High school principal Barton Thorne, from Shelby, Tennessee, is suing his school district after being suspended from his position after posting a video urging students to be cautious about restrictions on free speech and thought that Big Tech is enabling.
Thorne’s comments came shortly after the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill and then-President Donald Trump’s subsequent bans on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.
Thorne in the video-streamed message called the riots “sedition” and “ignorance at the highest levels,” however, warned of a burgeoning movement aimed at restricting conservative speech on major platforms, which he noted could have negative consequences on society.
A warning about totalitarian governments
“Think about totalitarian governments,” Thorne said at one point. “Think about North Korea, think about China. What makes those types of systems possible is the restriction and the elimination of the free exchange of ideas.
“And America, and in democracies, we talk about the marketplace of ideas. Well, what happens when the marketplace of ideas becomes a forced monopoly?” added Thorne in the message.
For his remarks, which were not even politically biased, but rather a call to reflection for students and even teachers, the school principal was suspended from his position by the school board.
The purpose of the video was none other than to call for reflection and highlight the importance of freedom of expression as the basis of any system of social interaction. This is how the lawyers involved in the case Thorne filed against the school board described it:
“If you read the transcript [of the video address], you can see that Principal Thorne was encouraging his students to think critically, he was talking about the importance of free speech in a free society, and he was trying to teach his students that when we disagree with people, it’s important that we respond respectfully, and engage with their arguments,” said Daniel Suhr, one of the Liberty Justice Center’s lead attorneys representing Thorne.
Suspension gives credence to Thorne’s warning
Although Thorne has been reinstated, he is still suing the school district over the suspension. In a complaint filed this week, Thorne’s attorneys argued that Thorne’s statements were within the protected bounds of Shelby County Schools policy and that the school should be required to acknowledge that his suspension “violated the First Amendment” and that the school district “breached its contract” with Thorne over the suspension.
The school board’s decision to suspend Thorne rightly lends credence to his speech. The culture of cancellation and censorship has spread throughout all walks of life. The leftist sectors are using the argument of confronting hate speech to silence conservative voices, and they are actually attacking freedom of speech itself. This is reflected in social networks, in the media, and in educational centers as a common currency.