Sunday, December 18, 2016
Teach the Constitution TO Carmel High Admin
Teach the Constitution TO Carmel High Admin
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 18, 2016
When thinking of the administrators at Carmel High School in the heart of ultra-red Hamilton County, Indiana one of my favorite scenes from Mel Brooks’ classic comedy Blazing Saddles immediately springs to mind.
The late Gene Wilder is attempting to console the late Cleavon Little following a vicious racial slur aimed at Little. Wilder to Little: “These are people of the land; the common clay of the new West – you know – morons!”
That is the appropriate adjective for the administrators of Carmel High School following their very short-sighted decision to remove an anti-abortion, pro-adoption sign posted, with permission, by Carmel Teens for Life. This act of censorship came at the heels of one, a singular, student’s complaint that the sign was offensive.
Picture this hand drawn sign reading “3,000 Lives Are Ended Each Day…,” in rainbow colors at the top, with about 300 multi-colored hearts filling the poster, and the word abortion at the bottom with the letters “b” and “r” crossed out, replaced by “d” and “p,” to turn abortion into adoption. A great message.
How is this offensive? To whom is this offensive? Is it offensive to people who support the murder of the unborn? Is it offensive to those opposing adoption? What reason could there be to find this sign offensive? Apparently a reason for the complaint is unnecessary, just the mere objection, and the censors are quick to act – the First Amendment be damned.
Does the Constitution cease to exist at the front door of Carmel High School? Or at any school for that matter?
Enter the Liberty Council, a non-profit, legal organization in Florida willing to take action against the school district following the singling out of the conservative student group. After all this is the same school that has permitted posters supporting the homosexual community as well as political groups. Fair and balanced – certainly not. Schools should not be picking and choosing which opinions to favor and support, yet the conservatives seem to be more under fire than the liberals.
“Schools can limit speech or other forms of expression if it is disruptive and would disrupt the school’s education mission,” said David Schuman, a professor at the University of Oregon’s school of law. How is a sign promoting life and adoption adorned with hearts disruptive to the school’s mission? One would think a sign promoting the murder of the unborn to be more disruptive and disconcerting to people. Schuman also said the reason for removing the poster would play a role, but Carmel High administrators have not been forthcoming with one.
Schuman suggested that disallowing “posters that generate complaints from students who have been emotionally upset and unable to study, or prohibiting speech considered lewd,” could be acceptable reasons.
Those would be enormously broad based and vague reasons as to prevent any sign of any subject from being hung at Carmel High and set a dangerous precedent for schools nationwide. Consider a poster hung advertising baseball tryouts and based upon the above criteria, should one student complain that the poster is making that singular student emotionally upset and unable to study, that sign would have to be removed. Perhaps the student had a bad experience at a baseball game when younger or was rejected from the team in a previous year. For that matter a student lacking the talent to sing could lodge a similar complaint about a poster advertising auditions for the school’s annual musical and that poster, again, based upon the above criteria would need to be removed.
It’s a slippery slope to the point where no communication would be allowable because of the possibility that a singular student could be emotionally impacted negatively. This is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when writing the Constitution. We the people do not have the right not to be offended. As Iowa State Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R) said recently about some group of whiners, “suck it up, buttercup!”
Speech that one finds distasteful or offensive should not be silenced. Instead, it should be challenged with even more speech. Open the lines of communications – argue, debate, challenge – albeit respectfully, and perhaps everyone can learn something. The Carmel Teens for Life’s anti-abortion, pro-adoption poster should absolutely be returned to the walls of Carmel High School thus supporting the life of the Constitution and the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights.