This Florida Public School Principal Is Into Forcing Patriotism At Athletic Events

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog about some extreme opinions towards Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the National Anthem. Last week, another disturbing story emerged.

This time, a Florida public school principal threatened to remove students from school-sponsored sporting events if they choose not to stand for the National Anthem.

“You will stand and you will stay quiet, if you don’t, you are going to be sent home and you’re not going to have a refund of your ticket price,” Lely High School Principal Ryan Nemeth said in a video, according to an NBC 2 report.  “It’s something that I’m very passionate about and something we are going to do.”

Nemeth obviously feels strongly about this issue, but that doesn’t mean he can force others to adopt his view. People who choose not to stand probably feel passionate about their form of protest as well. I can’t stress enough that we don’t force the perceived version of patriotism in this country, and that distinguishes our freedom for the better.

Some were quick to challenge authority, as one student and basketball player, Adrianas Pena, told NBC 2 that Nemeth “shouldn’t be ejecting people just because they don’t wanna stand. Everybody has their voice to say something with it.”

This type of threat, especially from taxpayer-funded schools like Lely High, is unacceptable. The explanation for the video is even more irking. 

This should always be voluntary. 

On Thursday, Greg Turchetta, a spokesman for the Collier County school district said that the video was “taken out of context” because it came after students were “disruptive” during the anthem at a volleyball game.

Really, though? Is the school district really trying to argue that a warning that says “stand for the national anthem or get ejected from the game” is ambiguous and can be taken out of context? Really?

“They may have been laughing and joking, you know, it’s the beginning of an athletic competition,” Truchetta said. “They just came in, I’ve seen it sometimes when people don’t even realize what’s going on... oh the anthem is on, and they might have been slow to react to it.”

Let’s say that’s the case – students were chatting and didn’t even realize the anthem was being played. Surely there were other ways to deal with that than a grown man making a video trying to force every student to be a minion. And if some students made a conscious decision not to take part, they have that right. The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that if students have a religious- or conscience-based objection to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they could opt out. The same rules would surely apply to the National Anthem.

Unfortunately, Truchetta doesn’t think the Constitution applies to minors, since apparently, students can only protest during the anthem if they have written permission from their parents and if their protest is a silent or “peaceful” one. (This is ironic since the video was inspired by Kaepernick’s peaceful protest, but by all means)

I think Fort Myers attorney Michael Noone said it best when he told a local TV station: “I don’t recall anywhere in the Constitution where it says that your freedom of speech rights come into effect when you turn 18.” 

I don’t recall that either.