American Flag Ruled a Disruptive School Influence

Can't we all just get along?lndhslf72 / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDLive Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., did not violate the free speech rights of students by demanding that turn their shirts inside-out so that their American flag images were not visible on Cinco de Mayo in 2010, a court ruled. From the San Jose Mercury News:

In a unanimous three-judge decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Morgan Hill Unified School District, which had argued that a history of problems on the holiday justified the Live Oak High School administrators' decision to take action against the flag-wearing students.

Live Oak officials ordered the students to either cover up the U.S. flag shirts or go home, citing a history of threats and campus strife between Latino and Anglo students that raised fears of violence on the day the school was highlighting the Mexican holiday. The school's actions were reasonable given the safety concerns, which outweighed the students' First Amendment claims, the court concluded.

"Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence," 9th Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. "(The past events) made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real."

Hooray for the Heckler’s Veto. Now all students need to do to suppress the free speech of others is to threaten to get violent. Eugene Volokh over at the Washington Post notes how a Supreme Court decision from 1969, Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist., gives schools clearance to censor on the basis of believing that an expression of free speech could cause violence or disruption at the school. Such was the case here, Volokh notes:

Yet even if the judges are right, the situation in the school seems very bad. Somehow, we’ve reached the point that students can’t safely display the American flag in an American school, because of a fear that other students will attack them for it — and the school feels unable to prevent such attacks (by punishing the threateners and the attackers, and by teaching students tolerance for other students’ speech). Something is badly wrong, whether such an incident happens on May 5 or any other day.

And this is especially so because behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. The school taught its students a simple lesson: If you dislike speech and want it suppressed, then you can get what you want by threatening violence against the speakers. The school will cave in, the speakers will be shut up, and you and your ideology will win. When thuggery pays, the result is more thuggery. Is that the education we want our students to be getting?

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  • Doctor Whom||

    It's the wolf that you feed, and that wolf has taken a big bite out of freedom.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, there are plenty of cases that reject the idea of a heckler's veto trumping speech rights. But here, of course, we have the magic of government schools, which can apparently do most anything.

    Incidentally, Cinco de Mayo is pretty much a fake holiday, and certainly one much more celebrated in America by Americans than by Mexicans, so the idea that there's some big identity politics interest being served is a little laughable.

  • Cervecería Modelo||

    Cinco de Mayo is pretty much a fake holiday

    Hey, now!

  • SIV||

    one much more celebrated in America by Americans than by Mexicans

    I'd bet the Latino students at Live Oak High are overwhelmingly American.

  • Paul.||

    By "American" you mean white?

  • wareagle||

    by American, he likely means of Mexican descent. Born here, to parents who are also citizens.

  • Paul.||

    that's what I was wondering. Because unless there are illegal aliens in that school, errbody American.

  • ||

    It is still possible to be a legal alien, Paul.

  • Paul.||

    My mother salutes you.

  • Paul.||

    Although, on further reflection, I'd guess that the number of legal aliens going to the public school there is vanishingly small. In fact, knowing California, I'd put a small bet that there are more illegal aliens going to school there than legal aliens.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I meant citizens. Though I suppose I also meant non-Mexicans altogether. It's like all those people celebrating St. Paddy's--not Irish.

  • Number 7||

    Morgan Hill has a very high Latino population. The kids are probably born here of Mexican parents.

  • Paul.||

    +1 16th of September!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Exactly. That's the real Mexican Independence Day, when they broke away from Spain. Cinco de Mayo is more of a state holiday in Mexico, more akin to, I dunno, Gasparilla or Mardi Gras.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Cinco de Mayo in the US is like Canadians hypothetically getting drunk on the anniversary of the Alamo to feel solidarity with a Texan-descended population. Most Mexicans don't even give a shit about it until they get to the US and are pandered to by corporate sponsors and guilt-ridden white leftists.

