Teacher suspended for stomping on flag

A high school teacher in South Carolina  has been placed on long-term administrative leave on charges he threw a U.S. flag on the floor and stepped on it in a lesson on symbols, reports The Daily Caller.

Scott Compton, an English teacher at Chapin High School in Chapin, S.C., repeated the act in three classes, reports WIS-TV.

“He drew a couple of symbols, like one of them was a cross, and he said, ‘What does this represent,’ and everybody said, ‘Christianity,’” (parent Michael) Copeland explained to WIS.

“Then he proceeds to take down the American flag, and said, ‘This is a symbol, but it’s only a piece of cloth. It doesn’t mean anything,’ and then he throws it down on the floor and then stomps on it, repeatedly,” Copeland continued.

According to Copeland’s daughter, the teacher told students there would be no consequences, because “it’s just a piece of cloth that doesn’t mean anything.”

Perhaps the teacher meant to say that he couldn’t be arrested for stepping on the flag — or the cross. But there are consequences for angering people by disrespecting symbols they honor.

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  1. Perhaps he displaced a few brain cells beforehand. Stomping on a U.S. Flag in a public school usually will warrant some disciplinary action, regardless if the person doing it is an employee or a student.

    I’d hope he learned a valuable lesson from his actions (but I doubt it).

    • Surely he’ll learn something. If nothing else, he’s already learned that the biggest fans of the flag tend to be contemptuous of the First Amendment.

      • If nothing else, he’s learned that his liberal education has led him to misunderstand and misapply the First Amendment, as you are misapplying it if you believe stomping on flags and Bibles and Korans provides great cognitive dissonance and wonderful teachable moments in our classrooms. Most ninth graders would figure out that ‘‘This is a symbol, but it’s only a piece of cloth. It doesn’t mean anything’ is a blatant contradiction. Symbols by definition have meaning bestowed upon them. Maybe he’ll learn that he needed to add “…to me” at the end of his definition. Then his narcissism might start to crack.

      • The teacher (Scott Compton) is a fool. Free speech is standing on street corner on his own time saying what he wants – to include stomping on the flag. When on the clock, on the job, espousing radical speech to a captive audience of students, that same act becomes foolishness and malfeasance of job contract.

  2. There was some faulty thinking going on. If it has no meaning then it’s not a symbol.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Let’s see some guts. Let’s see him speak truth to power. Let’s see him light up a Koran.

  4. facebook_josh.klugman says:

    And thus we see a good argument for teacher unionization.

    • Really? And what might that be? I bet you can’t connect those dots if you think it through. The administration would probably say the teacher created a hostile and prejudicial learning environment. What do you imagine the teachers’ union is going to say in his defense? Do you mean to imply that a teacher should be able to say nonsense such as “Symbols have no meaning” and not face professional scrutiny?

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Norm. “should” isn’t the issue. The issue about unions is “whether”. The latter is not necessarily connected to the former.

      • Yes. We need unions to protect worker’s rights to fair process when parents get offended over silly things. The school administration in this case is not up to the job.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          If the unions only protected “fair process,” it wouldn’t make any difference here. There would be a hearing, the story would be presented, the principal would say it was a violation of some school policy, the i’s would be dotted and the t’s crossed, and the teacher would be fired.

          However, I can think of a cynical (realistic?) scenario how the union would be very valuable here.

          1. This teacher’s lesson was either a good idea poorly executed (see Thinly Veiled Anonymity) or a bad idea in the first place–but it was not a reason to actually fire the guy.

          2. The principal did not want to fire the teacher but knew that keeping him would annoy–more than a little–many members of the community.

          3. Rather than taking a stand on this teacher’s behalf, the principal (and his superiors) can say that their hands are tied. The laws and the union prevent them from firing him.

          So everyone is sort of happy. The administrators can deflect blame. The principal gets to keep a teacher he wants. The teacher keeps his job. And the union gets to tell teachers how important it is to their job security.

          • Well said–except that part about everyone being sort of happy. But as that small unhappy group is simply getting offended at silly things, I guess they deserve to be marginalized:-) I also think Thinly Veiled Anonymity’s anecdote is a great example of how one must the stage to pull of push-the-boundaries lessons. Key phrase: “invited us…”

    • Ah, I see. The purpose of a union is to allow a teacher to act in an unprofessional and childish manner without suffering any repercussions.

  5. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    When I was in high school, back before the internet, I had a teacher who invited us to give the “sieg heil” salute to the flag during the morning pledge of allegiance, as a sort of perspectival exercise.

    It was a little creepy, and we students were a little tentative. It was a purely optional exercise, but in the end though, it was a very useful thing to do, I think. It forced us to think about the similarities and differences in various forms of nationalism and patriotism, and to ask ourselves where the moral differences can be found.

    I wouldn’t do it as a teacher myself, and my teacher knew his audience: we were the top-level honors students of the senior class, able to have a semi-mature discussion about these sorts of things.

    Good teachers can have good ideas that can be put into practice with hamhanded incompetence by lesser teachers, is all I’m saying.

    • Actually, everyone used to salute the flag using something called the Bellamy salute that resembled the NAZI salute. It was changed to putting your hand over your heart because of the NAZIs.

  6. GEORGE LARSON says:

    Just bcause I have the right to stomp on the flag does not mean I have the right to do it as an agent of my employer.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      In addition to the legalities, the employment contract, and various other items in the domain of the lawyers, this is a matter of general fitness or judgment.
      Should he be fired or otherwise at loose ends, the next school system is not required to disregard this nonsense in deciding whether to hire him.

    • “Then he proceeds to take down the American flag…” Presumably it was the employer’s flag as well.