Symbols mean something

Backlash shouldn't surprise teacher who stomped on flag

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Scott Compton meant to teach his students that symbols don’t mean anything.

He did just the opposite.

The English teacher at Chapin High School northwest of Columbia, S.C., reportedly stomped on an American flag in front of three classes recently in an apparent attempt to show that it was just a piece of cloth not worthy of reverence.

The lesson, as it turns out, was for him: An angry backlash from parents and veterans, which included national media attention, led the school district to yank him from the classroom.

And it proved him completely wrong: Symbols do mean something.

In the case of the American flag, it represents a country most of us love with all our hearts. For veterans, it represents something they’ve spent and often risked their lives defending.

To stomp on it or burn it or otherwise deface it is a slap in the face to anyone who loves this country.

But forget the disrespect the teacher’s actions showed toward the country and those of us who love it dearly. For him not to understand that symbols do, indeed, have deep and abiding meaning indicates a severe lack of judgment. That alone gives you pause as to whether he should be educating our young.

It’s not just a matter of patriotism or nationalism, either. Symbolism is an important part of almost every aspect of our lives, from religion to sports to nearly everything that brings human beings to common cause.

Colors can be deeply symbolic. We don’t need to remind you how important school colors are. And in recent decades, massive political revolutions in Eastern Europe came to be known by their symbols – the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, for example. Flowers are powerfully symbolic, as you’ll be reminded of again Feb. 14. Different colors of roses even mean different things. Roses also were used in the incredibly nonviolent Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia.

Consider, too, how integral the colored ribbon has become to the American consciousness: Pink ones, for instance, symbolize those who are banded together in the fight against breast cancer.

Some things have inherent meaning. But symbols have meaning because we imbue them with it. To stomp on that symbol is, in effect, to stomp on the thing it represents – particularly when you’re talking about someone’s country or deeply held belief system.

That’s the real lesson here, one we hope is not lost on the students, even if it is on the teacher.

To disrespect someone else’s symbol is to disrespect them.

In short, when you’re spoiling for a fight, don’t be surprised when you get one.

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TParty
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TParty 01/17/13 - 02:06 am
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Patriotism is the belief your

Patriotism is the belief your country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” - George Bernard Shaw

When people say they love America- what do you mean by it? By the editorials and many folks that post here- it's not the President and the majority of Americans that elected him into office two times- because it is shouted so often how much Obama and his supporters hate America, going to destroy America. So I say it's safe to say it's not the American people which those people would say would make America great.

Is it the land and resources? Well- we do have beautiful beaches, mountains, canyons, rivers, deserts... every terrain you can think of. However almost everything could almost be topped by other nations. I love Augusta- but there is not much here that can hold a candle to other places when it comes to beauty!

So it's probably not people, and not exclusively the terrain. Maybe ideas?

Where do we get our ideals from, our laws? The Constitution? Sure! People are willing to serve and defend the words of the Constitution. Fight against enemies foreign and domestic to protect the document. And as almost everyone knows- most people can only recall a few parts of the Constitution. First Amendment being the number one thing people can tell you about it.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

As much as you hate the idea of someone desecrating the American flag- if you love the idea of America, the idea of free speech- you should acknowledge there is going to speech you do not agree with but it should be allowed. You may not agree with it, but you should be able to step back and recognize this is part of the freedom.

Much like the risk we take with deaths by firearms- it's our right to have them. And we wouldn't take firearms away from people who do not infringe on others- we should not stop people from expressing themselves unless it infringes on other speech.

Of course- people are free to speak out against his actions. But to say a person cannot do something- like stomp on a flag because it upsets other people- is in my opinion as un-American as restricting rights, which people have fought and died for.

specsta
6405
Points
specsta 01/17/13 - 03:00 am
4
11
Another Bland Editorial

Well said, TParty, well said...

I find it amusing that some of the commentators on these opinion boards are better writers than the Chronicle editorial staff.

carcraft
25339
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carcraft 01/17/13 - 06:39 am
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0
America has been superior to

America has been superior to other countries in many many ways. We fought two wars to keep Europe free and didn't demand a thing. We helped rebuild Germany and Japan our enemies after World War II. Americans give more to victims of disasters than any nation on earth. America had more freedom and economic innovation than any other country on earth. Despite the fact that we have not been pristine in our past we did end slavery in our nation and have worked to end civil rights abuses. America has offered more hope to others in the World than any place else, that is the reason millions have come here both legally and illegally ( it isn't because Barack Obama is such a sweet charming person)!

Techfan
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Techfan 01/17/13 - 08:01 am
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13
"To disrespect someone else’s

"To disrespect someone else’s symbol is to disrespect them.
In short, when you’re spoiling for a fight, don’t be surprised when you get one"

Like, say, using the likeness of Muhammad? What was the AC's response to Kurt Westergaard again?

Fundamental_Arminian
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Fundamental_Arminian 01/17/13 - 08:10 am
11
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As much as you hate the idea

    As much as you hate the idea of someone desecrating the American flag- if you love the idea of America, the idea of free speech- you should acknowledge there is going to speech you do not agree with but it should be allowed. You may not agree with it, but you should be able to step back and recognize this is part of the freedom (TParty).

