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Recently there was a news report of Metropolitan State University professor in Colorado who makes students recite an “Anti-American’ Pledge of Allegiance”.  I carefully watched two different reports of the story both on Fox’s national cable news.  In America we have a Constitution which also includes the Bill of Rights.  Our founding Fathers included these as fundamental rights that are granted to every citizen. Among these rights are the right to free speech.  I am a strong advocate of free speech. In fact I am a strong advocate of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution from the perspective of the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

Do our “rights have limits?  Do we ever have the right to infringe upon the rights of another? The short answer is yes.  When the basic rights of others are infringed by the actions of another, the person infringing upon another’s rights can and should be limited.  At the risk of over simplifying I will use this example.  Suppose I feel like fire is a form of speech or artistic expression and I feel at liberty to express my feelings through the beauty of the flames by burning things, including the property of others.  The right to have a fire as an artistic or personal expression may be protected but once, that person begins burning the property of others without consent, he has exceeded the limitation of his rights.  So long as he does not force another to suffer a loss or violate their rights, including the right of their free speech or right to think and believe or pledge allegiances, that is protected.

However, Professor Charles Angeletti reportedly academically punishes students who disagree with him on social or political terms.  According to one news report, students reported on www.RateMyProfessors.com  that Professor Angeletti academically punishes students who refuse to cite his ‘anti-pledge’ by giving them a lower score as well as those who differ with him in politics.  This strikes at the very heart of the issue of rights and infringement of rights. The founders went so far as to specify in the case of religion, that no one can be forced by the federal government to believe or practice a religion.  States can establish a religion (and one did for a time), but free speech and free religion are cornerstones of the Bill of Rights. Although, the founders were mostly very religious men, they didn’t want religion to be compelled.

So what about political allegiances?  They didn’t specifically state it as they did on the issue of religion but the right to political freedom and allegiance is clearly protected. For example it does directly infer that right in that it is unlawful to compel any person to disclose their political preference in the voting booth. It is strictly a private matter and can only be divulged voluntarily, and only by the voter. This is an easy call. Professor Angeletti should be reprimanded by Metropolitan State University. The state and even the federal government through the U.S. Attorney General’s office should pursue a legal remedy of some sort.  It may be satisfactory that he be only suspended without pay for a time and issue an apology to the students and parents who paid for the course he taught and wherein he abused his students by exceeding his legal and moral authority.

Citizens of Colorado!  Citizens of the United States! Do we realize the seriousness of this precedent?  No one may have been physically harmed and in the end, perhaps only a little illegal academic damage may have been incurred.  What is equally or much more bothersome, is the precedent it sets for this sort of infringement of a fundamental human right clearly spelled out in our Constitution.  What you decide to say or do, or how you decide to act or not act is your “right”.  But if you don’t –or if we collectively don’t protect those rights, they will slip away until they eventually fall out of our reach.  If so, enjoy those rights while you have them, for that are not guaranteed by the government. They can only be guaranteed by an informed citizenry that holds its government responsible.  This is a government university funded by Coloradan’s and Americans.  This isn’t as small as it may appear on the surface.  We must respond and defend our basic human rights. If we don’t, who will!?  Otherwise America as we know it will die and America is too young to die!

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