In America, we have the freedom to desecrate the American flag. And if someone tries to retaliate against us for doing it, we also have the freedom to sue. A South Carolina teacher has made full of use these liberties, walking away with a $85,000 settlement after stomping on an American flag in his classroom.
Scott Compton, an honors English teacher at Chapin High School, sparked a furor last December when giving a lesson on symbols. As Columbia, S.C., station WIS-TV reported at the time, Compton took the American flag down and explained to his students that while the flag was a symbol, the physical flag was simply a piece of fabric. He illustrated his point by stomping on the cloth.
It was an effort to show that America "is greater than the material objects that represent it," Compton's attorney, Darryl Smalls, told a local newspaper, The State.
he be fired after seven years at the school. Compton appealed, and then resigned in March.
But Compton didn't go away quietly. According to documents obtained by The State under the Freedom of Information Act, School District 5 of Lexington-Richland counties paid Compton $85,000 to stop him from pursuing a lawsuit, in addition to $31,500 in attorney's fees. And that's in addition to Compton's regular salary, which he will continue to receive through June 7.
"Prior to his resignation, attorneys for Mr. Compton informed district attorneys that he had prepared a complaint for filing in federal court," district spokesman Mark Bounds told The State. "Based on financial considerations related to anticipated legal fees to defend such a suit, the insurer made the decision to make a monetary (offer) to Mr. Compton. He accepted the offer."
Florida Atlantic University instructor Deandre Poole was placed on administrative leave in March after a lesson in which he instructed students to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper, and then stomp on it.
Poole claimed that the exercise was meant to show the power of words, but not everyone saw it as so innocent. Poole received death threats and a personal rebuke from Gov. Rick Scott. In response, some students rallied to Poole's defense, and a faculty committee determined that the university's decision to ban the lesson compromised academic freedom.
While these teachers may be out of jobs for now, their lessons were effective in showing that symbols can clearly be powerful things.
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