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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • EDITORIAL: At least Compton's students won't soon forget his flag-stomping lesson

  • If we're truly a free country, his motivations for doing what he did shouldn't really matter.
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  • There probably aren’t going to be a lot of muddy, middle-of-the-road reactions when word hits the street that a high school teacher stomped on an American flag in class in front of his students. Those who figure the teacher had to have some type of larger, profound meaning behind his actions will quickly say that what he did is protected speech. Even some particularly patriotic types might grudgingly admit that American soldiers have fought and died so that anyone, no matter how misguided their actions might be, can do something like desecrate the American flag. Then there are likely a whole bunch of people who would, no matter any extenuating circumstances that might exist surrounding the teacher’s flag-stomping behavior, demand his immediate firing. Isn’t a school district, after all, exercising its freedom if it decides to hand the teacher a pink slip?
         Which is all pretty much understandable. It’s the United States of America’s flag, after all, also known as Old Glory. It’s a symbol of our freedom that conjures up a whole range of emotions and opinions, the latter of which most people aren’t going to modify no matter how many alternative views are presented to them.
        Which brings us to South Carolina high school English teacher Scott Compton, who actually did stomp on a flag in his classroom recently. He said he did it as part of a lesson, to illustrate in particularly in-your-face fashion what it means to live in a free country. In the state he teaches, however, there is no teacher tenure that might protect his employment status, nor is there a teachers’ union that might go to great lengths to protect his employment status, especially if they figure he’s being wronged. In South Carolina, all a superintendent of a school district has to do is recommend a teacher’s firing, and that recommendation then goes to the school board. Compton is appealing the superintendent’s recommendation.
        Don’t fire the guy. You can debate Compton’s merits as a teacher because of this single act, but one thing can’t be argued: His students will probably never forget his graphic lesson on freedom and liberty in the United States of America. He could have talked about liberty and freedom all he wanted or presented a PowerPoint, but he decided to demonstrate it instead. Given what’s happened since, his students are probably still learning additional, new lessons with each passing day.
        Compton had to know that in this digital age of hand-held, wireless communication, his flag-stomping demonstration would eventually go viral, and that he was going to get heaps of attention. If Compton wanted his actions, specifically, to get the attention, to start a larger conversation on the subject of how much this nation really believes in freedom and liberty, then he certainly achieved his goal.
    Page 2 of 2 -     Too bad it might cost him his job, because if this is about absolute true freedom, his motivations for doing what he did shouldn’t even come into play.

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