The Right To Remain Silent …

India LandryLast October, 17-year-old India Landry was a student at Windfern High School in Houston, Texas.  For months, Ms. Landry had sat quietly in her seat, rather than stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as is required by the school.  Her silent protest had gone largely unnoticed until one day it came to the attention of the school principal.  On 02 October 2017, Ms. Landry happened to be in the principal’s office when the bell sounded to indicate it was time for the pledge.  Landry sat.  The principal, Martha Strother, told her: “Well you’re kicked outta here.  This isn’t the NFL.”

Ms. Landry was then told to call her mom for a ride home, else she would be escorted off the premises by police.  The school district released the following brief statement:

“A student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the Pledge. We will address this situation internally.”

In 1943, in the Supreme Court case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Court ruled that students couldn’t be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  The rules at India’s school don’t specifically require that a student say the pledge but require students who don’t say the pledge to stand unless they have a note from a parent.

India’s reason for sitting was, “I don’t think the flag is for what it says it’s for, liberty and justice and … all that. It’s not obviously what’s going on in America today.”

During this same time, the Colin Kaepernick protest had led to a nationwide controversy, with Donald Trump ordering Vice-President Pence to leave a game “if any players kneeled”.  But India Landry’s mother was just concerned with getting her daughter back into school.  She repeatedly called the school, trying to set up a meeting with the principal, and when a meeting was finally arranged, Principal Strother told her …

“India must stand for the pledge to be let back in at Windfern.”

Strother said that sitting was “disrespectful and should not be allowed” and suggested that instead of refusing to stand for the pledge, India should “write about justice and African Americans being killed.”

Shortly after the meeting, India’s mother got a call from local CBS affiliate KHOU, asking for an interview about the “pledge controversy”.  Funny how bad publicity changes people’s minds, isn’t it?  Shortly thereafter, Ms. Landry received a call from the school principal saying that India could return to school and sit for the pledge.

End of story?  Not quite. Between India’s expulsion and the school backing down, Kizzie Landry, India’s mother, had filed a lawsuit claiming that the school violated constitutional protections of free speech, due process and equal protection.  The case has not yet come to trial, but on Tuesday, the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, decided to put his two cents worth in.

ken-paxton

Ken Paxton

“The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children, which is a critical aspect of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. The Texas Legislature protected that interest by giving the choice of whether an individual student will recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the student’s parent or guardian. School children cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge.”  Hey, Ken … this “school child” was 17 years old, plenty old enough to decide for herself whether or not the flag represents any values today.

 

Mr. Paxton, by the way, is currently under indictment on three felony charges related to securities fraud that will likely go to trial sometime this year. But hey … he stands for the pledge!

There is a Texas state law that, in part, states:

Section 25.082  PLEDGES OF ALLEGIANCE; MINUTE OF SILENCE.  (a)  Repealed by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 851 (H.B. 2442), Sec. 9, eff. June 15, 2017.

(b)  The board of trustees of each school district and the governing board of each open-enrollment charter school shall require students, once during each school day at each campus, to recite:

(1)  the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag in accordance with 4 U.S.C. Section 4; and

(2)  the pledge of allegiance to the state flag in accordance with Subchapter C, Chapter 3100, Government Code.

Landry’s attorney, civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen, believes Paxton’s involvement comes because it is an election year, and says he is willing to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if needed.  While states are able to make their own laws in many areas, they are not allowed to make laws that contradict federal law, and this Texas law is obviously a direct contradiction to the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling of 1943.

You may remember the case back in February of Karen Smith, the gym teacher in Boulder, Colorado, who grabbed a student by the jacket, lifted him to his feet and dragged him out of the class because he did not stand for the pledge.

Let’s be realistic, folks.  The pledge is words … 31 words, to be exact … that children have been required to say during the school day for as long as anybody can remember.  But the children are saying the words by rote … they are only words until one stops to think about them, and when one does that, in light of the current state of the United States, it is, in my view, perfectly acceptable to say, “Nope … the words don’t match the reality”.  All you need to do is look at the last six words, “with liberty and justice for all.”  Even India Landry, only 17 years of age, can see that “liberty and justice for all” no longer exists in the United States of America.  Perhaps, until this nation finds its bearings again, the pledge of allegiance should be relegated to the annals of history.

