Imagine if a drama teacher told his students he'd be visiting the area's rival school and would do whatever he could to disrupt that school's theater production.
He'd be fired posthaste, no?
Yet, some people say an Oregon middle school teacher was only exercising his free speech rights by declaring his intent to "dismantle and demolish the Tea Party" -- through his "Crash the Tea Party" Web site that urged a few hundred sorry followers to collect Social Security numbers of tea party participants.
That nefarious tactic, by the way, was even attempted at the Tea Party event at Augusta Common here.
"See just how much info you can get from these folks (name address, DOB, Social Security #)," wrote Jason Levin, a teacher at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton. "The more data we can mine from the Tea Partiers, the more mayhem we can cause with it!!!!"
There is so much wrong with that, one hardly knows where to begin.
He is teaching his students that it's OK not merely to express your own political views, but to try to stop others from expressing theirs. It is so against the tradition of free speech that it is nothing less than un-American.
It's also quite unethical. Should we not demand ethics in the teaching profession?
As of Friday, Levin had been suspended with pay while the school district investigated. Apparently, the key to any punishment will be whether he used district computers to carry out his assault on free speech -- not whether his activities were unethical or a horrendous example for students.
It is not free speech to try to prevent others from expressing theirs. Yet, repeatedly over the past few years, those on the left have tried to stop conservative speech at nearly every turn. Columnist Ann Coulter was prevented from speaking, as was Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist. An Israeli official was interrupted at a California university speech by a planned succession of hecklers. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was rejected by Butler University faculty as a commencement speaker because he's just too doggone conservative to be listened to.
Besides the legal, moral and ethical issues, there's also the matter of simple courtesy. Levin is teaching his pliable young students' minds that you don't just express your own views, you also try to drown out opposing views. Nice lesson.
Whether or not the Oregon school district finds the administrative wherewithal to fire Levin, such a person is not fit to be teaching.