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Gotta Admit, The Kid’s Done His Homework

, , , , | Learning | June 13, 2022

Back when I was in high school, there was one kid who sat next to me in homeroom and always had his nose in a book. One of his peculiarities was that he refused to stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of school; he would just continue reading through it. All of us had long since gotten used to this.

One day, we had a substitute filling in who was not used to this and clearly didn’t approve.

Substitute: “Stand up.”

Student: “No, thank you.”

Substitute: “You need to—”

It was at about this time that we finished the Pledge. The substitute sort of trailed off as he apparently realized ordering someone to say the Pledge now that the Pledge was already over was kind of pointless. He waited until the rest of the announcements were over before returning to ask the student why he didn’t say the Pledge.

Me: “He never says the Pledge.”

Substitute: “Why not?”

Student: “I don’t approve of it, it’s a waste of time, and I’d rather read my book.”

Substitute: “It’s not a waste of time. It’s how you show your patriotism.”

Student: “I like our country, but I’m not swearing blind obedience to it. If tomorrow, Hitler Jr. becomes president and starts rounding people up, I’d have no qualms about saying it no longer deserved my support.”

Substitute: “That isn’t what the Pledge says!’

Student: “Regardless, it’s a waste of time with an uncomfortable association with McCarthyism. It’s not like anyone was going to betray America but decided not to because they suddenly remembered they were forced to say some rote pledge in elementary school. And I don’t care what the courts say; forcing someone to say, ‘under God,’ is a clear violation of the first amendment.”

Substitute: “Well, you can explain that all to the principal, then.”

Student: “I’d be happy to, but if that was a threat of punishment, I should point out that the Supreme Court has already ruled that I have the first amendment right to not say the Pledge. Are you going to show your patriotism by trying to violate the most sacred tenet afforded to me by the country you claim to love?”

The substitute seemed taken aback by that. He was saved from trying to figure out a response to that by the bell signaling that it was time to head to our first period.

We never saw that substitute again, which is a shame. Apparently, the student had been rehearsing his own parody pledge to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he planned to say if that substitute, or anyone else, tried to compel him to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance again. I’d really have loved to see that.

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