Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hubbard High School and Why We Have a First Amendment


If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
-Justice Robert Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

The Vindy (h/t ABJ) reports today about an Ohio high school student who was disciplined for not standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance:

    Roxanne Westover, 17, of Elmwood Drive, had been reprimanded by the school for refusing to stand during the pledge, which is recited each morning. She said it contradicts her beliefs and she elected not to participate.

    “I’m an atheist, and I believe the pledge isn’t something toward our nation,” she said. “It’s more like a religious oath, and I believe that if I stand I’m still participating in it.”

    Westover said she had been written up and sent to the principal’s office multiple times for her refusal over the course of the past few weeks. The ACLU sent a letter requesting the school to stop requiring students to say the pledge.

In fact the question of compelling students to recite the Pledge was resolved back in 1943 in the Barnette case cited up top. The school is listening to the ACLU and in fact have discovered that school policy says students aren't required to recite.

All of which points up why civil libertarians work so hard to hold a strict line on attempts to introduce anything religious into schools. The pro-school prayer folks wonder ingenuously what could possibly wrong with a voluntary teacher-led prayer. This is what could -- and almost certainly would -- go wrong. Here is a school violating not only a decades-old Supreme Court precedent, but their own school policy. But we are supposed to trust that teacher-lead school prayer would never coerce non- or different believers.

Conservative Christians who pen thumb suckers about being oppressed. In fact they are angry that they can't use the mechanisms of the state to evangelize. That's not oppression. The plaintiffs in the Barnette case were Jehovah's Witnesses. Their children were expelled from school and their homes picketed. In other communities Witnesses were assaulted for their beliefs. That's oppression.

What Roxanne Westover experienced is hardly comparable to some of the outrages Americans past have experienced, but she did suffer real consequences just for believing something different than the majority. Happily we have a First Amendment to protect Roxanne -- and the rest of us.

17 comments:

Ryan said...

I was lucky in high school. I refused to say the pledge from midway through my junior year until graduation and my classmates, teachers, and school administrators made nary a peep about my objections to reciting the pledge.

Harold Thomas said...

I catch flak now and then for refusing to recite the Pledge, but for a different reason: I choke on "indivisible." If the right of secession did not exist, then there would be no final recourse for a state and its people in the event the federal government becomes tyrannical.

However, it does exist, and I anticipate that it will be exercised in the next few years.

Mencken said...

Harold, I have to wonder why you don't choke on the word "United" way before you get to the word "indivisible".

There are those of us out there that would love to put your experiment into action and give you and your ilk Utah or Alabama, seal the borders, and sit back and see how it goes. Really, I would love nothing more than watch how quickly divisible the state would become as 1,000's of Pixel Patriots attempt create a new state constitution. I doubt you'd get a consensus on the type of paper it would be printed on.

It's like the Rapture: If it means youin's get to leave this place and I get to stay... then it's win win as far as I'm concerned.

Harold Thomas said...

Mencken:
You're making a lot of assumptions as to why I want out. What makes you think I would want to live in Utah or Alabama? Or, on the other hand, Vermont?
A consistent, well-articulated set of principles (like, say, the U.S. Constitution) will go a long way to prevent the "pixel patriot" syndrome you describe.
How about a desire to live in a country where we all have the freedom to make our own decisions in life without so much governmental interference? Where personal responsibility is rewarded, instead of punished? Where your county can have casinos if it wants them, and mine can keep casinos out if we don't want them.
Or are you one of those people who is absolutely certain they know what is best for the rest of us?

Mencken said...

"Where your county can have casinos if it wants them, and mine can keep casinos out if we don't want them".

Isn't that what just happened in Ohio? Didn't we just vote on this issue in a free and fair election ?

How does this work? Ohio secedes from the Union and everyone who wants casinos is deported ?

That's beyond satire Harold.

When I was in high school, the number of Christian denominations was around 225. Now they number closer to 38,000. This occurred with a group of people working off the same text with divine guidance and still you end up with 38,000 variations.

You're going to avoid these kinds reinterpretations of your constitution.....uh how ? Somehow you're going to find a million citizens who believe the same thing with no discord (or Federal funding) in
your new utopia of New Lipton... or is it New Tetley?

Well good luck with that brother. Looks good on screen.

Harold Thomas said...

Mencken:
Your ridicule really isn't worth a response, but I wanted to clarify the casino comment. I was using that as an easily-recognized example of how decentralism can work in a future Ohio Republic.

Yes, we voted them in in a free and fair election, and I am as ready as anyone to live with it; however, I am upset that the Ohio Constitution can be customized to meet the specific interests of two investors at the expense of sound public policy (for example, setting up a regulatory Gaming Commission, setting a fairer tax rate, minimizing the collateral damage that casinos cause in their communities, etc.) that should have been debated in the General Assembly.

