Flag Stomping at a South Carolina High School

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Flag Stomping at a South Carolina High School

Judging from the comments on last week's post about MIchael Moore, about a quarter of you think I am a communist, a quarter of you think I am a reactionary Republican, and 1/2 of you just hate Michael Moore.  I'm still a bit unclear how that post had anything to do with politics, which is what some of you said, but so it goes...To be honest, I don't ascribe Michael Moore's position to being either the left or the right more predominately.  Certainly it is understood that Mr. Moore is on the left, but his position there (about an Military Industrial Complex that is turning people into sheep) is one that I find just as often amongst a small subset on the right, the people I usually refer to as the "Smedley Butler wing."  Nonetheless, whether right, left, libertarian, vegetarian, rastafarian or any other group of people, I think saying that no one supports the troops is just wrong.  In my experience here, when you offer people an opportunity to help the troops, they usually come through for you. 

When we ran the COP Keating fund raiser, people came together from all sides and supported it to the tune of over $250,000.  I had conservative comentators like MIchelle Malkin supporting us, and in another fund raiser received a sizeable donation from San Francisco pitcher Barry Zito, who was affectionately nicknamed "Planet Zito" for his idiosyncratic ways.  I've known troops who received care packages from Ellen Degeneres while deployed, and I doubt anyone has ever accused her of being a right-wing Republican.  Nor Al Franken who has done seven USO tours, four of them to Iraq.  I've never believed that any political side held a sole and exclusive grip on supporting the troops.  I just know that whoever says we don't support them doesn't have a clear understanding of what we do.

And so it is with some trepidation of what might show up in the comments that I bring up this story.  I'm sure folks will complain about this story as well.  The reality is, this story is in the news, and garnering lots of comments.  And that is something we talk about.  I do pieces all the time about veterans who have passed on, and they get a moderate amount of comments, but when I discuss something like this, the comments section tends to run wild.  So, here you go.....

wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |


Apparently the town of Chapin where this occured is just outside Columbia, South Carolina. Seems an odd place for someone to think that this was going to go bye without problems.  If you haven't been to Columbia recently, it is dotted with various parks dedicated to the military and veterans.  It's an incredible military-friendly area.  I went to college down the road a piece at The Citadel, and when I went to PLDC (the Sergeants academy) it was there at Fort Jackson.  So it isn't exactly a hot bed of anti-military bias.

I can't help but wonder what the point this English teacher was trying to make.  It certainly can't be that high schoolers show TOO MUCH respect for things like this, can it?  I assume it was some sort of "Dead Poet's Society" type thing, but I don't recall Robin Williams ever stomping on a flag to make his point. 

Anyone have any idea what point he was trying to make here?  If it is just about the power of symbolism, aren't there easier ways to do that?  I did find it interesting that the only two symbols mentioned are the flag and a picture of a cross.  I'm assuming he didn't do it with either a Star of David or the Al Qaeda flag, so was the point that it is okay as long as it is something the majority supports?

UPDATE: The Teacher responds:

Darryl D. Smalls says 12-year teacher Scott Compton was attempting to show his classes that America is an "inspirational idea," greater than the "material objects that represent it," during a lesson on symbolism.

"He made only positive comments about America throughout this lesson," wrote Smalls in an emailed statement to WIS. "The version of events currently circulating is incomplete."

"He meant no intentional disrespect to those men and women who served our country or to America itself," continued Smalls. "Several members of his family served in the Armed Forces and they have his total support given all of the facts of the lesson." 

"Many people have rushed to vilify my client based on one segment of the story related through a secondhand account," wrote Smalls. "My client has had an exemplary twelve year teaching career and was only trying to create a forum for discussion using a powerful symbol with which all his students would be familiar."

My question to this response is why is this a subject to be discussed in an English class?  If it were a civics lesson or something it would be simliarly idiotic, but the context might matter, but this is an honors English course. 

The fact that he meant no "intentional disrespect" doesn't really make it any better to me.  Should a teacher be cognizant enough of what he is doing to know that this is a horrid idea?  There would seem to me to be any number of ways of making the same point without desecrating our flag, no?  Would he advocate something like burning a copy of Cather in the Rye for instance?  I'm assuming no, so how is this a better means of discussing the topic of symbolism?

