Saturday, July 08, 2006


This is a troubling story. It doesn't bother me so much that the school administration would pull the plug on a valedictory speech; school administrators are supposed to be idiots. That's their role in creation.

But I find it worrisome that the ACLU is backing, and apparently was even involved in, the decision to cut her speech short on the grounds that it promoted religion. Poppycock. She wasn't given a chance to speak because the school wanted to throw religion at the students. She got a chance to speak because she earned it, and the First Amendment is all on her side.

It bothers me nearly as much that the story seems to have gotten attention only on the right side of the blogosphere. The corollary, I suppose, would be that if she had made comments attacking religion the right side of the blogosphere would be silent and the left side would be all over it.

Free speech doesn't work that way. The ACLU's position, if reported accurately, is wildly off base. I've e-mailed Scott Crichton asking for clarification. If I learn anything, I will let you know.


Vince said...

This is somewhat of a tough call. Mentioning the influence of religion at these events, or in the classroom, is similar to a product endorsement. If she had just left it with a statement that her religious beliefs contributed to her success, she might have been OK. However, I can see why they deleted the portion about "God's love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciated death in order to cover everyone's shortcomings and forge a path to heaven." In that she gets into the realm of product endorsement that cannot be substantiated. Sort of like the commercials for a soft drink that tells you nothing about the product but insinuates that using it will help you be attractive to the opposite sex. Perhaps the whole issue can be dealt with as a "truth in advertising" matter and we can keep the constitution out of it.

David Summerlin said...

Forgiveness please if this posts twice. Seems to be some trouble.

"They said McComb's speech amounted to proselytizing and that her commentary could have been perceived as school-sponsored."

It sounds like there's plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree. Someone made a call and some feelings got bruised.

I'm not troubled by this in the least.

Shane C. Mason said...

Ok David,

I agree with you here. I will put this into terms of my life:

If my daughter earned the right to give valedictorial speech and wanted to talk on how she succeeded because sh was not mired down in religeous doctines. I would be pissed if they denied her that right. It works both ways, right?

I would take it one step further than Vince. If my daughter wanted to get up there and say that she had done so well because Coca-Cola is a refresing pick-me-up, she has that right. The only thing they should not be allowed to do is slander or defame others.

It's called free speech becuase it supposed to be free.

Rocky Smith said...

This girl was not speaking for the school nor any government agency. She was speaking for herself. Why then is it necessary to shut her up if she mentions God? Separation of Church and State does not apply. FREE SPEECH rights do.

David Summerlin said...

You're probably right, Rocky (and others): it likely wasn't necessary to "shut her up" and she could have made her speech whether or not anyone might have taken offense.

But we all know "free speech" isn't universal in this or any other country. Every forum is entitled to moderation by its sponsors, who in no way owe the privilege of absolute free speech to any guest speaker.

Somebody thought her speech was proselytizing and was inappropriate for the forum. They were probably wrong, but that was their judgment call.

I can empathize with the offense that decision must have caused the speaker and those who wanted to hear her message, but I don't see where it amounts to trampling her free speech rights.

Shane C. Mason said...

Rocky Smith,

You mean to say that we agree on something? Wow!

Would you still say that she had that right if she wanted to talk about how being a lesbian had been the factor that made her succeed? If is really is an issue of free speech, then you have to say yes.

Rocky Smith said...

Yes Shane- If she wanted to talk about how being a lesbian helped her succeed in school, I'd be the last to shut her up. Free speech is just that- free. You can speak about what you like as long as you don't defame someone or tell lies. While you are free to speak your mind, nobody has to agree with you- or even listen to you. I don't get all bent if someone praises the virtues of an alternative lifestyle. Others should not get ticked off by someone praising God. Hearing the words won't cause you harm. So, as much as this might shock you, it appears we DO agree.