For Americans trying to better understand a seemingly growing disrespect for the United States, look no further than the classrooms of America.
A North Carolina high school teacher has been suspended for 10 days without pay after stomping on the American flag in a classroom demonstration, Fayetteville’s ABC 11 reported.
History teacher Lee Francis suspended 10 days w/out pay for stomping American Flag in class. pic.twitter.com/cgJu8Sd4zW
— Greg Barnes (@GregBarnesABC11) September 23, 2016
Massey Hill Classical High School teacher Lee Francis was disciplined after throwing the flag on the floor and stepping on it while teaching about Texas v. Johnson, a case where the Supreme Court ruled that flag desecration was protected by the First Amendment.
Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Till said in a statement Friday the teacher’s display “was inappropriate in our schools.”
“Regarding the legal aspect, many quote Texas v. Johnson where the First Amendment protection explained in this case does not extend to a teacher in the performance of his or her duties in a public classroom,” Till said.
Not that Francis agreed.
“Not only was the demonstration warranted and justified based on the court, it’s warranted and justified in the rights we have,” the teacher told The Fayetteville Observer.
“This is the law of the land upheld by the highest court,” Francis added. “Freedom of speech is not just defined verbally by something you say or write down on paper, but something that can also be a physical action.”
The teacher’s antics came to light after a photo taken by a student in the class was put on social media.
— KLTV 7 (@KLTV7) September 22, 2016
Two students walked out of class after the incident, with one taking the flag with him as he went to the principal’s office, according to The Observer.
The mother of a child who has a friend in the class said Francis asked students for a lighter or scissors.
“I was being facetious because you can’t have those things in class,” he told The Observer, when asked about the claim.
Alex Dunn, whose father is in the Army, was in the class at the time and took offense to what he saw.
“Why would an American want to do that to the flag?” Dunn asked while being interviewed by ABC 11. “Why would a social studies teacher want to disrespect the flag like that?”
Nevertheless, Francis sees himself as the real victim here.
“The idea to label me as anti-American or someone who hates the flag is very disingenuous when you look at the context of the lesson,” the teacher said. “It saddens me that this is the direction of where the conversation is going.”
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