Friday, March 27, 2009

Can't Use Graduation Speech as Excuse to Evangelize

I'm sure everyone remembers the controversy in Nevada a few years ago. Brittany McComb, valedictorian, decided to use her opportunity at the school's graduation ceremony to evangelize, despite the school already warning her the speech was not appropriate. Here's the youtube as a reminder:

Of course the extreme right wing cried foul & made up silly arguments, claiming her free speech rights were violated, etc.

After the school board pulled the plug on her evangelism on the school board's dime, the young lady sued. She lost. Now, she lost the appeal. (See the pdf of the ruling.)

Judge Kozinski, citing previous 9th Circuit law, said the young lady was not denied her free speech rights at all.

[School officials] did not violate McComb’s free speech and free exercise rights by preventing her from making a proselytizing graduation speech. Nor did they violate McComb’s right to equal protection; they did not allow other graduation speakers to proselytize.

It is unfortunate that some well meaning believers cannot stand not having the government give them special treatment. No other faith is allowed to evangelize, nor should be, on the government's dime. No other faith is allowed to hold a captive audience of spectators at a graduation. Nor should the price of admission to witness a high school graduation be an evangelistic effort or prayer meeting.

Freedom for all means exactly that. It does not mean one group gets preferential treatment.


Georgia Mountain Man said...

If you want to hear a sermon or preach one, there are thousands of churches to go to each week. High school graduation only happens once a year. It looks as if the court correctly interpreted the law.

Dirk said...

It doesn't mean one group gets excluded, either. The First Amendment is for everyone, but these days, everyone except Christians. This is just another example of the "tolerance" the liberal left claims to have.

And as the video showed, the vast majority of those in attendance objected to the school's censorship of free speech, & is reflective of the studies that show that anywhere from 80-90 some percent of Americans believe in God.

It was dispicable that so-called adults, & so-called education professionals did this to a 17 or 18 year old young lady.

If she had given a leftist message, & the school did the same thing, you better believe the ACLU & other special interest groups would have been in the courts immediately literally screaming "foul" and "censorship".

I applaud the attendees for expressing the majority wishes.

And of course the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would rule against her - it's been known for being liberal friendly for decades now.

Great to have you back, Ryan. I was about to e-mail you to see if all was well with you & your family after seeing you dropped off my followers list & it had been nearly two months since your last post.


That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Dirk: The law is set up to protect everyone. Majority doesn't mean "what is right" & the majority there may have been Xian, but that doesn't mean she had the right to evangelize on the tax payers' dime. She had every right to give thanks but sermonizing is simply not allowed, nor should it be. Had she broken into a prayer service for Allah, my position would be the same & the school would have stopped her from doing that as well.

Georgia Mountain Man said...

This isn't a free speech issue, Dirk. The school has a right to determine the content of the speech, and it shouldn't be a sermon or a rant about an issue. If the girl had been going to speak about gay rights, she should have been stopped as well. A valedictorian address isn't he time or place for a personal rant or sermon. This was typical of those who try to force an issue in an inappropriate place, then claim their rights are violated. The religious right then tries to say their right to practice their religion is being violated, which is stupid. They have a right to worship as they please when they please, but not force it on others at a school graduation.

Dirk said...

First Amendment rights don't stop at the door of a school or any other institution. In this case, there was no expenditure of tax dollars unless Ms. McComb was on the county payroll. If the valedictory speech had an Islamic theme along the same lines, nothing would have been said, nor would anything have been done if she had promoted a gay agenda. Chief reason here is the school system would have been too afraid of the backlash from these two groups. And backlash there would have been. Every special interest group associated with either would have shown up.

There was no forcing of beliefs on others here & it certainly was not sponsored nor endorsed by the school, so therefore, there shouldn't have been a problem.

The school district made the determination that there should be NO mention of God, or anything Christian at all, no matter what, in consultation with who? The ACLU of course. The ACLU should not have been involved in reviewing high school graduation speeches in the first place. The ACLU was so desperate to eliminate any references to Christianity that they told Clark County School officials that the speech could be construed as a school-sponsored prayer. Prayer???? Very thin.

There was even an atheist who called a news station stating that her microphone should not have been cut off, & she should have been allowed to continue.

If her microphone had been cut off because she was espousing liberal ideology, all of us know beyond a shadow of a doubt the ACLU would have immediately sued the school system, & the outrage by other leftist special interest groups would have been on the news for weeks on end ad nauseum yelling censorship. We've all seen it happen many times.


That Baptist Ain't Right said...

Dirk: Not all of the references to God were edited. It is simply not true to say that "God was cut from the speech."

May want to read the newspaper article.

You're right that one's 1st Amendment rights don't end at the school house door. I agree 100%. But this was a school sponsored event & she doesn't have the right to evangelize a captive audience. The people in attendance have rights too. The only way for them to not enjoin themselves in her prayer meeting was to not attend.

I disagree that nothing would have been done had she espoused another faith or a certain political ideology. A few references or a stated opinion is fine: a political speech or a sermon is not.

And my opinion would be that she was just as wrong had that happened as with what did happen.

BTW, it is good to be back! I always enjoy the banter with you, even if we disagree. Hope all is well.

Dirk said...

I enjoy the debate back & forth too! All is well with us, & I hope with you & your family too.