Archive for Thursday, January 28, 2016

Free State High School student told Confederate flag not allowed at school

Free State High School

Free State High School

January 28, 2016

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A Free State High School student who was displaying a Confederate flag on the vehicle he drove to school has been told he can no longer display the flag on school property.

Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll said that the administration at the school considered the student’s free speech rights before making the decision.

“School staff see this issue as an educational opportunity for students and fully understand the school’s obligation to respect students’ free speech rights and protect students from racial discrimination and harassment, as the Confederate flag may be associated with racism, slavery and violence against African-Americans,” Doll said via email.

The district does not have a policy regarding the Confederate flag, but Free State’s student handbook does have a discrimination and harassment policy. That policy states that the Lawrence public school district is committed to providing a positive and productive learning and working environment, free from discrimination and harassment. Discrimination is defined as follows:

“Discrimination is conduct which affords a student different treatment, solely on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner which interferes with or limits the ability of the student to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or programs of the school.”

A spokeswoman for the district said that the decision not to allow the student to bring the flag to school was based on the effect it was having on the environment.

“It was disrupting the learning environment, so Free State High administration asked the student not to bring the flag back on campus,” district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said via email.

Free State’s policy states that any student who engages in discriminatory conduct shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from school. Boyle said that apart from being told not to bring the flag to campus, the student was not disciplined. Further details about the incident could not be shared under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of student education records.

“We don't discuss school issues involving individual students in order to protect student privacy rights,” Boyle said.

Doll said that the incident would be used to discuss issues surrounding race with students at the school.

“Using tools learned through the school district’s racial equity work, Free State High staff continue to engage students in meaningful discussion prompted by a student’s display of the Confederate flag on a personal vehicle in the school parking lot,” Doll said.

Comments

Charles Fogarty 7 months ago

How ironic that the rebel flag would be shown at a high school named "Free State."

Mike Riner 7 months ago

Next they'll have "safe rooms" where the students won't have to worry about the possibility of being offended! Or else they'll be like some southern california schools who don't allow students to have American Flags, for fear it may offend some foreign folk....

Brett McCabe 7 months ago

Try riding in the bottom of a boat in shackles and then spend the rest of your life under a whip, and then tell me what you think of a Confederate Flag.

It's interesting to me that I always see these confederate flags being flown in predominantly white neighborhoods. I'd like to see someone park their truck and stand by it, with their confederate flag-a-flying, in south L.A.

Mike Riner 7 months ago

I'm sure I wouldn't like it at all. But the fact that I don't like something isn't reason enough to castigate anyone and everyone who perhaps has an opinion different from mine. Just because a few on this forum feel theirs is the only opinion that matters, doesn't make it so.

Bob Forer 7 months ago

Mike, your statement is exceedingly foolish. In a civilized modern society, racism is not subject to differing individual "opinion" .

Racism is wrong is wrong is wrong is wrong. Please elaborate on why you think it is reasonable to have any olther opinion, unless, of course, you are a closet racist.

Mike Riner 7 months ago

Bob, I won't dignify your moronic statement with an answer.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

So you don't think racism is a sin? It's hatred. Anyone who is a Christian cannot be a racist. It they are, they are not following the teachings of their religion. The Bible has been used to justify slavery and racism, which is just sick.

Jason Johnson 7 months ago

Bob, to a degree, everyone is biased. Whether that takes on a form of racism, sexism, ageism, etc, we will never stamp that out of our human existence. Certainly we should strive to learn and love each other, but from times immemorial there has always been an "us vs them" mentality. Doesn't make it right, but it's at the very core of our ancestry. If people deny it, they're flat-out lying. It's best to embrace your frailties and try to grow from them.

I would be lying if I said I'm not nervous when I get on an airplane with people who look like they're from the Middle east. It doesn't mean I'm going to punch them or yell at them, or call them names or anything like that. But at the same time, when I'm at work (multinational corporation with people from all over) I try to talk with people from that culture to gain a better understanding.

Justin Hoffman 7 months ago

I don't see many people chanting "black lives matter" in backwoods America either.

Bob Forer 7 months ago

Thanks for reminding me, Justin, that there is a lower half of the bell curve.

And thanks for demonstrating that there are still a few miserable racists out there.

Brett McCabe 7 months ago

That's because there aren't any people there.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

How many people living today actually had that experience, Brett?

John McCluskey 7 months ago

So after the last Holocaust victim dies, will it be ok to bring back the swastika?

Mike Domann 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Did you or anyone you know experience this? Has anyone made a real connection between the confederate flag and slavery besides the confederates supported slavery? The answer to both of these questions is no

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

Two points to be made.

First, schools have to create a positive environment for learning. I would not be comfortable seeing the confederate flag at school and I'm sure many there were made uncomfortable by it.

Second, kids don't have freedom of speech at school, just like we don't have it at our workplaces.

We are the FREE STATE, not part of the confederacy. This kid needs to learn some American history. It sickens me that youth are still being raised to be complete bigots. Why the hell would a kid in KS want the "rebel" flag?

I've only had one experience with someone flying that stupid flag. Shortly after Obama was elected, a wonderful redneck flying the flag from his pickup (in Leavenworth county), yelled some terrible things at me and then tried to run me off the road. Just because, as he yelled it, I was a "n****r lover. That flag represents a part of our past that we should be ashamed of, not proud of.

