Earlier this month, an 11-year-old Florida boy was arrested for “disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence.” All of that drama began, apparently, when he refused to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance.
There was a substitute teacher in his classroom at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy that day, and when it came time to say the Pledge, the boy didn’t stand up. The substitute ordered him to stand. He refused on the grounds that “the flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people.”
His comment lacks nuance, but whatever. The Pledge is problematic for multiple reasons, football players have notably kneeled during the National Anthem to raise awareness about racial inequality, and all of that is irrelevant since no one has to stand for the Pledge. The boy had good reasons to remain seated, but even if he didn’t, it shouldn’t matter.
The substitute, however, couldn’t grasp any of this. She reportedly told the boy, “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live?”
Things escalated from there.
Polk County Public Schools spokesman Kyle Kennedy said the sixth-grader “was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement.”
The District has made it very clear that the boy did not have to stand for the Pledge and the substitute teacher was wrong to say otherwise (she’s since been blacklisted from teaching in the District). But the argument that ensued from the substitute’s ignorance means the boy still has an arrest on his record. It’s unclear how the District will respond, or if the boy will be forgiven, and officials aren’t saying muc h because we’re talking about a child.
It’s a disturbing case all around, but what’s frustrating is that it all stems from an adult’s ignorance of a law that the child clearly understood. If she had just let him sit, everything would have been fine. Instead, the substitute pushed the boy’s buttons until he erupted in anger and he’s the one who was arrested over it.
Looks like we have another reason to oppose the Pledge.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Joseph and Izra’il for the link)