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. There was no reason for the original action which was the proximate cause of the flag burning on Veteran’s Day which was the direct cause of all the flags on campus being taken down. President Lash speaks with forked tongue.

  2. “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.”

    About what? The exchange and vigorous debate of a single idea? Since conservatives are routinely intimidated and shouted down, I doubt that multiple viewpoints were even invited to the table.

  3. It was a mooning of America……. lol. These people are so full of themselves, who cares? They can go into a closet and contemplate their naval, for all I care. Or maybe it’s not a “safe place”?

  4. I sent the pres of this ‘college’ a letter and told him he had no spine. It’s time that these so called leaders show the snowflakes what rules mean and what happens when those rules are broken. Pity those kiddos when they actually enter the working society and have to adhere to some form of regulations. When they don’t like a project they have been handed will they curl up in a fetal position and hope it goes their way?? Good luck surviving in our dog eat dog world. If they find out country distasteful I recommend they go somewhere that they have zero freedoms and see how fast they run back to the USA! Grow up Snowflakes!

  5. I’ve always thought that burning the flag sent the wrong message – eliminating something from existence. It is much better symbolism to get a bucket of soap and water and wash the flag in a symbolic gesture to wash away the country’s sins, errors, and misjudgments.

  6. People who attend that college need to live free or die. Or die and give away their livers.

  7. When you burn someone elses property is is a criminal act of arson. The flag belonged to the college. This is a crime. Maybe not a hate crime. It is not free speech either. Even if I own the flag I am not speaking when I set fire to it. I am doing an act to express some weird political view and that might be protected. It is kind of like jay walking on a crowded highway as opposed to walking across the aisle at church. When the Klan shot negroes or hung them it was claimed to be free speech protected by STATESRIGHTS!. These kind of defenses or expressions are off Trump or not accurate.
    This flag burning was an act of arson.

  8. The US flag is a symbol and is subject to free speech considerations. Anything done to a flag is acceptable. *Anything* Speech should *never* be censored. Actions against other people is another matter.

  9. Be wary of the politician that says we need to suspend the constitution in order to save it. Unfortunately, our body politic has an auto-immune disease (progressivism) and it’s fed by ignorance, apathy and dependence. The best tool we have to expose what ails it is free speech. We need to protect the right of this college to say stuff, for Colin Kaepernick to take a knee, for Christian bakers and wedding invitation makers to express their beliefs, so that we as a culture can more easily identify and heal what is harmful and protect what is helpful to the security of natural rights and the rule of law.

  10. The elephant in the room is that those who voted for Trump generally despise higher education and view higher education as liberal propaganda. They tend to trust intuition more than education. They don’t want to fund education and Universities are desperate for funding. If you support the idea of campuses for higher education, the lowering of the flag would simply indicate the likely impending death of that concept.

    1. “those who voted for Trump generally despise higher education and view higher education as liberal propaganda.”

      That elephant wouldn’t happen to be pink, now would it? I love higher education. My intuition informs me to think critically about which institutions are centers for indoctrination and those that are centers for reasoned debate. I want MY tax dollars going to institutions that provide an environment for free-thinking, robust debate and teaching values consistent with what is necessary to maintain the integrity of our constitutional republic.

      I don’t hate higher education if it educates. When it indoctrinates and creates an electorate unable to defend their own natural rights, then I have a problem with them.

      1. Every institution in our society indoctrinates and propagandizes – government, churches, the media, universities, corporations, etc.

        1. Lamar,

          I’ll agree with that much in the same way I’d agree we live in a world with infectious diseases. While diseases exist, the problem is in developing the critical-thinking skills to do anything about them. Our progressive education system is developing generations of victims without the requisite skills to overcome the deleterious affects of indoctrination and propaganda.

          1. Olly,
            I can mix both of your thoughts together. When I was in high school they tried to indoctrinate in use that we would all be dead of aids by the year 2000. At the time it scared the crap out of us. What they didn’t tell us was, that if we lived a life of not sleeping around and didn’t share needles, you weren’t going to get it. So, almost to year 2017 and we are still here.

      2. Probabvly because higher education IS exactly as you describe. Of all the institutions of higher than high school education ALL are on the dole except TWO (2) which do not accept government funding of any kind. The rest are heavily under scrutinized and influenced by the government.

        Given the nature of government and it’s gradual change, now hopefully reversed, for the last hundred years and the number of educators educated under that system it is no wonder higher education has come under fire

        That elephant got it’s own share of the whipping as it was nothing more than the right wing of the left in a one party system. Don’t blame elephant for something the Government Party they belong to did.

