By SUZANNE DOWNING
America has arrived at the next stage in Cancel Culture, a stage where we eat our young: An underage youth in Connecticut has been arrested for racial slurs.
According to the Hartford Courant, a 16-year-old white boy was charged by the Fairfield Police Department with “breach of peace,” in addition to an older-than-dirt Connecticut misdemeanor of “ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race.” Hate speech on Snapchat is now punishable by up to 30 days in jail in Connecticut.
The 16-year-old’s arrest has sent shock waves through the nation’s conservative circles, because we prize, above all, freedom of speech. No right-minded conservative defends the lad’s mean comments on Snapchat, but Constitution-defending conservatives now find themselves in the uncomfortable position of defending the rights of people to express hateful things.
What hateful things? A photo of a black student was posted on Snapchat with the caption, “Why is there a n—-r in my homeroom?” and “Why is he not in chains?”
It’s not the first time. In 2019, University of Connecticut Police arrested two students for shouting racial slurs outside a campus apartment complex, the home of many black students. The two 21-year-olds were charged under the 1917 law that makes it a misdemeanor to be racist. You read it right: The law was passed in 1917.
You can pass all the laws you want to reform the human heart, but no government has ever succeeded in actually doing so.
Legal scholars and the American Civil Liberties Union raised free speech concerns back in 2019, but even though the law is clearly unconstitutional, it remains on the books.
Our Constitution could not be more clear that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We can agree the racist remark was wrong and needed to be addressed by parents (and the school district, if what was written was on school property and during school hours).
But to ruin a 16-year-old’s life over a reckless remark is not going to help heal this nation. The student will live with his mistake for the rest of his life, and the experience with the justice system will likely harden his heart. He is a now a victim of Cancel Culture and there’s no escaping it.
There are other racist groups on Snapchat, most that never see the light of day. In April, one came to light in Aledo, Tex., in which ninth-grade students had a Snapchat group that they called “Slave Trade.” They pretended to buy and sell their fellow black classmates. The school district disciplined the students, but there were no arrests, and that was an appropriate response.
Coincidentally, Prince Harry, as a new resident of the United States, has concluded that our nation’s First Amendment is “bonkers.” Most constitution-loving conservatives waved his comment off as ignorant musings of a royal family member tearing down the most profoundly liberating document in the history of the world, the founding rights our forefathers fought and bled for.
In fact, Fairfield, Conn., where the 16-year-old was arrested, was burned to the ground by the British on July 8, 1779 during the Revolutionary War. We’d like to think Fairfield might take pride in championing free speech, but instead it has embraced the Gospel of Prince Harry.
In the past 15 months of pandemic policy, Americans didn’t fight their state, and local governments that stopped them from attending church, indoors or out, or even going to work. Americans were prohibited from assembling unless they were assembling for race riots. Governments, using emergency powers, prevented the governed from shopping or even opening their businesses. The world was too dangerous, Americans were told, to have people away from their homes … unless they were protesting Donald Trump.
In those 15 months, we also saw Big Tech cutting off the opinions Americans have about their governments. Big Tech canceled the voice of the president of the United States and blackened the accounts of people who questioned government policy on masks, mandates, and vaccines. Big Tech became the arm of government in enforcing government-approved speech, government approved activities, and government-approved vaccines.
A year later, the leftists breached the next constitutional barricade by arresting a 16-year-old punk for saying stupid things.
School Principal Paul Cavanna issued a statement: “We strongly believe that racism has no place here or anywhere in our society. We are working to support those who have been affected by this reprehensible act.” Another unconstitutional action: The principal just threw that kid’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights in the trash.
Fairfield Public Schools Superintendent Mike Cummings also sent a letter out, saying, “As we continue our equity work as a district, we recognize that this is a journey, not a destination. There will be missteps along the way, and while we are extremely disturbed by these incidents, they provide learning that can and will inform our work.”
Ah, the equity work defense. Who can fight that? Where is the ACLU this time?
Beyond violating the rights of a student, the Fairfield principal, superintendent, and the police missed a major opportunity to use this as a teaching moment for the perpetrator. They could have done so much more, had they initiated a conversation on kindness, human dignity, and respect. Instead, they’ve turned their town and state into a national embarrassment, and probably ruined the student’s chance for a successful future.
Take note of this moment as you watch Cancel Culture move into government practice: Every word on campuses across America is being evaluated through a different “woke” lens. Our young students have little room for error, lest they be branded and banished from the public arena before they are old enough to really understand the emotional toll and hurtful consequences of their words.
Suzanne Downing writes for NewsMax, Must Read Alaska, and Must Read America.