Liberty & Justice For All, Not Some

There is a FANTASTIC story making the rounds on media outlets everywhere right now, and it involves a 10-year-old Arkansas boy named Will Phillips, who got in trouble in his public school when he refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Now some of you might be thinking “Screw that little brat, who the hell does he think he is?” Normally, I’d agree with you. But this young man is much deeper than that.

He refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance because the ending — which states “with liberty and justice for all” — just isn’t true, according to Will. He cites ongoing racism and sexism as proof that the country is not living up to its ideals, and specifically uses gay marriage as an example that the “for all” part just doesn’t apply. Therefore, he’s decided to take a conscientious stand by sitting down.

When he first decided on this course of action, it was when a substitute teacher was in the class. At first the teacher pooh-poohed it, but by the fourth day she got pissed and ordered him to stand and recite the pledge. At that point, Will told her to go jump off a bridge.

For starters, it is not OK to be disrespectful to your teacher. Will Phillips apologized in writing to the teacher, but I wouldn’t mind if he was suspended for mouthing off like that. There’s no place for that in a classroom and he was absolutely wrong for talking to a teacher in that manner.

But other than that, I think this kid is FANTASTIC!

Look, I said the pledge of allegiance every morning. And I did so because it was mandatory. I never really thought about what I was saying, it was just the mindless start to my day. But this 10-year-old did what many kids his age (and adults for that matter) never do. He actually thought about it. He analyzed it. And he then he took the words and phrases he was being forced to say and he compared them to real-world events.

And guess what? Something didn’t pass the sniff test.

This kid is absolutely right. First of all, it is perfectly within his First Amendment rights not to say the Pledge of Allegiance. And the fact that so many PUBLIC schools seem to force this down kids’ throats is a little troubling. Rote recitation, that’s all it is. Personally I don’t like the “under God” part of it and I choose not to recite that particular portion, but sadly enough it took a 10-year-old to point out the hypocrisy of the rest of it.

The reaction to this story has been predictable from many of the reliable sources on the right.

Shouts of “If you don’t like America, you kin geeeeeeeet out!” and “Send the little Commie packin’!” can be heard far and wide from the unthinking masses. I find that hysterical because the kid is merely exercising a right guaranteed to him by this country, and he’s doing so after careful consideration and analysis. But heaven forbid we actually admit that this country isn’t perfect, and all those who dare make mention of that fact should immediately be labeled as socialist freedom-haters.

I love this country. There’s nowhere else I’d rather live and I’m very patriotic. But you know what? This kid is right. Why should he be forced to say “with liberty and justice for all” if there isn’t liberty and justice for all. Gay people cannot be married. They cannot enjoy that freedom which is granted to the “normal” people. So by definition, that is not justice for all. That is liberty and justice for some.

And as Will has shown us, that ain’t right!

Good for you Will. It must be the name. But regardless of your idiot classmates calling you a “gaywad” and all the fringe lunatics who will advise your parents to ship you off to military school to gain an appreciation of this country, I offer a different take. I think young Will is a prime example of what makes this country great. And futhermore, he’s a breath of fresh air right now and he has completely rekindled the hope that our nation’s youth are not just a bunch of self-indulgent, overly entitled little shits who don’t expend a brain cell to anything not related to an xBox 360.

Stay strong Will. And keep sitting.

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5 thoughts on “Liberty & Justice For All, Not Some

  1. Totally agree with you.

    I am a big believer in not telling other people with to do with their lives as long as no one else is being harmed.

    Related – I watched the movie “Crash” last night. I had seen it before but can’t belive I forgot how outrageously amazing it is. I recommend it to everyone. It will touch you and open your eyes in ways that I cannot even describe. Seriously watch it ASAP.

    Keep sitting Will! Sounds like you can teach your teachers a few things.

  2. It annoys me so much that schools try to force kids to say the pledge of allegiance. Once I got to High School I stopped. Some teachers tried to get me to stand (usually subs haha), but I wouldn’t do it. I never got in trouble for it though so I guess I’m lucky.

  3. I never said the pledge of allegiance. I haven’t believed in God since I was in diapers.

    I think this kid is awesome, a friend of mine & I were talking about him on FB. I would be extremely proud if one of my kids had the nuts to stand up like this for something he/she believed in. ESPECIALLY in the face of all the negativity from his peers, which is no small task when you are 10. Plus, he wears awesome t-shirts. ;)

  4. P.S. Jules is right, Crash is a fantastic movie.
    P.P.S. Like Sarah+2girls, I never got in trouble for refusing to say the pledge.

  5. All 3 of my children won’t say the pledge. Aside from my own objections to the wording. When my oldest was “learning” the pledge I was more than a little ticked off that he didn’t know the meaning of the individual words. They teach them to recite it. They do absolutely nothing in the way of breaking it down to the actual meaning. Instead they give an idealistic glossed over reason for saying it.

    As it turns out, pledging allegiance isn’t supposed to be that deep or meaningful. Unless you refuse to say it. Then its willful disobedience. Ever since then I have explained to my children what each word means, what it means as a whole and how it compares with the reality of this country. I’ve received notes from teachers asking me to support them in having my children recite the pledge. I always respond that I teach my children to only make promises they know they can keep and that it is ethically corrupt to make them recite that without full disclosure of it’s meaning. I have never, in 5 years, had a second response to that.

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