First Amendment Violations: How far do we let it go?

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posted on Apr, 7 2013 @ 12:02 PM
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There comes a time when a stand must be taken, to ensure our rights, and to ensure the rights of our children.

For me, that time is now. It's been a long time coming and I know that I am not alone in my belief, nor in my fight. Although this matter does have a personal aspect to it, I am not the party involved, but will stand and support this parent's fight.

I invite all the members of the ATS community to provide their point of view.

There is a general attitude by our teachers, educators and administrators that not only is it acceptable, but it is routinely practiced, to violate the rights of our children and teach them through common practice, that it is not acceptable to have an opinion, and that they cannot question authority without reprimand, reprisal or ridicule.

The following is a letter recently sent to the ACLU (redacted to ensure privacy of the individuals involved):


Dear sir or madam,

Hello, My name is REDACTED. I am writing to you on behalf of REDACTED and possibly all school children in the city of REDACTED and the State of REDACTED.

Did you know that some schools still require our children to stand every morning for the pledge of allegiance? Did you know that any child who refuses is deemed disrespectful or required to state their reasons? Did you know, Parents are required to provide a note giving the child permission to not stand? Well I did not , until it was brought to my attention by my 8 yr old REDACTED who expressed REDACTED displeasure at having to stand and recite the pledge. I assured REDACTED was not required to stand or recite the pledge as it is not part of REDACTED required educational curriculum.

On April 3rd 2013, REDACTED,in a great act of courage for an 8 yr old, chose to sit.

REDACTED then brought REDACTED to the hallway and questioned REDACTED. REDACTED then told REDACTED would need a note. I provided a note for REDACTED that REDACTED gave to REDACTED on April 4th. Apparently this was unsatisfactory as my child was later pulled into the office on REDACTED and again questioned, including but not limited toREDACTEDreligious beliefs!

On April 5th I provided a letter to REDACTED.

I then received a phone call from REDACTED assuring me that REDACTED was not the person who questioned REDACTED but REDACTEDwould look into it. When I arrived at the school with my husband to dismiss REDACTED early, as I do every Friday REDACTED, I was approached by both the principal and vice principal and despite my stating I did not want to discuss the issue with them because I was waiting for REDACTED the vice principal insisted on pushing me to do so. When I explained that I was upset and frustrated and was not going to speak about it at that time , REDACTED insisted that REDACTED meant no offense , I responded by raising my voice and informing REDACTED that REDACTED did offend me and I am offended , REDACTED backed away and I left the school and went to my car while my husband waited for REDACTED.

Perhaps some may see this as a minor infraction on behalf of the school and may even defend the school in their ignorance of how their behavior directly violates supreme court rulings and our first amendment , however, I ask is any violation of a citizens rights a minor thing? Could it not be true that, when we forgo the smaller seemingly inconsequential issues that the behavior continues, becomes commonplace, and escalates to the very abuses and violations our constitution is meant to protect against ? Is that acceptable?

As you will read in the letter I have attached I “let go of ” and attempted to make resolutions of smaller infractions against REDACTED, with REDACTEDand REDACTED, with the assistance of REDACTED, and in fact the behavior continued, and escalated to a level of abuse and violations of REDACTED rights! I am upset, frustrated ,and overwhelmed. I implore you to take note of and act on REDACTED behalf and on behalf of all children like REDACTED.


I have had many experiences, and could give a laundry list of how, though our educational system, not only are we conditioning our children to believe that they do not have freedom of choice or the ability to question authority, but that they are unable to express their opinion through any act, verbal or non-verbal, without disciplinary action taken against them.

How does this benefit our children?

Personally I do not believe that any person should stand for or recite the pledge of allegiance until they have been informed and educated as to the implications of doing so. No one should be forced to enter into any contract (which what the reciting the pledge amounts to) until they can understand what it means.

Some may see this as unpatriotic, and an insult against our government and those who have chosen to stand and protect our rights and freedoms.

What say you ATS?
edit on 4/7/2013 by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh because: complete redactions




posted on Apr, 7 2013 @ 01:34 PM
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reply to post by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh
 


First and foremost, I am a patriotic, gun toting, constitution loving American, affiliated with neither of our corrupt political parties. My patriotism is somewhat different than the cliche patriot, because I am not a fan of Nationalism, and the Pledge of Allegiance is nothing more than nationalist indoctrination. A young child can't possibly comprehend the history of the flag and the sacrifice made by generations that have come before, and a young child can't possibly understand what they are saying, why they are saying it, and the meaning behind it. Having said that, I think it is important for the parent to try and make their child understand what the pledge is and why it is said... why it is important to some, and not so important to others. A child should have the choice of participating or not, and fear no reprisal for choosing not to.



posted on Apr, 7 2013 @ 01:51 PM
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reply to post by OptimusSubprime
 


I agree, and more so than anything the expectation that a child should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance without any understanding of the things you have mentioned is the part that bothers me the most.

