From Our Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- Lee Francis, a history teacher at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, recently patterned a First Amendment rights discussion around desecrating the American flag. Mr. Francis even went so far as to ask students for a lighter, but he then turned to his desk and picked up a pair of scissors and attempted to cut the flag. He probably realized lighting the flag on fire would be a fire code violation, so he turned instead to the scissors. When he was unable to cut the flag, he threw it on the ground and proceeded to stomp on it, all in the name of his First Amendment rights (abridging freedom of speech).
One student watching the episode, Alex Dunn, took note of what happened, picked up his phone, snapped a picture, left his seat, retrieved the flag and promptly took it to the principal’s office.
Though Francis admitted to desecrating the flag, he also commented that Alex should be punished for snapping a picture of him stomping on the flag. He said that Alex should be punished as he broke the law. Francis countered further with making the statement, “I can’t take a picture of them, and in turn, they cannot do the same of me.”
Whether Alex is in some kind of legal trouble with the school district or the district attorney is yet to be seen, but why Francis is still a history teacher is another matter? He should have at least been given a leave of absence or made to apologize as well as learn the real history and meaning behind the red, white and blue. As Alex said, “It was such a disgraceful thing for a person to do-especially in front of so many military children who understand the meaning of the flag-apparently unlike him.”
Teachers who take free license with the flag in a derogatory fashion should be required to have a full and complete understanding of the flag and the history behind it, and if they disagree with what it means, they have no business passing on their hatred of the flag to a roomful of impressionable students. Even if the high court has ruled that it is within someone’s rights to desecrate the flag, it is part of a school district’s responsibility to instill proper lesson plan protocols within their teachers.
Many citizens besides Alex Dunn are outraged and insulted by the history teacher’s actions and statements and feel that Francis should be reprimanded in some form or fashion. It should occur but will Mr. Harris’ rights to demonstrate hatred for America trump those of Alex Dunn’s and the other students in the classroom?
Desecration of the flag should be off limits, no matter what an instructor, public person, or celebrity feels is his or her right. The sacrifices that the military has made to defend our freedoms should not be taken for granted, and stomping on the American flag is an affront to all who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. The flag deserves the highest respect and stomping on it to make a point is not the right platform in any classroom.
If Mr. Francis were a true American and an avid student of history, he would defend Alex’s right to demonstrate his free speech just as he defended his own, rather than complaining and speaking in support of charges against Alex. If any punishment is rendered, it should be on Francis’s part as well. Harris taught in an unprofessional and unethical manner and any school district should lay down ground rules for offensive instruction. Francis should not be allowed to use the classroom as his personal platform. Francis should be fired, but he won’t be.