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Video Of Minnesota Teen Being Escorted Off School Grounds For Having Pro-Gun Sign At Walkout Goes Viral
1 month ago

On March 14th, students across America staged a nationwide walkout to protest gun violence in the wake of the recent shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Estimates are that tens of thousands of students took part in the demonstrations. However, as with any kind of mass demonstration, things didn't go smoothly in every location.

A student at New Prague High School in Minnesota was carrying a sign emblazoned with the famous NRA talking point, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Of course, guns make it way easier for people to kill people, though that's beside this particular point. What happened next is that the student was forced to leave by principal, Lonnie Seifert, who personally escorted him off the school's campus.

The whole moment was caught on tape by another student named Kenny MacDonald...

Kids at our school today walked out, in honor of the 17 students killed in Florida. Students held signs that said, “Arm our teachers” they had two signs. A student walked out without saying a word peacefully put up his sign which said “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” he was escorted off the property by our principal and threatened to be put into a police car. This violates the first amendment and makes me sick that they can do whatever they want. Please make this go viral. Location: New Prague High school, Minnesota.

Posted by Kenny MacDonald on Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Facebook/Kenny MacDonald

A statement from the school explained that no disciplinary action was being taken against the student. MacDonald pointed out that other students had anti-gun-control signage in the crowd.

But, according to The Hill, the reason why this student was singled out was because...

"Students needed to submit signs for review to school administrators at least 24 hours in advance, the district said. 
The student did not submit his sign and therefore was moved to non-school grounds in compliance with the policy 'to protect the exercise of students' and employees' free speech rights, [while] taking into consideration the educational objectives and responsibilities of the School District,' according to the statement.
The school district said it 'fully respects and recognizes that students have free speech rights.'"

This led to a fierce debate about the first amendment right to free speech...

For those who don't know, the Morse v. Frederick case was a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court Case in which the court ruled 5-4 that a school principal has a right to suppress free speech at a school supervised event if it is promoting drug use. Justice Roberts went on to explain that student expression may be suppressed if it 'materially and substantially disrupts the work and discipline of the school.' However, he is careful to say that this doesn't apply to peaceful demonstrations or the desire of a school to avoid discomfort from an unpopular viewpoint. So it seems, since the student was not causing a disturbance, Morse v. Frederick does not apply in this case.

Many felt that the principal should be punished...

There were those who had kind words for the student...

And of course, like any good right-wing rage manufacturing story, there was a healthy dose of conspiracy theory...

Free speech is a fact of life in our country, as the above tweets make quite clear. Unfortunately, disdain for certain political bubbles doesn't give you a right to take away their right to say what they think. As much as I stand with the vast majority of students protesting for gun control, it was also not up to the principal to curtail this student's freedom of speech. That is a slippery slope.

H/T: Twitter, Wikipedia, The Hill