I think that falls somewhere in the realm of "informed consent".



posted on Apr, 7 2013 @ 07:41 PM
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reply to post by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh
 

I wouldn't worry about it. Consider that the public school sytem is incapable of teaching arithmetic, reading, composition, or nearly any other subject.

The odds that they will be able to teach the children loyalty, patriotism, civic virtue, etc. are vanishingly small, even if they wanted to.



posted on Apr, 7 2013 @ 08:09 PM
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Having read the letter and what is written, the following can be stated:

For starters I am going to play devils advocate on this one, and after reading the letter, I can give reasons as to both what should be of concern and not of concern here.

The main concern, should be the fact that the school officials were asking about the religious beliefs of the student and family. That is private and should never be questioned under any circumstances, as it does breach the wall of seperation, giving rise to questions that should be asked. As they opened the door, then they should be required to answer the exact same questions as was asked of the child, such as what is their religious affiliation? Do they harbor, in that belief, any prejudices against any other denomination or religion? And can they prove that all students are held in equal standing?

What should not be of concern and some will say it is wrong, but here is where I tend to disagree, is that the child should stand up before class and say the pledge of allegience. Too many people today in the USA are fractured, we always here that a person is a gay American, or a Muslim American, or a Native American, or an African American, or an Asian American, or a Hispanic American, or some other group, rather than saying I am an American. Kind of funny that way, cause when people start to identify with say a nationality, and leave off the affiliation, then it starts to create a sense of pride and a society where the differences are not noticed or seen. One could say that it starts to fill the cracks in society where divisions pop up.

But here is where it gets tricky, as the right to not say the pledge is a form of free speech, that the courts have ruled on is limited in a public school setting.

I would say focus on the questions about religion that is the more serious of the problems, not the Pledge.



posted on Apr, 7 2013 @ 09:58 PM
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reply to post by sdcigarpig
 



Maybe you should read more about how the Supreme Court felt about it when they said (in 1943):

that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

source

I really think the the "religious thing" is the secondary issue, and not the primary one.

Do we really allow our children to be bullied into compliance in the name of patriotism when they really have no idea what the pledge means?
edit on 4/7/2013 by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh because: added more



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 06:29 AM
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reply to post by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh
 

Interesting reply, as you have brought up the Barnett case of 1943.

Interesting case, but lets look at it. It was a case where a person was required to salue the flag, and it was objected to, as the salute was too NAZI like in nature. The case was won by a 6 to 3 vote. In the dissenting opinion, one of the main arguments that the justice who wrote it, came to the conclusion that the freedom of religion did not allow individuals to break laws simply because of religous conscience, and that otherwise each individual could set up his own censor against obedience to laws conscientously deemed for the public good by those business it is to make laws.

However, if you look at some of the other cases, as the right not to stand for the pledge is consider an act of freedom of speech, which is curtailed and limited while at school. The freedom of speech is limited in a public school setting, as determined by the case Morse v. Frederick. In that, the policy was set, the student did put out a sign that was contrary to the policy in the school, was punished. The case went up to the Surpeme court and was further affirmed that at a public school, there is a limit to the freedom of speech, as has been shown in all of the prior court cases when it comes to the public school venues.

I would think that the more important issue is not the saying of the pledge and the consequences of that, rather that the issue here would be the questioning of the childs and families religious beliefs, where it is called into question if the child is not of the same belief as the teachers and adminstrators, that the child could be singled out, and thus further bullied by the administration all on the grounds that the child and family is not of the same belief as the rest. To me that is more important of the 2 issues and ultimately has to be addressed first and foremost, as it sounds like the school district officials were stating that they have the policy of backing one religion above all others, thus it could be argued that they were breaching the wall and setting all others to a lower standard, thus violating the childs first admendment rights.