TParty, free speech is not the primary issue in English teacher Scott Compton's case, because his offense of desecrating the flag took place while he was being paid to teach a specific lesson. He wasn't being paid to desecrate the flag; therefore, if that's what he wanted to do, he should've done it on his own time.

I would apply this same standard to myself if I had been a teacher. I would fulfill my obligation to teach the required course material during class time; then, say, if I wanted to share the gospel, I would do it on my own time where I didn't have students as a captive audience.

Something else: other articles about Mr. Compton say he told his students that the U.S. flag is only a piece of cloth. If that's what he did, he committed the reductive fallacy. He could've correctly called the flag a piece of cloth, but not only a piece of cloth. As an English teacher, he should've known better, just as he should've known that symbols aren't meaningless.

If news articles have correctly reported on his conduct and statements, I question his competency and fitness to teach English. Surely his students and the taxpayers deserve better.

chascushman
6653
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chascushman 01/17/13 - 08:30 am
9
2
“If news articles have
Unpublished

“If news articles have correctly reported on his conduct and statements, I question his competency and fitness to teach English.”
The liberals have taken over the schools and are dumbing down the next generation of democrat voters.

Riverman1
82451
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Riverman1 01/17/13 - 08:46 am
11
0
Unoriginal Act

It was an unoriginal act that has been done many times in various settings all over the world. This guy doing it is only remarkable because he did it as a public school teacher. I'd fire him for poor behavior even if he has the constitutional right to stomp the flag.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 01/17/13 - 08:47 am
13
2
Funny how liberals are so
Unpublished

Funny how liberals are so ferocious in their defense of the first amendment, yet they are the first to want to stomp on the second.

TParty
6003
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TParty 01/17/13 - 09:03 am
2
8
FA-I'm not saying he should

FA-

I'm not saying he should not have been fired- because you're right- there are ways to conduct to yourself at work. Freedom of speech protects you from the government, it doesn't give you a free pass to do as you please without consequences. It's up to whomever writes his paychecks to determine if should continue to work there.

I'm speaking more about the "To disrespect someone else’s symbol is to disrespect them.

In short, when you’re spoiling for a fight, don’t be surprised when you get one."

Mentioned here earlier- depictions of the Mohammad can cause quiet a stir among the crazy Muslims. So if the cartoonist on ACES drew a picture of the Muslim prophet, and the editorial came out said "You’re spoiling for a fight, don’t be surprised when you get one", is that the right message to send?

Or should it be something along the lines of "People don't like that- but since you're not infringing on other peoples rights, or doing anything illegal- other people should chill out and not look for a fight."?

Flags can have meaning- but it's always up for interpretation. So is it any wonder that people who are proud of the confederate flag, there are others that are be offended by it? Should either side be looking for a fight if some display it, or protest against it?

The people who complain about political correctness too much- they should be supporting this guys right to stomp on the flag as well.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 01/17/13 - 09:05 am
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2
"Should either side be
Unpublished

"Should either side be looking for a fight if some display it, or protest against it? "

Several years of NAACP boycott of SC shows that they do.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/17/13 - 09:12 am
2
8
The NRA didn't seem to have a

The NRA didn't seem to have a problem backing Reagan in 1967 and supporting the Mulford Act "prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one's person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street". What could have changed?

Jon Lester
2285
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Jon Lester 01/17/13 - 09:23 am
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3
The religion you defend so vigorously

also has something to say about idolatry and the like.

In the traditional hierarchy of priorities, God and family are to come before country.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 01/17/13 - 09:32 am
9
1
Hmmmmm.....could it be
Unpublished

Hmmmmm.....could it be possible to support a candidate, and not support all that he supports? If not, then I assume you, Techfan believe it is Ok to make it a crime for a doctor to do ANYTHING to save the life of a child that is born alive after a botched abortion, since that is what your candidate supports. You must believe that the Patriot Act is good, since that is what your candidate supports. The list goes on. Otherwise....what could have changed?

nofanofobama
6809
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nofanofobama 01/17/13 - 09:36 am
9
0
so we protect the right of

so we protect the right of free speech..no arguement..but this teacher excercised a right and infringed on the rights of others..students see the teacher as an authorative figure..they cannot come and go as they please in a class setting..they cannot speak with out permission in the class setting..they are subject to the teachers grading and may be afraid to challenge him even if allowed..he should be fired for stupidity and abuse of power..burn our flag in your front yard, you have that freedom but not the freedom to abuse your position.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 01/17/13 - 11:25 am
7
0
Rights vs. Duty

TParty's first post is indeed well-written and has some good points. However, we must put teacher Compton's actions into context. Mr. Compton has the right to stomp on an American flag, but if he does it in his classroom during a class he has violated his contract with the school; thus termination is appropriate. You do not have a right to a job, and you do not have a right to teach unapproved lesson plans. Fundamental Arminian above has a good comment to this effect.