34 thoughts on “The Right To Remain Silent …

  1. Here in England we don’t have anything like the Pledge of Allegiance, the only things we are supposed to stand for are the Loyal Toast and the National Anthem.
    But I disagree with all of you, in my opinion this girl should have been suspended just for refusing to stand.
    There you go.
    Hugs Jill ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • More and more I come to see things like the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem and even the flag, as signs of arrogance. Y’know, I’ve always had a belief that if you’re good, there is no need to toot your own horn. If the U.S. is as great as some would have us believe, then we wouldn’t need all these rituals to tell everyone how great we are. Make sense? Rites and rituals … I don’t have much time or patience for them. I have to ask, though, what is the ‘loyal toast’. I keep picturing two pieces of toasted bread, belly-smacking, while pledging fealty. Okay, yeah, so my mind is in overdrive these days and runs a bit off track. Sigh.

      Gee … you only think she should have been suspended? I figured you would say, “Off with her head!” 😉

      Hugs, Jack! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for her. I remember when I was in school my friends and I would protest the “Under God” part of the Pledge by saying the pledge, then falling silent on those words, and then resuming them. I think at other times we also used to sit down during the Pledge. It wasn’t treated as mandatory and that was back in the mid to late 80s and early 90s.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good for you!!! I went to Catholic schools, though I was Jewish, and along about 3rd grade, I refused to say the prayers, for I had figured out that the religion thing wasn’t my cup of tea, even at that young age. I got smacked for refusing to mumble the words of a prayer more than a few times, but stood my ground! I have considered attending a football game this fall (I do not like to watch sports, but I would do it anyway) just so that when the anthem is played, I could take a knee. I may yet do it!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Were it not for the fact that most school districts (but not voucher schools obviously) are always short of money I’d hope that a court case would impose a lesson on this principal. I wonder why they don’t have any sympathy for the stance of those who are protesting. The protest is about sanctity of life after all and not just a few words that are muttered daily by those who don’t mean them.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thus far, as I understand it, the Attorney General was hoping to have the case thrown out, but the judge said that it would be allowed to proceed. Now, you must remember that this is Texas … deep south … bible belt territory. They have no sympathy for any and are still, at least in their minds, fighting the Civil War. I sometimes feel that the states below the Mason-Dixon don’t truly even see themselves as a part of the whole, but as fighting for their rights to be … white supremacists and returning to the values of the mid-19th century.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Jill, my friend, you have poked the hornet’s nest and so shall suffer from my propensity for loquacity. The real truth is that the words “with liberty and justice for all” NEVER intended what those words seemed to imply. Francis Bellamy, a one time Baptist preacher and also a committed socialist, took over two years to write the original words that were published in 1892…the amount escapes my memory at present, but it was not the present 31 words. He was working at and had it published in “The Youth’s Companion”, a Boston magazine of the time. Bellamy’s pledge replaced another pledge, that he disparaged, by Capt. Balch, a Union Army Civil War veteran…”We give our heads and hearts to God and country; one country, one language, one flag.” 1892 being the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery was to be nationally celebrated. The magazine started a campaign to sell flags to public schools with the hope to promote patriotism through education. It worked! Bellamy’s pledge was started in public schools in October 1892. It is interesting to note a few other things : 1) In 1892 the pledge began with a military salute that later seemed to resemble the Nazi salute and was changed in 1942 to simply the hand over the heart, as we now know it. 2) “One nation under God” was not added until Eisenhower suggested it in 1954, to combat “godless Communism”. 3) Bellamy went on to become a New York City advertising man and wrote a book. It is also interesting to note that Bellamy feared that “poor stock” immigrants would result in the loss of white native-born Protestant Americans. Liberty and justice for ALL was never part of the equation, no matter what the pledge stated then…or now. In summation : these words are just words, until liberty and justice are truly meant and extended to the inclusion of all! I shall step off my soapbox and SIT! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh dear … I knew with your first sentence I was in for it! But, as I adore your propensity for loquacity, I poured myself a glass of wine, lit a cigarette, and read on! And I am so glad I did, for I was not aware of any of this! Thank you for the enlightenment! So, it’s true what they say … the more things change, the more they stay the same! I know you haven’t any interest in writing your own blog, but if you ever do, you must call it “Propensity for Loquacity”! A perfect title, and you have so much to share! Thank you again … now sit and take a few deep breaths!

