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May 12, 2008

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Howard Wasserman

I call what the students did here "symbolic counter-speech": They are engaging in Brandeisian counter speech in response and opposition to the symbol (the flag and the surrounding ceremony to honor the flag) by using the symbol itself as the vehicle of protest, here by declining to participate or to engage with the symbol. What would the school have done if the students had stood, but turned their backs on the flag or stood without placing their hands over their hearts? All are versions of the same explicit protest of the symbol. Glad the school came to its senses.

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