The junior class (which I am part of) had an assembly this morning, regarding student government. This was fine, seeing as I fully support SGO. In fact, I was going to run for SGO president this year, on the socialist platform, but that got shot down by The Powers That Be and my lack of time to do so.
As the entire junior class was in the auditorium as opposed to homeroom, we got a real, live version of the morning announcement spiel - “Good morning. It is Thursday, May 29, lab day 5, one week until finals start…please rise for the pledge of allegience.”
I don’t. Originally, this wasn’t a political statement, but I just think it’s stupid. I don’t really agree with the pledge, as I have an Issue with swearing my undying loyalty to a nation (giving my word means a lot to me, and I simply don’t swear utterly loyalty to this nation,) and I find the phrase “I pledge allegience to the flag” simply rediculous. Recently, though (since the ‘war on terror’ got, IMO, utterly out of control), it has become something of a political statement for me. I’ve always been allowed to express this and not stand for it, so long as I’m respectful. I love this country for that freedom. My homeroom teacher understands why I choose not to stand, she respects that. Life is good, no?
Huh, apparently not. I was sitting in the back row of this assembly, just by chance. Therefore, Mr. Blind Patriotism English Teacher (BPET) astutely observed my lack of standing. People haven’t even sat down when he barrels down the aisle, and pounces upon his prey.
He asks (as if he cannot believe his very eyes) if I didn’t stand for the pledge. I reply: “No, I didn’t.” My tone, please note, is far from disrespectful. He inquires as to why not. I respond that I choose not to, for several personal reasons.
Now, the first SGO candidates are being introduced, and we’re getting a dirty look from across the auditorium. I’m usually more than happy to explain (if asked) my reasons for my not standing. But in the middle of a speech which I’d like to hear just doesn’t strike me as the best time for doing so. Maybe I was a little abrupt, I’ll concede that.
BPET takes personal offense to this, and issues an order to me: “Come with me.” I suddenly get the distinct feeling that I’m about to be led into Room 101, where a mask filled with rats will eventually be thrust towards my face. But again - I have my well-thought-out reasons for my actions, and I’m more than willing to explain them. If it means missing a little of the first speech, so be it. So I bite my lip and follow Señor BPET out into the hallway, as my friends look as if they’re watching a funeral procession.
He faces me in the hallway and demands to know why I think I have the right to be so disrespectful. My response: “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to show any disrespect. I choose not to lightly pledge allegiance to anyone, and my personal beliefs don’t condone many of the recent actions of the American government. I like to keep my word, so I choose not to say the pledge. I believe that I’m well within my rights to not rise for it, so long as I’m not disrespectful.”
“So you’re trying to make a political statement?” I take a deep breath before responding, and say that I suppose I am. THis doesn’t sit with Mr. BPET, at all. “You’re only sixteen, so what makes you think you have the right to make uninformed statements like this? I find it disrespectful!”
Oh, well this is fun! “Sir,” (and yes, I did address him as sir. I didn’t know his name, and addressing him as “Nazi-Man” seemed like a bad idea. “I’m sorry if you felt insulted. But I really don’t think I’m making an uninformed decision, and I’m not just doing this to be rebellious.”
“If you had any respect for your country, you would be saying the pledge! We just passed memorial day - do you know why we observe that? What are you so oppressed by? You can’t even vote!”
“Actually, yes, I do know why we observe memorial day. My sister is in the Air Force, my grandfather served in World War II, and I’m fully aware of the sacrifices made. I didn’t say I was oppressed, I said I don’t condone the current trend of our government. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. The point that I can’t vote is part of what I am opposed to though, as I read two newspapers every day, which is a bit more than the average American, and I do take an active interest in politics.”
He continued to rave at me, for a good few more minutes, about how I’m to young to know anything and I should be ashamed of myself. He then wrote me up for blatent disrespect for a teachers authority, or something, which is going to be interesting to discuss with the assistant principal.
So basically, I got fucked over this morning. Not sure how to handle this, but I’m damn sick of people telling me I don’t know anything because I’m sixteen. I do read at least the lead articles and op/ed pages of the Philly Inquirer and NY Times every day. So, anyone know a nice way to say “The Patriotism Police at this school need to get the flagpoles pried out of their asses?” Funny, I thought that there was something in that pledge about “liberty and justice for all…” :rolleyes: