Public schools

Teacher Stomped on the Flag During Lesson About Free Speech. He Was Fired.

Teaching kids all the wrong lessons

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American flag
Dreamstime

An Illinois high school teacher was fired after stepping on the American flag to prove a point about free speech.

The teacher, Jordan Parmenter, had been using a flag as a pointer during class on May 15. At least one student accused him of being disrespectful toward the national symbol, so Parmenter dropped the flag on the ground and stomped on it, according to WGNTV.com.

Word quickly spread, and soon enough, demonstrators appeared outside Martinsville Junior-Senior High School. Parmenter wrote a letter of apology, but the school board voted 6-0 to fire him.

Maybe there are good reasons to terminate Parmenter, and we don't know the whole story. But merely stepping on the American flag—especially in the context of a lesson about free speech—should not be a firing offense. Desecrating the flag is not merely a constitutional right; it's an expression of one of the most foundational American values: freedom of speech. Educating young people about these values by way of demonstration doesn't strike me as inappropriate. On the contrary, it strikes me as vital.

The school board had a golden opportunity to show kids that honoring the values the flag represents is more important than honoring the flag itself. Instead, they imparted a different lesson: that no act of defiance goes unpunished by the government.

Perhaps that's an important lesson as well. 

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  1. The school board had a golden opportunity to show kids that honoring the values the flag represents is more important than honoring the flag itself. Instead, they imparted a different lesson: that no act of defiance goes unpunished by the government.

    These “government employee gets fired” cases always split my opinion. On one hand, the government has no place punishing speech, but I think they have a different relationship with their employee than with the citizenry. I don’t see anything particularly wrong with the situation besides the fact that the school board succumbed to the flag-waving hysterics. I don’t see it as too much different than if a board of directors at Mozilla fires a guy because he donated to the wrong charity. Reprehensible, but well within their legal rights.

    1. The fact that the government fired him makes this a dyed-in-the-wool 1st amendment case.

      This is something that everyone should be taught at some age, to demonstrate that symbols are not really important, it is the sentiments and actions behind them that truly matter.

      It’s just a piece of cloth. Maybe a better way to have conducted this would have been to, after desecrating the flag, conduct a proper flag disposal ceremony. Doing something along those lines would have made the point even more cogently.

      1. This. When your neighbor tramples on your right to free speech, it’s dickbaggery. When the government does it, it’s state-sanctioned oppression.

        1. On the contrary, stomping on the flag in a classroom is a form of triggering speech that needs to be punished, so that all American pupils can learn a lesson in civility. The punishment in this particular situation is relatively mild, because the act is only of a temporary sort. If it had been performed on the Internet, or via emails which have a far more serious triggering effect, the consequences could have been a lot worse. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

          In this regard, it should be observed that Internet trolling has now finally been criminalized in New Zealand, an excellent development that will hopefully lead to comparable legislation throughout the United States. See:

          http://thelibertarianrepublic……w-zealand/

      2. But I and a majority of people don’t actually agree with you vis-a-vis symbols so why is your value system enforced over ours. Symbols aren’t really important is an idea rife with philosophical and psychological assumptions that aren’t neutral in the least. I’m not sure how your position leaves any room to object to to any kind of indoctrination the school would opt to pursue.

        1. Yeah, but we already knew you were a slaver. /sarc

          In all seriousness, it’s great that symbols have meanings to people. What’s not great is punishing someone who disrespects your symbol. That’s dangerously close to Tybalt territory.

        2. Actually, the U.S. Supreme Court (for what that’s worth these days) agrees with us, so…

          Plus, love the whole “You’re imposing on me by not letting me impose on you!” bullshit. You are merely a strawberry-flavored Tony.