There is good reason for them to ban that flag.

David Holroyd 7 months ago

Why would one one yell at you? Did you have something on your car or did you yell at the truck driver, wassup?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

She probably had an Obama sticker on her car.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

That was exactly it!!! I had an Obama bumper sticker on my car. Had just stopped at the gas station at Linwood on K32. Redneck saw me pull out and saw the sticker and chased me down 32 and then went into the opposing lane and tried to run me off the road while shouting racist insults at me. I was able to get off onto some grass on the side, he tried turning around and I hit the gas and did 90 mph the rest of the way to Lawrence. Still won't stop in Linwood to this day.

Nathan Anderson 7 months ago

Kids definitely have a right to free speech, and the SCOTUS has upheld that right in the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines. The fact that you don't think they have free speech rights is disturbing.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

NO THEY DON'T!

In the school context, the United States Supreme Court has identified three major relevant considerations:[6] 1.The extent to which the student speech in question poses a substantial threat of disruption (Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist.). 2.Whether the speech is offensive to prevailing community standards (Bethel School District v. Fraser). 3.Whether the speech, if allowed as part of a school activity or function, would be contrary to the basic educational mission of the school (Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier).

Bethel School District v. Fraser - Under the Fraser standard, school officials look not merely to the reasonable risk of disruption—the Tinker standard—but would also balance the freedom of a student's speech rights against the school's interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior. Schools have discretion to curtail not only obscene speech, but speech that is vulgar, lewd, indecent, or plainly offensive.

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier - Supreme Court observed that "[a] school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with 'its basic educational mission'...even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school".

Aaron McGrogor 7 months ago

I think you're a little confused. You have the right of free speech at schools and at places of work. What you don't have is protection from the repercussions of what you say.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

No, I'm not confused. I actually have an education degree and have had to learn all the laws and limitations and know what I'm talking about. I also learned this in high school as yearbook editor and the principal could legally censor what we put in the yearbook and school newspaper.

In the school context, the United States Supreme Court has identified three major relevant considerations:[6] 1.The extent to which the student speech in question poses a substantial threat of disruption (Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist.). 2.Whether the speech is offensive to prevailing community standards (Bethel School District v. Fraser). 3.Whether the speech, if allowed as part of a school activity or function, would be contrary to the basic educational mission of the school (Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier).

Bethel School District v. Fraser - Under the Fraser standard, school officials look not merely to the reasonable risk of disruption—the Tinker standard—but would also balance the freedom of a student's speech rights against the school's interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior. Schools have discretion to curtail not only obscene speech, but speech that is vulgar, lewd, indecent, or plainly offensive.

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier - Supreme Court observed that "[a] school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with 'its basic educational mission'...even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school".

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

Also, you are totally wrong about having free speech at work. I just love it when people think they know it all.

The Constitution’s right to free speech only applies when the government is trying to restrict it. Even then, it’s not absolute. There is no free speech in your house; ask your mom. And there is no legal right to free speech or expression at work. (If you work for the government, there is a special set of rules that apply.)

http://www.hrexaminer.com/is-there-free-speech-at-work/

Mike Domann 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Did you not see that these schools are trying to censor the confederate flag and free speech? You can't say "banning these is a repercussion" as we have established that being able to have them and fly them is a right to free speech.

Marshell Carnage 7 months ago

I don't want the flag banned. I just people wish knew what it stood for and realized it belongs in a museum or the bottom of a bird cage.

Armen Kurdian 7 months ago

Your opinion offends me. So you should not be allowed to say such things. So you need to be censored.

Anyone Muslim at that school wearing a crescent? That offends me, terrorism. Should be removed. Anyone every say anything good about Al Sharpton? Suspend them, that's not good. Anyone wear a Che Gueverra shirt? That's wrong, they should be suspended. Wait, did you just wish me Merry Christmas? Expelled!

You don't get to be judge & jury to free speech. Subjective rules on free speech allow people like you to dictate what is and is not acceptable. Is that the message you want to tell our kids? Maybe the kid had an ancestor who fought in the Civil War, defending his home, and didn't care about slavery? Does the kid have to justify his exercise of his 1st Amendment rights now? I am TIRED of the population segment who believe the 1st Amendment means they have the right to not be offended by something and censure those people they disagree with. That is the road to fascism or at least totalitarianism. Don't think that's an exaggeration, that's what you are demonstrating.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

It's very simple and is the LAW. Students don't have free speech rights at school if creates a disturbance, causes other students to not feel safe, etc.... You don't like that, then try to take it to court. Oh wait, SCOTUS already has heard these cases and made determinations regarding free speech at school.

Kids better get used to it. You work in the real world, you are censored at work. I can't come to work flying that stupid flag, wearing something other co-workers find offensive, etc.....

People seem to either forget or not understand that the 1st amendment only protects you from having the govt prosecute you. It doesn't give everyone free will to say or do whatever they want, wherever they want.

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.

Bob Forer 7 months ago

A university is not a "safe space". If you need a safe space, leave, go home, hug your teddy & suck your thumb until ready for university.

