I’ve written before about public schools shredding the Constitution, and now I’m going to write about it again. This time, the madness comes from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, CA.
Five students were sent home from school yesterday under threat of suspension for the grievous offense of wearing clothes with depictions of the American flag on them . . . on Cinco de Mayo . . . at a school with a large Hispanic population. Apparently, in the alternate universe of Morgan Hill, California, wearing an American flag in the United States on a Mexican holiday in a U.S. public school is a very serious offense and can be considered ‘incendiary.’ I would laugh at the stupidity if the erosion of students’ civil liberties wasn’t such a serious issue.
In the United States, we have something called free speech. Under the First Amendment, no government may limit speech or expression except in certain limited circumstances (e.g., yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater when there isn’t a fire). Public schools are government entities and are thus bound by the First Amendment. This simple concept seems to be beyond the comprehension of countless public school teachers and administrators. Sadly, the same people charged with teaching our students about civics, liberty, and history often seem to lack a basic grasp of the concepts themselves.
Even if wearing an American flag on Cinco de Mayo in the United States is somehow offensive (which seems pretty ludicrous to begin with), free speech includes the right to offend. If they want, those Hispanic students who were offended can wear Mexican flags on the 4th of July. Students can wear ‘Go Vegetarian!’ shirts on National Meat Day. Students can read from the Qur’an during the Christian Holy Week. That’s what free speech is all about!
We can say what we believe, whether the people around us agree or not. If they disagree, they can use their free speech rights to discuss it with me or make their own statements to the contrary. Public schools have a fundamental responsibility to teach students about these liberties and encourage their exercise, not to trample them.