          1. Now with flavor crystals!

          2. Again I don’t expect you to understand this because libertarianism is dominated by people who think their ideology is non-ideological and neutral, but the statement symbols don’t matter is not viewpoint neutral. It is antinomianism at best and psychologically naive at worst. The neutral view point would be to simple teach that the first amendment allows troubles indivuals to take their misplaced rage out on the flag. Actually that’s not a neutral point of view either. Of course in that case you don’t have any trouble detecting the bias naturally. The first amendment protects flag burning. That’s a neutral perfectly effective way of communicating a fact in a pedagogically sound manner. For some reason that’s not enough for you guys though.

            1. do you even know what you are writing dude?

            2. Stomping on the flag to prove a point about the 1A is not a neutral point of view. It is a pro-1A point of view.

              Firing a govt employee for demonstrating 1A rights is not a neutral point of view either. It is antithetical to the 1A and our Constitution.

            3. I always find people who use giant vocabulary for no reason amusing. You compensating kid?

        3. If you can’t separate a physical flag from the concept of a flag, you have bigger problems than we can help you with.

      3. This is why all pub-sec jobs should be “employment at will”. Then they can fire the employee for no reason at all. I’d like to see a return to the patronage system as well.

        1. I’ve been wondering if the patronage system helped to keep federal bureaucracies under control. Not sure how this applies to a local public school and a school board though. Teachers may be state employees, but at least local school boards get to fire ’em. Hardly any point in electing a school board otherwise.

        2. No, this is why 90% of pub-sec jobs should be abolished.

        3. I’d like to see a return to the patronage system as well.

          Ever since I learned about it, I have been strongly in favor of repealing the Pendleton Act.

      4. “It’s just a piece of cloth.”

        So is the confederate battle standard but now we can’t watch Dukes of Hazard reruns and Daisy in cutoff bluejeans.

      5. The fact that the government fired him makes this a dyed-in-the-wool 1st amendment case.

        No, it doesn’t. He was acting in his capacity as paid government employee, not in his capacity as private citizen.

        Of course, the government and the school board have a right to regulate and limit what a paid government employee says and does as part of his employment. That doesn’t limit anybody’s free speech rights.

        If he had stomped on the flag at home or during a parade, things might be different. Even there, it’s hardly clear-cut; the government is still more acting like a private employer, and a private employer certainly can fire you for what you say.

        1. While I don’t think it’s illegal for government to fire an employee over their speech (which is a form of controlling that speech, but one in which he still has the choice to do it and face the non-violent consequences – different than, say, being forced to take it back at gunpoint), I DO think it’s horribly wrong. Not everything about morals, even when dealing with the government, is about legal/illegal (or should-be legal/illegal). Something can be *terrible* and still legal.

          This is all made even worse by the fact that he shouldn’t be a government employee in the first place – teaching children is one of the worst possible places for the government to be, for just this reason. If we accept that teachers of children are government employees, we must accept that the government has the right to control the message being told to the children – and that is not at all OK.

          1. While I don’t think it’s illegal for government to fire an employee over their speech

            I think it’s legal to fire them for speech they engage in as part of their job (in fact, it is often required). It may or may not be legal to fire them for private speech.

            I DO think it’s horribly wrong.

            I was responding to the claim that this was a clearcut First Amendment case; it’s not. Also, I don’t think it’s horribly wrong either. The school board decides what teachers can and cannot teach, and deciding that teachers should not desecrate the flag seems within the range of preferences parents might reasonably have.

            If we accept that teachers of children are government employees, we must accept that the government has the right to control the message being told to the children – and that is not at all OK.

            There are many different forms and levels of government. Local government isn’t all that different from a private HOA or a shareholder meeting. A private school would likely have followed the same process and reached the same conclusion.

    2. Uh, yeah, no. It’s the government itself that isn’t allowed to punish you for speech, so they’re not within their rights at all.

      1. “Uh, yeah, no. It’s the government itself that isn’t allowed to punish you for speech, so they’re not within their rights at all.”

        By this logic a teacher could verbally abuse a student and not be fired since the government shouldn’t be allowed to punish people for insulting others.

        Government institutions have the right to choose who works there just like private institutions do. I think they were wrong in this case, but I think they had the right to fire him. Doesn’t mean they should have and I think the teacher is in the right here, but I don’t think it makes any sense to argue that a person can’t be fired for acting in a way contrary to the desires of his employer.

