Skip to comments.District pulls plug on speech (Valedictorian's speech unwelcome by ACLU)
Posted on 06/19/2006 3:08:08 PM PDT by FerdieMurphy
Foothill valedictorian criticizes decision to censor her proclamation of faith
She knew her speech as valedictorian of Foothill High School would be cut short, but Brittany McComb was determined to tell her fellow graduates what was on her mind and in her heart.
But before she could get to the word in her speech that meant the most to her -- Christ -- her microphone went dead.
The decision to cut short McComb's commencement speech Thursday at The Orleans drew jeers from the nearly 400 graduates and their families that went on for several minutes.
However, Clark County School District officials and an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that cutting McComb's mic was the right call. Graduation ceremonies are school-sponsored events, a stance supported by federal court rulings, and as such may include religious references but not proselytizing, they said.
They said McComb's speech amounted to proselytizing and that her commentary could have been perceived as school-sponsored.
Before she delivered her commencement speech, McComb met with Foothill administrators, who edited her remarks. It's standard district practice to have graduation speeches vetted before they are read publicly.
School officials removed from McComb's speech some biblical references and the only reference to Christ.
But even though administrators warned McComb that her speech would get cut short if she deviated from the language approved by the school, she said it all boiled down to her fundamental right to free speech.
That's why, for what she said was the first time in her life, the valedictorian who graduated with a 4.7 GPA rebelled against authority.
"I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech," McComb said. "God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my lord and savior."
In the 750-word unedited version of McComb's speech, she made two references to the lord, nine mentions of God and one mention of Christ.
In the version approved by school officials, six of those words were omitted along with two biblical references. Also deleted from her speech was a reference to God's love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciated death in order to cover everyone's shortcomings and forge a path to heaven.
Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, had read the unedited version of McComb's speech and said district officials did the right thing by cutting McComb's speech short because her commentary promoted religion.
"There should be no controversy here," Lichtenstein said. "It's important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech."
Lichtenstein said that position was supported by two decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2000 and 2003.
Both cases involved graduation ceremonies and religious speeches given by commencement speakers. In the 2003 case, Lichtenstein said, the plaintiff even petitioned the Supreme Court to have the decision reversed, but the request was denied.
In 2003, the Clark County School Board amended district regulations on religious free speech, prohibiting district officials from organizing a prayer at graduation or selecting speakers for such events in a manner that favors religious speech or a prayer.
The remainder of the amendment allows for religious expression during school ceremonies.
Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and, therefore, may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content," it states.
"To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student or other private speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech is not school sponsored."
District legal counsel Bill Hoffman said the regulation allows students to talk about religion, but speeches can't cross into the realm of preaching.
"We review the speeches and tell them they may not proselytize," Hoffman said. "We encourage people to talk about religion and the impact on their lives. But when that discussion crosses over to become proselytizing, then we to tell students they can't do that."
McComb, who will study journalism at Biola University, a private Christian school in La Mirada, Calif., doesn't believe she was preaching. She said although some people might not like the message of her speech, it was just that, her speech.
"People aren't stupid and they know we have freedom of speech and the district wasn't advocating my ideas," McComb said. "Those are my opinions.
"It's what I believe."
This school system (and their ACLU buddies) need bombardment.
Evac her and the others that believe in her true right to free speech, and nuke the site from orbit...it's the only way to be sure the situation is solved.
The ACLU, if they were really worried about folks' civil rights under our constitution would be suing the school administration on this girl's behalf.
The stinking commie left keeps attacking American faith. They fear it because it has a system of accountability in it -- ethics, morals, the concept of right versus wrong.
This flies in the face of the far left, like a silver cross in the face of a vampire...
Curious what the response would of been if they pull the plug on a "Gay Pride" event. So much for "Celebrating Diversity". One of the most despicable things about the Modern Political Left, their rabid hypocrisy.
I'd be interested in knowing the criteria they use to judge "talking about" from "proselytizing" and if that criteria is ever applied to your average humanities professor's lectures.
And the ACLU most probably collected a fat check from the school district.
Oops, this is high school, not college. Sorry. Still would like to know the criteria.
Kinda makes the point of Ann Coulter's book - in spades.
"McComb, who will study journalism at Biola University"
Excellent. But I hope she doesn't expect to get hired by the NY Times.
This is just one more.
It's time for separation of school and state. Does this type of behavior from the American Communist Lawyers Union really surprise anyone?
The USA now follows the ACLU and scraps the Constitution.
Ann said it best...They're "GODLESS"!
There's a reason they call it the Anti-Christian Liberals Union...
