A rabid Black Lives Matter activist group leader accuses a Minnesota teacher of being a racist because of comments he made on Facebook about student discipline problems in his school district. The school district responds by putting the teacher on administrative leave. Now the activists are whining that the response was not enough and demanding the school district superintendent’s resignation.
A Medford Massachusetts Police officer posts a graphic on Facebook advocating that perhaps it’s time that America treated radical Muslims in the same fashion as it treated the Japanese with nuclear weapons to end WWII. He now faces serious potential discipline from the department for his expression.
What’s wrong with this picture?
What happened to the First Amendment? Forget about it scream the rabid activists. The expression amounts to racism in their opinion and therefore it must be punished. The teacher shouldn’t be allowed to teach; the cop must be fired.
But even it both of them are racists, they still have a constitutional First Amendment right to express their opinions. Forget that, say the activists; even if they aren’t racists; even if their expression was not racism under any reasonable definition, they should lose their jobs anyway.
Theodore "Theo" Olson, a special education teacher at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., was placed on administrative leave over two posts he wrote on Facebook about student discipline in the school district. The posts were “deemed” offensive by a Black Lives Matter activist who claims Olson he is “the epitome of a bad teacher” and a “white supremacist.”
Here’s what Olson actually posted: “Anyone care to explain to me the school-to-prison pipeline my colleagues and I have somehow created, or perpetuated, or not done enough to interrupt? Because if you can’t prove it, the campaigns you’ve waged to deconstruct adult authority in my building by enabling student misconduct, you seriously owe us real teachers an apology. Actually, an apology won’t cut it… Phones and iPad devices, used for social media and gaming... There have always been rules for ‘devices,’ and defined levels of misconduct. Since we now have no backup, no functional location to send kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying, we’re screwed, just designing our own classroom rules.”
The Medford cop posted on his personal Facebook profile an image of a mushroom cloud and a reference to the United States' atomic bombing of Japan in World War II. Text above the image reads: "JAPAN HAS BEEN AT PEACE WITH THE USA SINCE SEPTEMBER 2, 1945. Below the image reads, "IT'S TIME WE MADE PEACE WITH ISLAM."
Now I ask you, whether you agree with his message or not, isn’t it a classic example of free expression protected by the First Amendment? Of course it is. There is nothing racist about it, but even if there was, it is still protected expression.
Never-mind that croaks Medford Mayor Stephanie M. Burke: "You can't be a neutral officer on the street if you have these ideas about a certain group of people… So, it's not acceptable."
"I was very much taken aback by it," said Medford Diversity Director, Diane McLeod. They think it amounts to conduct unbecoming of a police officer, a catch-all charge used by law enforcement agencies to discipline officers.
Sadly, they both forget – free expression and protected speech under the First Amendment is not conduct – the officer has a constitutional right to express his opinions on his personal Facebook profile whether others like it or not. That is the purpose of the First Amendment.
Forget the First Amendment scream the activists.