Stand up, sit down, rah rah rah

Now US high schools are trying to force students to make the Approved Demonstration of Loyalty to a Song [or Piece of Cloth or Man With Strange Hair].

In Long Island, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which runs a private Catholic school system, said students at its three high schools could face “serious disciplinary action” if they kneel during the anthem before sporting events.

Sean P. Dolan, a spokesman for the diocese, said on Friday that the letter, which was sent to principals, was intended to restate policy that the diocese already had in place.

But he added in an emailed statement: “Although the Diocese does not agree that demonstrations are appropriate in its schools during the playing of the National Anthem — which recognizes the tremendous sacrifices of Americans of all races, ethnicities and religions — it notes that students who seek to challenge racism and racial discrimination are firmly in accord with Catholic teaching.”

Which of course raises a separate question of whether or not education should be expected to conform to “Catholic teaching” in the first place, which I very strongly think it should not – but on the kneeling/standing question, I don’t buy this claim that playing a “national” song “recognizes the tremendous sacrifices of Americans of all races, ethnicities and religions.” I don’t buy the claim that that’s what it’s about. I think it’s a gesture of patriotism or nationalism, and nothing more than that. It’s far from confined to military contexts, so why should we think it’s about the military? Or maybe Dolan didn’t mean military sacrifices alone but sacrifices of any kind…but that would be an even more novel version of what singing a patriotic song is supposed to mean.

I think people are adding all these meanings to the song in order to justify trying to bully people over it. That makes it pretty circular.

“Respect the flag!”


“The war dead!”

“But it’s not about the war dead.”

“It is now!”


“Because respect the flag!”

In northwest Louisiana, Scott Smith, the superintendent of schools in Bossier Parish, said student athletes are expected to stand for the anthem. “It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans,” he said in a letter that was obtained by The New York Times.

But the supe’s personal feefees shouldn’t be a rule to the entire student body. Even his strong feefees shouldn’t. Schools are not the army, and students are not supposed to be under military discipline.

Waylon Bates, the principal of Parkway High School in Bossier City, La., a city of more than 60,000 people near Shreveport, outlined the punishment students would face at his school. He sent a letter on Thursday to athletes and parents saying athletes were required to stand “in a respectful manner” during the anthem.


Or they won’t be allowed to play.

“Failure to comply will result in loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal,” the letter said. “Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team.”

Just as Trump shouted on Twitter. Trump is controlling what high school athletes can do now.

When the issue is swept up into the public school system, as is happening in Louisiana, it runs up against students’ First Amendment rights and a Supreme Court ruling in 1943, which said public school students could not be forced to salute the American flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. That ruling involved a case of Jehovah Witnesses who were expelled from school for not reciting the pledge.

“The law does not permit schools to forbid students from to expressing their views, and all schools should be on notice that these policies are in fact unconstitutional,” Marjorie Esman, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, said in an interview on Friday.

The Supreme Court also touched on students’ right to peaceful protest during public school hours in 1969, when it ruled in favor of students who wanted to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War.

The 1969 ruling essentially said that students do not lose their constitutional rights to free speech at the schoolhouse gate, said Francisco Negrón Jr., the chief legal officer of the National School Boards Association. If a protest is not disruptive, public schools have to allow it.

Catholic and other goddy schools of course can be as authoritarian as they like. Since “god” is an authoritarian concept in itself, that’s often very authoritarian.

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