California Teachers Trigger Free Speech Debate Over Antifa and Gay Pride Flags in the Classrooms

Two California teachers are under investigations in separate incidents involving classroom flags and videos this month. Government teacher Gabriel Gipe is under fire for boasting about his flying an Antifa flag at Inderkum High School and explaining that he has only “180 days to turn them into revolutionaries.” That controversy comes just days after another California teacher, Kristen Pitzen, boasted how she removed the American flag because it made her uncomfortable and replaced it with a gay pride flag.  She laughed how students were then left to say the pledge of allegiance to the gay pride flag at Back Bay High School in Costa Mesa. Both raise similar issues of when free speech is not a complete defense for educators.

Pitzen is now under investigation by the school district and has been removed from teaching. Here is the video:


As for Gipe, he proclaims that he is a radical and is seeking to radicalize students.  His display of the Antifa flag is clearly political and many of us view the group as a violent movement targeting academics and others with campaigns of intimidation and threats. Gipe posts pictures on social media proclaiming ‘F**k The Police” and says “probably as far left as you can go.”  he stated ”Like, why aren’t people just taking up arms? Like why can’t we, you know — take up arms against the state?” in the video posted by the conservative site Project Veritas.

Last year, I testified in the Senate on Antifa and the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States. I specifically disagreed with the statement of House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler that Antifa (and its involvement in violent protests) is a “myth.”  It is at its base a movement at war with free speech, defining the right itself as a tool of oppression. That purpose is evident in what is called the “bible” of the Antifa movement: Rutgers Professor Mark Bray’s Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. Bray emphasizes the struggle of the movement against free speech: “At the heart of the anti-fascist outlook is a rejection of the classical liberal phrase that says, ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’”

Indeed, Bray admits that “most Americans in Antifa have been anarchists or antiauthoritarian communists…  From that standpoint, ‘free speech’ as such is merely a bourgeois fantasy unworthy of consideration.” It is an illusion designed to promote what Antifa is resisting “white supremacy, hetero-patriarchy, ultra-nationalism, authoritarianism, and genocide.” Thus, all of these opposing figures are deemed fascistic and thus unworthy of being heard. Bray quotes one Antifa member as summing up their approach to free speech as a “nonargument . . . you have the right to speak but you also have the right to be shut up.”

If Gipe expressed his views just on social media, I would be the first to defend him so long as he is not actually engaged in radicalization efforts through his public school position.

We have been discussing the investigations and terminations facing teachers over their expressing unpopular viewpoints on social media. Schools on both the high school and college levels are engaging in more monitoring of social media by students and teachers. I often defend such educators for views that many of us find offensive or even hateful as the exercise of free speech. I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments “detonating white people,” denouncing policecalling for Republicans to suffer,  strangling police officerscelebrating the death of conservativescalling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements.

The views of Gipe are not uncommon. For example,  University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who has defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. (Loomis also writes for the site “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”)

Teachers routinely voice opposing views in favor of Black Lives Matter or against white privilege. Indeed, we previously discussed a professor to warn K-12 teachers that their social media postings would be monitored for any pro-police or anti-Black rhetoric to hold them accountable.  Yet, we have seen terminations or investigations of teachers and public employees for denying that the United States is a racist country, deny Canada is a racist country, or calling BLM protesters “terrorists.

These two teachers however are using their positions for political purposes and advocacy.  The more serious case is that of Gipe. The Antifa flag is a clearly radical political symbol being displayed by a teacher who admits that he is trying to radicalize students through his classes.

Pitzen is also at fault given her obvious delight in replacing the American flag and leaving students with the choice of pledging allegiance to her chosen flag. However, I do not view the flag in the same way as the Antifa flag.  It represents the movement for equal rights for the LGBTQ community. It can however raise difficult issues for students who have religious or political objections to aspects of LGBTQ policies. What is clear is that you cannot legitimately remove the American flag to leave your preferred flag as the only recognized flag for the class.  The problem is precisely the one that Pitzen relishes and celebrates on her video: she left the students with no alternative but to appear to honor her chosen flag.

