One of the many reasons why people flee to America is because of its title: The Land of the Free.
And itís one of the many reasons why I am proud to be American. Our right to vote, the right to bear arms - our freedoms and our abilities to choose. And as a journalist, one of the best rights we retain is freedom of speech.
But last night, I saw someone have her speech taken away from her. The separation between church and state kept a young woman from being able to thank one of the biggest influences of her life. God.
The Las Vegas area student who graduated from her high school with a 4.7 GPA said she wanted to express her right to free speech, which they taught her about in the very same school she was representing. She also said that while most students thank their parents, she wanted to thank God, and there was nothing wrong with that.
After her entire speech was edited and her nine mentions of God were taken out, she decided to say it just once. But before the name could come out, the district pulled the plug to her microphone.
The girl is going to college to study journalism.
So, as a journalist, I thought about my freedom of speech. I do realize that there is a separation between church and state, and Iím forgetting that I graduated from Norwich High School, where everybody knew my name and vice-versa. If I had been named valedictorian and I had a deep faith in God, Iím sure it would have been a well known fact before I even began to write the speech. Everyone would have already known of my beliefs and Iím sure would have expected me to say something about it, whether it makes them uncomfortable or not.
But this school pulled the plug in the middle of her speech. They told her she wasnít allowed to do so much as thank God.
Reports show that before her speech was edited, along with her nine references to God, she also made reference to ĎGodís love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciating death in order to cover everyoneís shortcomings and forge a path to heaven.í
I can agree with the school feeling uncomfortable with that. Not with her belief, but with her decision to express it within the school. Because yes, there is that separation, and it is a different story.
But donít take everything about how she feels away from her.
I feel she has the right to thank God if thatís who she wants to thank. Maybe she was crossing the line with everything else, but at least let her thank God. Just once.
Along with being named valedictorian comes with the right to give a speech, which partly entails talking about yourself and your future. So if you have been named to have the highest GPA in your school and God is your biggest influence and He is who you want to thank, I feel you should have the right to do so.