Mason Michalec KHOU screenshot

It seems like every year there are a few stories of pimply-faced kids refusing to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In the past it usually had to do with a president from Texas named George Bush. Today, a student from Texas refuses to say the Pledge because of the actions of a president from Hawaii named Barack Obama. Shocker.

KHOU Texas reported May 7:

NEEDVILLE, Texas — Mason Michalec says he loves his country but just not the government.

“I’m really tired of our government taking advantage of us,” said Michalec. “I don’t agree with the NSA spying on us. And I don’t agree with any of those Internet laws.”

That’s why he’s taken a pledge of sorts to not say the Pledge of Allegiance with classmates. …

Michalec says the principal sentenced him to two days of in school suspension, and warned that he could face more ISS if his protest continued. …

“And I think it’s time that people do something for themselves and stop taking whatever’s handed to them,” said Michalec. “I’m angry and frustrated and annoyed that they would try to write me up for something I have the right to do.”

According to KHOU 11 News legal expert attorney Gerald Treece, the sanctions imposed by the school appear to violate Michalec’s first amendment rights.

Using the statist’s logic, if the government can force Americans to engage in economic activity (i.e., buy health insurance) simply because they live and breath in the United States, why can’t it force a silent American to engage in government-sanctioned propaganda (i.e., the Pledge)?

Personally, I always thought that saying the Pledge in high school was a bit much. I think having good teachers who don’t spew anti-American propaganda is more important than forcing kids to say the Pledge, which brings up another point: propaganda can be a good thing (e.g., rallying a nation through a war effort) thing or a bad thing (e.g., teaching kids only the worst aspects of their country’s history), but it’s still propaganda.

When I was a high school substitute teacher I had a student who refused to stand and say the Pledge. I told him that I wasn’t going to force him to say the Pledge and I wasn’t going to force him to hold his hand over his heart, but I was going to see to it that he stood respectfully while the rest of the class engaged in the activity. It is perfectly within any teacher’s right to ask a student to stand up.

The student’s reasoning for not saying the Pledge: “I’m not an American. I’m Mexican.”

I asked him where he was born. Answer: “America.”

“So you were born in America, you live in America, you receive a public education that is funded by American taxpayers, you speak English and you’re completely immersed in American culture — but you’re not an American and won’t say the Pledge? Gotcha,” I said.

I told the student (and by extension the class) that we wouldn’t begin our lesson — on that day or any day moving forward while I was in charge — until the kid stood in respectful silence. It didn’t take long for him to come around. How does the saying go: “Peer pressure is a bitch”? No in school suspension needed. No Chicago news stories going viral. I got to establish my legitimate authority and he got to feel like a rebel by zipping his lips during a creed he didn’t believe in (at that time in his life). As an extra bonus, his fellow students got to witness the immaturity of his “I’m not an American” argument.

In those days it was often very difficult to hold my tongue and not say what was truly on my mind. It would have been cathartic to say, “No, you’re an American — you’re just a sorry excuse for an American. You’re an ungrateful little boy who is too ignorant to know it at the moment.”

You can not force someone to love you and you can not force a man (or a boy) to love his country. Forcing an individual to say words he doesn’t believe in, to me, seems strange. However, forcing a student to stand respectfully during an event the rest of the class is participating in — while allowing an individual to abstain from an articulating an oath he doesn’t believe in — seems to strike a proper balance.

Agree? Disagree? I’d like to hear what you think, especially if you’re an educator .

 

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

80 comments

  1. Should’ve told the kid to move to Mexico and call you back and tell you how it is. See how the “Mexican” likes the real thing after living in the US his whole life.

    Did “legal expert attorney” Gerald Treece really have to call the matter a “violation of Michalec’s First Amendment rights”? All it seems like to me is a matter of respect for your classmates and respect to your teacher.

    At the private high school that I go to, the class says the Pledge of Alliance and a prayer before every lecture. No one is required to participate in either, but as far as I’ve heard of no one has even considered refusing to stand up.

    1. Should’ve told the kid to move to Mexico and call you back and tell you how it is. See how the “Mexican” likes the real thing after living in the US his whole life.

      There were many instances where my patience was tested. It was tough to keep it professional with some of the students…

      Did “legal expert attorney” Gerald Treece really have to call the matter a “violation of Michalec’s First Amendment rights”? All it seems like to me is a matter of respect for your classmates and respect to your teacher.

      For a short amount of time I considered going to law school. Looking back on it, I’m glad that I didn’t go that route.

      At the private high school that I go to, the class says the Pledge of Alliance and a prayer before every lecture. No one is required to participate in either, but as far as I’ve heard of no one has even considered refusing to stand up.

      I went to high school with some weird kids, but I can’t imagine any of them pulling that kind of stunt. My guess is that most kids that didn’t want to do it just stood up and then basically stared off into space for 15 seconds.

      People need to learn to pick their battles wisely. I’m not sure if the Pledge is one that Mr. Michalec should be fighting.

  2. The pledge is to the flag and to the republic for which it stands, not “the govt” or any administration. The same republic that produced this kid’s school, the same republic that his friends and family call home. I don’t think it’s asking to much to have him stand quietly with his classmates…..I stand for the anthem hand/hat over heart at every ball game no matter what the govt is up to. Our republic has elections/political process that he can participate in when he turns 18….I’m not crazy about his protest.

  3. The Supreme Court has ruled on this enough times. Bottom line is: kids cannot be compelled to recite the pledge nor be punished for abstaining. Methinks this High school principal should know the history of recent Supreme Court decisions a bit better.

    Can’t agree with you on making kids stand. Making them stand is a form of punishment at worst and coercion at best. Besides, it would have very likely lost in court. Jehovah’s Witnesses neither stand nor recite the Pledge and there is nothing an educator could do about it, legally. They have the right via the First Amendment not to be forced to worship anything other than their version of god, including the flag or the State. I had this very discussion with a Witness friend three weeks ago.

    I believe the Hot Air author missed the mark completely. Mandatory recital because they are kids is sending the wrong message. Inculcation to worshiping the State via the Pledge of Allegiance? Our elected officials and many public servants recite an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the Republic. Think about that for a minute. Pledging allegiance to the state borders on Socialism. Never been a fan.

    1. How is it “punishment” to make a kid stand for 15 seconds in silence while everyone else is standing and reciting the pledge? That’s laughable.

      Ever been to gym class? There are plenty of kids who are forced to stand during an activity the rest of the class is engaged in. They stand there like a dope while everyone else plays “game x”…but they’re still forced to stand.

      Some stupid kid slouched in his chair mugging at his classmates while everyone says the pledge is distracting. Some stupid kid standing in silence still gets to make his personal protest, but he is much more innocuous.

      It is not punishment to deny a kid who wants to draw attention to himself. That aspect of his protest does not need to be placated. If he doesn’t want to say the words, then fine. But he should most certainly be made to stand.

