Sunday, June 18, 2006

School to valedictorian: shut up!

The valedictorian at a Las Vagas high school departed from her prepared remarks to talk about God. School officials, literally, pulled the plug on her, cutting off the microphone. The ACLU pronounces itself satisfied. Given the silly set of rules that one must infer from conflicting Supreme Court decisions (a set of rules that probably only Justice Kennedy and the recently retired Sandra Day O'Connor actually advocated), the district's actions weren't crazy. Graduation speeches are school-sponsored events over which schools exercise control. If they permit religious speech, the argument goes, then they will appear to have endorsed that speech and those students who do not share the expressed view will be made to feel like outsiders.

But an episode like this shows how silly that is? What message is sent by treating religious expression as something so toxic that it must be silenced? Weren't the valedictorian and the students who wanted to hear her message made to feel like outsiders? Doesn't it appear that the school endorsed secularism?

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