Joshua valedictorian finished his speech, but he’s still talking

Posted Friday, Jun. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy Joshua High School’s graduation ceremony went exactly by the book.

Why is valedictorian Remington Reimer still complaining?

Everybody enjoyed a night of constitutional freedom June 6 when Reimer’s off-script speech was muted — not ended — by school officials.

Reimer, 19, of Burleson, an appointee to the U.S. Naval Academy, freely finished his speech. That includes the part where he complained about being “censored” and compared himself to Jesus speaking out against the Pharisees.

School officials freely silenced the taxpayer-owned loudspeaker system while Reimer wandered into unpredictable territory outside the bounds of his agreed script.

As it turned out, his speech was harmless. Reimer didn’t say anything far out of line. But there was no way to know.

Folks, in an age of confusing and often conflicting court decisions, this is exactly the way the law is supposed to work.

We all have a First Amendment right of free speech and worship.

But not necessarily a right to be heard.

And definitely no entitlement to use a public stadium sound system.

If I ran the Joshua schools, I would post the video of the entire ceremony so viewers could count all the references to God, Jesus and faith.

Yet Reimer now has a lawyer — from a Plano law firm promoting religious activism — who accuses the district of stifling Reimer over “the Constitution, liberty and faith.”

Fox News and some news outlets have spun the story as “School Cuts Off Valedictorian’s Speech Over God.” But school officials have said calmly that they were just sticking to the agreed script.

“We have to balance the rights of students with the constitutional rights of all,” said Joshua’s attorney, Rhonda C. Crass of the Fort Worth-based Henslee Schwartz law firm.

Reimer and his lawyer came up with a new complaint Thursday, when Reimer said Principal Mick Cochran talked about writing a complaint to the Naval Academy.

Or, as the conspiracy-minded WorldNetDaily website headlined, “Principal Threatens Valedictorian’s Navy Career.”

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, who nominated Reimer, called him a “fine young man” and said that if the Naval Academy has any question about him, “the congressman would be happy to step in.”

I wish somebody would step in for Joshua.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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