    2. Maybe he isn’t trying to draw attention to himself at all. Perhaps he really doesn’t wish to “pledge allegiance” to something his conscience is telling him is wrong. Just in case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t the same country our parents and grandparents were born into.

      I think the kid simply has his eyes open and isn’t falling for the propaganda, which explains the schools reaction.

    3. You’re right Roger, our grandparents were born into a United States that made black people drink from separate drinking fountains and threw Japanese people into internment camps. They also defeated the Nazis, though. What’s your point?

      I’m not sure if you actually read my post, but I said that I wouldn’t have the kid say the Pledge or put his hand over his heart. I said that I would make him stand respectfully in silence while the rest of the class took part. If you’re like Lightbringer and think that’s a “punishment” that is too much for his little heart to bear (oh the humanity!) then there really isn’t much left to say.

    4. What’s laughable is how you perceive a Pyrrhic victory in an ideological battle with an adolescent as a victory at all.

      “Well, I can’t make you love this country by forcing you to abdicate your First Amendment rights by involuntarily swearing fealty to the government by way of the flag of the United States in a pledge written by an avowed Socialist for the express purpose of creating more Socialists, but what I can do kid… is make you stand up while the rest of us recite it.”

      You would have done them a better service by spending 30 minutes reviewing West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, one of the SCOTUS’s seminal opinions protecting the People’s First Amendment rights.

      What would you say to the child of a Johovah’s Witness, who is protesting nothing, but exercising his or her Constitutionally-protected First Amendment right not to participate in the pledge or salute the flag? Would you make he or she stand against their will?

    5. What’s laughable is how you perceive a Pyrrhic victory in an ideological battle with an adolescent as a victory at all.

      “Well, I can’t make you love this country by forcing you to abdicate your First Amendment rights by involuntarily swearing fealty to the government by way of the flag of the United States in a pledge written by an avowed Socialist for the express purpose of creating more Socialists, but what I can do kid… is make you stand up while the rest of us recite it.”

      Slow clap for Lightbringer. You’re gone for months, and you come back to cry crocodile tears over some kid who I’d have stand silently for 15 seconds during the Pledge.

      I’ve already explained that standing respectfully while the rest of the class is engaged in “activity x” is not a “punishment” or a burden, and if you think it is … then oh well. I’m inclined to think that you’d also be the kind of school administrator who bans dodge ball because some kids might get bullied or because others who aren’t particularly athletic might have their feelings hurt during the course of the game.

      I see you haven’t lost your knack for completely distorting what I’ve said. When we’ve reached a point where we can’t make some ungrateful ignorant kids stand respectfully — in silence — during the Pledge because that’s somehow an infringement of their First Amendment rights, we’re at a sad point indeed. I suppose if I made kids tap dance and give me jazz hands during the Pledge, you’d have a point. As it stands (no pun intended), your whole “free speech is threatened by making someone stand — without forcing them to say a single damn word — for 15 seconds” argument is pretty weak.

      Update: I forgot to mention this, but I’m glad that you invoked the Supreme Court. It’s nice to know that you’re now cool with opening prayers before city council meetings.

    6. Meh, Honestly I probably need to clarify my position on this. Frankly I do not really know the young mans intentions on the matter. I’m only offering a point of view since you commented that the kid was attempting to bring attention to himself. That may in fact be the case, but we really don’t know. Honestly I don’t even think it would be a bad idea to ask him to excuse himself for a moment and leave the class while the others pledge their allegiance to the flag, and to the ?republic? for which it stands. That may even help expose his intent. If he gladly excuses himself perhaps he really doesn’t believe he should be doing it, or if he refuses to leave and insists on ” slouched in his chair mugging at his classmates” might argue that he is in fact trying to gain attention. Who knows…

      In any case I’m really not defending the boy, only offering my point of view. That being said, I do believe that forcing him to stand and be respectful as you put it would still qualify as forcing him to participate to a lesser degree, and could also be construed as retaliation. Face it, we both know it happens, you almost admitted it during the course of your writing. I’m not even saying you were wrong for making him stand, only that you refused to let him have the last word, and went to whatever length your authority allowed to make sure he didn’t. That is by definition reprisal. Again – not saying you are wrong, I cannot stress that enough.

      On to the fun part… the quip about “United States that made black people drink from separate drinking fountains and threw Japanese people into internment camps. They also defeated the Nazis, though. What’s your point?” I would argue that we did not defeat the Nazis at all, but ironically have become very Nazilike ourselves. And to say we are better now as a country because black people don’t have to use a separate fountain any more is laughable. We have lost far more freedom than we have gained in the name of security. And even Scalia admits that future internment camps aren’t necessarily out of the question. The difference is that this time they might be coming for you and I because we failed to stand up for the rights of Japanese-Americans in the past. Funny how history works. It was however a nice looking straw-man.

      I may seem argumentative or bias on the surface, but I’d bet we don’t disagree nearly as much as it may seem based on a few paragraphs typed back and forth. 😉 Enjoying the blog, keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

    7. Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it, Roger.

      In any case I’m really not defending the boy, only offering my point of view. That being said, I do believe that forcing him to stand and be respectful as you put it would still qualify as forcing him to participate to a lesser degree, and could also be construed as retaliation. Face it, we both know it happens, you almost admitted it during the course of your writing.

      Retaliation would be treating him different than all the other kids, giving him a lower grade, singling him out for answering tough questions that I know he’ll get wrong, etc. Again, asking a young man to stand in silence, in my opinion, is pretty darn tame. To me, it’s a simple sign of respect and decency. If I went to another country and they were playing their national anthem, would I stand with everyone else? Yes. Would I sing along? No. Would I goof around and yuk it up with my American friends? No. There are just certain things a person does because he’s a decent person, and I think standing in silence for the Pledge — even if you plan to refrain from saying the the words — would be a part of that rubric.

      On to the fun part… the quip about “United States that made black people drink from separate drinking fountains and threw Japanese people into internment camps. They also defeated the Nazis, though. What’s your point?” I would argue that we did not defeat the Nazis at all, but ironically have become very Nazilike ourselves.

      I think “Orwellian” is a better term. Anyway, I used the examples I did to point out that at all points within our history we’ve faced challenges. We’re not perfect. We have all sorts of flaws. That’s why we strive to become “a more perfect union.” You insinuated that things were better years ago. In some sense, you’re right. In another, you’re very wrong.

      In regards to Scalia, I remember those comments well. I was the one who originally posted the AP version on TWT’s site before Drudge picked it up. 😉

      I may seem argumentative or bias on the surface, but I’d bet we don’t disagree nearly as much as it may seem based on a few paragraphs typed back and forth. 😉 Enjoying the blog, keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

      Thanks for reading! I’ve been a little behind lately due to a moving situation and a few other things, but I definitely try and blog at least a couple times each week.