        1. Exactly.

        2. Government institutions have the right to choose who works there just like private institutions do. I think they were wrong in this case, but I think they had the right to fire him. Doesn’t mean they should have and I think the teacher is in the right here, but I don’t think it makes any sense to argue that a person can’t be fired for acting in a way contrary to the desires of his employer.

          Drop the mike, we are done here.

        3. Except verbal abuse of a minor isn’t anything like saying “Fuck the Police” or “No war for Oil” or stepping on the flag.

        4. I must disagree. Fired by the government for demonstrating free speech in a lesson about how free speech works. C’mon, Irish. This isn’t a chaplain demonstrating during off-duty hours in military uniform, this is pretty cut-and-dried.

          1. Your defense would work equally for a sex-ed teacher that brings his wife to class and has sex with her. Their are appropriate ways and inappropriate ways to teach things.

            1. Of course, it’s not against the law to step on the flag (am I remembering that SC ruling correctly?) but it IS against the law to perform a sex act in front of a minor. But other than that, totally the same.

              1. At my school most sex-ed classes didn’t have minors in them as it was taught senior year. So my analogy stands and your attempt to side-step fails.

                1. At my school it was freshman year, and I was fourteen. I didn’t reach the age of majority until after I graduated. Incidentally, they’re teaching sex ed in middle school in many districts these days. Old fart, you are.

                  But go ahead and stick yer fingers in yer ears and go lalalala. It’s easier than the alternatives, and what do you have to lose? An argument? Respect? It’s only the internet.

                  1. I’m 27 so younger than you by likely 13-35 years older going off Reason commenter demographics. It shouldn’t really matter but I detest when aging boomers gripping at the last draughts of middle age try to play the age card. Sorry gramps the eternal footman is snickering and it’s not at me.

                2. I think for the entire State of Texas you get a dose in middle school (7th grade) and then round two in sophmore/junior year. YMMV but for most of the country, my point stands.

                  1. At my Texas private school it was senior year.

                3. At my school most sex-ed classes didn’t have minors in them as it was taught senior year.

                  Wow, lucky you! We had sex-ed in 5th-9th grades.

                  1. 5th grade. In the woods behind a one-room rural school.

            2. Yes, public sex on state property with a minor audience is the exact same thing as speech about flags. Exact. Same. Thing.

              It’s like we never had a ruling on obscenity or something.

        5. By this logic a teacher could verbally abuse a student and not be fired since the government shouldn’t be allowed to punish people for insulting others.

          Government institutions have the right to choose who works there just like private institutions do….I don’t think it makes any sense to argue that a person can’t be fired for acting in a way contrary to the desires of his employer.

          You see how fucked up shit gets when government does things that government has NO BUSINESS doing?

        6. Government institutions have the right to choose who works there just like private institutions do.

          I wouldn’t say it’s “just like private institutions”; as in, I wouldn’t say that the government should have the exact same discretion over firing employees that private employers enjoy.

          The government firing an employee for “desecrating a flag” while having students pledge allegiance to it sounds like a violation of viewpoint neutrality to me; you may demonstrate support, but not contempt.

          I don’t believe governments should have exactly the same contract rights powers vis-a-vis their employees versus the contract rights that private entities have over their employees.

        7. By this logic a teacher could verbally abuse a student and not be fired since the government shouldn’t be allowed to punish people for insulting others.

          The student could simply up and leave if we actually valued in freedom.

      2. I think you’re missing the entire damn point. It’s one thing if they arrested him or fined him as a citizen (definitely protected by the 1st Amendment). As an employer, does the government get to fire his ass if they don’t agree with the way he conducts his job? I don’t think that’s nearly as easy a 1st amendment issue as the first scenario.