  • Calidissident||

    What Stormy said below: It's an excuse to get fucked up, and most of the people who celebrate it aren't even of Mexican descent

  • seguin||

    I have a strong suspicion that celebrating Cinco de Mayo started in Victoria, TX. The Mexican General (Ignacio Zaragosa) was born there.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Cinco de Mayo is pretty much a fake holiday, and certainly one much more celebrated in America by Americans than by Mexicans

    It's basically Latino St. Patrick's day. An good enough excuse to have fun getting drunk and eat ethnic food they don't normally have while wearing silly hats.

  • Jordan||

    What about Cinco de Cuatro?

  • Hugh Akston||

    The blowback would have been even worse.

  • JeremyR||

    Is the holiday fake? Sure.

    But the idea isn't - Mexican/Latino supremacy.

    This is a perfect example of the maxim about civilizations not getting killed, but committing suicide.

  • Zeb||

    I thought the idea was getting drunk and eating tacos.

  • Calidissident||

    LMAO. Good one.

    You were kidding right?

  • ||

    Yeah, the absurdity, right? There couldn't possibly be any supremacist or racist motivation behind Hispanic kids threatening to beat the shit out of white kids with American flag t-shirts and the white kids getting sent home for it.

  • Tony||

    What's a real holiday?

    I think there should be, if anything, more days in the year that serve as excuses to drink heavily. Well, not in schools.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I think there should be, if anything, more days in the year that serve as excuses to drink heavily.

    And yet you want to ban firearms, which kill far fewer people every year. Tsk tsk.

  • ||

    It's celebrated in America for the same reason any holiday is celebrated in America - it's an opportunity to drink yourself blind and get away with it. ;-)

  • sloopyinca||

    I will have no problem with this ruling...the day they end compulsory public education.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sure would solve a lot of problems. Heck, at the Pro Libertate School of Classical Pain and Learning (uniform: a toga), we'll teach your little darlings whatever you want--pay extra, and they can take classes that teach evolution yet insult it regularly. Whatever floats your boat.

  • sloopyinca||

    Wait, so you're just going to adopt the Florida Public School System science curriculum?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, that's news to me, since I learned about evolution in a Florida public school. As did my kids.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So you know that humans evolved from pythons?

  • Pro Libertate||

    In North American, yes.

  • Pro Libertate||

    North America, without the last n, that is.

  • Tony||

    Everything in children's lives is compulsory. Ending compulsory public education means compulsory ignorance for those children whose parents would rather not bother.

  • kbolino||

    Ending compulsory public education means compulsory ignorance for those children whose parents would rather not bother.

    That differs from the status quo how, exactly?

  • juris imprudent||

    Yes, those children really dig into school when their parents don't give a shit.

    I bet the sky is brown in your world, isn't it Tony?

  • ||

    I bet the sky is brown in your world, isn't it Tony?

    That would make sense with his head shoved so far up his ass.

  • ||

    Write me in in 2016: http://rich_grise.tripod.com/cgi-bin/index.pl .
    I'll fire the whole damn government!

    Also visit my blog:
    https://richgrise.wordpress.com/

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "When thuggery pays, the result is more thuggery. Is that the education we want our students to be getting?"

    They're Democrats, aren't they?

  • PRX||

    now healthcare.gov has Magic Johnson pitching me on the urgent need for me to pool my healthcare expenses with him. sounds like a great deal!

  • wareagle||

    that's a front runner for retiring the peak stupid trophy.

  • PapayaSF||

    More benefits of multiculturalism and mass immigration from the Third World!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Needs less spacebar!

  • Paul.||

    Or perhaps benefits of politicians that thought we fought a revolution based on the French model as opposed to the American one?

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, repressing free speech in public schools is clearly entirely the fault of those damn "peasants" (as you're so fond of calling them) from Mexico.

  • PapayaSF||

    It's the fault of schools catering to a large, imported minority. If we weren't importing tens of millions of Mexicans, few would care about Mexican holidays, so there would be no tension over them. [Putman's] conclusion based on over 40 cases and 30,000 people within the United States is that, other things being equal, more diversity in a community is associated with less trust both between and within ethnic groups.