There are often difficult cases where educators espouse views for a pedagogical purposes that are deemed biased.  Academic freedom often protect such discussions. Most of us try to be open of any bias while taking extra steps to present opposing views. Some however show a pronounced bias that can be viewed as pressuring students to parrot their views to succeed in their classes. These two cases present more clear cases, in my view, of crossing the line from academic freedom into open (and admitted) political advocacy.

63 thoughts on “California Teachers Trigger Free Speech Debate Over Antifa and Gay Pride Flags in the Classrooms”

  1. They’ve lost their minds. Forget Covid, there’s a wicked case of mass psychosis out there!

    1. Prairie,

      Turley made no such conclusion. He pointed out 2 cases of indoctrination! Don’t you think you are overreacting just a bit? Can’t we try to be a little more level headed and not become hysterical?

      1. Jeff,
        I’m looking at a wide range of examples where it seems people at large have lost their minds, not just at these two. Psychosis might be too strong of a word…delusion might be more apt.

        Maybe it’s more like the effect the One Ring had on most of the people in the Council in the LOTR. They weren’t paying attention to its poisonous effect on them and their interactions.

        1. In times like these, hyperbole, I’m afraid, is the last thing this country needs. We need to be level-headed and fair-minded if there is any hope that we will be able to reach any accommodation of our profound differences. If only there were more people like Turley in this world.

            1. Jeff,
              I am glad you mean it. And, I agree with you about Professor Turley being level-headed and fair-minded.

              “You didn’t think I would ever say that, did you?”

              It would be ungenerous of me to think thus. 🙂 I agree being more fair-minded would go a long way towards effectively sorting out differences and better-understanding on another.

              On that note, please reconsider labeling Trump supporters as you do. It is not a long-term gain for anyone.

              1. Prairie,

                I have already said that you are NOT a Trumpist. Likewise, I don’t wish to be uncharitable to you.

                Trumpists is merely a metonym. If anyone feels discredited by the association with Trump, they bring it upon themselves by ignoring his virulent lying.

  2. “most Americans in Antifa have been anarchists or antiauthoritarian communists… From that standpoint, ‘free speech’ as such is merely a bourgeois fantasy unworthy of consideration.”

    Anarchism has nothing to do with the suppression of free speech. Antifa has nothing to do with Anarchism

  3. That Other California Teacher Story

    She Was Unvaccinated And Took Off Her Mask To Read Aloud. 22 Students Infected With Covid.

    Friday, the CDC published a study providing insight into a COVID-19 outbreak at an un-named elementary school in Marin County. It shows 22 students were infected with COVID by an unvaccinated teacher.

    “An unvaccinated person and someone who took their mask off to read to children occasionally. If this wasn’t Delta we wouldn’t have seen this outbreak event,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer.

    1. And tell us straight, Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County Deputy Public Health Officer/others Begged to also tell the public the Faulty Covid test was once again used so the really don’t know crap other then they knew these new out breaks are being caused by those Jabbed with the Unapproved Experimental mRNA Gene Therapies his behind the name Zaxxes.

      1. Oky, show us your source for the ‘faulty test’ claim. I’ll bet it’s a source no one ever heard of.

        1. Check with the FDA/CDC, they’re the ones that reported it was faulty a few months back & I believe it’s the 1st of the year they said they are rolling out another.

          Another big issue you may have not noticed was the inventor of these current test warned that if the cycle rate was turned up higher then about 30 would give false test readings.

          So what govt health officials had the test turned up to around 40 cycles when Trump was in.

          On the day Biden was sworn in the test cycles were turned down to where it was supposed to be.

          Not Gov De Santis 9sic) & the likely mur*dered former President of Tanzanian & others caught them in the middle of their Fraud.

          Check on your search if that info hasn’t also been scrubbed.

        2. Are you serious ?. You don’t follow the news at all huh !, The FDA & CDC weeks ago admitted their chosen PCR test was 100% ineffective. If you missed this in the news it is because you chose to !!!.