        1. Couldn’t they just have stuck him in a rubber room with all the child molesters and rapists that can’t be fired?

          1. And give him an audience to spread his filth to? Surely you jest.

    3. Instead, they imparted a different lesson: that no act of defiance goes unpunished by the government.

      Well, that is a more accurate and more valuable lesson.

    4. Reprehensible, but well within their legal rights.

      It is a public school. That makes this school government. Government doesn’t have rights, it has powers granted them by the people. It is also has strict limitations placed upon it. In firing an employee for engaging in protected speech, they have exceeded their authority.

      If it was a private school, it’s a completely different matter.

      1. Government doesn’t have rights, it has powers granted them by the people.

        Which people?

        1. The ones who wrote and ratified the constitution.

          1. How did they possess my consent before it existed?

              1. How could I have been party to a contract before I existed?

                1. I admit; that’s the central philosophical quandary of minarchism (of which I am a follower).

                2. How could I have been party to a contract before I existed?

                  You can’t.

                  Let’s stop beating around the bush. Unless you are an anarchist, you believe in a social contract. Got it. Government must be paid for. Taxes are theft as individuals don’t consent.

                  I’d be with you if you could explain a better way, but you can’t. Your way leads to a loss of liberty just as surely as an out of control government does.

                  Government is a balancing act when it comes to liberty. The best case scenario is to maximize liberty with a limited government. Which I explain here.

                  1. You’re arguing a job is a right. He wasn’t locked up or fined for stomping on the flag. That doesn’t mean he has guaranteed employment either. No one does regardless of whether I agree with their politics or not.

                    1. Sure the government can fire you…they just can’t fire you for exercising your constitutional rights (like stomping on the flag).

                      If he harmed another, sure. If he broke the law, yep. But it’s my position that the government, as an employer, cannot demand any more than the paw prescribes unless you voluntarily sign a contract waiving specific rights beforehand.

                      I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the contract that he wasn’t allowed to stomp on the flag. There was probably some drivel in there about conduct, however, so I guess it will boil down to what was in the contract. And then he’d be fired for breach of contract, NOT for stomping on the flag. A fine distinction, perhaps.

                  2. I tend to be pretty comfortable with the idea that a good government could be funded to appropriate levels with voluntary contributions.The existence of some system of taxation is not something I put high on my list of grievances but I do not see taxation as a requirement to fund courts etc.

                  3. A collective forcing an individual to sign a contract when they are a child, and have a limited agency, is to deny that same individual their agency when they have reached the age of majority.

                  4. Let’s stop beating around the bush. Unless you are an anarchist, you believe in a social contract. Got it.

                    Not all statists accept social contract theory. Though your brand of statism may do so.

                    Government must be paid for. Taxes are theft as individuals don’t consent.

                    “The Gambino crime family must be paid for”. And since taxes are theft, and you recognize that no less, you are explicitly advocating for crimes to be committed against others so you can get some positive liberty for yourself.

                    I’d be with you if you could explain a better way, but you can’t. Your way leads to a loss of liberty just as surely as an out of control government does.

                    I’ve given you several different better ways on multiple occasions. It’s not my fault that you favor crime over justice and slavery over liberty, a person like that isn’t going to be reasoned out of their position.

                    Government is a balancing act when it comes to liberty. The best case scenario is to maximize liberty with a limited government.

                    An expropriating property protector is a contradiction in terms. Government is the very antithesis of liberty. And “limited government” is a fairy tale for the naive to feel better about themselves for supporting a criminal enterprise that preys upon one’s family, friends and neighbors.

              2. A collective forcing an individual to sign a contract when they are a child, and have a limited agency, is to deny that same individual their agency when they have reached the age of majority.

        2. Anthony Kennedy

      2. In firing an employee for engaging in protected speech, they have exceeded their authority.

        Student: *general teenage asshattery*
        Public School Teacher: Somebody should feed you into a woodchipper feet first.

        You’re telling me that’s not a fireable offense? It’s certainly protected speech.

        1. I’m telling you it is the government punishing speech.

          And, yes, there is only one way to avoid it…

          The logical conclusion, the one place they dare not look. Government has no business in education.

