John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Making them stand

Newsweek has published an article about India Landry, an 18-year-old student who was expelled  from Windfern High School outside Houston last year after repeated refusals to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

She is suing the principal, other school officials, and the school district. Ken Paxton, the state attorney general, is backing the school.

Under state law in Texas, students are expected to stand as the Pledge of Allegiance is recited each day. In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette held that “the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits public schools from forcing students to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Texas evidently attempts to circumvent the Constitution by requiring under its statute that a student's parent or guardian must approve the refusal to stand; the individual student does not have the right in Texas. It will be interesting to see what the courts have to say about that.

But apart from the legal and constitutional issues, I'd like to make this point: Coerced patriotism is more the mark of a totalitarian regime than of a free society.

1 comment:

  1. Hear, hear. In New Jersey in the early 1960s I stood but neither saluted nor recited. I was asked "Are you parents okay with this?" and on the affirmative I was left alone. I got the same question and answer when I boycotted HS graduation, which involved tuxedos (and white dresses) in the name of "tradition". If I was going to go through some traditional mummery, it would be in proper academic caps and gowns, dammit.

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