I would also point out that central Ohio voted down the casino issue by a 58% majority, but may be forced by the rest of the state to have one anyway.

I have no inherent objection to the States being united as long as the Constitution is being upheld; but that clearly is not happening.

If Americans don't start getting concerned about this development, we will wake up one morning with a Fascist dictatorship and wonder what happened.

So, Mencken, if you still think I am a right-wing wingnut, I'll just have to wear the badge proudly.

Mencken said...

Harold, I can't even find the word decentralism in the dictionaries I checked. But not surprisingly a Google search for the word took me to decentralism.net and secession.net - where I can use my Visa card to buy SECEDE FROM THE EMPIRE buttons and SECEDE! women's pink t-shirts for $16.99. Tote bags and mugs are available as well.
You wanna secedeyou gotta have the right gear.

On the Secession site it states: It is time for an alternative to the failed experiment of the U.S. Constitution....

This, in spite of your stated desire to uphold the Constitution. Imagine my confusion.

Under STRATEGIES it states: Create Alternate Networks and Confederations: Something to replace the United States of America. Something like The CONFEDERATED COMMUNITIES OF AMERICA.

Harold, think about about how much it would cost just to reprint the currency, and by the way, uh what would your New Tetley currency be backed by... teabags? Seriously. Who pays for your defense, your healthcare, your roads, your schools. firemen, etc? Er.... maybe taxes?

There are never answers to these fundamental operational questions on these sites. This stuff is just political porn.

Harold Thomas said...

Mencken:
Sounds as though you've been reading secession.net. There are some flaky sites out there, I admit.

I recommend checking out the Middlebury Institute, Vermont Commons, Rebellion (League of the South blog), and my The Ohio Republic for some writing on secessionism that has been thought through.

I don't agree with everything in those sites -- Vermont Commons is a bit too back to the farm, Rebellion will strike some as racist, and the Middlebury Institute seems a bit too academic; but each have developed quite a bit of thinking on the subject. I also recommend LewRockwell.com, which includes some articles on secessionism.

My personal idea of currency is the "buckeye," equal to 1/100 troy ounce of gold. (See Ohio Honest Money for reasons why we need to go back to precious metals-backed currency).

The only reason secession is attractive for some of us is that we believe that government exist to protect our lives, our liberties, and our opportunity to pursue happiness. The Federal Government is failing in all three categories. It certainly does not exist for the purpose of robbing the taxpayers to redistribute wealth according to somebody's notion of economic equality.

Mencken said...

Welcome to Ohio Honest Money

Why does it get harder and harder every year for average Americans to make ends meet?

RISING HEALTH CARE & ENERGY COSTS. AMERICANS
FINANCING THEIR EXTRAVAGANT LIFESTYLES @ 30% INTEREST. DOES ANYONE REALLY NEED A 6,000 SQ.FT HOUSE OR A $60,000 CAR? A $ 60 STEAK?


Why does the quality of products we buy keep decreasing and we seem to get less for our dollar ?

MANUFACTURERS STRIPPING QUALITY OUT OF PRODUCTS TO COMPETE WITH OFFSHORE MANUFACTURERS WHO PAY NO WAGES, AND DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH ENVIRONMENTAL REGS. EXORBITANT U.S. EXECUTIVE PAY COMPENSATION.
HOLDING COMPANIES THAT BUY AND STRIP U.S. COMPANIES OF ASSETS. KILLER HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR EVERYONE.

Why is virtually everything we buy imported from overseas, and the American manufacturing base has all but disappeared?

WALMART, TARGET PRICE SETTING, CHARGING FOR SHELF SPACE AND THE REASONS STATED ABOVE.
REPUBLICAN ( in general ) AMERICAN MANUFACTURERS TRIPPING OVER THEMSELVES TO DO BUSINESS IN CHINA.

Why has America quickly gone from the largest creditor on earth, to the largest debtor on earth?

CHINESE AND SAUDI FINANCING OF THE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WARS WHIILE REPUBLICANS SAT ON THEIR HANDS AND MADE GAY MARRIAGE ONE OF THE BIGGEST ELECTION ISSUES.

So there's my over simplistic answers to your questions. None of these problems would be solved
by secession other than New Tetley would be unable to afford a war with even an invading paintball army.

https://www.blogger.com/www.lewrockwell.com
ERROR. NOT FOUND.

Did he secede and not tell anyone?

Harold Thomas said...

Error corrected:

LewRockwell.com .

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Anonymous said...

I thought the case said the student didn't have to recite the Pledge, but still could be asked to stand.

被リンク said...

So some people are lucky, because of the protection of amendment.

Hope the future will become much better.

Nancy said...

The post and the comments that followed are really engrossing!! They get intriguing at times!!!
Its always better not to say a Pledge if you do not believe and mean it!!

This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News

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