A Texas high school silenced its Valedictorian’s microphone during his speech when he diverted from his pre-approved remarks and began to speak about the constitution.
Joshua High School graduate Remington Reimer, who was accepted into the Naval Academy, had his microphone silenced during his speech right after he told fellow graduates that school officials had threatened to cut him off the day before.
His speech began like any other: ‘I’m honored to stand before you today as the Valedictorian of 2013!’
Censored: Remington Reimer, seen speaking here, was giving the valedictory speech when his microphone was turned off because he deviated from approved remarks
Turned off: Up until the point the sound was cut, the speech had been well received
Gifted: Remington Reimer’s (left) classmates at Joshua High School called him ‘Spock’, not due to any lack of human emotion but because he is ‘the most gifted, academically excellent student that Joshua High School has ever produced’
Reimer thanked his parents, teachers and classmates. ‘Most people have never ever heard me speak much less see me smile,’ said Reimer.
He then talked about his faith and God, ‘Most important I want to thank God for giving us the only son who went through excruciating death on a cross…’
Then he said it was his constitutional right to talk about such topics. ‘I was threatened with having the mic turned off,’ and right then the mic was turned off.
Reimer continued with his speech, but some thought that he had finished and began applauding.
Warning: Speakers were told to stick to his prepared remarks, but Reimer, soft-spoken and headed to the Air Force Academy, didn’t follow the script
He continued speaking even though few could hear him.
Colin Radford, a fellow graduate explained what happened to MyFoxDFW.com ‘He just said, he was talking about getting constitutional rights getting taken away from him, and then he said, just yesterday they threatened to turn my microphone off, and then his microphone went off.’
‘Student speakers were told that if their speeches deviated from the prior-reviewed material, the microphone would be turned off, regardless of content,’ Joshua Independent School District said in a statement.
Colin Radford: Fellow classmate of Reimer’s said that everyone knew the rules about sticking to the script so the silencing came as no surprise
Zachary Hull: Another of Reimer’s classmates also believes the school were within their rights to lower the sound of his speech
WAS THE SCHOOL RIGHT TO CENSOR THEIR VALEDICTORIAN?
Joshua school district policy gives these rules about graduation speeches by valedictorian, salutatorians and class historians.
‘The subject of the addresses shall be related to the purpose of the graduation ceremony, marking and honoring the occasion, honoring the participants and those in attendance, and the student’s perspective on purpose, achievement, life, school, graduation, and looking forward to the future.
The student shall stay on the subject, and the student shall not engage in speech that: Is obscene, vulgar, offensively lewd, or indecent; Creates reasonable cause to believe that the speech would result in material and substantial interference with school activities or the rights of others; Promotes illegal drug use; Violates the intellectual property rights, privacy rights, or other rights of another person; Contains defamatory statements about public figures or others; or Advocates imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.
Source: Joshua ISD policy FNA (Local) Student Rights and Responsibilities, Student Expression
‘When one student’s speech deviated from the prior-reviewed speech, the microphone was turned off, pursuant to District policy and procedure,’ the statement said.
Some attendees initially asked if the microphone was turned off because Reimer mentioned religion.
However, since the ceremony opened and closed with a prayer, and Reimer’s speech mentioned God and Jesus throughout, graduate Zachery Hull believes it had nothing to do with religion.
‘Freedom of speech,’ Hull said. ‘He said what he was going to say, they did what they had to do. Everyone was right.’
In addition to being the smartest kid in his class, Reimer was active in Junior ROTC and has accepted a full scholarship to the U.S. Naval Academy, friends say.
In his speech, he mentioned God and Jesus and his religious faith while urging others to stick up for their constitutional rights.
Administrators say his religious comments had nothing to do with their decision to cut him off, noting that other students were allowed to make religious comments which had been pre-approved.
Joshua school district administrators say they censored Reimer because he began to stray from his prepared remarks.
‘At the time that the speech was deviated from, the microphone was turned off — and they were told that, prior to the graduation ceremony, regardless of content,’ Superintendent Fran Marek said.
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