--Richard Dawkins, a preeminent British Biologist and Philosopher

Gary Hawke 7 months ago

I'm a conservative high school teacher. If you want to fly the flag or have it on your truck, fine. Just don't bring it to school. I support the 'not displaying offensive items at school'. This goes for beer t-shirts, off color sexual references, etc. And, before you make the argument about offensive, let me say, if it flunks the bad taste test, it should be removed. It certainly doesn't prevent students from seeing and experiencing all the bad taste they want, just not at school.

Charles Fogarty 7 months ago

I am a retired California teacher and no school I know of ever banned students from having American flags.

Darrell Lea 7 months ago

I commend superintendent Rick Doll on his decision. The Stars and Bars is a flag of treason and nothing else. If the student were displaying a Nazi or Isis flag we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

John Fickel 7 months ago

I have to agree the Stars and Bars is a flag of treason. It should be ban and never shown in the USA. It is what is wrong with the USA today. Some have digress an wish for the old days. I'm a sorry Kansas Goverment is going down that path! Thank you for standing up for what is right.!!!

Randolf Fellows 7 months ago

Darrell, I think you've got it all wrong. While I agree that Free State has every right to ban the flag and I think it was a good idea (at least to ban it on the school grounds), it's not the treason that I'm concerned about. The flag should be banned because it carries such inflammatory racist symbolism. Free speech in our schools should be allowed for symbols of defiance or contempt of our government. For one thing, that's exactly the kind of speech the forefathers were trying to protect. For another, treasonous symbols don't tend to marginalize a specific group. The school has every right to ban racist symbols.

David Holroyd 7 months ago

And how much will come from the educational experience this inciden is supposed to produce?

The school only did not allow the flag on school property. What is next?

If a flag disrupts the learning environment at Free State, that must be one heck of a special learning environment :)

Lawrence is soooo special!

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

Maybe they can use this incident to better teach KS and American history. It's obviously needed since they have kids dumb enough to even associate with that flag.

The school can only control what happens on school property. What do you even mean, what is next?

The flag was disruptive to learning because I'm sure it made MANY students uncomfortable and created a distraction. If other students are doing anything to create negative, hurtful energy, then that will disrupt learning. Instead of making stupid comments, maybe talk to a teacher about how something like this can be very disruptive. Kids are there for one reason, to learn. They don't need to feel harassed or threatened. I can understand them feeling threatened, because I also have a very scary incident with a stupid, proud, redneck, hateful rebel flag flyer.

Jesse Thompson 7 months ago

Losers don't get to fly their flags.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Do you go about demanding that English flags flying in America be removed because that lost the Revolution?

Jesse Thompson 7 months ago

I haven't seen any British flags flapping from the back of a truck or used as a window shade. In this instance, if it disrupts the learning environment, then, yes, it's gotta go.

Richard Aronoff 7 months ago

It would be an interesting exercise to stand outside Free State High School and ask students if they knew why the school was called Free State.

Bob Forer 7 months ago

As a Jew, if I saw a swastika flying at my high school, I would be deeply offended and angered. . Accordingly, I understand why Blacks would be very hurt, offended, and angry by the Confederate Flag. Those of you who believe it is :"political correctness" (in the very pejorative sense) are probably so lacking in empathy and so self centered that you are incapable of viewing matters beyond the scope of your limited perceptions of reality.

Thank you, Dr. Doll for the ability to view reality from an inclusive perspective, and the courage to act accordingly.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

You are aware that the symbol known as a swastika was used by many different cultures that had nothing to do with National Socialism in Germany, right? http://www.japanese-buddhism.com/swastika.html Do you get your tail up over your back for all of them?

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Really, Bob Smith? You're going down that road? You know, all this time, I just thought you to be a curmudgeonly, wrong-headed guy who just wanted to rail against reason just because you could. This changes the game.

That you could make this comment, use that citation, shows that you have absolutely no sense of empathy, and, in fact, have evolved a way of hating that is exactly what this kid with the flag exhibited. I'm appalled that you can ask Forer what you did, unless, as you have here demonstrated, you are the miscogenist your comment reveals you to be.

Congratulations, Bob Smith, for coming out of the closet.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Thank you for proving all the points I've made on this thread.

Barb Gordon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Were "all the points" you made on the thread just different ways in which you are showing us your bigotry?

Bob Forer 7 months ago

Look again, Bob. They are not the same.

Mike Domann 6 months, 3 weeks ago

A swastika is still just as much free speech as the confederate flag is. No matter how hateful or idiotic something is, it has a right to be flown. Respectfully, it is not up to peoples feelings to make the decisions about whether or not something should be allowed. The argument that it was indeed disrupting the school, which it was, students were very vocal about this, could be made. However, i question if a sacrifice of our first amendment right on a public school, the place in which our bill of rights applies the most, should be made because a mob is disturbed. I don't think the answer is yes. It will always come to the mob rule of democracy. If you make free speech a choice, free speech will always fall under democracy. A tad off topic, but important none the less that the founding fathers were against a democracy for this very reason. We all carry the burdens of history, and nothing should be forgotten, but once we start burning books, we're walking in the paths of those before us. It is not a road I want to see us go down.