If the President of the United States of America can speak about God, Faith, and even Jesus Christ, I don't see that any organization in the country can say otherwise to a school girl.
Yes. These haughty school arbiters sitting back and just waiting for the word "Jesus" to be uttered before gasping and pulling the cord.
I like the story of the valedictorian who sneezed and all the audience said "God Bless You"
It's time to stop their anti-free speech/anti-religious crusade, speak your mind anyways! They are not in any position of authority. Run roughshod right over them.
It's time to stop this nonsense!!!
"The citizens need to take things like this in hand by dragging the a school officials and aclu gooners out and hanging them."
Advocating that behavior makes you as Godless as them.
Get a grip. You sound like a knight in the Ku Klux Klan
Someone ought to prosecute the ACLU on RICO charges.
"Get a grip."
Perhaps his screen name just fits. ;)
"The stinking commie left keeps attacking American faith. They fear it because it has a system of accountability in it -- ethics, morals, the concept of right versus wrong.
This flies in the face of the far left, like a silver cross in the face of a vampire..."
Have you read Godless? If not, I recommend it -- makes your point in excruciating detail...
This was presented at a Las Vegas Diamond Rio concert. They received an immediate resounding standing ovation, and continue to do so every time they perform it! "Everyone who loves America will be so thrilled to hear this song!"
Although Diamond Rio has never before done a statement song, they felt compelled to record "In God We Still Trust." But guess what? Sadly, major radio stations wouldn't play it because it was considered politically incorrect. Consequently, the song was never released to the public.
So, America, see what you think. If this offering speaks to your heart and you feel to share it with friends and loved ones, please do. Then, regard-less of our ethnic origin, let us cease being the silent majority and join together. Not as a particular political party, but as Americans! Let us voice to the media and the powers that be how we feel about having God erased from everything that is sacred to us.
Brittany McComb we're standing with you!
There are a multitude of student led religious organizations throughout our public schools; Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Youth Alive, and See You at the Pole are just a few Christian organizations I am aware of. Each one of these organizations is accorded some type of aid from the school whether it be a classroom to meet, or a flag pole to gather around. The key words are STUDENT LED! I don't see this as being any different.
I once heard a Christan comedian say this: "How can someone be offended by something they don't believe in?"
Enough of my rant!
Thinking about it, the ACLU cutting the valedictorians microphone during her speech has probably caused a greater effect, for the good, than her speech would ever have made.
I can almost guarantee that most people who heard her silenced, will laugh the next time the Democrat-ACLU alliance tells them "they are not anti-God".
Or they hear clueless newspapers spout off on how there is "no war against Christianity".
I may be all wrong on this....but I've long had the feeling that the ACLU is primarily made up of Jews alienated from their
Unfortunately for them they now have a lawyer who thinks he's the Pope or something.
Somehow she made it out of the publix skool system without a "school-sponsored" brain. Good for her!
I've heard a lot of Valedictorian's speeches over the years that DON'T mention God or Christ. Seems to me she's doing her part to try to make things equatable. I would have thought the ACLU would have approved of that. /sarcasm off
An organization by that very name exists in the home of FreeRepublic: Fresno, California. The founder's name is Marshall Fritz... you can find it on the internet!
Yes, They have changed hundreds of years of tradition. Perhaps, sadly we should end graduation ceremonies at schools and host them at churches instead where our freedom to exercize our beliefs will prevail.
(Denny Crane: "Every one should carry a gun strapped to their waist. We need more - not less guns.")
Fat chance of that happening with the lousy congress we keep electing and sending to Washington.
Their activities are anti-American and as such should be treated as an enemy of this nation.
Local school officials to buy into a scenario like this one need to be petitioned for recall!
Checking the trim on his beard I'd suggest he been watched.
God moves in mysterious ways. The unintended consequence of cutting this speech short is the testimony of this Christian woman reaching millions through cyberspace. I would imagine the newspaper article will be posted on many blogs, just like it has appeared on FreeRepublic. Had the speech gone uninterrupted, it probably would have been forgotten already. Perhaps this incident will plant the seeds for the ultimate downfall of the ACLU and the liberation of true free speech in this country.
"God moves in mysterious ways. The unintended consequence of cutting this speech short is the testimony of this Christian woman reaching millions through cyberspace."
Amen. Thank you for that.
To everyone who posted,
As you look at the posted photo of Allen, the ACLU guy, pray for his salvation...and may the power and grace of God be shown when he comes to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Nothing is impossible with God!
Thank You Jesus that You LIVE! I sing the AMEN to your prayer, freeinChrist.
The school district believes the valedictorian is a representative of them. Well, Christians cannot serve two masters. This incident serves to highlight the need for Christians to abandon the state school systems.