On September 19, Lee Francis, a high school history teacher from North Carolina, wanted to "make a point" concerning the First Amendment. He had this grand idea of a demonstration for his students about the right of freedom of speech. What did he do? Francis took an American flag and asked his students if anyone had some scissors or a lighter. Seriously?! Then he threw the flag on the ground and proceeded to step on it multiple times, saying that this was an example of freedom of speech. What was he thinking?!
One of the students, Alex Dunn, said that he couldn't believe what he was seeing and that he was heartbroken. Alex took a picture with his cell phone of Francis stepping on the flag, then walked up to where the flag was, picked it up and walked out of class with another student. Alex went straight to the principal's office and told Pamela Adams (the principal) what had just happened. Francis tried to justify the incident, saying, "It was really a simple demonstration to show what my First Amendment rights entail," citing a 1989 Supreme Court decision, Texas v. Johnson, which ruled that flag desecration is protected by the First Amendment.
This case was about Gregory Johnson, a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, who set an American flag on fire at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, sided with Johnson, saying that he had a right to desecrate the flag as part of his freedom of speech. Freedom of speech?! How is that speech?! The court said that it was "symbolic speech". This is the same Johnson who was behind the burning of the flag at this year's Republican Convention in Ohio. I say that the slim majority of the Court made a stupid and wrong decision. If you do not want to display the flag, okay. If you do not want to honor the flag in any way, okay. But it is NOT okay to dishonor it! This is just a matter of common decency and common sense! In the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 700, it states, "Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the ground, or tramples upon any flag of the U.S. shall be fined under this title or imprisoned... or both."
The same principle applies to what this teacher did. Superintendent Frank Till said that Francis' actions were inappropriate, and added, "There are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating a flag." Francis agreed but said, "The way that I taught it can't necessarily be wrong." So is it 100% wrong what he did? Yes! As one parent said, "It's inappropriate to teach that in school," adding that he can do that personally, "but it doesn't have to be taught to our kids." That parent is exactly correct. Parents and fellow taxpayers fund the schools - and the teachers! The other point is that these students are NOT any teacher's kids! They are the parents' kids! The schools and teachers should respect the parents above all!
Francis, who was suspended, said that the student (Alex) is the one who should be punished. For what? No doubt for standing up and exposing him! Alex said, "We all understand why he did it. We just don't think he should have taught it that way." When asked by an interviewer, "Is it cool now to not like America?" Alex replied, "It's becoming a 'norm' to not be patriotic, something that I honestly fear."
"Why do you fear that?" pressed the interviewer.
Alex responded, "A country that is not patriotic about itself is ultimately doomed." He's right!