    8. Your response was truly breathtaking. You got nothing. You know why? Because somehow the amount of time between my posts magically diminishes the quality of my argument. You fail to acknowledge that, legally, respect and gratefulness for the Pledge of Allegiance is neither required nor is standing for it. You fail to understand both the history of and the arguments against the Pledge. You ignore the very relevant question about Witnesses. You offer a lame ad hominem that I am akin to a anti-dodgeball school administrator. You spend paragraph after paragraph explaining how standing isn’t punishment in your eyes but our best argument is that making a child stand is that it isn’t a big deal. You claim I distorted your post in my reply, but can’t offer a single example how.

      I suppose narrowing the point to whether or “making” a child under your authority stand, in your opinion, is right and just makes perfect sense from your perspective. You clearly won’t touch the socialist aspect of the pledge or the Jehovah’s Witness question with a 10 foot pole… because it very likely will undermine your entire argument.

      And I suppose it is typical for you to cherry-pick quotes you want to argue against, ones you think you can score enough points on, often missing the overall message. So, again, I can’t really can’t complain knowing full well what I was walking into.

      That said, the “crocodile tears” quote was funny. You clearly don’t understand the similarities of my stance and the Witness’s stance that tyranny of the majority isn’t Constitutional when it comes to the Bill of Rights. Perhaps you should actually read some of the SCOTUS decisions regarding this issue instead of appeals to authority like “I taught class.”

      I thought Roger made a good case why your action could easily be construed as punishment. I certainly wasn’t going to take a stab at it. Your track record of attempting to understand readers who disagree with you without insult or mockery is rather poor. You dig in. You mock. You cherry-pick quotes. You ignore salient points. Sadly, it’s your blog so neither Roger nor I are likely to get you to even evaluate your own opinion much less change it.

      My response to your goading UPDATE!
      Does one need to agree with *every* SCOTUS decision when they reference a prior one? I remember a post with quite a bit of seething anger after Roberts made the swing vote to rule Obamacare legal. One post during the proceedings prematurely declaring victory, then a subsequent post declaring Roberts sowing the seeds of revolution instead of conceding that it may be Constitutional after all. I guess you’re cool with Obamacare now, right?

    9. Zzzzz. I’ll leave it to a reader to point out how silly you are:

      “Court decisions and 9 million policy rules for the company I work for are nice, but they don’t always help in a spontaneous situation that arises. Usually I get where he is coming from, but I’m not sure what battle (to stick with the Pyrrhic theme) he’s fighting here. If its “Doug is wrong,” no one claimed twenty something year old Doug was a SCOTUS expert. If it’s “you should of taught the kids x about court decisions/bill of rights,” then I don’t think Lightbringer appreciates the situation of the rough school, non-eager students, etc. One would have to establish authority to be able to move on to that lesson,” (Douglasernstblog.com reader).

      Instead of looking at your old “Magic: The Gathering” cards, why don’t you look up what “pyrrhic victory” actually means. I almost felt as if you didn’t really know what it meant, but you said it because it sounded cool…

      And I suppose it is typical for you to cherry-pick quotes you want to argue against, ones you think you can score enough points on, often missing the overall message. So, again, I can’t really can’t complain knowing full well what I was walking into.

      Your overall message was to just b**ch me out with flippant comments about a “pyrrhic victory” when I was the one who said that I was trying to find a proper balance. I’d love to see how you would have reacted in that situation. Oh, I forgot, you would have just whipped out a 30 minute presentation on past Supreme Court rulings because you’re so awesome. You would have handled it perfectly because you, Lightbringer, the “bringer of light,” are the high school teenager whisperer.

      Get off your moral pedestal. It’s really high up there and I’ve watched you fall on your face too many times. It’s painful to watch.

    10. The comments attached to articles are so very often more fun than the articles themselves…

      I’ll keep the conversation rolling by pointing out that portraying the kid as a “stupid kid slouched in his chair mugging at his classmates while everyone says the pledge” isn’t exactly fair. I’ve read a few stories from different outlets and have never gotten that impression. I also think my position on the matter would take a dramatic shift if that was in fact the case. There is a massive difference between slouching and acting rebellious and sitting down and remaining silent respectfully. I might even go as far as to say that the majority of kids these days are entitled punks, and it would be easy to imagine that a teenager in this day and age would in fact be doing so. However we simply don’t know the boys intent. It’s just as fair to say that the kid is indeed a real patriot holding true to his convictions. Lets be fair and objective.

      I will still maintain that requiring the young man to stand and be respectful is indeed a forced participation to a lesser degree. You mention being in a foreign land and standing respectfully during the national anthem, which I also would do. That’s just how I was raised. However I would do so knowing that I had a choice in the matter. If I chose to remain seated, and an upset citizen of that country forced me to stand, I would likely feel a bit different.

      I don’t say things in order to change opinions, I say things to offer alternate points of view in order to contribute positively to conversation. I learned some time ago that some things can be taught, some things need to be learned, and some things can only be revealed.

    11. I’ll keep the conversation rolling by pointing out that portraying the kid as a “stupid kid slouched in his chair mugging at his classmates while everyone says the pledge” isn’t exactly fair. I’ve read a few stories from different outlets and have never gotten that impression.

      Roger, I agree with you in that we don’t know with this kid, but my experience did involve a stupid wannabe gang-banger kid slouched in his chair and mugging at his classmates. I would be willing to bet — again, based on my experience as a full-time sub years ago — that the vast majority of students who pull this stunt are not doing so as a principled protest, but to poke the bear (i.e., the teacher) in the classroom for any number of reasons.

      I would like to know if this kid talked to his teacher beforehand about his feelings, or if he just up and decided not to stand one day after doing so for the entire school year. One can imagine how jarring that would be to a teacher, which 99% of the time is going to prompt him to say, “What the heck is going on?” That’s just human nature.

      Perhaps if more teachers had the SCOTUS app for their smartphones, like Lightbringer, these sorts of situations would be handled better.

      I will still maintain that requiring the young man to stand and be respectful is indeed a forced participation to a lesser degree. You mention being in a foreign land and standing respectfully during the national anthem, which I also would do. That’s just how I was raised. However I would do so knowing that I had a choice in the matter. If I chose to remain seated, and an upset citizen of that country forced me to stand, I would likely feel a bit different.

      For the most part we agree, but we part ways as to whether or not asking a student in a public school to stand silently — not a ticket holder at a soccer game — constitutes participation. I would argue that a man has every right to be a douchebag in a stadium in the United States; students do not have a right to be distracting douchebags in a teacher’s classroom while his peers say the Pledge.

      Regardless, thanks for “enlightening” Lightbringer as to how two people can disagree on this topic in the comments section with tact. 😉

    12. “my experience did involve a stupid wannabe gang-banger kid slouched in his chair and mugging at his classmates.”

      In other words, “Mom! He’s looking at me funny!”

