Hampshire College Raises American Flag After Weeks of Controversy

th220px-us_flag_burningHampshire College in Massachusetts caused a national outrage when the Administration ordered the placing of the American flag at half staff after Election Day. It then ordered the the removal of all flags after the flag was found burned on the ground. The flag has now been returned and College President Jonathan Lash is insisting that it was all a positive exercise of free speech. I disagree.

Lash issued the following statement:

“We understand that many who hold the flag as a powerful symbol of national ideals and their highest aspirations for the country — including members of our own community — felt hurt by our decisions, and that we deeply regret . . . We did not lower the flag to make a political statement. … We acted solely to facilitate much-needed dialogue on our campus about how to dismantle the bigotry that is prevalent in our society.”

The American flag is the symbol of free speech. The lowering of the flag to half mast was a juvenile and insulting act by the college. The removal of all flags only magnified that offense and sent the wrong message. I strongly agree on the need for a dialogue on campuses about the meaning of the election. It was a historic event. However, the flag represents a shared article of faith in our democratic process and the rule of law. Both prevailed on election even if your party or your candidate did not prevail.

Yet, Lash insisted

“Hampshire staff and faculty have led facilitated discussions, I have held multiple focus group sessions, and all of our students, faculty, and staff have been invited to contribute their opinions, questions, and perspectives about the U.S. flag. This is what free speech looks like.”

No, that is not what free speech looks like when you lower the flag as if the nation were in mourning because you disagree with the results. That is called insulting speech. A college president who does not understand the difference is a shocking failure for any educational institution.

49 thoughts on “Hampshire College Raises American Flag After Weeks of Controversy

  1. Patriotism or a “positive exercise of free speech” to encourage dialogue had nothing to do with this decision. The only thing that prompted Hampshire College to raise the American flag once again was the backlash from the community and more importantly the drop in applications and therefor revenue to their bottom line. Hypocrites!

  2. Is this opinion not inconsistent with previous Prof Turley opinions regarding abuse of the flag?

    It may have been disrespectful; it may have been juvenile; it may have been dumb; but it was, indeed, Constitutional. So he is not claiming it was legally wrong, just socially/politically/college wrong – a position not previously taken, to my recollection, concerning the burning and other disrespectful handlings of the flag. Academic administrators have their say, one way or another, as many of us have witnessed and about which Prof Turley has opined on several occasions. This is just more obvious.

  3. I’ve never thought flag burning was free speech. Flag burning is an action and a pretty egregious one at that. When the Supreme Court conflated actions with speech they opened us this Pandora’s Box and now we’re stuck with it. If actions are “free speech” why can’t I throw throw paint on public buildings in protest of whatever I don’t like? Why can’t I pummel a politician so long as my motive is political and not malicious? These may be extreme examples but they point up the subjectiveness of when free speech stops and prohibited action begins. As for Hampshire College, I say let ’em bask in their unAmerican stupidity — and send your kids elsewhere. Withholding money is the most effective free speech of all.

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  5. If at any time a flag should have been put at half-mast for the election of a president, it should have been at the election of a con-artist, p-ssy grabbing, vile, Putin lover & would be strongman.

    • Excellent post Jerome! Yours is a perfect example of why free speech is so important. Without it, folks like yourself would be forced to work your agenda without the bright light of rational scrutiny. Thank you.

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