Opinion

Simpler, isn’t it, to say you’re sorry?

This editorial appeared in The Fayetteville Observer

Sometimes an unhappy ending seems like such a waste. So it is with Lee Francis, the young history teacher who created a furor when he stepped on a flag in a Massey Hill Classical High School classroom.

Francis was demonstrating to his students the extent of the First Amendment's free-speech protection. It was a dumb move in a town that's filled with soldiers, veterans and patriots who revere the flag.

But it was, as the U.S. Supreme Court's Texas v. Johnson decision ruled, completely legal. That's the case Francis was discussing with his students at the time.

As a result, Francis was shuttled off to a warehouse job and last week notified that his contract wouldn't be renewed. So Francis resigned.

Of course, Francis had to see it coming. School Superintendent Frank Till didn't much hide the likelihood that Francis' career was over here.

But we can't say anyone won anything. Francis lost his job. The school system appeared to be taking a stand against free speech.

Wouldn't everyone have been better off if Francis had simply apologized to his students and the community for an inappropriate but legal demonstration, and then everyone got back to educating our kids?

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