Thursday, March 27, 2008

News Paper Article

Comments should have been given more thought


March 25, 2008

Sometimes it’s the educators who need a lesson, and the remarks of a Franklin school board member about a student are one of those moments.

At a meeting March 10, Doug Bullington questioned a high school student’s aptitude and motivation for not participating in the daily Pledge of Allegiance and moment of silence last month.

Bullington said he hoped the student, who filed a lawsuit against the school corporation for being punished wrongfully for not standing during a moment of silence and pledge before school, was too lazy or stupid to participate rather than have that much contempt for his country.

He said that among numerous reasons for not participating in a moment of silence or the pledge, the three reasons he could think of were that the student disliked America, was lazy or was stupid.

He said he agreed that it was the student’s right to sit during a moment of silence and the pledge but questioned his motive.

"What I’m speculating isn’t the reason. I’m not saying this is why he did it. I’m saying this came to mind. It’s possible that he truly had that much distaste for this country that he chose not to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. It is possible it was just too much effort for him to get out of the chair and stand. It’s possible that he was mentally challenged too much to be able to recite the words," Bullington said.

"I have no idea why he did it. These are just some things. There were probably other excuses or reasons you could come up with why he chose to do this. But as I look at it, the three things I came up with were he truly hates this country, he’s lazy or he’s stupid. From my standpoint, I hope it’s one of the latter two."

Bullington said someone hating his or her country is worse than the other two options, which can be overcome.

"The whole point of it was to point out that this can be interpreted a lot of different ways on why he does this, and the majority of them are going to be negative," he said.

It’s not just the student’s action that can be interpreted in different ways. Bullington’s remarks could be, too.

Aside from misunderstanding the legal and constitutional issues involved, his comments were insensitive.

It’s difficult in a public meeting for officials always to think through what they say, but they need to. The visibility of their positions gives weight to comments.

Later in the meeting, Bullington said he was just playing devil’s advocate. He said the situation should have been a non-issue.

"I guess the real moral of the story is that students today need to be aware that actions do have consequences and to always be aware of the possible consequences that you face, whether it’s engaging in unprotected intercourse or whether it’s making a protest of a national policy," he said.

All we can say is that it cuts both ways.

Bullington should have been aware of the power of his comments and spoken with more restraint.

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