05/22/12 — Free speech: Teacher's mistake? Forgetting Constitution's lessons

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Free speech: Teacher's mistake? Forgetting Constitution's lessons

It is not about the politics, although some people will say that is all it is about.

But the hoopla created over the YouTube video of a North Carolina teacher refusing to allow criticism of President Barack Obama should really be more about the American right she was stomping all over.

The U.S. Constitution allows free speech -- even for students. So, if a young person wants to critique the president's decision-making or to call into question an attack he has levied at his opponent, as long as he does so respectfully and maturely, he should be allowed to do so. Period.

It is scary to think that anyone who is charged with teaching social studies would not understand the very basic tenets of the American political system -- especially why presidents are not supposed to be put on pedestals, no matter who they are.

And it is even scarier that there might be students who are too easily influenced or too frightened to have or to express their own thoughts on their future and their leaders.

This teacher can support whomever she wishes. That is not the debate.

What matters is that she encourages her students to think for themselves and to draw their own conclusions.

That is a critical lesson for any young person.

Published in Editorials on May 22, 2012 11:03 AM