You'd think someone from South Carolina would know better. You'd think, but you would apparently be wrong. Who knows? Maybe the guy isn't actually from South Carolina. Maybe he moved in from somewhere else.
I am speaking of Chapin High teacher Scott Compton, who teaches Honors English in the Lexington-Richland (S.C.) school district -- or did, until he apparently lost his mind and decided it would be a good idea to yank Old Glory from its place of honor in his classroom, throw it on the floor and stomp on it -- not once, understand, but over and over and over. He did this in three separate class sessions.
He claims that he was just trying to demonstrate to his students that the flag was a meaningless symbol and that, as individuals, they could take part in such political demonstrations without having to worry about facing any consequences. Freedom of speech and all that, I suppose.
It might sound good in theory, but a lot of things sound good in theory -- especially in the field of modern education -- that, in practice, don't turn out as planned. "Well, it sounded like a good idea," is often heard in the hallowed halls of academia.
Scott Compton failed, apparently, to take into consideration that his students were a little more concrete in their thought process than he realized. They didn't see him as someone demonstrating their own liberties. They saw him as some kook stomping on the American flag.
"We don't know why he did that," uttered one young scholar who witnessed the bizarre demonstration. Others said, "We don't know what point he was trying to make. He just threw the flag down and started stomping on it."
Compton also failed to take into account the mindset of the community in which he teaches. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that he isn't from around there. The superintendent is a veteran and most of the townsfolk are God-fearing, patriotic people who apparently believe there are a lot better ways to make a point than to desecrate the flag so many men and women have fought to defend. Fort Jackson, the largest U.S. Army training facility in the world, is located within the school district. You'd think that someone smart enough to teach Honors English would be aware enough to realize these things.
I know. I know. Those soldiers fought for the right of people to desecrate the flag. If Scott Compton was some misguided kid trying to make a point, I might agree. But he is a teacher who is responsible for young, impressionable students and in that situation, the common sense factor must come into play, and Compton did not exhibit any in this instance. In Porterdale parlance, he acted like a DA -- and that doesn't mean a district attorney.
Once the incident, which happened in December, came to light, Compton was suspended pending an investigation. After said investigation was completed, the superintendent recommended that Compton be terminated. Actually, I think he recommended that Compton's employment be terminated. I don't think even South Carolina has capital punishment for flag stomping.
Compton's attorney insists that his client did nothing wrong. He states that his client was simply trying to make a rather dramatic point that his students would remember for a long time and seems to imply that Compton's own First Amendment rights might be violated if he is fired.
They might well be, but I wouldn't want my kids taught by someone who exhibits such poor judgment. I am sure the ACLU will defend his position -- and that other folks will attack mine -- but that's my opinion and mine is the only one I am free to express.
Supposedly his fate will be revealed Monday, but a school spokesman has already stated that a permanent replacement will be on hand soon. Sounds like somebody's mind is made up.
Compton's friends, understandably, have rushed to his defense, stating what a great teacher he is. One person implied that the teacher was being castigated for his liberal political leanings and that it's not his fault if the students aren't advanced enough to understand what he was trying to teach.
Yeah. Poor dumb Southern hicks.
I teach about the Bill of Rights in my history class -- I don't know what the English teacher across the hall teaches, but I am pretty sure it's not flag desecration -- and I teach my students that the Supreme Court has upheld flag burning as protected free speech. I also make them aware that a person might choose to burn his own flag, but that if said individual attempts to burn my flag, there's going to be a butt-whipping involved.
I'm pretty sure Scott Compton wasn't stomping his own American flag. If someone comes to stomp on my American flag, they need to understand that the yellow flag next to it -- the one with a rattlesnake and the slogan "Don't Tread on Me" -- well, that's not a symbol, that's a warning. Selah.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.