  • Brandybuck||

    Morgan Hill was a part of Mexico long before it was a part of the United States. Some of the current inhabitants are from families that have been here since before the Mayflower.

  • PapayaSF||

    And many Mexican-Americans feel their primary loyalty is to Mexico, not the United States, hence the "problem" of displaying an American flag.

  • bfdw||

    I assume everyone upset about this is also upset about schools banning gang signs. I mean, there are certainly free speech problems with that but the school was claiming that there was an organized group of students who were wearing the American flag to communicate a threat of violence.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I assume everyone upset about this is also upset about schools banning gang signs.

    Several years of gang members fighting with each other at school after flashing gang signs at each other :: People wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

  • bfdw||

    No, the analogy is "People wearing Raiders jackets in LA" :: "People wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo."

  • bfdw||

    The actual claim the school made is that the flag wearing students are supposed to be the expected victims here, but whether that's plausible or not, read the article. It's clear it was an organized stunt meant to be threatening.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's clear it was an organized stunt meant to be threatening

    A bunch of Mexican kids can't beat up a couple of white boys?

  • bfdw||

    Yeah, I don't doubt there would have been some of that. After all they got the message.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    After all they got the message.

    Yep--don't wear the flag of your own country on a t-shirt, in your own country, because it might get a bunch of minorities upset.

  • PapayaSF||

    It's clear it was an organized stunt meant to be threatening.

    So what? So was every Occupy encampment and the Million Man March.

  • Rich||

    If you dislike speech and want it suppressed, then you can get what you want by threatening violence against the speakers.

    So, if you dislike people who dislike speech and want it suppressed and then get what they want by threatening violence against the speakers, then you can get what you want by threatening violence against those people?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Let it go to SCOTUS. They sure know how to fuck up many things, but I'd bet they'd laugh this shit out of the courthouse with a scathing opinion as to why this school is fucking retarded.

  • bfdw||

    Really, have they changed their minds since Bong Hits 4 Jesus?

  • Tony||

    Racist morons provocateurs are threatening a good, wholesome absolutist view of the freedom of speech. Sigh. I prefer more freedom of speech in schools. Make them all wear uniforms.

  • Brandybuck||

    Live Oak officials ordered the students to either cover up the U.S. flag shirts or go home, citing a history of threats and campus strife between Latino and Anglo students that raised fears of violence on the day the school was highlighting the Mexican holiday.


    Let's be clear here, it's a minor holiday in Mexico, and is generally only celebrated in the United States.

  • Number 2||

    Somehow I cannot help thinking that if the school had ordered students to reverse their Che Guevera T-shirts to avoid violence from ROTC students, there would've been a different outcome in the case.

  • Gary T||

    The SCOTUS line of opinions on free speech in public schools is beginning to resemble more and more the jurisprudence that has been bestowed upon prison administrative discretionary coercion.
    SCOTUS is giving PUBLIC schools the discretion and pass that only independent private schools should retain.
    Public schools are funded by taxpayer money, and are to be held to same standards as any other public institution, except maybe prisons. In fact the
    Anyone following the logic of non-interference of the judiciary in prisons, sees the same mentality and legal logic being applied to public schools.
    In fact, schools should have the very same standards of civil rights as any other government institution for the people under its administration.

    And, most specifically, school attendance is not voluntary under law. It is a mandatory obligation put upon minors in our society, to force them into an educational institution.
    If the government is going to force people into their institutions, then at bare minimum those institutions must follow the constitutional guarantees that we all hold under law.

  • amosnme||

    How can it be wrong to display the American flag in America? It is the only flag, besides state flags, that should be displayed in the United States. If it offends other people from other countries or cultures, they should know their way back to wherever they came from. It is about time that Americans stand up for their rights and for America.

  • Jonathon||

    Anyone who takes issue with the display of the American flag while on U.S. soil should face a fine and/or deportation. If anything, the display of another countries flag should only be allowed if the American flag is also displayed and raised above the other countries flag.

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