Channel 4 has been following a National Anthem protest episode in Bauxite, where a mother complained that her son was knocked over by a football teammate for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem at s pep rally.
The student also was booed by other students, who chanted “USA.” According to his mother’s account, the student also was remonstrated by a coach, who’d ordered him to “get the fuck up.”
This is one of many incidents nationally related to the demonstrations inspired by a professional football player’s symbolic demonstration about police treatment of black suspects. And it is another that displays a broad lack of, if not understanding, honor for the First Amendment.
At last report, Bauxite school officials were said to be gathering information about the event and reconsidering a school handbook that requires, for example, students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, with allowance for religious and other objections. An official is quoted as saying kneeling might also be allowed in the future. That is not a good answer.
It often comes as news in many corners of the United States, not just Saline County, that the U.S. Supreme Court long ago ruled that government agents may not require oaths, pledges and other specific means of acceptable First Amendment expressions. You may choose to opt out from such exercises. You may sit, if you choose. This shouldn’t require much legal study.
Nor should it require much study by a public school district to conclude that a physical assault on another student is not permitted, regardless of provocation. And that you should expect a paid faculty member to act against the assailant, not the victim.