A principal in a Tennessee high school has been temporarily suspended for criticizing the recent rampant online censorship that has been taking place after the Washington riots – and for speaking out in defense of free speech.
Local media is reporting that Principal Barton Thorne of the Cordova High School in Tennessee is now on paid administrative leave, until the school district decides what to make of the comments he made to his students, a spokesperson for the district said.
Thorne’s statements were not made in defense of President Trump, and he criticized the Capitol Hill violence – but that was not enough to protect him from this type of scrutiny. The principal’s main concern seems to have been the censorship that followed on large social platforms.
According to WREG, during an online address he told students that private companies without oversight from elected bodies are now deciding what information is available and what is withheld from them, advising them at the same time to be aware of the dangerous chilling effect this can have on free speech.
The recording of Thorne’s speech, that is cited but has not been broadcast by the local news station, further referred to the rioting as “ignorance of the highest level,” suggesting it was unacceptable to physically attack a country’s legislature.
But the fallout as far as online free speech is concerned, and the system behind it, composed of private giants seemingly unaccountable to anybody, was also something Thorne wanted to give pause to the students.
“Because there have been times even in American history where a small group of people decided what you could hear. You think about ‘McCarthyism’,” he is quoted as saying.
And as he awaits the review of his comments and remains temporarily suspended from his duties, school board member Shelead Harris said his statements had been “extremely unfortunate.”
Harris suggested that the events at US Capitol on January 6 now mean that everyone – including students, teachers, and other school staff, had to maintain a uniform opinion and position.
She remarked that it must be ensured everyone “remains in a consistent environment that promotes safety, cultural sensitivity.”