Bob Forer 7 months ago

To those person or persons responsible for flying the Confederate Flag at Free State.

You owe Dr. Doll a polite thank you. He stepped in where your parents failed you in teaching right from wrong.

there is also a good possibility that he saved your ignorant ass from an eventual good old fashioned ass kicking .

You may now walk in peace. I hope you learned something.

Justin Hoffman 7 months ago

Thank the good Lord Lawrence is only a small island surrounded by a great state, whose leaders have more common sense....and an understanding of our Constitution. The totalitarian city known as Lawrence continues to shame.

Bob Forer 7 months ago

Justin, it is also the only place in the state with such a high level of intelligence and education. You must live in the woods.

There is something I have always been curious about. When you remove the wheels from your home, where do you store them?

Mike Riner 7 months ago

No, it's a place in the state highly populated with self-righteous bigoted (in their own way) know-it-alls who delight in talking down to anyone who has an opinion that differs from theirs.

Justin Hoffman 7 months ago

Following up your "intelligence" comment with a redneck joke? Ummm, yah. Your beer buddies tell you that one in a bar?

Barb Gordon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

He doesn't live in Kansas at all according to comments he's made here in the past.

Richard Crank 7 months ago

As a retiree who worked in libraries for over 1/3 of a century, I always struggle with any and all limitations on speech/press/expression. Therein lies - always - a path to dictatorship and a tool that dictators use almost inevitably.

When Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois, many years ago (I hope that's part of any resulting "teaching/learning moment" here), I thought it was immoral, even evil, but could see no way for any level of government to prohibit it. But a high school campus is different, and I have to quietly applaud this as an alternative path, as long as the "teaching/learning moment" increases knowledge and understanding in the students.

So I'll continue to have difficulties every single time this comes up ... but this time I'll side with "the authorities."

Bob Forer 7 months ago

Richard, when the Nazi;s march their sole message is a call to incite violence against Jews, Blacks and other minorities . There is nothing to debate. Therefore, it is not "speech" as intended by the Constitution, at least as I see it. Obviously, the Supreme Court sees it differently.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Thank goodness the SCOTUS doesn't agree with you.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

And when someone flies the racist flag, they are wanting to incite violence too. They are sending the message that they are racist. This could either frighten some people, but others would be willing to confront them. We don't need that kind of thing at school.

Richard Crank 7 months ago

A number of years ago, I (I'm gay, so you know) was involved with planning a Danforth Chapel memorial service at KU for a colleague who died of AIDS. The Phelps "people" (I use that word as a courtesy) of course came and used their freedom of expression as expected. So I know the pain of hate speech first hand. I still believe in my comment. But thanks for the reminder that people here are allowed to disagree.

Richard Crank 7 months ago

I'll add further that I once spent over half an hour talking one-on-one with Reinaldo Arenas. He was a Cuban writer and dissident whose first novel was widely praised initially, but who subsequently was recognized to be a dissident (I believe his work remains well-known throughout most of Latin America) and imprisoned for a time. Eventually, after years of censorship, he was able to leave the island in the Mariel Boatlift. That's another reason I'm so concerned about suppression of self-expression, even if (based on what we know) in this case I believe it was handled appropriately.

Nathan Anderson 7 months ago

I'm on the fence with this. The SCOTUS has ruled that kids can't wear clothing with the Confederate flag on campus, and they've ruled that emplyees can't have the flag on their personal vehicle when on school property, but employee rights are curtailed anyway since they're representing the state. However, this kid had a flag on his car (probably antenna) in the parking lot. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that it disturbs or harasses other students from the parking lot. The court has ruled that wearing clothing that advocates for drug use can be banned from campus, but I doubt administrators would require removal of bumper stickers.

Assuming he's flying the flag for reasons other than racism (southern/redneck pride, etc) If there are existing racial tensions on campus, I would say the kid's free speech rights aren't violated by making him remove it. If there aren't racial tensions, I lean towards allowing the flag, as awful as I feel personally about its display. Free speech means nothing if it silences objectionable speech.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.

It does not mean you can say whatever you want anywhere you want. It only prohibits congress (fed govt) from prosecuting or persecuting you. Private property rights trump free speech rights in this case.

Nathan Anderson 7 months ago

That's a laughable argument. This is a PUBLIC school and that is PUBLIC property, meaning they do have free speech rights. Yeesh.

Renee Patrick 7 months ago

Those of you with the idea that kids, high schoolers, file into their seats and sit quietly for class, patiently awaiting the teacher's lecture haven't met any kids today. They are actively engaged. The discussions that are off topic in class, arguements and fights that break out in the halls and classrooms over ideological differences are real. They are hormone filled and can get hotheaded. These are things the schools have a right to temper so the engagement of the students can be focused on teacher material, not the events in the parking lot. Unless kids are sight impaired, they see the truck and are talking about it.

Michael Kort 7 months ago

What is it that they say about "when good people fail to stand up against evil" ?

Well, THE GOOD PEOPLE STOOD UP AND SAID NO..........WELL DONE !

I suppose that this kid could have run up and down the halls yelling fire ( to get attention ) or pulled a fire alarm, which we all know is wrong .

