(ANTIMEDIA) — A middle school student at East Middle School in Farmington Hills claimed this week that a teacher assaulted him for sitting during the pledge of allegiance. Following the incident, during which he says a teacher “snatched” him from his seat, his father is going to bat for his son, asserting his civil rights and freedom to opt out of the nationalistic ritual.
According to Brian Chaney, his eleven-year-old son Stone “was in homeroom class the first week of school when a teacher snatched him out of his seat and forced him to stand for the pledge,” Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ reported this week.
Stone started sitting out the pledge in second grade after his father explained to him he had the right to not participate. Stone says he only pledges allegiance to God and his family, not the flag, and his father says it hasn’t been a problem until now.
“For him to be violently snatched out of his chair by a lady and order him to stand and for her to just glare at him, it’s wrong, it’s a violation of civil rights,” Brian said.
Stone says other students simply snickered at him, so after the incident, he put his head down in class. He also says another teacher reprimanded him for sitting out the pledge that same week, demanding written permission for refraining.
“I don’t feel safe going to that school anymore because I don’t know what they’re going to do next,” Stone said. His family is considering taking him out of the district, local outlet ClickonDetroit reported.
“It’s his choice to sit,” his father said. “I don’t make him sit. And they should respect that.”
Despite such condemnations and reactivity from teachers, students are free to opt out of the pledge of allegiance pursuant to their first amendment rights. This was affirmed in the 1943 Supreme Court case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which concluded that forcing students to “salute the flag” violates not just the First Amendment, but also the Fourteenth.
Nevertheless, students across the country continue to face punitive measures for refusing to perform the “patriotic” ritual that drills into students’ minds a loyalty to a piece of cloth and the government — the “republic for which it stands.”
To the school system’s credit, Farmington Public Schools Superintendent George Heitsch was dismayed by the Chaneys’ claims.
“We respect the rights of any individual to make personal choices around issues of faith and beliefs. We’re disappointed that we’re even having the conversation,” he said.
They are conducting an investigation into the allegations, and one staff member has been placed on administrative leave.
Though the flag is intended to stand for freedom, the emotional, aggressive reactions from those who revere the symbol and other nationalistic rituals appear to indicate a lack of tolerance for said freedom, as well as a lack of free thought.
Considering the fervor surrounding the Make America Great Again movement, such hypernationalism shows no signs of stopping. American reverence for the flag and other government institutions, such as the military and police, remains powerful among much of the population.
But as Brian Chaney said:
“If [the troops are] fighting for freedom, they’re fighting for us to have choices. Then it’s our choice.”
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