Kids in a high school in Des Moines, Iowa recently protested the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City. The protest lasted about 15 minutes, during the students’ lunch hour. They held signs, marched, chanted, and eventually laid down in a “die in” for 4.5 minutes.
Apparently none of this caused any significant disturbance at the school. On the video of the incident you can see other students watching, while teachers and the principal look on. In fact, the principal complimented the kids for their social awareness and calling the protest “way cool.”
Well, that’s not exactly the way some members of the general public saw it! The news story I read carried comments from readers. Here’s a short sample:
“…in short, [you students] are idiots. Now get back to class.” Fred.
“Fred, they’re not idiots, their gourds are empty and awaiting the next phase of brainwashing you and I are paying for through taxes and tuition.” Kit.
“…these CHILDREN need to be in class learning something worthwhile instead of using these incidents as an excuse to get out of school. The faculty and principal should be fired for failing to maintain control of the school. What a bunch of morons…..Disgraceful.” Terry.
One reader called the kids “no-nothings.” Fortunately, another reader corrected him, pointing out that the term is “know-nothings.”
From the Dawg’s perspective, the principal should not be fired. He should be honored. He respected student free speech, as is required by the U.S. Constitution. Ironically, we know this is true because of a case that arose in the 1960s in Des Moines, Iowa! Tinker v. Des Moines established that students enjoy the constitutional right of free speech, even while they are at school.
The limitation is that they may not cause a “material and substantial” disruption of school. If this protest had disrupted class, or if the “die in” had impeded traffic flow, the principal would be authorized to take some sort of action. But that didn’t happen here, and the principal had the good sense to monitor the situation without trying to stop it. He did not “fail to maintain control of the school,” as Terry charged. In fact, if he had tried to stop this peaceful protest, he would have likely embroiled the school in litigation that would not have ended well for the Des Moines school district.
So hats off to principal Gary McClanahan. You can see the news story and the protest for yourself at this link: http://www.kcci.com/news/students-stage-die-in-protest/30117074
DAWG BONE: STUDENT FREE SPEECH ALIVE AND WELL IN DES MOINES, IOWA!