Scarborough: NJ high school "slandering the commander in chief at a time of war"

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

In a discussion about a class project at a New Jersey high school involving the mock trial of President Bush for war crimes, Joe Scarborough said: "This isn't about free speech. This is about slandering the commander in chief at a time of war."

During a discussion of a controversial New Jersey high school class project involving the mock trial of President Bush for alleged war crimes, MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) said: "This isn't about free speech. This is about slandering the commander in chief at a time of war." Later in the show, Scarborough added, "[I]t's not free speech. It's perverse. It's completely wrong."

Scarborough made his comments in response to Parsippany, New Jersey, township Councilman James J. Vigilante, who said on the March 7 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country that he was "not ashamed" of the Parsippany High School project, adding, "And I've got to say, from the comments of most of the kids in that class, although I don't agree with the lesson plan, myself, is the fact that they've exercised their right to free speech."

Scarborough responded: "The right to free speech? They're 16-, 17-year-old kids. And the mere fact -- I mean, that's like me saying, 'Well, why don't we have an experiment? And why don't we try you for the rape of a 6-year-old child?' "

Vigilante then asked: "But are you saying that 16- and 17-year-old kids shouldn't have the right to free speech?" To which Scarborough responded: "You have been slandered by the fact that we're even trying you for the rape of a 6-year-old girl. Just like the president of the United States has been slandered for this trial. This isn't about free speech. This is about slandering the commander in chief at a time of war. And you don't see a problem with taxpayers in your community paying for that?"

Vigilante answered: "I pay the same taxes everybody else does. I just think that, you know, I am sworn to uphold the Constitution of America as a reservist and also as a councilman in my town. And that is the right to free speech."

Following the panel discussion, Scarborough said of Vigilante: "[Y]ou've got people sitting back like the town councilman, who are saying, 'Hey, you know what? It's free speech.' No, it's not free speech. It's perverse. It's completely wrong."

A March 3 article in the Morristown, New Jersey, Daily Record noted that in addition to being a U.S. Air Force reservist, Vigilante is a Republican who identified himself as "a Bush fan."

From the panel discussion with Scarborough, Vigilante, and conservative author and columnist Ben Shapiro on the March 7 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

VIGILANTE: I'm not ashamed of what's going on. I think everybody has to take the focus off of, you know, Bush being on trial and the lesson was learned by the children. You are talking about 17-, 18-year-old children here. And I've got to say, from the comments of most of those kids in that class, although I don't agree with the lesson plan, myself, is the fact that they've exercised their right to free speech. And the comments the kids --

SCARBOROUGH: Wait a second. The right to free speech? They're 16-, 17-year-old kids. And the mere fact -- I mean, that's like me saying, "Well, why don't we have an experiment? And why don't we try you for the rape of a 6-year-old child? And we'll do that for a week. We'll put it in the newspapers and, hey, guess what? If people decide at the end of the week you didn't rape a 6-year-old boy, hey, it's a great learning experience." No, it's not.

VIGILANTE: But are you saying that 16- and 17-year-old kids shouldn't have the right to free speech?

SCARBOROUGH: You have been slandered by the fact that we're even trying you for the rape of a 6-year-old girl. Just like the president of the United States has been slandered for this trial. This isn't about free speech. This is about slandering the commander in chief at a time of war. And you don't see a problem with taxpayers in your community paying for that?

VIGILANTE: I pay the same taxes everybody else does. I just think that, you know, I am sworn to uphold the Constitution of America as a reservist and also as a councilman in my town. And that is the right to free speech.

SHAPIRO: Oh, boy.

VIGILANTE: And I don't think we need -- I don't think that we should censure them as government.

SCARBOROUGH: The right to free speech.

SHAPIRO: The right to free speech. I mean, I'd just like to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes and probably one of the most famous justices ever on the Supreme Court. And he said in 1892, look, there's a right to free speech, but, for instance, there's no right to be a policeman. And I think that same sentiment applies here with regard to a teacher. There's a right to free speech. There's is not a right to say whatever you want in a context being paid by the state to do a job. No one is arguing that these students can't say what they want to outside the classroom. No one's arguing they can't say what they want to inside the classroom. What we're arguing here is whether the professor, or the teacher, in this case, can pose a question in such a way as to slander the president of the United States on the taxpayer dollar.

SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Thanks so much. I appreciate everybody on the panel being with us. Friends, let me tell you what I think. I think we've got a system here across America, where you've got school teachers, you've got liberal unions, you've got liberal principals. They're going in and they're polluting our children's mind, and guess who's paying them to do that. You're paying them to do that, and I'm paying them to do it. Meanwhile, you've got people sitting back like the town councilman, who are saying, "Hey, you know what? It's free speech." No, it's not free speech. It's perverse. It's completely wrong. I mean, why don't they try our Founding Fathers for crimes against African-Americans? Oh, wait. This teacher and this principal and this school district is doing that next. They're going to try our Founding Fathers for war crimes against humanity. They are a disgrace.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Afghanistan, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough
Show/Publication
Scarborough Country
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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