Remember the joke about the boy who got in trouble during the Pledge of Allegiance?
“The teacher advised the class that they start each day with the pledge of allegiance and instructed them to put their right hand over their hearts and repeat after her. As she starts the recitation, she looks around the room, “I pledge allegiance to the flag . . .” When her eyes fell on Johnny, she found that he had his hand over the right cheek of his buttocks.
“Johnny, I will not continue until you put your hand over your heart.”Johnny replied, “But it IS over my heart.”
After several attempts to get Johnny to put his hand over his heart, the teacher asked, “Why do you think that is your heart?” “Because every time my Grandma comes to visit, she picks me up and pats me here and says, ‘Bless your little heart,” and my Grandma wouldn’t lie!”
For a Mississippi lawyer, not saying the Pledge of Allegiance landed him in jail. When the Judge asked everyone to stand, before Court started, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Attorney Danny Lampley remained silent. As a result, the Judge jailed him for 5 hours. In response to a reporter’s question, Lampley replied, “I don’t have to say it because I’m an American”.
70 Years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be required to recite the Pledge. The expected extension of this Court ruling is that no one can be required to recite it. As such, even a Judge can’t require a lawyer to do so.
There are at least two reactions to this story. On one hand, this attorney has the right and protection to exercise his freedom of speech. This Judge should abide by the law of the land, the ruling of the Supreme Court.
The other opinion can be summed up by one Mississippi resident. When he learned of Lampley’s refusal, maintenance worker Bobby Martin said of Lampley, “I thought he was a disgrace to the United States. If he can’t say that in front of a judge, he don’t deserve to be here”.
I guess the third viewpoint would be “Why”. Why would this lawyer feel that he needed to exercise his right of freedom of speech, by not reciting the Pledge.
This story also is a reminder of when “under God” was inserted into the Pledge. In 1943, the Court issued its ruling about school children. In 1954, “Under God” was inserted by Congress, because they wanted to send the message that the United States was different than those “godless communists”. Since then, there have been those that have attempted to get “under God” removed, as a violation of separation of church and state. No Judge has agreed.