John Klar: Vermont students have constitutional right to chant ‘Let’s Go Brandon!’

Wikimedia Commons/Ivan Radic

The Randolph Union High School (RUHS)’s nonsensical, unconstitutional argument is that the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon!” constitutes profanity. Vermont high school students were shamed like foul-mouthed sailors under this shallow pretense.

By John Klar

A Vermont superintendent came down hard on students who allegedly committed the unpardonable offense of chanting “Let’s Go Brandon!” at a sporting event. If they did not agree to counseling for their sin, accused students were banned from all sporting events. This politicized school endorses BLM, queer theory, and all things Far Left but prohibits T-shirts that say, “There are only two genders” and canceled a baseball team fundraiser because it dared employ Chick-fil-A products.

The Randolph Union High School (RUHS)’s nonsensical, unconstitutional argument is that the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon!” constitutes profanity. Vermont high school students were shamed like foul-mouthed sailors under this shallow pretense. In an email to the community, Social Justice Zealot Superintendent Layne Millington wrote:

[T]onight’s final game was marred in the last minutes by members of our own student community chanting, “Let’s go Brandon,” a euphemism for “F— Joe Biden,” which in this case seemed to be directed at our own athletes. This is not about politics or free speech; folks are welcome to chant what they like at our games as long as it is civil and not disparaging. Please recognize that as administrators and staff who are required to create and maintain a positive environment for all students which supports learning across the totality of our programming, I have to say that what happened tonight was inappropriate. I am also saddened by the reaction of some of the adult spectators to the chant.

Three school principals were recruited with Millington to drag offending students in for discipline.  One 16-year-old student insisted that she had not participated in the verboten chant; she was disciplined entirely on the allegations of unnamed students. The school claims that her accusers have a right to privacy that supersedes her right to confront them or hear evidence.

The school explained to her parents:

The Student Handbook sums things up nicely though there are more specific passages later on:

1. Respect all people, their feelings, their possessions, and their right to an education.

2. Respect that the purpose of this school is to educate. Any interaction or behavior that interferes with either of those expectations will result in corrective action.

Superintendent Millington has repeatedly invoked the school’s handbook to obliterate the basic free speech liberties of the students under his care. Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution supersedes all such vague bureaucratic edicts. “Let’s Go Brandon!” is protected political speech, not profanity.

This was explained to Layne Millington and the school by legal counsel for this young girl, who quoted the U.S. Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines:

First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.

Noting that students were allowed to wear BLM and pro-Biden messaging while MAGA or pro-Trump messaging was prohibited, the student’s attorney stated:

To say this is astonishing is without exaggeration. This bears the indicia of an aggressive authoritarian regime where only approved opinions are allowed, and disapproved opinions are punished.

As if to agree, legal counsel for the school responded curtly and rudely: “You and I disagree about what constitutes profanity.”

This is why we have courts and the “Rule of Law” in America — to obtain redress when Soviet-style thugs abuse the public while being paid with the victims’ own tax dollars.

In the seminal case of Cohen v. California, an anti-war activist was arrested for wearing a jacket that said “F— the Draft!” in a public building.  Justice Harlan observed (emphasis in original):

The ability of government, consonant with the Constitution, to shut off discourse solely to protect others from hearing it is, in other words, dependent upon a showing that substantial privacy interests are being invaded in an essentially intolerable manner. Any broader view of this authority would effectively empower a majority to silence dissidents simply as a matter of personal predilections.

It is unquestionable that even “F— Joe Biden!” is protected political speech. The words “Let’s Go” are not profane, despite the laughable contention by the school’s inept legal counsel and bumbling bureaucrats.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Ivan Radic
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15 thoughts on “John Klar: Vermont students have constitutional right to chant ‘Let’s Go Brandon!’

  1. This is sad from every perspective.

    I didn’t attend the game, didn’t witness behavior, don’t know whether the superintendent or principals or Mr. Klar did. If Mr. Klar’s or Mr. Millington’s (as quoted by Mr. Klar) depictions of events are accurate—a big ‘if’—then all I can think is, “What have we become?”

    Do the students have the right to chant something unsporting at best and, by some interpretations, obscene? Of course. Do they have the right to do so without consequence? Of course not. Everything we do has consequences, whether positive or negative, often both. As a consequence of the chanting, Mr. Millington deemed student behavior to be uncivil, disparaging, disrespectful and obscene. Does he have the right? Of course. Are there consequences to his exercise of that right? Of course; in this case they include public complaint.