Posted in the burner | 131 comments
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I guess this teacher never spent a night in a fox hole protecting his country, maybe some one should stomp on him an give these people a good lesson. With a president who does not believe in our military what else could you expect, that group on the left have forgotten the price we paid by not being strong, here we go again.

These tragic situations will keep on going on as long as we sit idly by and just watch. We as a Nation must stand together and get all our elected officials to open their brians and to start doing what the people voices are asking them to do . Every election we hear promises of how their going to change , but once their in its how can they can fill their own needs.when is enough a enough. Lets stop the fat cats and get back to basics. Pensions whos are safe and whos are billions of dollars in the hole? You can take it to the bank the politicians will get theirs. Lets cut out all these life time jobs for all politicians and start making them work for a living,and a pension no more free rides . Make them accountible for their decisions . Then watch how the economy will change. put God back in schools and change back the way the flag was protected .Give back the rights of the U. S. citizen . Let every immigrant earn their way into the U.S. legally quit giving everything away at tax payers expenses. Reforms on aid and welfare receipients,Social security should be paid to those who put into it .As a worker I had to take drug test to keep working ,lets give them to all the welfare people to theres no discrimination there since most people with jobs have to take them now.Give photo I.D.s with finger print to all welfare receipients as well .That way we have a way to make sure they get pay and no one else can use it or if it gets lost or stolen . That money then is returned instead of written off. Just a little common sense to get rid of all the waste in this country . God Bless And fly the flag with honor .To many people the flag maybe just a piece of cloth , but to me it represents the lifes and blood of all those who where wounded and died protecting its rights so don't tell me its just a piece of cloth. THEY are someones children to be honored and respected. A great big thanks and salute to all parents, the men and women who fought for us . GOD BLESS you all.

As a veteran, I find it exceeding distasteful to hear about and read stories of people disrepecting our Flag. If this teacher was looking for a symbol to stomp on to stress his point to his students, why didn't he use their school flag? Or a logo of one of those hated corporations? Why not use the French flag? Or the old Communist flag? Seems to be his whole act was driven by personal convictions and not for any love of the Flag itself. The Flag is a symbol that represents all that this country is about! What it has been in the past; and what we hope it will represent in the future! It stands for the rights of the individual It represents all Americans - natural born or naturallized! It represents the millions of men and women who fought under its banner and the millions who gave their lives for it! The Flag is more than just a symbol. It is America and when you stomp on the Flag, you are stomping on America and everything that it represents - good or wrong. Like it has been said by many above, maybe it is time he was given the option of attending boot camp or six months of community service with veterans! Or some kind of school suspension for a period of time so he could go out into the real world and discover the meaning of the Flag! And then submit a report of his findings to the school in public assembly and with a recitation of the U.S. Flag Code! I do believe however, that this subject should be taught in a history or civics class, not in an English class. Whatever happened to the teaching and understanding of the English lanquage in English classes? No wonder we have such huge problems in our country. Hav e also heard but not verified, that many schools have only around one paragraph in their history books pertaining the Vietnam war! Now, that is a disgrace if true!

I am a fifth gen military. I believe in freedom of expression, but not with the Flag of this USA. He may be an honored teacher but his education is lacking in respect for this nation and many military past ,present and future.I like for him to explain his actions to my grandson in the Air Force or my other grandson in the Army how his actions honor their service.

This is why "we the people" should force the congress to pass a law forbiding any and allaction against our flag. Shouldbe a federal crime and if done be somne one that does not belong here then jail time and deported. To many have die protecting our freedom and the flag is what defines TRUE AMERICANS.

MSgt Mike Osburn

I served my country in the Marine Corps. I felt that service was as much to protect the rights of it's citizens as it was to protect their lives and property. At no time was I thinking of my service as my payment for the ability to waive the rights of another American. While we did have hard and fast regulations in the Marines regarding the flag; that was the Marines. The first Amendment to the constitution should always trump any rules made up to direct the non violent expressions of citizens of our nation. I don't have to like it but freedom of expression has to be protected.

That is why you are called a Jar head ....... ruck up man and get going

Boy! some comments are real scary! Some of our patriots need to lower their volume about patrotism!! Sounds a bit more like Nationalist.

I agree. These Guys are a lot scarier than some poor underfunded teacher trying to make a literary point down in South Carolina! THEY are the ones who make me think, "What's this country coming to?" But there have always been closed minds, and there always will be people who have nothing more to do with their time than think of ways to critcize others, while doing nothing themselves to make the world better, child by child.

