Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, CA was in the news again as protestors sought to remind people that free speech is a basic American right. The school has banned the wearing of American flag t-shirts on the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the ridiculous action.
Back in February GOPUSA reported that Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the Morgan Hill school officials had the right to ban students from wearing American flag t-shirts in the interest of student safety.
On the 2010 holiday, the court said, several Anglo students wore shirts that showed the U.S. flag, and three of them were confronted by other students in the morning. Warned by students from both ethnic groups of potential problems, the principal, Nick Boden, told the youths to either turn their shirts inside out or go home for the day. Two chose to go home and were given excused absences, without punishment, while others complied with the order.
The lawsuit by three students and their parents relied on a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld students’ right to wear black armbands to class in a silent protest against the Vietnam War. But the appeals court said the 1969 decision allowed schools to limit student expression to avoid the type of disruptions that seemed likely in this case.
Now, with the same type of ban in place, local residents stood outside the school in a rally of support for free speech and the First Amendment. As reported by The Washington Times, “About 30 people silently held American flags outside of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, the San Jose Mercury News reported. ‘No trespassing’ signs and a large fence now surrounds the school.”
There are a number of issues going on here, and it comes down to basic American rights and what government (whatever entity that may be) is doing to infringe on those rights. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “free speech zones” that were put up when people were protesting the actions of the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada. The claim was that limiting free speech to a certain area promoted public safety. Wrong! What it said was that free speech was not allowed in any place except that which is designated by the government.
A similar idea can be taken from this issue. In the name of “school safety,” students are not allowed to wear American flag shirts. So, they penalize free speech in order that kids won’t become rowdy? Perhaps school officials should take a closer look at the security they provide in the schools. If the school can’t handle students exercising their rights by simply wearing an American flag shirt, then something is wrong with the school… not the students.
The more cases we have like this, the more the message gets spread that it’s NOT ok to speak our minds…. that government knows best. This is exactly why we have the First Amendment. Whether we speak out with our voices or with a shirt or with a sign, Americans have a right to do so without interference from government.