Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Free Speech Lesson Up in Smoke

Stuart Middle School seventh-grade social studies teacher Dan Holden gave his students a lesson in free speech that they likely won't forget. In each of his two social studies classes, the Louisville, KY, teacher burned a small American flag to inspire his students to write an essay on their first amendment rights. Even though school district officials received only one complaint, they reassigned Holden to non-instructional work and contacted fire officials as to the flag burnings. He now faces possible criminal charges as to child endangerment with regard to the open flame in the classroom. Holden had no prior disciplinary record.

Cf. http://www.local6.com/news/9714394/detail.html and http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SCHOOL_FLAG_BURNING?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US.


piperfromtn said...

What do you think about this?  I believe one can pick less controversial means to get the lesson across.  This comes from someone who is well versed in controversial means.  I would suggest discussing flag burning, without actually doing it and ask for thoughts on why we should permit it or not.  Sounds uberlib, I know, but if you're in public screwals, it confuses libs who actually think you're one of them :)  Meanwhile, you can speak the truth in love and sometimes win the occasional heart and mind.

jakeho said...

J, I don't doubt that Holden wishes now that he had taken the course of action that you suggest. However, I don't think that the treatment afforded him will teach his students the value of our free speech rights or our other inalienable ones.   Even though I view the burning of the flag as disturbing and repulsive personally, I tend to believe that it is indeed an expression of free speech that falls within the ambit and aegis of the First Amendment.