          Private education means this issue doesn’t exist. Instead of coming to the correct conclusion, they keep carving out exceptions to the rule so they don’t upset the apple cart. In the process, they take your liberty.

          1. The logical conclusion, the one place they dare not look. Government has no business in education.

            What does government have a business in?Monopolizing extortion? Running a monopoly judiciary? Bombing foreigners?

            Instead of coming to the correct conclusion, they keep carving out exceptions to the rule so they don’t upset the apple cart. In the process, they take your liberty.

            That’s the story of all the statist beliefs you hold.

      3. “Government doesn’t have rights, it has powers granted them by the people”

        That’s funny Francisco.

        Tell us another one .

    5. I was thinking the same thing. Live by the sword…

    6. This teacher is lucky. I would stand between him and an attacker, but I understand an angry response; I was taught reverence for our flag. The ancient use of a portable standard (“the Eagle”) by Roman legions replaced more bulky revered symbols that preceded it in the Med and Near East. Our national flags descend from this, as Europe grew from the debris of the decayed Western Empire. They are just one of many group identity totems world-wide that have been for millennia (long preceding Rome), and still are by many invested with quasi-religious reverence.

      revered icons of Christianity can be “vandalized” as art or stage performance, with easily handled non-violent resistance. College students can line up to walk across a flag on a sidewalk as a college project (on TV in the last two weeks), and this too with little problem. The school setting in this article can arouse parental feelings- even in non-parents.

      School boards must evaluate these contending issues for themselves. In some areas they have protected the teacher when the teacher violated traditional norms. Considering the “kid-parent” “protect the kids” dynamic, it’s not surprising that more action was demanded here than in many of the other “insults” to tradition that abound in 2015.

  2. I need an app that “burns” an image of an American, Confederate or rainbow flag, depending on who I need to outrage.

    1. A UN bonfire app. I’d name it Global Warming. Apple would never approve it – Android only.

    2. Rainbow-colored confederate flag flying over the US capital, while Congress burns in the background. Boom.

  3. What is this silliness about free speech in a public school? Like any other institution, they can have all kinds of restrictions on personal expression as condition of employment. They can also compel their captive brats to the same ends.

    If parents or teachers don’t like it, they can bail. If I worked at Sony and trashed a Sony logo – of course I’d be fired.

    1. If I worked at Sony and trashed a Sony logo – of course I’d be fired.

      Of course, then you’d sue and be set for life.

      1. Precisely. Incorporation meant applying the BoR in corporations. Public schools already protect speech, which is why they must eliminate hate speech, so that all minorities are free to share their opinions. It’s just common sense.

      2. Destruction of property is cause for dismissal.

        1. Who says it was destroyed? “Stomped” is not destroyed.

    2. If parents or teachers don’t like it, they can bail.

      Compulsory attendance laws.

      Also, the state cannot legally endorse speech. This is speech. That they do so anyways is because we are pussies. It doesn’t make it right.

  4. Educating young people about these values by way of demonstration doesn’t strike me as inappropriate.

    It’s not preparing them for the real world.

    1. Honestly the average corporate employer is going to flip out if you so much as smirk at your gender sensitivity orientation much like stomp the company logo Terrell Owens style.

      1. Yeah, so publik sculz should mimic that kind of restrictive, oppressive culture because…?

  5. So six board members voted in favor of being named in a forthcoming wrongful termination/civil rights suit. Beautiful.

  6. Sounds like he taught these kids the most important lesson of all, in this day and age — shut your fucking mouth or a mob of idiots will ruin your life.

    1. ^^This

  7. honoring the values the flag represents

    What a quaint turn of phrase!

  8. I pledge allegiance to the state, and to the euphemisms upon which it stands, one monopoly, ever centralizing, with serfdom and stagnation for all.

  9. At least he didn’t stand up on his desk to demonstrate some vague, corny lesson about looking at things in a different way.