      I could not have provided a better proof of the points I have been making than you writing how distracting, or offensive, you found the student’s behavior. People who actually believe a certain ritual is important can perform that ritual even in the midst of smirking people. Those who really believe in things can do so even in the middle of falling bombs; there is the example of Father Thomas Kemp Philips who continued Catholic Mass to the Sacrament even as bombs dropped on the church.

      Contrarily, people like you who don’t actually believe in the rituals need others to be forced to participate in those rituals, even minimally. The reason is you can’t do it otherwise, that’s how little you believe in the ritual. You found the student’s slouching and mugging so offensive because it was too visceral of a reminder that deep down you agreed the whole exercise was silly.

      It is commonly said to Christian Dominionists, “weak is the religion which requires government sponsorship.” Well the same applies to the religion of American Patriotism, and its incarnation in the form of the Pledge of Allegiance.

      “but to poke the bear (i.e., the teacher) in the classroom for any number of reasons.”

      And teachers like you keep falling for it.

      “I would like to know if this kid talked to his teacher beforehand about his feelings”

      …because the presumption is that the burden is on those who wish to not make a statement to explain themselves. Again, remaining seated during the Pledge is not making a statement, it is doing nothing. Making a statement would be *rising* to say the Pledge, or contrarily rising to give a speech about how you think the Pledge is nonsense.

      If a teacher finds such a student’s behavior shocking, then that is on the teacher.

      “Perhaps if more teachers had the SCOTUS app for their smartphones,”

      That SCOTUS, and the courts in general, have ruled again and again that school children cannot be forced to even stand for the Pledge is common knowledge, or ought to be, for a teacher. Particularly for one who insists that the Pledge must be recited in order to teach students the values upon which this country is, purportedly, founded. How Orwellian is it for a teacher to insist on a ritual involved blubbery speech about “Justice for all” without knowing the SCOTUS case involved that very ritual?

    13. “my experience did involve a stupid wannabe gang-banger kid slouched in his chair and mugging at his classmates.” In other words, “Mom! He’s looking at me funny!” I could not have provided a better proof of the points I have been making than you writing how distracting, or offensive, you found the student’s behavior.

      I know. And here’s the thing: it only took you from May 2014 until now to come up with this retort. Bravo! I don’t even have the energy to read through this whole conversation right now because I remember you made a complete fool out of yourself then and all of this was covered. The point of my comment was that the kids I encountered who didn’t want to slay the pledge weren’t doing it on some sort of principle that they believed in — they were doing it to draw attention to the fact that they were a “rebel”. They were doing it because they jumped at any opportunity to undermine the teacher. They were doing it because it was yet another opportunity for them to give the teacher a metaphorical middle finger.

      Again, try teaching in behavioral disorder classes or English as a Second Language classes with actual gang-bangers for awhile and then come talk to me. Or not. I suppose you can wait until this summer to come up with another reply.

  4. It seems that certain people are here are deliberately misunderstanding the point.

    Respecting others beliefs and opinions is the basis for a functioning society. Maybe if a lot of the liberals fascists were taught respect at school they would be able to have a debate with someone with conflicting views.

    1. It seems that certain people are here are deliberately misunderstanding the point.

      For this debate it’s just sad that someone who is asked to basically provide a minimum level of tact and respect is being cast as a victim. Asking a kid to stand silently (again, with his lips sealed in protest and his hands at his side) is a violation of his rights? Give me a break.

      When I was a substitute teacher, I regularly took classes for the BD kids (Behavior Disorder), the Special Ed. kids and ESL (English as a Second Language). Why? Because no one else wanted to take on the task. I volunteered. And why didn’t the others want the job? Because if you get a really bad BD class, for instance, you’re going to have quite the challenge getting control of 25 kids with all sorts of anger issues, etc.

      When someone like Lightbringer flippantly refers to a “pyrrhic victory in an ideological battle with an adolescent,” it’s obvious that he’s never had to control a bunch of kids whose primary goal, at times, seems to be to see how far they could push an authority figure until he or she snaps. Try substitute teaching for classes littered with gang bangers for awhile (the kind of classes where you wonder if you’ll get shot on the way to the parking lot for disciplining them) and then come talk to me about the fragile hearts and principled minds of the average 16 year old.

    2. I think the point Doug asked for opinions about is balance. Doug was put in a tough situation in a rough school….I’m actually familiar with some of the schools Doug taught at, and I’ll just say these aren’t schools like the one portrayed on the “Saved by the Bell” television show. It’s American tradition to give the substitute teacher a hard time, no matter what type of school, so Doug was already behind the eightball. Doug is asked by the administration to conduct the Pledge daily, and is challenged by a “gang banger” kid who identifies himself as Mexican. Pyrrhic victory would imply a great cost to Doug; but I don’t see that. The student said his piece, Doug didn’t take the bait to fight with him, the kid was able to express his view and not participate, and Doug was able to establish a semblance of authority with an unruly class. I might be reading between the lines, but I got the impression Doug subbed for this class often, so it was important to establish that; and hopefully Doug was able to teach them something as the semester went on. I’ll bet some of the kids, even though they’d never admit it to their friends, probably appreciated Doug’s approach. I think Doug struck a good balance; was it perfect? I don’t know, but I doubt I would’ve had a better outcome if I was put in Doug’s situation. I believe the principal for the kid in the news story would be better served if he incorporated some of the ideas Doug used.

    3. I think the point Doug asked for opinions about is balance. Doug was put in a tough situation in a rough school….I’m actually familiar with some of the schools Doug taught at, and I’ll just say these aren’t schools like the one portrayed on the “Saved by the Bell” television show.

      Haha! That’s the truth.

      It’s American tradition to give the substitute teacher a hard time, no matter what type of school, so Doug was already behind the eightball. Doug is asked by the administration to conduct the Pledge daily, and is challenged by a “gang banger” kid who identifies himself as Mexican. Pyrrhic victory would imply a great cost to Doug; but I don’t see that. The student said his piece, Doug didn’t take the bait to fight with him, the kid was able to express his view and not participate, and Doug was able to establish a semblance of authority with an unruly class. I might be reading between the lines, but I got the impression Doug subbed for this class often, so it was important to establish that.

      Yep. I eventually became the “full time” sub for one specific high school, in part because I always volunteered for the troublesome classes when I was a floater. Full time subs get to go to the same place every day and (score) get benefits. It beats never knowing if you’re going to have work from day to day, or having to travel long distances.

      One of my favorite stories was the kid who was acting like a complete jackass, and when I finally kicked him out he refused to leave. I had to call security to take him from the room. It took every ounce of my strength not to put that kid’s head (and yes, he was a very big kid) through a wall. For awhile it was tough for me to go from an environment where that kind of behavior would be squashed instantly (i.e., U.S. Army) to an environment where the authority figure has his hands largely tied behind his back.

      The worst is when a kid like that would be sent to the office and they would send him back five minutes later! They were basically like, “We don’t want to deal with him — you deal with him.” So 98% of the class gets screwed because the school doesn’t want to put some jerk-kid in his place. Awesome.

