After reviewing a video in which a North Rowan High School teacher tells a student he can be arrested for speaking ill of President Barack Obama, the Rowan-Salisbury School System said it can be a learning experience.
Meanwhile, an expert on politics at Catawba College says the social studies teacher just doesn’t have her facts straight when she insists speaking your mind about a president can get you charged with a criminal offense.
Although two students provided the name of the teacher, the Post is not publishing it because officials within the school system would not confirm her identity and she could not be reached for comment.
The video captures audio of the dispute but does not show the teacher or anyone else. It appears to have been shot with a phone or other device as the camera pointed at the ceiling the entire time.
And just what was the conversation?
It begins with a classroom conversation about a recent news story detailing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney allegedly bullying a classmate in prep school. It turns into a heated, sometimes confrontational debate.
One student asks, “Didn’t Obama bully someone though?”
The teacher responds: “Not to my knowledge.”
In response to the Romney story, conservatives have recently been pointing to a passage in Obama’s book, “Dreams from My Father,” in which the president writes that while in grade school he shoved a little girl, the only other black student in his grade, after other students called him her boyfriend.
When the student tells the teacher that Obama admitted to bullying a girl in school, the teacher goes on the defensive.
“Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” she says. Romney, she says, is “running for president. Obama is the president.”
When the student says they’re both “just men,” the teacher continues to argue that Romney, as a candidate for president, is not to be afforded the same respect as the president.
The teacher tells the class Obama is “due the respect that every other president is due.”
“Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom,” she says.
The student replies that he’ll say what he wants.
“Not about him you won’t,” the teacher says.
Later in the conversation, the teacher tells the class it’s criminal to slander a president.
“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?” she says of former President Bush. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”
The student responds by saying being arrested for talking badly about the president would violate the right to free speech.
“You would have to say some pretty f’d up crap about him to be arrested,” he says. “They cannot take away your right to have your opinion. … They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”
More of the conversation appears here:
As one student attempted to argue for a fair, two-sided debate on the history of the candidates, he was shouted down and talked over by the teacher. She continued:
“You got to realize, this man is wanting to be what Obama is. There’s no comparison.”
Once again, the students pressed for equal discussion of the histories of both men, with one saying:
“If you’re gonna talk trash about one side, you gotta talk trash about the other.”
The teacher just seemed to dig her heels in deeper and press her defense of Obama telling the defiant teen:
“You will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom.”
Again the student persisted and invoked his First Amendment right.
“I’ll say what I want.”
The still unidentified teacher read the student her rules…her Obama rules.
“Not about him, you won’t!”
The back and forth continued and the most strident of the two students reminded his teacher that President Bush was constantly treated to negative statements about him while he was in office:
“Whenever Bush was president, everybody talked sh-t about him.”
To which the teacher responded:
“Because he was sh-tty.”
Just for the record, I am betting that this is not the only school where bias of this type manifests itself. In any event, kudos to the students for actually holding their teacher’s feet to the fire with the use of actual facts. And here’s hoping that the teacher in question loses her job.