  10. I think it’s time for me to blogwhore:

    The Un-American Pledge of Allegiance

    From their inception in 1642 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, U.S. government schools have had on main purpose: to indoctrinate children in the religion or mores that the state feels most useful. Useful skills like reading and writing, critical thinking, knowledge of the arts and sciences are all secondary to the goal of indoctrination. In the case of Massachusetts, the schools were originally intended to induct the children into the state’s official version of Protestant Christianity rather than the heresies of their parents. In modern times, the religion is not some strain of Christianity, but rather the worship of the state.

    It’s been 7 years since I wrote that, and absent fixing a few typeo’s I wouldn’t change a fucking word.

    1. Still angling for that Reason internship, eh? 😉

    2. *applause*

      Fun trivia point: The Cincinnati Bible Wars (something I had never heard of until I was writing a research paper on the topic) were one of the last throes of life from the “Protestant Christianity” indoctrinators before the secular humanist indoctrinators (Horace Mann and his ilk) began to win the argument.

      The Puritans came over in the middle of the 17th century with the idea of establishing a Puritan paradise in Massachusetts, only to completely lose the educational battle by the middle of the 19th century. They planted the seeds of their own undoing.

    3. In the Soviet Union, in Communist China, and numerous other nations, the state demanded that people swear loyalty to the government as a condition for a jobs, for education, or to receive any service that the state had arrogated for itself.

      How common is this nowadays in Communist China?

      I have a coworker who is younger than me and grew up somewhere in mainland China. Sorry, I can’t remember where, though I think she came to America for college. She told me one of the weirdest things she had to get used to in America was people saying the Pledge of Allegiance. She told me she experienced nothing like that in China.

      1. The Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union had their solemn promise and motto, but I don’t think anything like this existed beyond the junior high school level.

        Summons – Pioneer, to fight for the cause of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, be prepared!

        Response – Always prepared!

        1. Interesting, thanks!

      2. “She told me she experienced nothing like that in China.”

        That’s because in China they pledge to the Communist Party and not to China.

        1. I don’t see the difference.

    4. Even Mencken called them madrassas.

  11. The school board had a golden opportunity to show kids that honoring the values the flag represents is more important than honoring the flag itself.

    What values are those I wonder.

  12. I have a cunning plan. Get government entirely, 100%, out of education.

    1. You must hate children, want the terrorists to win, etc.

    2. You just want a never ending supply of street urchins for your death factories.

      1. Why should teachers get a monopoly?

      2. I just need children to work in my monocle mine.

    3. But if you don’t educate them in shitt public schools, how will they know enough to polish your monocles and count your gold pieces?

  13. Well, if they are firing people due to microaggressions (what’s next, nanoaggressions, picoaggressions, femtoaggressions?) againt college students, of course they will for poor, innocent K-12 students.

    [I object, my spell-check doesn’t recognize the word “microaggression”!]

    1. Ah, yes, superposition–existing in a state of excited privilege in which one is simultaneously privileged and not privileged, depending on one’s political views.

      1. As a physicist, I particularly appreciate this comment branch. Very well done, ProL.

    2. femtoaggressions involve posting links to Jezebel.

      1. No, those are femnaziggressions.

      2. Fucking Christ !!! =D

    3. I contend that the omission of “microagression” from your dictionary–a microagression concerning microgressions–should properly be called a meta-microagression.

      Please don’t meta-meta-microagress me in your reply.

  14. Not one commenter on Reason would have a differing opinion, but I wonder if in the wider community just how big the difference would be is the teacher was stomping on

    the Rainbow Flag?
    the Gadsen Flag?

    1. the ISIS flag?
      the white flag?

    2. I’d say that most cosmos would be a whole lot less enthusiastic to defend the teacher if he stomped a rainbow flag. But then again I think the school is perfectly within their rights to fire him in any case.

      1. I’d say that most cosmos would be a whole lot less enthusiastic to defend the teacher if he stomped a rainbow flag.

        Not me. I would defend him just as enthusiastically for the same reasons.

