The only shocking thing is that The Philadelphia Inquirer printed the story, but it is now a court case.
William F Buckley, Jr, famously said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” The Pico Corollary to that would be that where liberals get concentrated into greater numbers, they channel their offense into actions against those with other views. And there are no more concentrated pockets of liberalism than in our public education systems. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
by Maddie Hanna | December 18, 2020 | 6:36 PM EST
Two former administrators at Montgomery County public schools are suing their school districts, alleging that they were illegally forced out of their jobs over Facebook posts criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and Democratic politicians.
Ashley Bennett — a former special education supervisor at the North Penn School District who appeared Thursday on Tucker Carlson Tonight — and Amy Sacks, a former elementary school principal in the Perkiomen Valley School District, said the districts violated their First Amendment rights, retaliating against them for comments made on their personal Facebook pages.
In Bennett’s case, she said she was forced to resign after a June 24 post that criticized Black Lives Matter, in the wake of national protests over the police killing of George Floyd. “I’m just trying to figure out WHICH black lives matter,” said the post, which someone else wrote but Bennett shared. “It can’t be the unborn black babies — they are destroyed without a second thought.” The post accused the movement of harming Black police officers, and media outlets of ignoring “black on black violence.”
I’m not a teacher or education professional, but I’ve certainly said the same things. The outrage over the killings of George Floyd, a convicted felon with a history of armed robbery and drug use, who was high on fentanyl and methamphetamines when caught passing counterfeit money generated a summer of Mostly Peaceful Protests™, and the left fêted Mr Floyd as though he was some kind of saint, when he was nothing but a criminal and a deadbeat dad. The Professionally Offended were outraged when two Philadelphia Police officers shot and killed Walter Wallace, even though body cam footage clearly showed the mentally unstable Mr Wallace approaching them with a raised knife. More Mostly Peaceful Protests™ occurred, and the story was in the Inquirer for days.¹
Yet, just last week, the Inquirer ran an article telling us the names of the then 466 people murdered in the City of Brotherly Love,² because nobody other than their families and friends knew about them. Helen Ubiñas wrote:
The last time we published the names of those lost to gun violence, in early July, nearly 200 people had been fatally shot in the city.
Just weeks before the end of 2020, that number doubled. More than 400 people gunned down.
By the time you read this, there will only be more.
Even in a “normal” year, most of their stories would never be told.
At best they’d be reduced to a handful of lines in a media alert:
“A 21-year-old Black male was shot one time in the head. He was transported to Temple University Hospital and was pronounced at 8:12 p.m. The scene is being held, no weapon recovered and no arrest.”
That’s it. An entire life ending in a paragraph that may never make the daily newspaper.
Realistically speaking, a lot of the victims didn’t even get that much of a blurb.
Back to the original story:
While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public employees can express opinions on matters of public concern — in 1968 upholding Illinois public schoolteacher Marvin Pickering’s right to criticize his school board’s spending on athletics in a letter to the editor — North Penn argued that case might not apply to Bennett’s post.³
“There is no clearly established body of case law as to whether the Pickering test shields from censure a teacher’s social media post dismissing Black Lives Matter as nothing more than an expression of hate for the United States President, denying the existence of systemic racism, and invoking ‘destroyed black babies’ and ‘black on black crime,’ ” the district said in the filing.
Note that the school district, in its legal filing, cites “the existence of systemic racism” as a given, as though it is not a subject up for debate. “(I)nvoking ‘destroyed black babies’ and ‘black on black crime’” is apparently an actionable offense, as though “black on black crime” isn’t a serious issue, and as though black women having abortions at nearly five times the rate white women do is not the truth.
In Pickering, the appellant was fired for statements the school board claimed were detrimental to the functioning of the school system itself, namely a letter to the editor arguing against a tax increase for the schools. In the cases at hand, the statements made on social media had nothing to do with the operation of the schools, but were comments on the general political questions of the day, during a very political year. Were these private schools, then yes, those schools would have every right to fire the school administrators, because the First Amendment protects Americans against government action. The schools which went after Ashley Bennett and Amy Sacks were public schools, which are unquestionably part of the government. In Pennsylvania, school districts have independent taxing authority, as fifteen years of my property tax bills unfortunately reflected.
While both cases were originally filed separately in state courts, in Montgomery County and Philadelphia, they have been consolidated and are now filed in federal court. This should probably be a good thing, but only time will tell that.
¹ – A site search for Walter Wallace returned 94 articles in the Inquirer.
² – In the seven days since that article was published, that number has increased by ten, to 476.
³ – Marvin Pickering v Board of Education of Township High School District 205, 391 U.S. 563 (1968).
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