Kids will do all sorts of things that are pointless "to get attention" because they are kids .

If trotting out the ancient symbol of bigotry and racism serves that purpose, then some kid will do it to be noticed; but a school system should not be run by the adults and not by the children, particularly children who will push insulting boundaries, to achieve those ends of being noticed .

Life is tough all over and kids need to respect the goals of a school which is to have a place that is reasonably free of drama to learn in .......no fire alarms or flag drama......and this kid was doing flag drama !

Michael Kort 7 months ago

I meant to say above that the adults should run the school systems and not the kids .

Oh well .

Bigotry is rather "bird brained" in that it is a hard wired almost mechanical response to others, as it is in nature, where one bird does a mobbing call and all the birds will pay attention out of fear, and even risk their life in a caused responding attack on something, that they never think out, as to if it even makes sense (?) .

Mike Thomas 7 months ago

"Stars and bars is a flag of treason"? So are the Stars and Stripes. Ones ok but not the other? And the funniest thing about the whole discussion going on in this column is that most of you are commenting using a smart phone (myself included) that was assembled by some poor soul in a factory in China equipped with suicide nets because their lives are so horrible. And "the kid lives in Lawrence, he shouldn't like that flag anyway"? So since he lives in a certain area he should identify with a certain group of beliefs? I'm a white male but if I woke up tomorrow and said "You know what I'm a black female, that's what I'm gonna be from now on". Probably get a parade down Mass. Or win BET's woman of the year. People need to learn you can have it both ways. Inclusion breeds exclusion.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

Stars and bars were losers. Stars and Stripes won. Get over it.

Victor Vogle 7 months ago

The student should be allowed to have whatever flag he likes. I would like to talk to this student and give him one of my flags to display proudly on his automobile.

David Holroyd 7 months ago

Ms Matlock never explained why the "rednecks" made her feel threatened. What happened?

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

Sorry, I don't live on the LJW site like many of you do. I have a life.

If you look at my first post, yes I did explain it. You don't seem to be able to read, so here it is again.

Had an Obama sticker on my car. Racist redneck flying the racist flag on his pickup screamed racist junk at me and tried to run me off the road.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

To loony liberals, tolerance extends only to those who believe as they do. Anyone who dares express an unapproved idea will be savagely attacked.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

All right, Mr. Smith, from your enlightened perspective from behind the revered swastika, what, exactly, unapproved thought are the "loony liberals" attacking here? What "unapproved idea" is being "savagely attacked"?

Bring it on, Bob, tell everyone how your not-so-closet anymore bigotry relates to American freedom. So, the "right" to defame specific groups of people trumps the responsibility of each and every American to the "right" to live absent the fear of retaliation for simply being different? Minorities are, with you, fair game for intimidation and browbeating and reminding the "where their place is"?

I will defend anyone's right to say as he believes, no matter how stupid, racist, or whatever. I will not, however, let go unanswered attacks on the essence of a person that he can not change. That you were born to become a minority has apparently escaped you. Your image of America as the last bastion of Caucasian "values" is crumbling, Bob. May you never know the queasiness and smoldering anger you and I will probably never understand, or feel, when people like you throw out or encourage acts such as the school banned or speech such as you wrote here.

Have a great day, Bob Smith. You've really made someone feel belittled. Good job.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

"...I will defend anyone's right to say as he believes, no matter how stupid, racist, or whatever. I will not, however, let go unanswered attacks on the essence of a person that he can not change..." These two sentences are somewhat contradictory. Either you believe in free speech or you don't . BTW, you hold a lot of incorrect opinions about me.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Like you, I believe one should be allowed to state what he wants, unless it incites to harm another. Same as you. I, however, do not allow around me those statements or actions that have no relationship to anything but inciting violence or denigrating another human being based on race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. What I said to you is not contradictory, but a statement of my belief in the American way of inclusion rather than the Confederate way of exclusion. And I will never let go unnoticed any statement that furthers that exclusion.

Free speech, Bob, carries with it the responsibility, in our nation, of furthering the rights and responsibilities, the human dignity, of our people. That it is free does not determine that it is correct. The absolute bottom line is that, in encouraging this young man's actions or turning a blind eye to him, one is furthering the racism bound inextricably with the symbol he displayed.

I probably do have some wrong impressions of you, as all I know of you is what I read here. Maybe you could give me an email and we could talk. Believe it or not, I really am open to opinion, and you and I might just have some common ground. Have a great day. Really.

Nancy Hamilton 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Not really contradictory. The constitution protects your right to say stupid stuff and no one here is suggesting that the police should come to your door and shut down your internet server (that would be censorship). However, freedom of speech does not protect you from scorn or ridicule when people disagree. Heck the whole concept of a "comments section" is based on that very premise.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

Since you really seem to be enamored by the Nazi flag, Bob, does that mean you agree with them. I have a personal vendetta against Nazis. They killed my uncle Bill, and severely injured my uncle Duke. So, do people have the right to display that flag? Sure. Do I have a right to attack them. You betcha.

How often has this faux confederate flag been flown by people who belong to the KKK? Can you legally belong to the KKK? Sure, but if you associate with people who have murdered and harassed Blacks, Jews, and anyone "different", then that's the reputation you get. Didn't your mommy teach you that you will be judged by the people with whom you associate? If hatred is your thing, go ahead and fly your hate flags, but don't be offended when you are called out about it. Who is really being too sensitive here?