  15. A teacher teaching about free speech? WTF? Isn’t he supposed to be teaching about micro-aggressions and how to be an emotionally crippled snowflake? No wonder he was fired.

  16. Free speech meets at-will employment.
    So if I work ar Reason, and blast Schoenburg at 85 db all day you won’t fire me?
    Doing this in his position of teacher, representing the district went over the line.

    For that matter, I can’t even express my nuanced views on gay marriage without getting fired, my tires slashed, or both. What free expression? Where?

    Can he show up with the stars and bars? A deputy was fired for a selfie while wearing shorts.

    1. Some of those things are not like the others.

    2. It is at-will employment but as a government employee, he does have protections for his speech (within reason, of course… but I don’t think desecrating the flag while teaching a course on the First Amendment is sufficient reason for termination).

    3. Was the teacher burning the flag to show disrespect and make a political statement (fire him for not doing his job), or was he actually doing it to perform a lesson about the 1st amendment (doing his job and demonstrating protected speech).

      It sounds like the latter to me, and in which case the school board fucked up.

      1. the school board fucked up.

        It’s their nature.

  17. Why is there no new Star Trek on television?

    Khaaaaaaaaaan!!!

    1. Oops, wrong thread

  18. Um, isn’t firing him a violation of his First Amendment rights?

  19. So stomping the American flag is totally okay. Waving the Confederate flag is, however, something that should get you fired.

    1. Trying to stay within the limits of mob politesse requires this sort of contradictory thinking. Orwell was right about doublethink.

    2. FTR, that shouldn’t get you fired either.

  20. FIred? He got off easy. He could’ve gotten the crap beaten out of him.

  21. He’s a government employee on the clock.

    Assuming he has the right to stomp on flag during his off hours, it doesn’t mean he can express himself however he wants when he’s on the clock. He’s being *paid* to express/not express himself in particular ways.

    What’s next, singing the Horst Wessel song?

    1. DMV clerks singing “I can’t drive 55” during working hours?

  22. Seems to me the teacher was being a dick.

  23. Let’s frame it another way:

    What if the object in question was a cross? Or a Q’oran (or however they’re spelling it this week). Or a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.? Or a print of Martin Luther?

    How about; Teacher fired for being a comfrontational asshole, flag tangentally involved?

    1. I think the politically incorrect thing now is to call it the Koran – it sends the message that “up yours, we’re not a bunch of PC flower children getting dictated to on the English spelling of your book!”

      And, no, he wouldn’t step on a Koran, too risky. Or Martin Luther King. That’s not the kind of transgressive behavior that the Herd of Independent Minds tolerate.

      Martin Luther is a legitimate target. I myself have a roll of Martin Luther toilet paper. /kidding

      1. And the third paragraph is an insult against Martin Luther the white 16th century figure, not Martin Luther *King* the black 20th century civil rights leader.

        1. Nowadays, I need to issue more disclaimers than the fast-talking guy on a car commercial.

      2. Martin Luther was an asshole. But anybody who calls the Pope the Antichrist can’t be completely bad, and his response to the Papal Bull is good, in the sense of a good modern Internet flamewar:

        http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/p…..ebull.html

  24. pretty sure this school board infringed on his newly recognized right to feel good about himself.

  25. The general issue is not cut and dried, as it’s entirely appropriate to fire teachers for using teaching time to indoctrinate their captive students.

    However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance, so I can’t see firing a teacher over merely once expressing his own opinion, particularly when it is in the context of demonstrating something about the second amendment.

    However, it would be very interesting to see how the discussion changed if instead of a flag, it was a Koran.

    1. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance, so I can’t see firing a teacher over merely once expressing his own opinion

      It’s stupid, but it is (and should be) legal.

  26. Reason is on the side of a teacher? What?

  27. Teacher Stomped on the Flag During Lesson About Free Speech. He Was Fired.

    That was the lesson.

    There will be a quiz at the end of the month, so study hard.