      The funny thing is that the kid eventually became a pretty good student for me. My experience was that standing up to bullies, more often than not, earns their respect. The kid I dealt with, I believe, was also kind of shocked that I don’t hold grudges. I wiped the slate clean. The message is: “If you’re cool with me, I’ll be cool with you. If you want to be a jerk, I can play that game with the best of them.”

      I think Doug struck a good balance; was it perfect? I don’t know, but I doubt I would’ve had a better outcome if I was put in Doug’s situation. I believe the principal for the kid in the news story would be better served if he incorporated some of the ideas Doug used.

      Thanks! And thank you for noticing that I never said my approach was perfect. I indicated that I was trying to find a balance. That point seems to have been lost on some people…

    4. An admonishment to “respecting others’ beliefs and opinions” in the same paragraph as the casting the pejorative label “liberal fascists” on others’ beliefs?

      The fact that you didn’t notice that incongruity as your fingers were hitting the keyboard is utterly baffling to me.

      I would explain how the moral imperative of dissent against forcible coercion is at the very core of our nation’s founding, deeply embedded in its rich history, and very patriotic in its own right, but let’s be honest with ourselves, after writing that gem, you will have to forgive me for throwing up my hands and exclaiming “f*** it.”

  5. Hi Doug,

    While I wholeheartedly share your desire to strike a balance in this matter, I’m afraid that Lightbringer might be correct… legally. The 2nd Circuit case Goetz v. Ansell (1973), for example, held “that silent non-disruptive expression of belief by sitting down during the Pledge may not be prohibited.” There are others, but these of course are limited to the states covered by the circuit. However, from what I’ve read, the West Virginia case doesn’t directly address standing in silence (like, merely out of respect), only reciting the Pledge and/or offering some other affirmation of such (like the eerily Nazi-like salute that West Virginians did prior to that ruling). I’ve only seen groups like the ACLU claim that ANY “coercion” towards the Pledge is unconstitutional. Of course, I certainly could be mistaken.

    Interestingly, five years ago the SCOTUS refused to hear a Florida case which sought to affirm the 1943 W. Virginia case: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2009/1005/p02s07-usju.html Much of the issue appears to be whether minors have the right to assert the right not to recite the Pledge, or if their parents have the right to decide for them.

    Personally, I do not know what I’d do in such a case. I haven’t had a homeroom in over 15 years (mainly because I do my school’s announcements, including saying the Pledge for the school at large). I recall one of my asst. principals making a kid stand for the Pledge in my 4th yr. of teaching (I hadn’t made him), but I don’t think anything came of that. I suppose I’d ask my district’s legal dept. their opinion about it if such a situation arose in the future. As a libertarian, I’m wary of making someone do something against their beliefs, but I certainly understand (and personally have no problem with) standing silently out of plain ‘ol simple respect.

    1. While I wholeheartedly share your desire to strike a balance in this matter, I’m afraid that Lightbringer might be correct… legally. The 2nd Circuit case Goetz v. Ansell (1973), for example, held “that silent non-disruptive expression of belief by sitting down during the Pledge may not be prohibited.”

      Thanks for the feedback, Hube! I appreciate it.

      Yes, I just find it fascinating that an Eagle Scout can get suspended for his “disruptive” gun club shirt, but it’s not disruptive to have some kid slouching in his seat with a smirk on his face, rifling through his bag, doodling in his notebook, fooling around with his cell phone, etc. while everyone else stands for the Pledge…

      One of the reasons why I said I didn’t tell the kid he had to put his hand over his heart is because that would be forcing him to express a sentiment that he may not have held. However, to me, simply asking someone to stand is rather innocuous. As you stated, it appears as though the 2nd Circuit disagrees with that assertion. I “respectfully” disagree with the judges who made that decision.

      Side note: How weird is it that Lightbringer, who has bashed religion quite a few times in the comments section, is now the defender of random youthful Jehovah’s Witnesses? I suppose Lightbringer would say that the J.W. kid could protest — provided he wasn’t praying to God — because that can’t be allowed in public school. 😉

      Also, I would add that if a student came up to me before or after class, and expressed his concern, I would react quite differently than I would to a kid who just randomly doesn’t stand one day and smiles as he shoves his hands in his pockets…

    2. Indeed, Doug, re: your side note. Also, as you noted above, the SCOTUS recently upheld the right to utilize sectarian prayers at government sponsored events, within certain limits. That was a big win for religious expression.

    3. You suppose incorrectly. As much as I despise religion in general, I would never play the tyrant and tell some kid or anyone for that matter that they couldn’t pray in school. Your rights to freely practice your religion are certainly okay with me, however your rights end where my right to be free to avoid your religion begins.

      If you knew more about Witnesses, you would know that they disagree with mainstream Christianity on a great many topics and that disagreement has gone in front of the Supreme Court many times to protect their rights. Give West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette a read. It might enlighten you.

      Side note: I’m glad my disagreement is causing people to venture forth into the wild yonder of the internet and learn more about the Socialist origins of the Pledge and SCOTUS decisions about free speech since you seem adverse to mentioning them.

      As for the recent decision about prayers in government events, to borrow from you, I respectfully disagree with the judges who made that decision.

    4. Your rights to freely practice your religion are certainly okay with me, however your rights end where my right to be free to avoid your religion begins.*

      Hahaha! Classic. Thank you for clarifying that. Bill Maher recently said, “We’re atheists, not vampires,” in regards to your mentality. You aren’t allergic to garlic, are you?

      *Emphasis added.

    5. If you knew more about Witnesses, you would know that they disagree with mainstream Christianity on a great many topics and that disagreement has gone in front of the Supreme Court many times to protect their rights. Give West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette a read. It might enlighten you.

      What is it about liberal guys always talking about “enlightening” me? It’s so weird. Show me the light, “lightbringer”! I’m in the dark and I need you to shine your big ball of SCOTUS stardust upon me.

      Side note: I’m glad my disagreement is causing people to venture forth into the wild yonder of the internet and learn more about the Socialist origins of the Pledge and SCOTUS decisions about free speech since you seem adverse to mentioning them.

      1. I’m not sure why the Pledge’s “socialist origins” are relevant to a discussion about whether asking someone to stand silently during an in-class activity is a violation of free speech.

      2. I’m “adverse” to talking about the Supreme Court and its decisions? Umm, sure. Okay. See Hube’s reply and my interaction with him — and the the quote by a reader that I shared — to see why you’re double-dog dares to talk about “socialist origins” of the Pledge or SCOTUS rulings are both lame.

  6. @Lightbringer

    From what I know about Jehova’s Witnesses, as I used to be one, is that they would not affirm the trinity (some nonsense about it originating from pagan triads) and hold the Arian view of Christ being a creation of God rather than being part of the trinity and view the holy spirit as ‘God’s Active Force’ rather than as a distinct person in the trinity. Like classical Mormons, they also like to call Christendom a bunch of foolish idiots and practitioners of false religion, and seem to insist on an absolutist pacifist mindset and like to call even technical pacifists not ‘true Christians.’

