This AP story via Editor and Publisher tells us…
REDDING, Calif. A high school principal in Northern California said he will eliminate the student newspaper after it published a front-page photo of a student burning an American flag.Gee, I guess that settles that then, doesn’t it, Uncle Adolf? Gonna burn any books too while you’re at it?
Shasta High School Principal Milan Woollard said the latest issue of the student-run Volcano was embarrassing.
"The paper's done," Woollard told the Record Searchlight newspaper of Redding. "There is not going to be a school newspaper next year."
In addition to the photograph, the last edition of the newspaper included an editorial written by high school senior Connor Kennedy that defended flag burning as speech protected by the First Amendment.The students are absolutely right. And the story also states that a Dem Southern California lawmaker is trying to get a bill passed protecting teachers from being punished for protecting students’ free speech rights (unless I missed something, I don’t see where a law like that is applicable here).
Kennedy graduated last week from the high school in Redding, about 160 miles north of the state capital. He did not return a telephone message left Monday by the Record Searchlight.
Student journalists said they were merely exercising their free-speech rights.
If Shasta High School principal Woollard had said, “well, funding for the newspaper is a little tight; we’d have to cancel some classes in math, English or social studies in order to pay for it” or something, that would have been bad enough. But to use the photo is an excuse to kill the paper outright is unconscionable.
Yes, flag burning is stupid and insulting, particularly to our veterans. But until an amendment is passed making it illegal, it will continue to be constitutionally protected free speech. And speaking only for myself, I think someone stitching a flag to the seat of his or her pants to show off that person’s rear end is every bit as despicable an act as setting the flag alight (if someone came along and decided to try and knock some sense into the idiot in the photo, that would be fine with me).
This is but the latest chapter in the assault on students’ free speech rights which began in earnest in this country 20 years and a few months ago with the decision by the Supreme Court in Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier in which the Court rules that school administrators could censor a student newspaper…
The Hazelwood principal believed that the stories he censored--accounts of unnamed, pregnant students and a report on the impact of parental divorce on students--were unfair and inappropriate for teenagers. He was concerned that the "anonymous" students could be identified, that the school would appear to be condoning teenage pregnancy, and that divorced parents criticized should be consulted prior to publication.Well, looking on the bright side, I’m sure the Shasta newspaper students can just go ahead now and start their own blog. They’d probably get more readership anyway, and they also wouldn’t have to worry about censorship any more, thus replicating the trend in their industry everywhere.