Flag Editorial

Aidan Chappuis, Journalist

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The decision by the EHS administration to ban the confederate flag is the correct one, and well within their authority.

While some would argue that the confederate flag is a mere “historical symbol”, it has consistently been a symbol of racism, slavery, and oppression over its entire history. It was first created as a flag for the south in the civil war, which seceded to try to protect the brutal and oppressive system of slavery. Later on, in the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, it became a symbol of the massive resistance to desegregation of many southern states. Many states began flying it to protest integration during this time. It was, and is, frequently used as a symbol of white supremacy, both by southern state governments and by many white supremacist groups, including the KKK. The context and intent of its use over its history make it as much an innocent symbol of “southern pride” as the swastika is a symbol of “german pride”. It is, rather, a symbol of 300 years of oppression and a legacy of racism and hatred lasting to the present day.

Moreover, it is in the interest, and within the authority, of EHS to ban the flag and other racist symbols, as they are disruptive to class, offend many students, and increase racial tensions. While the solution to offensive speech is usually more speech to counter it, this is usually impractical in a school setting. Unlike a public place, where people can easily counter offensive messages, in a school students cannot so easily speak out against something, as doing so disrupts class. Equally, students in a school cannot easily avoid such messages, as they could in a public place, as they cannot simply leave. Because of the difficulty of utilizing the more usual channel of many people simply speaking counter to an offensive message, or those people simply avoiding it, it is the responsibility of the school to prevent such offensive speech. For these and other reasons, courts have usually allowed more restrictions on free speech in a school setting. The famous T inker case upheld free speech in schools, but stated that schools may ban speech that may cause a “substantial disruption”. The vast majority of court cases since have concluded that the confederate flag can be restricted under this exception.