Put down your pitchforks and torches


Look out, Clay County, here comes another PR stunt but this time, it’s not about prayer at the flag pole or Darwin.

What it is, however, is plain and simple histrionics. At minimum, it’s a contrivance aimed only at making people upset. And, we all know what happens when people get upset – there is a chemical mitted in the brain that shuts down the brain’s ability to think calmly and logically. Anger also prevents one from being able to sit down and listen to the facts.

It appears a small group of students – or perhaps just one student – at Fleming Island High opposed the April 20 event to remember the shooting victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The students have twisted the entire remembrance affair into finger-pointing, name-calling and bad behavior.

It began with a female student shooting a cellphone video, walking up to Principal Tom Pittman and asking him why he was preventing her from exercising her First Amendment rights that day. Pittman explained on the video how the event was not supposed to be political on one side or the other, vis-à-vis, the Gadsden Flag bearing the words “Don’t Tread on Me,” which have become the symbol of the Tea Party.

The student was complaining that Pittman and School Superintendent Addison Davis and sheriff’s department officials were encroaching on students’ Constitutional rights when they seized the “Don’t Tread on Me” flags from students. In reality, Pittman and Davis and the CCSO, were concerned about student safety.

Students were witnessed running around poking each other with the flags and caused a disturbance at what was supposed to be a somber event to remember the fallen.

Instead, students who did not want to take part in the remembrance are now playing the victim and saying their rights are being trampled. It sounds to me like someone has never been told no by Mom and Dad.

Now, enters School Board Member Ashley Gilhousen who is seeking publicity herself. After all, it’s her first time up for re-election.

Apparently, sources said, Gilhousen wants to be known as Defender of the Constitution, so she has taken up the torch for the kids who basically crashed a party.

It’s way too easy to blow the Second Amendment Dog Whistle around here. Just because flags were taken away from students out of safety concerns, suddenly, their Constitutional rights are being taken away? As John Stossel used to say on ABC’s 20/20 newsmagazine, “Give me a break!”

Word is that hordes of folks are already planning to go to the school board meeting this Thursday and attack Davis and the board. However, they apparently won’t be attacking Gilhousen. The reality is, however, the people who will go there to complain will be creating an extraordinarily unnecessary distraction for the district.

Let’s step back and think about the last two weeks. The school board, the county commission and the sheriff have been meeting trying to hammer out a compromise on School Resource Officer funding after the Florida Legislature created a mandate that every school have an SRO. If you recall, the state did not fully fund the mandate.

Now is the time for unity and level-headed thinking because the SRO issue is not truly settled. A lot of work lies ahead for the school board and superintendent.

Let’s focus on making our schools a safe place for children and leave the contrived PR stunts behind. After all, in the end, level heads win.


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