      Liked by 1 person

      • YOU are too kind and tolerant! IF, I would even for a moment consider a blog…that is the perfect title for me! My knowledge about this subject goes back to my senior year of high school, when I had the audacity to question the “liberty and justice for all” line as insincere at best and an outright lie at worst. My punishment, for the obvious lack of patriotism, was a report on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance. Back in those days, before the internet, researching a report took time and energy. Fortunately, we owned two different sets of encyclopedias and had a library within travelling distance. My Mother was quite annoyed by my behavior; my Father quite agreed with me. Quite frankly, I felt that the results of my research supported my claim…though I wisely kept that between my Father and myself! The name Francis Bellamy has stuck with me to this day and my opinion has never changed either! Thank-you!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ah yes … I well remember what it took to do a research report back in those days! We did not own a set of encyclopedias, so I spent many a Saturday in the library. I bet kids today have no idea about the Dewey Decimal System! What amazes me is that you remember all of this after all those years! You and my friend Roger (he goes by Woebegone but Hopeful here on WP) are walking encyclopedias!!! Have a great weekend, dear friend!

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  5. Many years ago…many, many years ago….we were forced to pledge and pray and listen to a Bible reading over the school’s public address system. Never questioned it. I am so proud of our young people who ask the difficult questions and protest the unacceptable answers. Kudos to them. Maybe I am not yet too old to learn.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, I remember those days. And I have a story about that … to cut to the quick, in 3rd grade I, a Jew girl in a Catholic school, decided the daily prayer ritual was b.s. (I was a rebel even as early as 2!!!). And so, I refused to close my eyes, bow my head,, and mumble a prayer. I sat up straight, eyes wide open, and didn’t so much as move my lips. Sister Sofia drew back and smacked me hard enough to literally knock me out of my seat. I never spoke a prayer in school again, no matter what was done to me. A stubborn wench, I am! No, my friend, we are never to old to learn … unless we simply close our minds, but you and I aren’t doing that.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I don’t understand your country’s obsession with the pledge of allegiance. Words don’t mean much – it’s actions that do. Your GOP politicians and “Christian” right groups talk a lot about prayers and reading the bible, but I don’t see a lot of action that would indicate the words have sunk in. Get rid of the pledge and try a little learning about what it actually means – and getting out into the community to help people, you know…like all the amazing people you post about every week!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve never understood it, either. I believe it stems from arrogance, though. A forced ideology that America is somehow ‘better’ than some other nations. You’re quite right … those 31 words are recited daily by millions of children, not a one of them even thinking about what they are saying, most of them just muttering something to get it over and done with. The flag is just a piece of cloth, the pledge is just words, and the anthem is just a song. You are spot on … get out and help people, learn how others live, learn diversity, not homogeneity. Ah, if only people like you and I could run the country …

      Liked by 2 people

  7. …“with liberty and justice for all.” Bert Kavanaugh is coming off an angry entiled white guy. Boo Hoo for him and not one bit of understanding or pity for the four victims so far to accuse him. No attempt of modesty. He is simply raging about bad he has it, how bad he was treated. This tells me she is telling the truth. I watched her. She was honest about things she did not know or remember. She did not lash out. He was an entitled wealthy boy from a wealthy family, now he is an entitled man thinking he deserves the highest court in the land because he is him. Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know … his whining, and “oh poor me” act has worn thin … reminds me of Trump when he claims that the press is “so unfair” to him. He has, even before these accusers came onto the scene, proven that he is not a man of honour, for he lied under oath. Who wants a judge sitting on the highest court of the land who will lie under oath??? And with the accusations, although I cannot know what did or did not take place, I do believe Dr. Ford, for look what she has had to put herself through to come forward. Where there is so much smoke, there is a fire somewhere. If Kavanaugh had any honour, he would have withdrawn his name, if only to protect the dignity of the court. As I told David, if he is confirmed, we might as well hang balloons and paint graffiti on the Supreme Court building and maybe sell peanuts and souvenirs, for it will have become naught but a circus.
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is another instance of a element of society attempting to impose their ideology on others and they are hoping to garner enough power at the federal level to make more laws that will protect their ideology and enable them to force their ideology on others… while this country, the USA, goes to great lengths to portray a image, there is not a great deal of difference between this country than any other country at this time… 🙂

    “When we begin to build walls of prejudice, hatred, pride, and self-indulgence around ourselves, we are more surely imprisoned than any prisoner behind concrete walls and iron bars.” Mother Angelica

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are so right … and so many of the rituals that we don’t even think much about, for they are ingrained, are designed to stifle diversity. It was 55 years ago when the Supreme Court abolished state-sponsored, forced prayer in school, and still today I hear people saying that all our troubles are because “God was taken out of school”. Why should the ideology of some be forced on all? And what does standing and reciting 31 words that nobody thinks about constitute an almost sacred ritual?

      Great quote by Mother Angelica … so very true.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Why, you ask.. people have found their comfort zone and live in fear that change may endanger that comfort zone.. elements in capitalism, religion, etc take advantage of that fear to promote their agenda.. in other countries they use war and conflict also… 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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