Stifling Democracy

Mar 14, 2018

To the Editor:

This letter is about the Pinelands Regional administration and police not allowing a peaceful, student, 17-minute walkout on Wednesday, March 14. 

I am a retired civics teacher and live in one of my most favorite towns in the world, Harvey Cedars, for eight months out of the year. Presently I am in Florida, 30 miles northeast of the shootings in Parkland. After the incomprehensible tragedy I have been so intensely proud of the eloquence, knowledge and poise of the survivors. They have been able to converse with their legislators, governor, members of Congress, the president, and at multiple rallies. They obviously attend a school where free exchange of ideas and a foundation in the principles of democracy are encouraged. 

Therefore, I was saddened to read that the Pinelands School District will not allow its students to walk out and participate in 17 minutes of silence in honor of all of the victims.

May I remind the administrators and police chief that in 1969 the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, passed a precedent-setting decision, Tinker v. Des Moines, ruling that Mary Beth Tinker and her school friends had the right to protest the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. Their reasoning was that students do not leave their constitutional rights behind them as they enter the schoolyard gates.  

Pinelands administrators, you are teaching teenagers, some of whom are already of voting age. I suggest that you encourage them in the process of real democracy in action. Fear has never served our great country well.

Lois Smoot

Harvey Cedars

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