    2. In other words 22 kids now have a strengthened immune system and naturally acquired immunity, the best kind. Win-win.

  4. What is really needed to stop this madness is school choice legislation with real teeth. If taxpayers who opt out of public schools for their children were also exempt from ALL taxes (local, federal & state) used for the public education system, the resulting declines in public school attendance and funds available for public education will force a shrinkage of the bloated, wasteful and self-serving public education system. The only way to bring an out of control bureaucracy to heel is by depriving it of it’s lifeblood (the seemingly limitless public coffers).

    1. Either that, or their worst nightmare, the diversion of those tax funds to the school of the family’s choice.

      1. Those funds would in effect be diverted to the schools that parents chose to pay for their children’s education.

    2. Oh, don’t you want to help the Chilldren ….. I mean JP Morgan/Wall Street firms Sell/swindle away all those never ending school bond issues.

    3. Kevin, that would END public education. At that point, school will be whatever you want to call it.

      1. Considering that Oregon has already eliminated math and reading proficiency standards for H.S. graduation, isn’t that where we are heading already?

        1. If you think we have a lot of foreigners going to our universities now, just wait a few years when these kids want to go to college. But it won’t matter, because college will be free. I’ll bet even for foreigners. Great country we “had” here.

      2. At this point public education is not educating , it’s failed. Indoctrination does not count !,

  5. Antifa fascism, transgender conversion therapy, with progressive prices, achievement, indoctrination, and every child left behind, under a transpride banner of inclusive exclusion (i.e. political congruence or “=”). That said, a parade bereft of lions, lionesses, and their [unPlanned] cubs playing in gay revelry.

  6. Decertify, abrogate and irrevocably annihilate the communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO) teachers unions and all deleterious, unconstitutional and anti-American, pro-union legislation.

    Not a shred or scintilla left in this or any other universe.


  7. None of these teachers are there to teach it seems. Not the right wing ones calling for school prayer or the left wing ones hanging gay pride flags and telling the kids to salute it. Its all nonsense. Has nothing to do with school. Public school is supposed to prepare kids by teaching them basic skills, reading, math, science and history. Both are indoctrination not education and neither has a place in a public school classroom. Problem started when they changed history back in the 60s and 70s to “Social studies”. That set the table for the meal we’re eating now.

    Until men and women of sound reason and good will come together and start calling for some collective sanity, then it’ll only grow worse. You can’t change it by bemoaning gay pride flags in the classroom while omitting the same mentality that has the right wing calling for school prayer in the classroom. You can’t fight a man by struggling with just one of his arms. You have to go for both of them.

    As long as you can see only one side of the problem, then you’ll never be able to fix the problem because you’ll never see the problem. You have to step outside the box to see it.

    1. Well said, Chris W..

      “Public school is supposed to prepare kids by teaching them basic skills, reading, math, science and history.”

      It ought to be a bit more than basic, though. There ought to be a richness to it to stir wonder and imagination and thoughtfulness.

  8. American Flag Etiquette

    1. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the American flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea…for personnel of the Navy…when the church pennant may be flown above the flag

    No person shall display the flag of the United Nations of any other national of international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory of possession thereof; provided, that nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a positions of equal prominence of honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.

    2 OTHER FLAGS ON SAME HALYARD – When flags of states, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the US flag, the US flag should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent flagpoles, the US flag should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the US flag, or to the right of the US flag

    The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans may render the military salute in the manner provided for persons in uniform.

  9. There is such a thing as paying someone to do a particular job and firing him when he fails to do it.

    This isn’t a free speech issue. It’s a Master and Servant problem.

  10. Part of the purpose of public (i.e, taxpayer supported) education is to instill feelings of national pride and love of country, not just basic civics. Hence the flag and the Pledge, among others. There are many “teachers” who fail on this important aspect. Such failure should raise the question of what are the taxpayers paying for?