But beyond that, having been on ATS for a very long time, it is funny, that many around here will cry foul and free speech rights for say students being punished for displaying the American flag or exercising their rights, and getting punished. As was seen during the last few years with the Cinco De Mayo, or the vetran who is bullied and harrassed for flying the American flag on his or her property. Or even when we see that the country is divided, and part of it is that the very symbol here, the flag of the country is no longer the symbol that holds this divided nation together. In most of our lifetimes, we have seen the division and cracks start to form and split apart, we are not a nation of many, but many who would like to be a nation. Perhaps, just perhaps, we should look at that. As stated in the prior posting, we need to put nation first, what we are second, and just maybe those divisions will go away.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 08:40 AM
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I might be wrong here, but I thought you didn't have all your rights until you have reached the age of 21.

Not knowing what the legal status of minors are concerning basic rights of a U.S. citizen, I wonder if a child this young has freedom of speech?

Something to consider for a possible reason why minors in public schools are treated in this way.
edit on 8-4-2013 by MichiganSwampBuck because: clarity



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 08:47 AM
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reply to post by sdcigarpig
 


Our views on which is the primary issue at hand differ.

I have to ask why is a religious objection the only one that is acceptable?

Why can't our children just ask "why" without fear of punishment?

For me, that is the bigger question, and the bigger issue, and I understand that this is in fact the case.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 10:17 AM
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reply to post by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh
 

There is a valid reason for the religious objection, and it goes straight to the heart of the matter, both with this case and others like it.

Since the founding of the country, many of the founding fathers being different denomination of Christianity, did not like each others faith, wrote into the bill of rights, a freedom of religion, creating a fence that would seperate religion and government. Thomas Jefferson, further expounded on that, making it a wall, and most Supreme Court Justices took his explination as being rational and what the founders ment by that. Keep that in mind.

In the letter, as stated, the child was asked specifically about religious beliefs. As we can only assume that this is a public school, funded by government money, there are certain do's and don'ts. Asking a student about their religious affiliation is one of the doors that should never be open. If I was the lawyer in the ACLU, that is the first thing I would zero in on, first and foremost, going after the administration on the grounds of religious persecution of the student.

Combine that with the Pledge, and it becomes solidified in stone, that the school is using itself to promote a religion or a religious affiliation, as there is the part in the pledge: One nation, Under God.

Those 2 points is why the religious aspect becomes the bigger issue and what should be focused on. Not on the child refusing to say the pledge, but all cause the staff at the school opened a door that has been bared for years by the courts from being opened by any one in the government.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 10:29 AM
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Children have no freedom of speech until they are 18 let alone in a school setting, they agree to follow the school rules when they register.

The children are the responsibility of the parents who may wish to bring up this issue with the school but as for the child refusing to take the pledge, he/she has absolutely no grounds to refuse that.

Sorry but the school was absolutely correct on this part. The religious part is another issue however.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 10:55 AM
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reply to post by sdcigarpig
 


I can agree with that, when it is stated that way. I am sure that if it does go anywhere, and if the ACLU does pick it up then that is the way that the issues will be presented.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 11:08 AM
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Originally posted by Hopechest
Children have no freedom of speech until they are 18 let alone in a school setting, they agree to follow the school rules when they register.


Really?

Ever heard of the Tinker Test?

Maybe you should refer to Tinker v. Des Moines (393 U.S. 503, 1969) (link) which stated quite the opposite.



edit on 4/8/2013 by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh because: corrected/added



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 11:20 AM
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Update



I received an email from the parent today, and with the parent's permission, I am quoting it to the ATS community.

I believe that it points out in a very profound way the real issues at hand.




April 8,2013
Since April 4 2013,With each passing day I have come to realize that I was an unwilling and unaware participant in the systematic subjugation and suppression of my very own child.

More often than not I find myself having to explain to my child as to what is inappropriate or unacceptable, not because I believe it is so but rather to attempt to protect my child from the ridicule and discrimination of others.

My child has come to me on numerous occasions over the past years distraught and confused about why,” people are so mean”, in the school not only towards my child but others ,teachers and students alike.

I am utterly dismayed that this is the atmosphere where my child receives their education and that my child is expected to tolerate it on a daily basis.

What does it say about the teachers and administrators of her school that the lessons she is learning are of intolerance, discrimination ,and condemnation rather than reading writing and arithmetic?

What does it say of our society that we would allow or contribute to any child feeling this way about such a fundamental institution as school?

How can this be allowed to continue?

How can the school and its administrators and teachers be so completely unaware?

Is it not possible that there are many children that feel very much like my child does yet lack the courage or ability to express so?

Is it not possible that there are other parents that also feel as I do and are perhaps unafraid to address the issue for fear of reprisal.?

It is my opinion that not only is it possible, but it is indeed the actuality with the exception that the school and its teachers and administrators are not so much unaware but unwilling to acknowledge they are responsible . With every thing they say and do each and every day they not only allow, but have created an environment where discrimination, humiliation, and judgment have become commonplace.

