Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The story: Students at Shasta High School in Redding, Calif., ran a front-page photo of a student burning a flag in the school newspaper, with an editorial about First Amendment rights and the Constitution's protection of flag burning. Everyone then flipped out, and the administration cancelled the paper for the forseeable future.
-- No current event in Redding prompted a story about flag burning, so it wasn't newsworthy. As my brilliant colleague Mari Herreras suggested, the picture should have ran with the editoral ... on the editorial page.
-- While not timely, or extremely relevant, teaching students about free speech and their rights, is always relevant.
-- Is California still a blue state?
-- They are high school kids; they're going to make mistakes. An adviser should have advised the students to move the picture. The students should be allowed to test boundaries and experiment in a safe forum, and should be praised for at least caring enough to write an editorial about constitutional rights and not about the miracle of texting, or something else stupid.
The superintendent, Mike Stuart, is a U.S. Army veteran, and said he was personally offended. The principal, Milan Woollard, said the budget was tight, and the school was already looking to cut the funding for the Volcano, regardless.
As one astute blogger put it: "I wonder what's more offensive to the general public: Printing a story in the Shasta High School Volcano which has maybe 200-300 daily viewers. Or printing a story about a story in the Shasta High School Volcano (front page news, mind you) that offends people in a paper which has several thousand daily viewers?"
The students shouldn't have published the photo on the front page when it wasn't relevant to their school at the time, but they should still be allowed to discuss their rights as citizens in their public forum, the Volcano. They ultimately suffered from a poor adviser and a money deprived administration. Bring back the Volcano, and viva free student speech!