Apparently both the First and Second Amendments no longer apply so long as its utilization is "insensitive." Yes folks, so long as someone "feels threatened," expulsion is on the table. Does that sound like the "Home of Brave" to you?
Now it is true that the US Supreme Court held in San Antonio Independent School Dist. v. Rodriguez that, "Public education is not a "right" granted to individuals by the Constitution." (Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 at 221) Yet, as Brown v. Board of Education states, "Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." (347 US 483 at 493) As such, even without a positive right to an education, we can still see that educational access is an issue that the Supreme Court doesn't hold lightly.
It just gets better though. Plyler, in regards to illegal immigrants, went on to say,
"If the State is to deny a discrete group of innocent children the free public education that it offers to other children residing within its borders, that denial must be justified by a showing that it furthers some substantial state interest." (457 US 202 at 230)Yes folks, even though, as the case itself states, "Unsanctioned entry into the United States is a crime, 8 U. S. C. § 1325, and those who have entered unlawfully are subject to deportation, 8 U. S. C. §§ 1251, 1252 (1976 ed. and Supp. IV)"(457 US 202 at 205) yet illegals still must be given a free public education.
Now if a "discrete group of innocent children" that has made itself "discrete" by means of breaking the law cannot be removed on that basis from public education, how much more should this apply to those exercising the rights guaranteed by the first two Amendments to the Constitution? And yet, somehow it seems this is not the case.
In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503, the Court held that the First Amendment does not stop at the classroom gates. This is subject to the following clarifications of scope:
"A student's rights, therefore, do not embrace merely the classroom hours. When he is in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions, even on controversial subjects like the conflict in Vietnam, if he does so without "materially and substantially interfer[ing] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school" and without colliding with the rights of others. Burnside v. Byars, supra, at 749. But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason -- whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior -- materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. Cf. Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education., 363 F.2d 740" (C.A. 5th Cir.1966).(393 U.S. 503 at 512,513) (Bolding mine.)This was further clarified in Bethel Sch. Dist. v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675, where punishment for obscenity was determined to be legal. (at 685) Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 allowed schools to circumscribe speech promoting drug use.
Yet this case does not involve obscenity, or drug use, but rather one of our most cherished rights as Americans. Without the right to seek violent recourse against the State if necessary, Americans are not citizens, are not sovereigns as the founders intended, but merely subjects of the Federal State. As one of today's many assaults against this Second Amendment right and the culture that gives it teeth, this case is of paramount importance.
Again, for a state to deny schooling, it must involve a "substantial state interest". The actus reus must create "substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others." That some people "felt threatened," as superintendent Richard Gross said, should not be enough. And while Richard Gross might say that, "it does not matter what the students' intent was" the American legal system would disagree, with all but some malum prohibitum adminsitrative crimes requiring mens rea. Yes, expulsion from school is not a criminal proceeding, but nonetheless it is a taking that should require substantial process.
Yet all this legal talk is beside the point for any but the direct participants. The issue for us is the absolute cowardice displayed here and the unblinking acceptance by many Americans of this frame. As the Huffington Post article states, "Gross told WBZ that, had police known about the photo, they would have cancelled the homecoming dance." An event that doubtlessly costs thousands to put on cancelled for a picture of Airsoft guns, can you imagine? I've shot myself out of curiosity with an Airsoft gun, and it hurt for a few hours yes, but it certainly wasn't the most traumatic event in my life.
School shootings may indeed be a major problem, but we can't fight them, or anything else, by cowering in fear. Western Civilization was founded by men who were beset on all sides: by the Persians, by the Carthaginians, by the Scythians, by the Muslims, yet those men stood up to their foes and triumphed. With every battle we hide from, the society built by the battles they didn't crumbles a little but more. And when our cowardly acts cause this society to crumble completely, then we will know true fear.