Bob Smith 7 months ago

"...Since you really seem to be enamored by the Nazi flag..." Don't be more obtuse than you actually are, Dorothy. It's most unbecoming.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

Ooooo. I'm so put down. And following Paul around, accusing him of just calling people names is just a reflection of your own behavior, right? I knew a woman once who was on and off welfare most of her life, but she always made fun and put down people on welfare and the homeless. You are a lot like that, aren't you, Bob?

Joe Blackford II 7 months ago

a What's Left-of-Lenin Poster dedicated to the mind of B. Smith

a What's Left-of-Lenin Poster dedicated to the mind of B. Smith by Joe Blackford II

Ryan Reynolds 7 months ago

There is way too many people being offended in today's society. Don't get me wrong, racism is wrong. There is no place for racism in this world. However....

When did the Confederate Flag become racist? Consider this thought, I personally do not see the flag as anything more than a southern heritage/pride symbol. I know some will jump all over me for that comment but as a person with parents raised in the southern US I see don't see it being a racist symbol. I just dont. Some do, I understand, but some dont. Who gets to decide who is right and who is wrong? I bet if a black kid showed up with a "Black Panthers" shirt he would be allowed to celebrate his heritage or would he be showing a racist symbol?

Instead of teaching our young people to hate/be offended...let's teach them to be open minded. To think for themselves. To be understanding to the FACT that we are all different. We are not all the same. That's what I was tough to as a child. We all have different views. Opinions. Thoughts.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

"When did the Confederate Flag become racist?"

In my reading of history, that happened the day it was first displayed. You may talk of states' rights, but that flag was meant as a statement of the "right" of a state (or nation) to universally deny humanity to a certain group of humans. That's why I detest that symbol, and the actions of those who display it.

Do you, or any of you, think this kid displayed that flag as a statement of states' rights? I'd be highly surprised if he had any notion at all of what that term even means. From there, yes, I agree that he has been failed by the system in his education: parents, friends, schools, churches. For that, I mourn. But, and this is the real issue, he lives in a nation that is based on equality for all and has somehow refused to see that. For that, I blame him, too.

Jason Johnson 7 months ago

It's a lot more complicated than "they just wanted slavery". It has become over-simplified into a north/south antislavery/slavery battle, but that's not entirely what it was about.

True, slavery played role, but it was a complicated set of issues that culminated into the Civil War.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Just so, Jason. BUT, it's hard for me to assign any justification to displaying that flag other than the underlying issue: denying humanity to a specific group of people. It is complicated, but, then, in most cases, when people want to put others in a box of "differentness" it becomes really easy to come up with all sorts of justifications and diversions.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Perhaps you should first realize that your opinions are not universally shared. Then you might be able to conceptualize that others may not see things as you do.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Perfectly understood, and I'm certain you're right.

But let me ask you, again, Bob: what does that flag mean to you?

It's not a trick question, nor is it meant to cast blame. I really want to understand. Thanks.

Sarah Johnson 7 months ago

The thing is, though, people say this to sound smart and avoid acknowledging the harsh reality of the Civil War, but that doesn't change the undeniable truth. All of those other complicated issues you would point to were issues because of slavery. Westward expansion, state's rights, taxation, the collapse of the Whig party. They were ALL problems creating huge divides between North and South because of how slavery was affected or threatened or diminished.

Read any of the documents of secession and that preserving slavery was the South's goal just can't be denied.

Barb Gordon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Um, no. It was about slavery. Trying to claim it was complicated and a delicate dance of many issues blah blah blah is just denial. It was about slavery. You can read the historical documents. The "states rights" they were supporting were the rights to owning slaves.


John McCluskey 7 months ago

Just because you see it that way, doesn't mean that all others are required to. You are entitled to your opinion, just as they are entitled to be offended by it. The Black Panthers sought to liberate their people from fear and intimidation, they had large food banks and were community organizers and can in no way be compared to a Confederacy that left the union so they could maintain a means of production the required the enslavement of another race of people. That you would compare the two shows a real lack of understanding.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Your Disneyfied history of the Black Panthers reveals your bias.

Greg Cooper 6 months, 2 weeks ago

And your comment reveals your lack of insight. Again.

Barb Gordon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

When did the Confederate Flag become racist?

Other than symbolizing a war to own black people as chattel?

Well, the flag we commonly think of as the "Confederate Flag" was not the official flag of the confederacy. It was actually the battle flag of Northern Virginia. The flag was revived by segregationists and was deliberately incorporated into the Georgian flag design in 1956 as a protest against desegregation. And I'm sure you already know how much Dylan Roof loved that flag.

So, uh, pretty much always?

David Reber 7 months ago

It's worth noting that schools cannot restrict free speech simply because someone doesn't like the content of the speech. Hence, the fact that this kid and others were able to fly the Confederate flag many times for the past several years. However, when things turn such that student expression becomes disruptive or can reasonably be foreseen as leading to future safety hazards, then schools can limit such expression. That is what has happened here.

That being said, it seems this kid got exactly what he wanted: attention.