I served this great Country in Vietnam and I saw a few of my buddies go home with that Flag on the casket. Give me just 5 minutes with the teacher and I will show him the error of his ways.

I'm a retired high school teacher as well as a retired Navy submariner. I taught my students that they should look at all sides of an issue and whether you agree or don't agree with the actions of our government the flag is a symbol that must be respected. To me and many others the flag is a reminder that many of our people died and bled for it and that sacrifice goes way beyond politics, that is a lesson that this "teacher" needs to learn

Send Him&Obama to IRAN to Live,Neather have any RESPECT for OUR FALLEN HERO'S ,OR OUR COUNTRY.HELL Obama won't even look at OUR FLAG.

I grow weary of those whom commit an outrageous act, or are dismissive of our sacrifices we've made, by simply stating they knew, are related to, have friends of a friend who served, are serving. My own Congressman tried to peddle that same worn out line to me i.e. my Dad served in WWII so I know how you feel; when I asked him why TRICARE was being slowly taken from us, and why the VA charges veterans co-pays now. Unless you served, you cannot relate to us. I don't care if your entire family lineage served. YOU cannot relate to us, and thereby aren't excused from such a dispicable act. I don't care how many pedigrees or I Love Me's you have hanging on your wall, nor how many trinkets you've amassed from your fawning admirers. That Flag is more than a symbol, cloth or a freedom of speech issue. We exist because of that Flag; not in spite of that Flag. If we cannot recognize that simple fact, then we better get used to watching our rights, freedoms, and our way of life continue to erode. 24 years of my life were invested in protecting that Flag, from all enemies, foreign, and domestic. And defend it I shall.

All you right wing veterans give veterans a bad name. I'm a veteran of the vietnam era. He can do whatever the heck he wants, it's his classroom. He made a great point for his future writers. Let it go at that. You all need to get a life, are any of you getting up from your couches and the remote control long enough to contribute to the children of your communities? I think not. You all live in glass houses.

Although I no he has the right to show his freedom rights and I can respect that, no way would I have stood by if I was there in person, I believe I would have stomped on him, even thought it would not have been my right to do so, I served in the US Army to protect and honor our flag, this teacher in my eyes is no more that a piece of s--t, if he does not like our flag, go to China,Russia, Iraq, Afgan. or wherever else he would like to spend the rest of his miserable life. God Bless American and everything she stands for. People like him are disgusting to say the least, the parents of these students should stand up and complain to there school authorities, no way should he get away with this.

This teacher should be dismissed period.

It seems to me that not too long ago we ridiculed another society for violence and death for pics of Muhammad and then for someone burning the Qur'an... Now it seems as though we are doing the same thing.. going crazy over a man stomping on a flag.. Get a grip, grow the hell up and think for yourselves. By these actions we are no better than those whom we laughed at before!

I wonder why I bothered to serve my country, was it to allow people like this to be disrespectful of
America and all theat it stands for? I think it was a waste of time to stand up for people like this.
Be it known, I will only stand up for myself from now on, so go ahead and be an idiot if you want, just not on my watch, as I may take exception.

Phillip, The teacher was in the classroom with students "getting paid"! Not on the street after hours or on leave. Based off of his extremely immature and poor judgment concerning the place, time, and audience he needs to be transferred from the school at a minimum if not outright fired. When charged to educate our children or be a public leader, you must be held to a higher standard. Eric, if you truly believe what you wrote, then a student should be able to stomp on a no gays, no whites, or a no blacks tee shirt in the same school in the front of the class or any worker should be able to do the same in the workplace. Why do Catholic Hospitals have to provide counseling for contraception? Seems like we pick and choose what is Free Speech? By the way, I did 31 years active duty and am a 90% disabled vet that continues to work full time for our services. I recommend that before anyone would think to desecrate the flag that they visit Walter Reed/Bethesda Hospital orthopedic or burn clinics prior to any action. Gives you a different perspective.

Sheeple, it’s obvious that you never served or have seen some give their life up for the freedom that you relate to as "grow up"! Go on the front lines; miss about 15 holidays and another 20 birthdays. Can you yell fire in a movie? Can you say you are going to harm someone? If a police office tells you to be quite at a scene call you keep talking? Yes, there are limits so you really need to get over it! Please lift your head up from the left and look at why people serve this country. Presently over 25 million veterans. Are they all crazy or is what they have sacrificed mean nothing to you? Please see my prior post. May God Bless You and open your eyes to how as a county has achieved and maintained our "reasonable" freedom of speech. Good luck!