    1. The funny thing about Lightbringer’s J.W. comment is…oh what the heck, I’ll quote that same reader again:

      “The student in the news story and the student you dealt with were not protesting the origin of the pledge nor were they Jehovah’s Witnesses. Again, I’m not sure what the argument is about. Even if you did “enlighten” yourself on these topics, I don’t see what changes in relation to the topic. Certainly the court decision is a background corollary (not a cool word like pyrrhic, I admit), but I’m not sure it’s front and center in comparing your experience to the news story,” (Douglasernstblog.com reader).

    1. If by “absolute” you mean someone who would not fight for anything, then I think that’s pretty sad.

      “A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself,” John Stewart Mill.

      Peace at any cost is not peace. The founders got it. Churchill got it. Reagan got it.

      I think I mentioned this in the comments section before, but a Quaker I know got really upset when I essentially said as much to her. The truth hurts.

    2. I’ve never understood the pacifistic mindset myself. That quote is on the money. I hate when people say that “diplomacy always works,” because it doesn’t. And especially not “hashtag diplomacy,” or whatever they’re calling it now.

    3. I had some dealings with Quakers as my daughter attended a Friends school for grades 1-3, and again in Costa Rica b/c a Quaker family runs a popular resorts there. They’re terrific people, without a doubt. But the notion that they enjoy the benefits of a peaceful society — because they let OTHERS do all the hard work — bothers me to no end.

    4. The girl I spoke to was generally very nice, but she got really annoyed when I pressed her with hard questions. Something along the lines of: “So someone breaks into your house. They’re going to kill your family members and the only way you can stop them is by fighting back. You’d just sit there?” Answer: Yes.

      What the heck? Unbelievable. I can see the Quaker dying. They go to heaven and they say, “God, why didn’t save me from the guys who broke into my house?” And then God says: “I did. I gave you two fists, common sense, and the opportunity to use both in that situation, didn’t I? Yeesh.”

  7. And Lightbringer: you’re one to talk about Doug’s “poor” behavior when you routinely act like a jerk to not only him but other commenters. Remember the time you called me an “ignorant troll” in the post about statism? Or you mocking Hube when he said that he might skip Cap 2? Or all the nasty jabs you made toward Jim Zee, going so far as to mock the work he did on his family farm? You can dish it out, but you can’t seem to take it. In other words, if you treat others in the comments section like a jerk, don’t be surprised if they return the favor. Grow up, for Christ’s sake.

    1. The return of Carl! You’ve come back in grand fashion, my friend. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Personally, I was thinking of Lightbringer’s comments towards Jim Zee. I think there were a few times were he didn’t even comment, but Lightbringer still took jabs at him. And the thing is, Jim has always basically ignored him. It’s not like Jim is a troll. He’s just … Jim Zee.

      I find it funny how liberals are always lecturing guys like us to be “sensitive” to [insert race, class or gender group here], but then when they interact with a conservative that rule is off the table. For instance, I talk about an experience that I had subbing for some pretty challenging classes for two years, and instead of thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder how I would have dealt with that situation?” or “I wonder how that experience shaded Doug’s perspective of how to conduct class” — and then moving forward tactfully — he just goes on the attack with little snide comments, which insinuate that I didn’t do my best to be a professional. And then he acts shocked (shocked, I tell you!) at the response.

      Like you said, he can dish it out but he can’t take it.

      I also have a thing against people that behave one way privately and one way publicly, but I’ll leave it at that.

    2. Yeah, I forgot to bring up how he once called that girl Gina a “bobblehead” because she was a conservative on a campus filled with liberals and she felt better after discovering your blog, to know that she wasn’t alone.

      Your point about liberals and sensitivity is right on the mark, my friend. I love how they lecture conservatives like us about it (usually in regards to race/gender/class/whatever) but when interacting with conservatives, that rule no longer applies and they resort to name-calling and snide, nasty remarks, like Lightbringer routinely does. And then flips out when people give him a taste of his own medicine.

      His complete dismissal of your experiences, which have more to do with this post than his non-sequiturs about Jehovah’s Witnesses, as an “appeal to authority” fits in with #2 on Larry Correia’s Internet Arguing Checklist:

      http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/09/20/the-internet-arguing-checklist/

    3. Yeah, I forgot to bring up how he once called that girl Gina a “bobblehead” because she was a conservative on a campus filled with liberals and she felt better after discovering your blog, to know that she wasn’t alone.

      Carl, you’ve got a mind like a steel trap, brotha. Very sharp memory!

      Thanks for sharing the link, too. Nice read.

    4. Carl!
      Please warn a guy before sharing a link like that. I have to clean my computer screen (I spit out my coffee in laughter).
      Thank you it made my day!

    5. “Carl, you’ve got a mind like a steel trap, brotha. Very sharp memory!”

      Well, I was reading your blog for at least two years before I started my own and started commenting on other blogs, so I remember reading that post at some point. That, and I’ve always had a good memory. My dad told me when I was younger to remember what people say, and I do. It’s a good way of disarming people they try to deny something they did or said in the past.

      ‘Thanks for sharing the link, too. Nice read.”

      It’s a good list. Larry Correia has dealt with a lot of crap from liberals, being an outspoken conservative sci-fi writer (liberal authors have tried to block him from being nominated for a Hugo Award and frequently reviewers declare that because of his beliefs, he’s not a “real” author…. whatever the hell that means.) and this list was written in response to the high number of liberal trolls that come to his site.

    6. “Carl!
      Please warn a guy before sharing a link like that. I have to clean my computer screen (I spit out my coffee in laughter).
      Thank you it made my day!”

      Glad it made your day, Truth!

  8. @Douglas

    Speaking of fighting, should I press political issues with my sci-fi/fantasy teacher. He always ‘tries’ to act Apolitical, but he always like to bash on conservative and republican candidates and the NRA and said something about how Sarah Pallin is a comedian’s dream because of this one supposed instance at the NRA where she said something about baptizing Muslims through water-boarding.

    After a few days of such stuff, I didn’t take that lying down and decided that I thought that Joe Biden’s gaffes were funnier, but now that he’s responded, I’m afraid of even looking at the message he sent back and haven’t yet.

    1. It’s not a matter of “fighting” with your teacher. It’s a matter of bringing up an issue that bothers you in a respectful way. Something along the lines of, “I hope you can see how it would alienate me, a conservative student, and others to be in a class where the professor regularly goes out of his way to mock conservatives. Would it be funny if I said Muslims were a comedian’s dream for [fill in the countless reasons here]? I came to learn about writing science fiction, and I seem to be learning something very different…”

  9. @Douglas

    So, you think I should ask him to tone it down a bit rather than challenge any of his neo-liberal assertions?