I can no longer quiet my child's pleas with half hear-ted assurances…. I feel I must not only acknowledge my child's feelings but take a stand to end the behaviors that my child questions, because my child is right, and it is wrong!


edit on 4/8/2013 by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh because: changed from quote, to ex text



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 11:33 AM
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So the anti-American parent has a right to free speech. The future anti-American child has a right to free speech. The pro-American children are all mean and do not have the freedom of speech. The school administrators are all mean and do not have the right to free speech.

That pretty much the jist?

If you teach your children to act contrary to the accepted customs and norms of American society, teach them to live with the ridicule and repercussions as well..



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 12:47 PM
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reply to post by Hopechest
 

That you are very much incorrect. The curtails on the freedom of speech applies when a student is at school or at a school supported activity. If they are not at school or a school supported activity, they enjoy the same rights as everyone else.
Point and case: In all of the court cases that the Supreme Court of the United States have ever heard, that deals with the rights of students, have stated: The rights of a student is not stripped on entering the schoolhouse, but it is curtailed and limited. That means, for example, the student who was suspended for using a 4 letter word towards a school official, while not at school or at a school activity, did not stand up in court.

Students, no matter the age, still have the same rights as everyone else, but within some limits while at school.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 01:20 PM
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reply to post by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh
 

Having read the follow up letter the following can be stated:

There are more issues here than what was originally precieved by the first letter. The issues diverge from the first and second letters, that they start to paint a picture, though one must ask, in what state is this happening?

The problem here is, that with any sort of complaint that would show what the person is writing, needs to have very specific on the part of the incidents, as it appears to be happening on a consistent basis, and ultimately may be useful in a court of law.

Another point, would be, and it would be helpful to know is if the child/family in question here is a minority or white? Does this happen to other children in the school, are there complaints from other children, are other parents aware of such?

Is this a case of bullying or something else?

Is this a problem originating from the administration or the students themselves?

As you can see this second letter has brought up many questions that should be asked and ultimately get answers to, from not only the admistration of the school, but also the district.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 02:17 PM
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Originally posted by 200Plus
So the anti-American parent has a right to free speech. The future anti-American child has a right to free speech. The pro-American children are all mean and do not have the freedom of speech. The school administrators are all mean and do not have the right to free speech.

That pretty much the jist?

If you teach your children to act contrary to the accepted customs and norms of American society, teach them to live with the ridicule and repercussions as well..


I can see from your reply where you stand on this issue. It is an interesting stance. I don't happen to agree.

Maybe you could explain to me why expressing the freedom of expression is "non American".

Do you advocate bullying often?



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 02:34 PM
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You are quite right, there are a lot more issues here, and this was the last straw in a series events and violations of privacy and intrinsic rights of the student.

As I have stated, I am fairly close to this issue, and have intimate knowledge of the situation. Without violating the privacy of the individuals involved, I will try to answer the questions you have posed.



Originally posted by sdcigarpig
reply to post by ThreeSistersofLoveandLigh
 

Having read the follow up letter the following can be stated:

There are more issues here than what was originally precieved by the first letter. The issues diverge from the first and second letters, that they start to paint a picture, though one must ask, in what state is this happening?


Massachusetts


The problem here is, that with any sort of complaint that would show what the person is writing, needs to have very specific on the part of the incidents, as it appears to be happening on a consistent basis, and ultimately may be useful in a court of law.

Another point, would be, and it would be helpful to know is if the child/family in question here is a minority or white?

White


Does this happen to other children in the school, are there complaints from other children, are other parents aware of such?


The answer to this is unknown, however, from my experience with my own children/grandchildren/neighbors in the same school system/district, it seems to be more commonplace than I would like to admit. This particular school district seems to have a really bad habit of threatening parents with social service involvement when the parents don't "bend to the will of the teachers and administrators".




Is this a case of bullying or something else?


I don't know what to make of it any more. It seems from talking to other parents that have children in this school system that the administration (teachers/nurses/principals etc) seem to have a habit of bullying students and parents alike into what they consider compliance. They (the administration) have a general attitude of "I am in charge, I make the rules and you must follow them without question", and it seems that this is most notable towards parents and students that happen to be the lower income bracket. Apparently they seem to think that poor equals stupid.




Is this a problem originating from the administration or the students themselves?

This behavior is coming from the administration.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 03:27 PM
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You friend is right. Their child is right. And I hope they can gain a consensus, for all our sake.





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