  11. The Democrats have unleashed the monster and there’s no going back. They thought these radical mobs would be a good counterpoint to keep Trump and conservatives in check. But what they still don’t realize is that these mobs, once they gain traction, become a law unto themselves, beholden to no political party. Kind of like what the US did with Islamic fundamentalists, who now cannot be controlled from Washington no matter how many weapons and cash we gave them once upon a time.

    1. Turley was not saying that these teachers were mentally raping these kids. Where do get that?

  12. One of the most disturbing things about Ms. Pitzen and these tiktokers in general (aside from having the IQ of a developmentally disabled hamster) is her apparent belief that you can go on social media and openly announce breaches of professional etiquette with total impunity. And maybe she’s right. I guess time will tell.

  13. Americans vote for local and state governments, including school boards.

    Innately, actual Americans know there is something drastically wrong with public education.

    Ergo, there is something drastically wrong with the vote.

    Perverse and pernicious forces have subsumed the vote.

    Adverse tyrants had subsumed the Thirteen Colonies, which proved to be compellingly actionable.

  14. Parents. If a teacher announces that he or she plans to turn your children into Antifa, a domestic terrorist organization that considers anything Capitalist to be Fascist because they don’t understand what these terms mean, then take your child out of that school.

    Not the classroom. THE SCHOOL. Because that teacher is not preaching domestic terrorism in a bubble. This is done on school grounds.

    The public education system has produced dismal results in math, reading, and science. High school graduates often don’t know who George Washington is, let alone spell it. They can’t answer the question, if a car travels at 60 miles an hour, how far will it have gone in an hour?

    They fail at their core mission. Education.

    We taxpayers do not make our tributes so that Democrats could turn the public education system into Democrat madrassas. We don’t pay so that one political party can have unfettered access to our children all day.

    Teachers can be for or against Antifa, gay pride, any party, any president, or any other issue, as long as they leave those opinions at the door to the classroom.

    Teachers like these ones believe they are entitled to form our children’s political beliefs during their vulnerable formative years. They think they have the right, that they know better than parents, and that parents don’t have the right to object.

    Meanwhile, class after class graduates without reading at grade level.

    Here in CA, the state suspended CAASSP testing for 2020 and 2021. I suspect the Teachers Union did not want the loss of learning to be measured. You can’t complain about their performance during Covid if there’s no data on their performance.

    I homeschooled my kid last year for 5th grade. We couldn’t do distance learning with our satellite internet connection. The couple months at the end of 2020 school year where we tried it was frustrating. He didn’t learn anything, and couldn’t just sit in front of a computer for hours.

    He took an online assessment test at the start and end of the homeschool year. By the end, he was in the 99th percentile in math, and similar in ELA. I was so happy, I even wrote to the maker of his math curriculum. He read about ancient empires, Native American history, American history, wrote essays, did research projects, science labs, got a microscope, art, learned some pre-algebra and geometry… With only one on one instruction at his own pace, we got through a great many subjects. But he’s an only child, and the pandemic meant a drastic curtailing of social activities.

    Our local school reopened for in person learning, so we’re giving it a try. He’s so bored. They’re working on math we covered at the beginning of last year, and spending days and days on simple topics. At this pace, they’re not going to cover the math we completed last year by the end of this year. They don’t have Gate.

    These people have no business preaching politics in any case, but especially not when our state and our country lag so far behind the rest of the world in reading, writing, literature, and STEM.

    1. Well said, Karen S!
      If possible, home school your child next year or even now.
      I think those who do, will see their children excel far past those who do not.
      And the home school community is growing. CA and TX have seen dramatic increases in home schooling in their states.
      Those who do, and as you point out, focus on reading, writing, literature and STEM will far out succeed in life.

  15. They should be charged with child abuse. These teachers are evil. Both deserve to be let go from their current positions and should be legally bond to stay away from minors. They are no better than child molesters or pedophiles.

  16. Homeschool. Stop the Progressive indoctrination. Teaching our kids to hate America has consequences…see Antifa and BLM.

  17. We don’t need flags in our classrooms…
    We don’t need no thought control!
    All in all it’s just a dip in the road.

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