JOSHUA, Texas – Joshua High School’s class of 2013 learned a parting lesson about censorship last week after school officials cut short their valedictorian’s graduation speech.
When valedictorian Remington Reimer told his audience that school leaders had threatened to cut him off if he veered from his pre-approved remarks, and began to speak about the importance of the U.S. Constitution, district officials pulled the plug on his microphone, the Daily Mail reports.
Reimer – known by his fellow students as “the most gifted, academically excellent student that Joshua High School has ever produced” – first thanked his family, teachers, classmates and God for becoming valedictorian, then shifted to the constitutional right of free speech when school officials turned off the microphone, according to media reports.
“ … (H)e was talking about getting constitutional rights … taken away from him, and then he said, just yesterday they threatened to turn my microphone off, and then his microphone went off,” fellow graduate Colin Radford told MyFoxDFW.com.
Some in attendance initially thought Reimer’s speech was over and began applauding, while others believed the censorship was related to his comments on religion. But school officials released a statement contending they pulled the plug simply because Reimer’s comments deviated from the speech he submitted for pre-approval by administrators, according to media reports.
“At the time that the speech was deviated from, the microphone was turned off – and they were told that, prior to the graduation ceremony, regardless of content,” Superintendent Fran Marek told the media.
Reimer finished his speech without the microphone, though few could hear him.
Student Zachery Hull told reporters he believes school officials were within their rights to nix his classmate’s remarks.
“Freedom of speech,” Hull said. “He said what he had to say, they did what they had to do. Everyone was right.”
The school district may have been within its rights, because courts have ruled that free speech doesn’t always apply to public school students, but we have to wonder what kind of message the district’s actions sends to youngsters.
We suspect they’ll realize the establishment doesn’t like surprises, and is scared of students who speak their minds and encourage free thought.
Perhaps that’s the message Reimer was trying to get across all along.
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org