Opinion: Flag confiscation goes against principle of First Amendment

Graphic by Abi Wilson 20

Graphic by Abi Wilson ’20

Jackson Jogan '21, Supervising Editor

To begin, I am deeply disturbed and upset at the disappointing action taken by our administration at the Friday night North v. South football game. Two of our administrators took a Donald Trump 2020 campaign flag from a group of students who were following the U.S.A. themed student section.

The silencing of any opinion that is not a popular one is a growing trend in our country and it is making it hard to use our full right of free speech. I fully understand that it was against school policy to hang a sign on the school’s property, but the policy itself violates the principle of the First Amendment. Regardless of the fact that the policy is in place, the right to expression was infringed upon.

Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) is a landmark case that ended with a decision which dictated that the First Amendment applies to public schools and a constitutionally valid reasoning has to be provided to regulate any speech in the school setting. The problem is that Michigan is not a Tinker state, so we are not afforded this same right.

During the case, the court proclaimed that “it can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” I want you to read that closely and see if you still think it is reasonable to remove a flag supporting our president. Our right to free speech shouldn’t change just because we walk onto a school campus.

Whether you support Donald Trump or not, this should upset you. Free speech is protected in our constitution. Free speech is the base of everything we have ever fought for. It is the First Amendment in our Constitution for a reason. Students not being permitted to support a sitting president is a loss of their right to free expression.

I would say that supporting a sitting president could be considered the pinnacle of free speech. Unless, of course, that president is controversial as a person; then it’s not okay to support him. It’s not ok to exercise free speech. It seems as though today, either you hate Trump, or you get stereotyped as a racist, homophobic and mysoginistic person. I feel like those are very unfair assumptions to make.

The actions of our administration regarding the confiscation of a flag supporting Donald Trump are wrong. If you care even slightly about your right to speak freely in this school, and this country, then you will speak out against this. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not you support Trump. It does matter whether or not you support the base of our country’s creation. If you support this confiscation, you don’t support the right to free speech.

I will be able to vote in the 2020 election, along with the students that held the flag. This confiscation is in my opinion, a violation of the principle of First Amendment rights and a violation of a Supreme Court decision. As long as the administration continues to put rules in place regarding our free speech, I will not stay silent. 

 A principal’s job isn’t to set the political tone of a school by making a statement such as the removal of flag. A principal’s job should be to educate and guide kids by providing a safe and accepting environment for all. 

I encourage you to take this action to heart. I do not feel as though this is a small issue. Free expression needs to be respected and allowed. The kids holding the flag were not causing any problems. They were supporting our president. Their right to support Trump, is a right that needs to be upheld.

Was administration right to remove the Trump 2020 flag at the North vs. South football game?

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