Oh, and it also seems he missed the memo about the Confederacy and their change of flag back in 1865. The flag is now plain white.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

If you can't understand that symbols are open to interpretation and and that different people will interpret them in different ways, you may be a bigot. If you believe that everyone has to agree with you, you are almost certainly a totalitarian. Have fun storming the castle.

Rick Masters 7 months ago

So when you see that sign with the stick figure in the wheelchair, it could mean many different things. Close parking for all!!!

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Nope, laws define what that symbol mean and you interpret it differently at your peril. Personal interpretations of symbols such flags are not defined by law. You are creating a false equivalence.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

School rules are like laws when you are a student.

Jesse Thompson 7 months ago

Exactly, Dorothy, however Bob, et al, can't see past their blatant bigotry to realize school administrators follow policies laid out to ensure a safe, positive learning environment for all students. I would suggest Bob run for the school board and work to change those policies. Stand up in public and own your hatred for others.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

So, Bob, assuming the correctness of your statement, what personal interpretation of that symbol do you think comes to mind? More, what do you think the kid had in mind when he displayed it?

Matthew Fowler 7 months ago

I don't agree with the confederate flag or what it stands for, nor would I ever display it. But I believe that this action is a clear violation of this student's first amendment right to free speech. Banning the display of the flag from official government buildings, in an official capacity, is very different than banning a student from wearing or displaying one, and this student should sue immediately.

Nathan Anderson 7 months ago

It's more complicated than that. If the student was an adult off school grounds, no question it would be a violation of their 1st Amendment rights. The SCOTUS has ruled that there are limitations to student free speech rights on a public school campus.

Jason Johnson 7 months ago

If the student had it displayed on his vehicle, I have no issue with it. Had he brought it inside the school (to put in his locker or something), then yes I agree the school can decide what is or is not appropriate.

The Kansas House and Senate a couple years ago passed a law stating that a vehicle is a mode of conveyance (it was done to prevent businesses from saying an employee could not have a firearm in his vehicle (the conceal carry law)). I would think this could apply here as well. A vehicle is an extension of our home, and the Castle Doctrine laws apply if someone is defending themselves (from a carjacker for instance).

Ergo, if a vehicle is a mode of conveyance and an extension of our home, should the student not have been allowed to display that flag (or really any flag) of their choice?

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

His vehicle was parked on SCHOOL property. SCOTUS has made it very clear -

In the school context, the United States Supreme Court has identified three major relevant considerations:[6] 1.The extent to which the student speech in question poses a substantial threat of disruption (Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist.). 2.Whether the speech is offensive to prevailing community standards (Bethel School District v. Fraser). 3.Whether the speech, if allowed as part of a school activity or function, would be contrary to the basic educational mission of the school (Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier).

Bob Summers 7 months ago

I would think Liberal Democrats be proud of their flag since they developed it to protect their holding Blacks to do the work around the house.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

Nice try. Go back and read a little history please. I'll give you some hints to help since you - William Jennings Bryan, Franklin Roosevelt, Barry Goldwater & Freedom Summer.

Read about these three people, what they did and what happened during Freedom Summer in MS, then come back to play with the rest of us.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Read about Richard Byrd's career in the Klan and come back to the discussion.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

I know about that *sshat (I'm a history buff, I know more than most about our history), but you can't use one long-term senator that refused to leave the party and was from a racist state that was happy to reelect him (no matter what party he claimed to be part of) to justify your false statement about the democratic party and how the parties switched viewpoints on many issues. Anyone can run under any party affiliate. It's up to the citizens to decide if they want to elect them and that's exactly why Byrd stayed in office.

You are just showing your true colors on here. We all get it, you're a racist. Get out your battle flag and fly it proudly. Just don't be surprised when others call you out for being a racist.

So funny - I was brought up to be proud that I was from the FREE STATE. Kansas was the progressive state and not a place to be ashamed of. I was also brought up to believe in love and that we are all equal. That flag represents the opposite.

Dennis Mersmann 7 months ago

I agree with Hollywood film star Ryan Reynolds. When did the flag of a secessionist nation who built its economy on race-based slavery, and whose leaders, and the flag's creator, explicitly said their cause was maintaining slevery and defending the idea that "The negro is in no sense [the white man's] equal," become a racist symbol? We should all keep an open mind when someone declares that, even though the Confederate States explicitly wrote in their declarations of secession that they were fighting to keep slavery, they just really like the design of the symbol most closely associated with those states. Just keep an open mind. But not when someone says "that bothers me." Ignore those people. They're just butthurt.

John McCluskey 7 months ago

Let's not forget that it was a group of Free State student who vandalized LHS last year with racist words and slogans. Both spray painted and bleached onto the football field. I remember going to LHS and this exact issue ( confederate plates on trucks) caused a huge brawl outside of the gym because a number of Black and Hispanic student had issues with it. Go figure. Words devolved into fists and about 15 people were suspended after a huge fight erupted. This was '96-'97 and we are still having this same problems

Greg DiVilbiss 7 months ago

Though I find it curious that anyone would want to have the confederate battle flag on their vehicle and really do not have a problem with it not being allowed.