Secondly, the ideas behind Mr. Compton's ill-conceived actions are all too common in our public education systems today. The secular humanists wish to de-construct (is that a P.C. term for 'demolish'?) those pillars of society with a modicum of sacredness (e.g., religion, marriage, and patriotism). If they restrict themselves to words, they get away with it.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 01/17/13 - 09:45 am
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0
Mulford Act

TechFan asked:

What could have changed?

Possibly, people came to their senses and realized that the Mulford Act violated the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The people have a right to bear arms, and the Mulford Act infringes on that right.

justthefacts
21409
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justthefacts 01/17/13 - 09:50 am
7
0
Hmm

Nothing wrong with that teacher that a quick converation with a few members of Seal Team 6 couldn't cure.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 01/17/13 - 09:54 am
7
1
Better not do that,
Unpublished

Better not do that, JTF.....assassinating US citizens without due process is a job reserved for the President.

justthefacts
21409
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justthefacts 01/17/13 - 09:58 am
7
0
Suffice

assassinating? No, just a converation. I'm thinking Mr. Compton would come with a whole new attitude.

GnipGnop
11918
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GnipGnop 01/17/13 - 10:00 am
5
1
So....

By what a lot of you guys have posted...it's my right to go into my bosses office at work and call him any name I want, print a picture of him off the printer and stomp on it in his office? That is protected free speech? I shouldn't be fired or even disciplined? Really? I have no problem with anyone stomping or burning a flag in their own home on their own time. I find it ironic but hey wahtever. I wish I worked for some of you guys...must be nice.

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 01/17/13 - 10:08 am
6
1
No GnipGnop....it is your
Unpublished

No GnipGnop....it is your right to do all of that and have no fear of prosecution. You have no constitutional right to a job, nor does your employee have an obligation to employ you, therefore being fired would not infringe on your rights.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 01/17/13 - 10:11 am
5
0
Koran

I was thinking about those American soldiers over in Afghanistan who were punished for burning Korans. I don't remember all the details; in fact, I'm sure our drive-by media did not provide anywhere enough details to draw a sound conclusion; but I picture that they were in charge of a war prison camp and were cleaning it up. They had some trash collected and burning was one acceptable way to dispose of it (there is no EPA in Afghanistan yet, so trash incineration is still legal). They could have discretely burned the used and/or unneeded Korans, but instead they made a public spectacle of the burning in the presence of some Muslims, and thus there was a worldwide stink with protests and cable TV news show outrage and editorials and more hooplah.

Actions taken in public have consequences.

rmwhitley
5542
Points
rmwhitley 01/17/13 - 10:32 am
0
1
Ask "slick willie chester the molester"
Unpublished

clinton what it's like to destroy an American symbol? I and many like me were issued a symbol that we weren't happy with but accepted. Our draft cards during vietnam. sick "slick" burned his. Punk.

CobaltGeorge
155679
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CobaltGeorge 01/17/13 - 10:45 am
5
1
What Do You Expect

when your children are being educated by the same feelings that The Hammer & Sickle Man believes. He would sure like to do more than stomp on the American Flag.

GnipGnop
11918
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GnipGnop 01/17/13 - 11:05 am
4
0
I agree humble.....I was

I agree humble.....I was being facetious...

Humble Angela
41338
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Humble Angela 01/17/13 - 11:06 am
5
1
Gnip.....there are those here
Unpublished

Gnip.....there are those here who don't know the difference....I'm glad you aren't one.

Jane18
12332
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Jane18 01/17/13 - 11:19 am
4
0
A Symbol, Not An Idol

Hooray for all the students, parents and Veterans that made a stand for our Flag! So, Mr.Compton was "yanked" from the classroom, exactly what does that mean, is he in another class of some kind? I hope he realized what that "symbolized"! To Jon Lester, to recognize our flag is not idolatry, we do not pray to it, we honor the symbology of it, being the flag of this great United States of America, the freedom that has been fought and died for by so many men and women, it is not a "golden calf" to any of us. You are also wrong about the order of who and what we love and honor...it is GOD, country and family! Too bad our so-called religious teachers do Not teach that! Before this day is over, someone will disrespect me or someone else that believes in GOD, just because they do Not have that belief. But hey, I expect it, nothing new..........

CobaltGeorge
155679
Points
CobaltGeorge 01/17/13 - 11:27 am
4
1
Jane

I Second that.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 01/17/13 - 11:39 am
5
0
Patriotism

It's not thinking USA is superior, it's just loving it more than any other country. Huge difference.

harley_52
23010
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harley_52 01/17/13 - 12:17 pm
7
0
I Am Not At All Surprised...

...several of our left-wing brothers do not comprehend the meaning of the word "patriotism," nor concept of "loving your country."

The USA is the most powerful, successful, compassionate, generous country the world has ever known. It is all of that because of our Constitution, our chosen economic system, and the faith, courage, and sacrifices of all those who have fought and died on behalf of our Country. American citizens have done more good on this earth for the poor, helpless, oppressed, and victims of natural disasters than any other nation.

FREEDOM is what makes us great, but I'm sad to say we're losing it more and more every day.

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