        The blame is equally shared and wholly earned except where the citizens had had enough and performed counter revolution of Nov 8th. Looks like the elephant paid attention while the donkeys had their long airs up their ……

        Look up the number of colleges and universities subtract two. That’s where all your grade school and high school teachers come from . too.

        Something to remember when it time to vote on school budgets.

        1. To your point Michael; “The rise of political correctness makes students unwilling to “say anything that could get them denounced as racist, sexist, xenophobic,” and the like, according to the professor.

          “But there’s another, less-noticed dimension,” he continued. “Students know there’s a politically correct view on a lot of issues. So, when anything connected to race, sex, etc., arises, I see a lot of students turn off. I think they see it this way: Either what comes next is politically correct and they’ve heard before, in which case it’s pointless and boring, or it presents a challenge to that perspective, in which case it’s dangerous.”’


    2. That’s crap. We despise the partisan idiots produced by higher educational indoctrination, not “education” itself. Sheeesh, have you actually listened to some of these college-educated nincompoops? It’s just a string of words like racism, sexism, white privilege-ism, white nationalism, misogyny, homophobia, spewed out in a meaningless hodgepodge of conclusory invective.

      Some college-educated white folks are simply the dumbest of the dumb.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    1. Mitch, Hilarious video. The T-shirt guy is truly a laid back surfer Cali guy if ever I saw one. And, he has the patience of Job.

    2. Yep, Mexican air-head liberal leftist attack squad. She obviously gets her jollies harassing people who don’t share her opinions. Makes her feel superior. Typical of her type these days. Speaks more in favor of building “the wall” than any t-shirt ever could.

  11. Everyone of us has the right to free speech. We have a lot of leeway in this country to express our individual opinions. But always remember, the court room of public opinion is always in session.

  12. If corporations are persons, why not other institutions. It should be clear that offensive speech (including insulting speech) is what the First Amendment is all about. I think Prof. Turley as well as others have said this. I may not approve of what the college did, but it was free speech, done either as a collective of people or as an institution.

    1. Agree. Otherwise, we apparently need the smelling salts and the fainting couch for certain types of free speech such as, “what ever we disagree with”, once the slippery slope gets us to that point as it inevitably will.

      Also agree to disapprove of what the college did even though they had every right (in this country) to do it.

      Still would much appreciate a JT post on the shameful red baiting of over 200 web sites by the Washington Post. Not that they don’t have a right to print such Joe McCarthy like trash, but rather that this site as any other site serious about freedom of speech should make clear it’s position on such a shameful and dangerous failure of journalistic integrity, utterly lacking in even high school level verification of sources.

      Here is Matt Taibbi’s excellent article on the disgusting WaPo blacklisting article:


      1. The Post has been ruined by Bezos – no one takes them seriously unless they are Establishment Dems aka Liberals.

  13. Ken Burns is the most acclaimed alumnus of Hampshire College. Why has Mr. Burns not entered the conversation concerning his alma mater. Especially, as a documentarian, where freedom of expression is essential. Just saying. Just asking.

    1. Burns is preparing an 8-hour documentary on the flag thingie. He just cannot find any music slow enough to go with it.

  14. Free speech is it? For an individual? Yes. But when such action by an institution is taken, it takes an action which erroneously speaks for many of those who are students who disagree.

    The institution spoke. Rather let Lash and his ilk halfmast their their staffs or disstaffs.

    There is great value in the current method of Presidential election. The breadbasket of this country will have its voice not smothered by those who know not their struggles.

  15. Johnathan Turley, were you insulted? Good! That’s free speech for you…

  16. I agree that lowering the flag to half-mast and the eventual removal of the flags qualifies as insulting speech. But is not insulting speech a form of constitutionally protected free speech Professor Turley? If so, then free speech can and does sometimes look like insulting speech.

    1. So would have you been ok for a student or teacher from that college to go to the flag and raise it? After all, it’s free speech right? Or, does the college president only get to speak?

    2. Yes, insulting speech is protected. But why be insulting, you stupid idiot? Why not just convene the discussion groups, you aborted fetus? Why can’t intelligent people simply have an intelligent conversation, you son of a w***e?

      Get my point? Or do I have to explain, you ….

  17. Burning the American flag is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution as symbolic speech. Sorry you were offended, but it was burned during a protest in Texas during the Eighties by a college student dissatisfied with Reagan’s policies.

    1. Jennifer (et al): Yes, First Amendment …, etc. But you’ll feel different when your son volunteers for service (God bless him) and gets killed in battle. There are those who will pray for you; and there are those who will cheer his death on your sidewalk. You’ll feel different then. But, well, First Amendment, you know.

  18. “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.”
    This just about says everything there is to say about this college president,

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