“Freedom” of Speech: An Opinion

Fazli Hida, Staff Writer

In Fayetteville, North Carolina, Civics teacher Lee Francis, who teaches at Massey Hill Classical High School, was teaching his students their rights as Americans through real world illustrations. He brought an American flag into the classroom and asked if his students had a lighter. When no one offered one, he proceeded to step on the flag while explaining the rights that every American has.

Two students left immediately in protest while the rest of the class stayed. Ever since, Lee Francis has been put on administrative leave, and he has been drowning in a sea of hate mail and death threats by those who heard of his lesson. Yet, he still stands by that lesson, along with students, teachers, and civil rights lawyers.

One of Francis’s students, Alex Dunn, did not agree with his teacher’s actions, because his father serves in the Army. “He just has no respect, especially working in a military community,” Dunn commented.

Francis realizes his student’s right to protest his actions, claiming that, “Their actions prove I’m not telling people what to think.” Instead, he wished this demonstration would spark conversation and debate in the class. He says this as a person who has family members that serve in the military.

Saying that placing Francis under administrative leave for exercising his rights as an American citizen is appalling, would be the understatement of the year. Not only does it breach his civil liberties, but it also corrupts the views that the students will now have due to the actions of the Board of Education. They were taught that the freedoms granted to them could be perverted, to please those who take offense to such actions. The Constitution itself states that Congress cannot restrict the rights of individuals to speak freely.

While this also means that those who exercise their right to criticize acts as such cannot be punished, why should the other side feel those repercussions?