High school students in Florida were disqualified from a theater competition because their anti-totalitarian play (James Clavell’s 1963 one-act “The Children’s Story”) includes a scene wherein students are encouraged to cut up a flag following the US’ defeat at the hands of some powerful enemy. The episode is designed to illustrate the dangers of mindless obedience, a fact apparently lost on the competition’s administrators, who appear to have missed the last 14 years of Constitutional law. Co-chair and theater teacher Melody Wicht disqualified the team based on Florida Statute 876.52, which bars flag desecration. “My problem was that they took an American flag off the flagpole and cut it into pieces. They were disqualified based on Florida law,” she said.
Of course, just such a statute was struck down in 1990 by the Supremes; writing for the majority, Scalia (!) noted that flag desecration was clearly an expression of disagreement, and was therefore protected speech. This means the Florida statute is no good, either.
Perhaps the theater teachers in Florida need a refresher from the government and history departments. What they taught here was that (1) they don’t actually understand the First Amendment; and (2) they’re incapable of experiencing a work in any but the most literal senses. And people wonder why smart kids hate high school.