    1. I don’t know your exact situation, but it seems to be bothering you. I’d either tell him how it’s making you feel — given that you’re supposed to be learning about science fiction writing — or ignore it. I’m not sure if getting into a political pissing match with a creative writing teacher is a good use of your time. Again, without being in the class it’s tough to say…

  10. He said that the catholic church does not consider suicide a sin anymore, my teacher said.

    1. Arguing with somebody who already has their mind made up is most often a waste of time. I’d save my breath. 🙂

    2. I think your teacher should stick to teaching the fundamentals of good writing. Maybe he goes off on all sorts of weird tangents to cover up the fact that he’s not prepared to do his job… Just a thought.

    1. Ultimately that’s up to you, Emmanuel. If it’s just going to anger you, I wouldn’t open it. When I was briefly in college, I didn’t actively try to start arguments with my professors, even though they were all blithering liberal idiots (even an algebra professor would interrupt his class to go on anti-Bush tirades) and the temptation to interrupt them was strong. They would usually ask for opinions, whether in class or in papers, and when I’d give it to them, they didn’t like it because I didn’t fall in line with their progressive worldviews. And I’d get docked grades for expressing my mind.

    2. I think Doug,Carl, and Roger are correct. I’d add to remeber to keep your eye on the goal. It’s not like this guy is assigned to teach you for life, it’s only temporary that you have to deal with him. Learn what you can to apply to your writing and then move on to complete your end goal in education. Don’t let him deter you, or let your grades suffer for an unwinnable arguement. Look at Doug, he had a lot of liberalism shoved on him by professors; now who has the last laugh?

    3. @Patrick

      Yeah, but the thing about Doug is that he had a lot of things going for him, not the least of which was a sense of self-confidence (especially in his writing), muscles, friends, and family. I don’t have either of the first three and my family are in Jacksonville while I’m in Orlando and they tend to be unprepared to deal with this kind of stuff aside from telling me not to make such a big deal about it.

    4. Read my post on Robert DeNiro, Emmanuel.

      “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing—isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy — and that’s one a good day,” (Robert DeNiro).

      And my response:

      While I suppose this analysis could be applied to almost anyone, it has a ring of truth to it that, as a writer, I can not deny. While I’m not “caffeine-addled,” I admit to having struggled with many of the traits on his list.

  11. @Douglas

    I refer you to my response to Patrick, and add that you most likely had a ton of mentors to put things in perspective while all I’ve got is myself.

    1. You’re right, Emmanuel, I just was born with mentors in pockets. I just stuck my hands in there and “Whoa! Where did that mentor come from?” You’ve been reading long enough to know that I left my house at 18 an enlisted in the Army (nope, no mentors per se in Basic Training…in the traditional sense), and then when I got out I moved to USC — by myself. My favorite was going to orientation and trying to figure out how I was going to go to the “parents” events and the “students” events that took place at the same time. I opted for the “parents” financial seminar, and there were mothers and fathers who raised their hand for the option to pay all four years in one lump sum to save money. That one blew my mind…

      Did I have mentors, or did I actively seek them out? Did I make excuses, or did I mold reality to my will (with God’s help, of course)? In both cases, I’d say it was the latter.

  12. @Douglas

    “or did I mold reality to my will…”

    That’s the thing Douglas. You have a will.

    1. @Douglas

      I am being serious Doug. I NEED a mentor, someone to put things in perspective and who I can run too when things look bleak. Barring an actual person, a HAPPY PLACE to put things in perspective and that I can run too when things look bleak.

  13. @Douglas

    And the reason I mentioned vegetables is because I thought that maybe the reason I feel so glum can be, at least partially, reduced to my diet.

    1. 1. Listen to the video. There’s a lot of wisdom in it. It will answer many of your questions.
      2. Yes, you should eat healthy foods. Do you put mud in your car? Of course not. If you put garbage in, you get garbage out. That’s not to say you should only eat “x” foods, but you should be very mindful of what you’re putting into your body.

    2. I was referring to your particular class/instructor situation; you seem to be talking about life in general. Douglas detailed his journey, and he wasn’t born with big muscles or friends; he built all that often times alone. Friends/family/muscles(per se) didn’t help me as I climbed the ladder at my old company, aren’t doing my work now that I’m back in school, or will do my tasks when I start my new occupation after I graduate soon. While I’m sure Doug, and myself, root for Carl to write a great book; only Carl can sit down and write it, as he’s doing…..”we are creators”.

      Plus, instead of what you may not have; look at what you do have. You’ve passionately argued story ideas on these pages- so clearly you have a will; you’re in college- so you’ve already started taking ownership of your education; you’ve contributed to many conversations and gave Doug a post idea as I recall- clearly you’re a bright guy….just try and take a deep breath, decide what your goals are, make a roadmap, and pursue it…..as you make your way, confidence, friends, and mentors will come.

      To take it back full circle, don’t let one instructor in one class trip you up, learn what you can from him; and move on to better things. I sincerely wish you well.

  14. “However, forcing a student to stand respectfully…seems to strike a proper balance.”

    Balance between what? Your underlying assumption is that the Pledge is somehow necessary to the function of schools, and that those who refuse to say must justify their refusal to do so. This is complete baloney, plenty of schools across the country and the world operate without a daily prayer to the State, and it is quite apparent that saying the Pledge in no way serves one to be a better citizen.

    No, I see the Pledge as nothing but a privileged allotment of time marked out to those students who support Statism and Nationalism. Proper balance would be to allow students with differing views to that given by the Pledge equal time to express their views. In fact, declaring that such students only have the option of sitting in silence is already favoring those students who buy the Establishment propaganda.

    You can’t get away with simply saying that we ought to force dissenters to stand, but not recite, because standing is part and parcel of the Pledge. It is deemed disrespectful to sit while reciting the Pledge when one is physically capable of standing; if one’s voice is injured, standing signifies their intent to invoke the Pledge. You might as well argue as follows: everyone believes in “justice for all,” so all students should be forced to recite that part. No, the default, neutral position is sitting in silence. If a student doesn’t want to stand for the Pledge, then he ought to be allowed to remain in the neutral position.

    You had no moral right to force that student to stand for the Pledge, and no moral right to ask him why he refused to say the Pledge; it was none of your business.

    1. Hmmm…I can either get into a back-and-forth with “godlessmath” or I can not. What are the chances that “godlessmath” actually wants to have a productive conversation, as opposed to making up random arguments I never made (e.g., your underlying assumption is that the Pledge is somehow necessary in schools) and then reacting to them? Obviously you didn’t read the piece or the discussion section below or you would have known that I believe no such thing. Your “default” position apparently is to just spout off before gathering facts that are sitting right in front of your face.

      “Personally, I always thought that saying the Pledge in high school was a bit much. I think having good teachers who don’t spew anti-American propaganda is more important than forcing kids to say the Pledge.” — Douglas Ernst

      I guess in the schools you went through they didn’t work on your reading comprehension skills. I suppose I might be as angry as you appear to be if that happened to me.

