Copper Hills HS: No free speech allowed for conservatives!
Persecution is now cool! School officials at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah, have repeatedly attempted to censor and block the conservative Turning Point USA chapter there, first by making it difficult for the students to form the club, then by telling them they had to remove some signs as well as always include opposing points of view in their displays. When the students objected these school officials then shut down their gathering entirely.
The specific oppressive actions of the school’s principal, Bryan Veazie, and his assistant principal, Rufine Einzinger (both reachable here), are well described in the letter [pdf] sent to Tracy J. Miller, the President of the Board of Education for the Jordan School District, by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the students:
The chapter sought and received the school’s pre-approval to table at lunch during the week of March 7, 2022 to share its views with other students and recruit for the chapter. At the table on March 7, the group displayed posters, pins, and stickers expressing its views, such as “Socialism Sucks,” “Always Love America,” “I’m a Conservative,” and “Don’t Tread On Me.” The table proved popular, attracting fourteen new members to the group. And it caused no disruption to school activities.
The chapter again tabled at lunch on March 9. It displayed the same posters, pins, and stickers as at the previous table. The table again proved popular, drawing in seven new members. But this time, school officials abruptly put an end to the group’s speech. When she became aware of the table, Assistant Principal Rufine Einzinger instructed the chapter’s officers to take down the “Socialism Sucks,” “I’m a Conservative,” and “Always Love America” posters. She reasoned that the posters did not represent “both sides.” She also informed the group that—notwithstanding the school’s pre-approval—it did not have permission to table. The assistant principal shut the table down and marched the chapter’s officers to Principal Veazie’s office.
Despite recognizing that the district and school created a limited open forum for student groups, Principal Veazie told the club’s officers that they needed to balance out their speech with viewpoints they opposed. He wanted the chapter to focus on creating a “welcome, safe, and comfortable” environment. In pursuit of that end, Principal Veazie told students that no law, policy, guideline, or rule told him what speech he could allow at school. Rather, he reserved for himself the power to make those censorship decisions based on his own assessment of the—otherwise unidentified—“good-bad, pros-cons, [and] unintended consequences.” And he even went so far as to accuse the chapter’s posters of “defam[ing]” other forms of government—if that’s even possible.
It should be noted that when Principal Veazie initially gave his approval to allow the club, he made his hostility to it very clear. He even demanded they change the club’s name from “Turning Point USA” to just “Turning Point” in order to hide its affiliation with that national conservative student organization.
The ADF letter makes it quite clear that Veazie and Einzinger are violating numerous free speech laws, both federal and state, and that both must not only stop such behavior, the Jordan School District must by June 24, 2022 publicly declare that it will henceforth follow such laws or it would face legal action.
We shall see what happens. The school district and its officials really do not have a legal leg to stand on, but nowadays the left is often quite willing to ignore the law if it doing so is to its advantage. Worse, it has found it can get away with out more times than not.
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