it would be inherently reasonable to be suspicious of a teacher spending precious time praising Obamacare in a geometry class, or discussing their love life in chemistry.
Every teacher understands they must conform to the law, and to the rules and standards of their workplace. Some states require a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Any teacher is free to feel such required expressions of loyalty are improper, and any student may refuse to recite the Pledge. However, it is a part of the duty of that teacher to require students to stand during the recitation, and if they will not speak, to remain silent so as not to disrupt others.
One can argue that this is an intrusion on the conscience of that teacher, perhaps even a free speech violation, but the courts and the Constitution do not agree. All jobs have some adult responsibilities, and a significant part of those responsibilities is the inculcation of the basic responsibilities of citizenship in students. If a teacher must hold his tongue–or avoid stomping on the flag–in order to fulfill that responsibility, that is a small price to pay. They always have the alternative of seeking other employment that more closely matches their sensibilities.
As an English teacher, surely Compton understands the power of symbolism. It is highly likely he was stomping on the American flag precisely because he does understand that power and wanted to make his disdain for America speak as loudly and clearly as possible. If he was indeed telling students that the cross and the American flag mean nothing, one should be more than concerned about his competence to teach English, for it would be demanding to find two symbols more imbued with meaning, history and emotion, and more likely to provoke a negative reaction when misused and misrepresented.
Any teacher should also realize that once they introduce partisan politics into the classroom, they severely limit their effectiveness and ability to reach every student. They additionally stir up unnecessary and unwise controversy among parents and the community, two groups of citizens every teacher needs on their side.
Not every free speech issue is equal. In teaching Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is impossible to avoid the word “nigger,” or to avoid speaking about the historical context of the work. Yet some would surely object to even speaking the word. However, completely teaching that American classic is eminently defensible, and an important part of any American literature curriculum.
How then do we interject stomping on the American flag into any curriculum, particularly when the teacher is apparently removing any reference to meaningful symbolism from the curricular table in the process? If stomping on the flag truly means nothing, why do it? What’s the lesson? What do students learn?
In this case, Mr. Compton stepped over–and on–the boundaries of the Constitution, of professional practice, of competent curriculum, of community standards, and of good taste. His actions cannot be defended.