    Every right we have comes with responsibilities. Every action we take comes with consequences for ourselves, others, or both. Every failure to live up to the responsibilities that come with a right has hurtful consequences for somebody.

    We can be as legalistic as we like about whether Mr. Millington’s interpretation is correct, and there will be differences of opinion, as is shown by the opinions of at least two lawyers, per Mr. Klar. That’s all well and good, but can we talk about the reason for rights, responsibilities, legal opinions, etc? Every one of us should be able to live, work, think, and be educated in an environment that is fundamentally safe.

    Did these students behave in a way that encouraged a sense of safety? It certainly doesn’t seem so. Does their punishment promote an atmosphere of safety? It certainly doesn’t seem so.

    “If they did not agree to counseling for their sin, accused students were banned from all sporting events,” says Mr. Klar. May I just say, speaking as a retired therapist, that counseling other than pastoral or spiritual is not for sins? Yes, I know, Mr. Klar was using the word satirically. But nor is counseling useful for jackassery. If ‘sins’ or ‘jackassery’ are committed by someone with symptoms of mental illness or emotional problems, counseling is a good idea, although rarely effective under duress. If you’re looking for someone to punish, consider that counseling under such conditions can be a punishment for the counselor—been there done that. Please consider also that setting up counseling as punitive—whether overtly or not—is likely to drive someone in need away from it, whether now or in the future. There are far better ways to hold people accountable for behavior than by forcing them into unwanted and probably unneeded counseling. That is, if Mr. Klar’s use of the word ‘counseling’ is an accurate depiction of what students were required to do. I don’t know whether it is.

    Mr. Klar doesn’t think the students should be held accountable for their behavior. I disagree. As adults we owe it to our children to hold them to the very highest standards of behavior; to do otherwise is to fail their futures and, more importantly, to treat them as if they are not worth taking the trouble to teach about values such as kindness, sportsmanship, and community. Teaching them to value their rights is important, but do we really want to join the many in this nation who seem bent on teaching their kids that their rights are entitlements with no responsibility or consequence?

  2. The students just need to go back, and express their freedom of speech again and again and again

  3. Would seem only a matter of time before Millington trys to create a ‘Ministry of Truth’ for the school system. If he’s quick, the former Executive Director of DHS’s Disinformation Governance Board, Czarina Jankowicz is unemployed and currently available for hire.

  4. Funny, I don’t remember the superintendent, teachers or principal getting involved when us VT National Guard troops went there for career day years back to show the different careers in the guard and we were greeted by students chanting “Hell no we won’t go” and carrying signs against our military. Interesting when they want to get involved when the shoe is on the other foot.

  5. We should start a “Give send Go “ campaign and help the kids! Keep the pendulum moving….

  6. At this point in Vermont, who hasn’t had their rights violated in some way shape or form? Appears clear that Vermont is behind the iron curtain. Captured and at the mercy of an evil criminal syndicate.

  7. These students need to get a lawyer and file a lawsuit, we do have a Constitution
    this is what happens when you have political hacks in charge with an agenda.

    They all need to be removed !!

    • Hiring a lawyer is very expensive.

      How about the Vermont ACLU stepping forward and representing the civil rights of these individuals?

      Isn’t the mission of the Vermont ACLU to represent people who’s civil rights have been violated? Or does Vermont ACLU only represent individuals who’s political philosophies they agree with?

  8. The students need to sue millington and his three stooges for punishing their use of their 1st amendment rights and when they lose they need to be fired without compensation. It would be a easy case for some upstart lawyer to easily win. Fully
    bankrupt the marxist dweebs to send a strong message.

  9. How do you think they keep the teachers in line?

    Most terrified person on the planet? A Vermont biology teacher close to retirement…..

    think of the constant fear of being canceled just before retirement. All happening in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  10. When public employees – in this case a superintendent and three principals – neither understand, nor care about, Constitutional rights of students and aren’t interested in Supreme Court decisions – it’s time for them to leave the profession. They are simply tyrants enamored with their own power, and make decisions based solely on not upsetting their like-minded, simpleton supporters.

  11. The school violated the students 1 st. amendment right, perhaps replace the entire board as they have failed at there duty.

    • Bingo. Certainly “unpopular” and even hate speech is the most important to be protected.

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