The teacher was incredably stupid; his actions demonstrate an inability to think beyond the immediate moment which indicates a cognitive ability disfunction. This seems to indicate the teacher would be better off in some other profession than one that requires an ability to think beyond the immediate moment and an understanding that all actions have consequences. This teacher, despite his attorney's explanation, or rather because of the explanation, should be fired.

The Flag is a symbyl, that represent`s all that this great country stand`s for. To have some one stomp it ,in front of a class,of teenager`s. Just what message is he actually sending ??? Need`s a suspension & public service. Had to watch the hippie`s in the 60`s do this & did not respond very well. Scince I was in the Army at that time>62-66. Got myself in a little trouble,BUT it was worth it !!! GOD BLESS AMERICA !!!!

This is what America is all about, however, do the same thing here with a Mexican flag and see what happens! Folks will come out of the woodwork and the press will label you a 'hater'. Freedom of expression should be allowed as long as BOTH sides are given the same right to do so. I would NEVER desicrate the flag I served under but I am not going to throw stones at those who do just so long as I am able to express my opinion of sociatal derelicts and illegal immigrants. But I am sure they would have no problem tossing rocks at me for my opinions. Such is the difference in freedoms we seem to have these days. Country bashing is fine but not illegals or deadbeats. Parents should be checking on their schools and see exactly what is really being taught. Might surprise you at what is being taught as history. 90% of schools get their money from YOU (taxes) so why do we not have any say what is being taught? Most textbooks are written by liberal companies who have an agenda rather than a sense of civic duty when putting forth material for our kids as truth.

This issue is revolting at best. And I agree with supportive earlier posts related to this issue that this is an issue that supports removal from any teaching venue.
I strongly support the flag and its meaning. I raise and lower the flag at our cemetery for the past many years and have never let it touch the ground. Nor have I ever left it crumpled, placed in a bag or left in an inclement place. I take at least one other person with me, sometimes it is my wife, and fold it as it should be
and store it properly in a cabinet designed for storage purpose.
The mere act of teaching via this manner by stomping it into the ground or floor desecrates the santicity of the flag and trashes the reverent efforts of every military person. This guy has to go, now !

So what. America is free. I say stop reporting on an isolated incident such as this and people will stop worrying about such minor issues.

I can't believe that whole class just stood there and watched this idiot stomp on the American flag, and do nothing, they should have been stomping his ass, does he have any respect for his class or anything else, his class should have taught him respect right there? Thank You!

I'm a 100% Disabled Navy Veteran. While what that teacher did is abhorrent to me, it displays the individual rights and freedoms I fought for. Pillory the teacher if you must but if it was done to make a point then it was effective IF the point was taken.

i served two tours in Vietnam. i have lost most of mu hearing in my right ear and have a scare over my left eye as a reminder of this service. i agree that the way the teacher was trying to make his point may have been better thought out but if what he was trying to say is that even if an enemy should burn or step on our flag even fly a plane into a building and bring our flag to the ground it is we the people that make American great. it is we the people that will lift the flag from the ashes. if what the teacher was trying to do was a very positive thing why are we trying to destroy him? i would like to think that one of the things i fought for in Nam was the right for the accused to be heard before we put him in front of the firing squad.

I'm a 20 veteran. I don't know the true facts about this story. Only what I read here that someone wanted us to read. Symbolism or not, there are people in other countries that are killed, beheaded, and mutilated for desecrating their countries flag or "symbols" of belief. Freedom is not free. It is what OUR flag represents that sometimes sadly allows educated people have moments of "I'm an idiot". If this person really did throw the US flag on the classroom floor and did step on it, he's message was, "screw all you men and women who died giving ME this freedom to do what I want, where I want, when I want and with who want". It the same thing as burning it or any other "symbolism" . It is to be raised high and flow in the winds, FREEly.

Our Tax dollars at work.I think we should hang the teacher (not kill) for all to see.

Of course he should not be fired. Use your head. The intention in the performance of an act is what must be considered. If not, then for example any burning of our flag could be considered desecration.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.