  28. C’mon… If Reason wants to defend freedom, fine. But this appears to be an issue of wisdom. If the story, as reported, hits the nail on the head, then the teacher comes across as an ass. Sure, he may have a right to do what he did, but doing what he did in response to the free speech of his student just comes across as a “F You” to the student. Sounds like a swell teacher…

    1. The first amendment is, and always has been, the right to offend — to be an ass.

      After all, nobody ever needed a heavily protected right to do or say exactly what people want to see and hear.

      1. Based-on this logic, any employee can speak as they wish at any time, and the employer has no recourse.

      2. The first amendment is, and always has been, the right to offend — to be an ass.

        The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”.

        The First Amendment doesn’t protect you from your wife leaving you if she doesn’t like what you have to say; it doesn’t protect you from your church or your bowling club kicking you out; and it doesn’t protect you from your employer firing you.

  29. As elected government officials, the school board is constrained in what it can do by the Constitution.

    Firing someone for exercising freedom of expression while teaching a class about freedom of expression is not only tasteless at best, it is also a criminal act.

    Title 18, Section 241 makes it a crime punishable by ten years in prison for any two or more people to deny, infringe upon or violate a civil, statutory or constitutional right under color of law — a color of law offense is usually where someone uses their position as a public official to do something the constitution or other laws say they cannot do, but they do it anyway. People who are not public officials can trip over this law as well, but it’s much harder for them to do so.

    Since they voted unanimously to violate a constitutional right, they are without a doubt guilty of a felony.

    1. When you are a public teacher and stand in front of a classroom of students, you do not have any free speech rights; you are acting in your official capacity as government employee; you have no free speech rights vis-a-vis the students. None.

      Imagine the teacher tried to proselytize for Southern Baptism. That’s perfectly legal, and actually protected speech, for him as a private citizen. If he tries to do the same thing as a public teacher in front of a classroom of public school children, he is violating the establishment clause.

    2. Great! So we can now start bringing charges against school boards and other various lawmakers for forbidding the bringing of guns onto campus…

      /I think it should be allowed, but it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

  30. A teacher that likes baiting his students ought to be fired. Don’t like it? I’m not all that wild about public schools either. Nor am I sympathetic to teachers who think they’re entitled to their job. As for the first amendment, I doubt that public schools can do worse teaching constitutional law and civics then they did with the last few generations of voters who put people like Obama into office.

  31. The trouble with most high schools in the first place is that even some of the dumber students are aware of just how much of a joke it is. A teacher that engages in this sort of theatrics just helps to drive the point home. The smart students jump through the hoops and discretely snicker at the dumber teachers until they graduate, the dumb students get caught up in the machinery and repeat grades or drop out.

  32. Capt. Parmenter is real?!!

  33. This is a well-written post.

    (…from someone often critical of H&R proofreading and composition issues.)

  34. In other freedom news – Obama administration protests “Redskins” stadium name…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..lp00000592

  35. A government employee gets fired, does the reason why really matter…

    1. It happens rarely enough that it’s worth noting.

  36. Perhaps getting fired was part of the lesson.

  37. they did learn an important lesson about how the world works though.

  38. Glad to hear it… in a Government sponser forum we are not supposed to offend people. The right to free expression does have limitsw… He could not pull his dick out and wave it at the class, abuse Black kids to show how slavery was, make the Mexican clean the room, make fun of the girls in the class for how they dress, or a list of other Fire-er-able offenses. Funny how the Left wants things both ways. They can offend anyone but no one can offend them..

  39. I believe he has the right of free speech but I also believe if I was there he would be missing a number of teeth. I admit there is alot wrong with this country including the lack of respect for those symbols that represent us as a people. First lets look at our elected representatives that are clearly bought and paid for. Or federal judges including the supreme court that think they can created law rather than enforce the Constitution. Or a drug head huskster for President. Be forewarned I may be an atheist and hate what my country has become but I will hurt or kill anyone I see stomping on my flag even if I spend the rest of my life in prison.

  40. The first amendent only ptotects you from the Government not your fellow citizens.

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