I am curious how it disrupted the educational environment, I mean how many people would even see it. Also, it was outside the school. I think calling it offensive makes a lot more sense than saying it was disruptive to the learning environment.

And speaking of being disruptive what about all of those formerly banned books? Some are very disruptive and are an attack on some people's sensibilities and feelings. Should we revisit this? Maybe it is time to start burning them again. (sarcastic comment)

What about lyrics in songs that are offensive and hateful, should those be banned?

Just not sure where it stops.

Mike Green 6 months, 4 weeks ago

In this case there has been a game of 'steal the flag", several fights, and a suspension.

Richard Aronoff 7 months ago

The problem with banning a flag --- Confederate, Nazi, etc. --- is that it sends it underground. Wouldn't you rather know where someone stands and have the opportunity to ask them why they display that flag?

While I may be a card carrying Episcopalian, because of my last name, I'd like to know if a neo-Nazi is living down the street.

Kristine Matlock 7 months ago

The flag is only being "banned" on school property. This idiot kid can fly it anywhere else he wants.

Bart Johnson 7 months ago

It's pretty sad that people are so scared of a flag.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Scared, Bart? That's quite a jump of logic, as if you hadn't read most of the posts here. It's pretty sad that you choose to characterize concern as fright. It's also pretty sad that your off-speed comment meant nothing pertaining to this discussion.

I will, though, admit that I'm scared of something and that is that it's pretty obvious that there is a stream of racism in this town that I believed had nearly died. That scares me, Bart.

Bart Johnson 7 months ago

Really? You think there's something to be concerned about regarding a flag? Should we call the ambulance? Is someone hurt?

I think it's pathetic that people get so worked up over nothing. And let's think about how this was even made into an issue. I went to LHS, but I assume that Free State operates the same, with teachers and students parking in separate lots. That means some student saw it and then ratted the person out, trying to get them in trouble over nothing. That's the kind of behavior that we should be concerned about. Who cares about some stupid flag. I cannot believe this is what ails our society today...

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Like I said earlier, Bart, you haven't read any of this. Fear is not an issue anywhere. And you might want to do so before you become attached to that thought.

Paul Beyer 7 months ago

Born and raised in the South. I know exactly what the people who wave this flag mean. And it is not Southern Heritage, it is pure racism, In the case of this student it's pure ignorance and attention wanting. This student is simply showing how ignorant they are.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

Amazing how you claim to know the motivations and thoughts of millions of people you've never met. Stereotype much?

Renee Patrick 7 months ago

Stereotypes are often based on experience. I will back Paul here; also lived in the south with southern relatives who use that flag for the same reasons he sited. Racist beliefs.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

Ain't no stereotype, Bob. Those who wave this flag do so for one reason: ignorance. Racism is ignorant, justifying racism is ignorant, and displaying symbols of ones racism is ignorant.

Any questions, Bob, as to where I stand? It just takes a bit of the study of history to judge the few who continue waving the stupid banner. The thoughts and motivations of millions of people I have never meant are not an issue, here, are they, Bob? The motivations and thoughts of today's people who wave it comes down to ignorance. There isn't any earthly reason for displaying that flag today but bullying ignorance.

Anything else?

Paul Beyer 7 months ago

Have you ever even been in the South? Have you ever interacted or talked with true Southerners? Based on your posts, the answer is no. And fortunately there are not millions that think like this ignorant, racist person with their racist flag. This person, like you just wants attention and doesn't realize how stupid they appear to be, or may actually be.

Bart Johnson 7 months ago

How can a flag be racist? It's just a piece of cloth. I think you folks need to stop the act, because clutching your pearls and fainting is getting old.

Jesse Thompson 7 months ago

You obviously say this with the benefit of white skin. You can NEVER understand what fear that flag brings to someone of color. Don't make me show you pictures.

Bart Johnson 7 months ago

Someone had a flag on their car! Should I call the ambulance? Is someone hurt?

And I would love to see these pictures of flags chasing people down and attacking them.

Greg Cooper 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes, someone was hurt. Anyone who had hoped that racism was not an issue in their surroundings was hurt by seeing one hearin or reading about this punk kid and his mean-spirited display of the leading symbol of human injustice.

That you choose to characterize this issue satirically says volumes about your character and insight into human behavior. Tell me how I'm wrong.

Bart Johnson 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Really? How do you know that racism is an issue?

Bob Smith 7 months ago

"Have you ever even been in the South?..." I grew up in the South, so that's yet another thing you are completely wrong about. You tend to assign simplistic beliefs to others. Most of the time you are incorrect. The pity is that you seem incapable of learning from your mistakes. Too solidly set in your own prejudices.

Barb Gordon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm completely not shocked to hear that you grew up in the south and formed your opinions of minorities there. The rest of your post just makes me giggle with the irony.

Cyrus Buster 7 months ago

Okay, I used to go to Lawrence schools and have never seen someone with a rebel flag, I had never even heard of it until now, but ever since I moved I have realized that more people do this in Eudora KS, more than anywhere else they have the "rebel" flag all over the place. Kids have it on their cell phone, belt buckles, bumper stickers, and just about anywhere else you can think. I have been through this town and every one has one, I personally don't like or support the flag but if you want to see a flag come to Eudora KS.

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