      Come talk to me about what “moral right” I have to ask students questions, “godless,” when you’ve had to be in charge of classrooms filled with gang-bangers, kids with anger management problems and serious behavior disorders, and kids who simply want to make their substitute teacher’s life a living hell because then they’ll have something to laugh about during lunch.

      Update: I see you’re posting from South Korea. If you really want to talk about Statist brain-washing, then perhaps you should just start walking North. Let me know how it turns out.

    2. “I can either get into a back-and-forth”

      Probably best to quit while you are still behind.

      “I believe no such thing.”

      You think you don’t, and even claim to not, hence my use of the term “underlying assumption.” In the comments you compared having a student silently stand for the Pledge to other instances of students being made to partly participate in an activity. You do so without recognizing those instances involved actual curriculum, whereas the Pledge is a completely unnecessary (and in my opinion, silly) exercise.

      What else explains why you put that student on the spot, to justify his refusal to stand? That situation is not comparable to you seeing me at the start of a baseball game sitting silently during the National Anthem. I am an adult and you have no authority over me; in such a situation I would not hesitate to tell you to mind your own business. On the other hand, we all know why you asked the student to justify himself, you admit it yourself. Given your position over the student, you had no moral right to do this.

      However, the point is the very fact that you felt compelled to ask that student to justify his *inaction*. You have internalized that the Pledge is something that must be “opted-out” of, as if it is not the case that it is those who stand for the Pledge who are in fact the ones declaring themselves to be different from the rest of us. One does not remain seated to make a statement, it is those standing who are making a statement.

      “when you’ve had to be in charge of classrooms filled with gang-bangers…”

      Ironically, you’ve listed people for whom all the flowery bits of the Pledge have never been true.

      “…then perhaps you should just start walking North.”

      I am not Korean, I am in fact American. This possibility never occurred to you, although it seems so obvious. What happens in the North is scantly my business, despite all the fear-mongering concerning the North. Regardless, neither am I impressed when I argue for free elections and a Statist drool over himself and suggest I swim across the Gulf from Florida to Cuba to see “how it turns out.” Last century called, it wants its “why don’t you…” argument back.

    3. Probably best to quit while you are still behind.

      I can just see you smugly sitting back in your chair: “Yeah! I told him! Yeah!” Sad.

      Ironically, you’ve listed people for whom all the flowery bits of the Pledge have never been true.

      Poor “godless” has issues with his own country, so now he’s become a “social justice warrior” for gang bangers and kids with anger management issues — while living in South Korea. How cute.

      I am not Korean, I am in fact American. This possibility never occurred to you, although it seems so obvious.

      You’re right — it was quite obvious that you are an American — troll. The American troll is quite easy to spot.

      Last century called, it wants its “why don’t you…” argument back.

      Why are you stealing joke ideas from President Barack “the 80s want their foreign policy back” Obama? That didn’t go so well for him…

      Have a nice day, troll.

    4. Wow, a troll who comes in and posts nothing of substance, probably from a computer in someone’s basement in Seoul. And you think that what happens in North Korea is “fear-mongering?” Tell that to the people in the prison camps, idiot. It’s not fear-mongering. North Korea is a tyrannical dictatorship.

    5. Maybe “godless” should ask Shin Dong-hyuk about “fear mongering.” Maybe if “godless” had a steel hook shoved through his testicles…or had to crawl over his dead friend’s body to freedom, he’d have a different perspective.

      Update: Maybe “godless” can learn a thing or two about real fear-mongering by reading about the police state Joo Yang had to navigate.

    6. Exactly. I really wish more people were aware of what went on in the North Korea gulags.

    7. “while living in South Korea”

      …which you don’t know is actually true. Maybe I come to Seoul every now and again. Maybe I come for business. Maybe it matters little, maybe what matters are the points I raised that you’ve not addressed. All possibilities you haven’t considered, for reasons which explain the way you treated your student.

      “Why are you stealing joke ideas from President Barack”

      Obama did not invent the retort “the 80’s called…” Sigh…that retort has been around since…well…the 90’s. In fact, the retort is now a meta-retort. Your criticism “why don’t you go…” is so old and tired, and is a style of criticism which has been flushed down the toilet so many times, that I need only dismiss it by retorting “last century called…”

      “Maybe “godless” can learn a thing or two about real fear-mongering”

      The fear-mongering pertains to how North Korea is minutes from killing us all. North Korea is a great threat to *it’s own people*, but that is the only people to which North Korea is a threat. No, I’m not going to let politicians trip over each other to turn North Korea into the boogeyman it is not to gain the votes of warmongers. Particularly not when there are many other brutal regimes with equally heinous human rights records which those same politicians fall over each other to kiss on the cheek.

      On the other hand, if you started complaining about Obamacare, would you accept the criticism “why don’t you instead go North to Canada and complain about their Universal Health Care?” No, you and I are responsible for our actions, and the things done in our name with our material support. You were not a substitute teacher in Canada, or North Korea, or even South Korea when you singled that student out and demanded he defend his views while not doing the same to any of the students who did say the Pledge. You were a substitute teacher in my country. Sorry, try another form of deflection.

    8. Obama did not invent the retort “the 80’s called…” Sigh…that retort has been around since…well…the 90’s. In fact, the retort is now a meta-retort. Your criticism “why don’t you go…” is so old and tired, and is a style of criticism which has been flushed down the toilet so many times, that I need only dismiss it by retorting “last century called…”

      Remember when I made a joke about something President Obama said that was most being talked about in the news cycle at the time (Putin has habitually made sure that quote has come back to haunt him), and then you waited eight months to bring it back up and pretend like I didn’t know there were different iterations of that joke. The next thing you’ll tell me (gasp!) is that Mr. Obama wasn’t the first to say “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” I know shocker.

      It must have really been eating away at you that you didn’t get the last word for you to come back all this time to dredge up this discussion. That tells me that myself and the others who took part did their job.

      The fear-mongering pertains to how North Korea is minutes from killing us all. North Korea is a great threat to *it’s own people*, but that is the only people to which North Korea is a threat.

      I know, because how could a dictatorial regime that actually has nuclear weapons (i.e., North Korea) be a threat to U.S., even if it’s allied with another country (i.e., Iran) that desperately wants to attain nuclear weapons. Nope. No threat at all when nuclear technology is shared between those two nations. **cough** Did I mention Iran’s mullahs deny the Holocaust? Hmmm. Curious. I’d go on, but you’ve made enough ridiculous statements for one day.

  15. I’m late to this, but if one is required to stand during the pledge, can you be required to hold a hand over your heart? Is there a difference between the two “stances?”

    1. I would say there is a clear difference between something you do every single day, whether you’re brushing your teeth in the morning or standing in line at the grocery store, and something that is almost exclusively reserved for moments when one wants to display love and affection.

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