It seems like every week brings another example of the overregulation of free speech in America.
This week’s example happened right here in Little Rock — it involved the principal of Gibbs Magnet Elementary School and Congressman French Hill.
Principal Donna Hall cancelled the visit scheduled for Monday after one parent complained about Hill and his politics.
The parent, Barclay Key, told KUAR that he and other parents planned to check their children out of school and protest the visit if it occurred. Apparently, his view is that it’s never too early to get children engaged in the political process.
Key’s main beef with Hill seems to be that the Congressman is a “Trump supporter.” This apparently makes Hill unfit to address schoolchildren (even in a state where Donald Trump won 60 percent of the vote).
Hall buckled under the immense pressure of the dissatisfied parent and cancelled Hill’s visit — even though it wasn’t going to be partisan.
Hill said in a statement to The Arkansas Project:
I treasure my time with students around central Arkansas. From college to kindergarten, I love interacting with teachers and students. I visit schools throughout the year to discuss students’ aspirations and dreams and the issues of the day, as well as the role education has played in my life, my career as an entrepreneur, and the incredibly important duty to serve that each one of us has in our Constitutional Republic.
Hall later said in an email to parents that she regretted cancelling the visit, but a spokeswoman for Hill tells us that another visit has yet to be scheduled.
While it’s nice that Hall now realizes her error, it’s troubling that — with respect to the Congressman for the district in which the school resides — stopping by to chat is seen as controversial enough to warrant a cancellation.
Let fifth-graders cross-examine Hill on his voting record all they want, but cancelling the visit was a massive overreaction.
I really wonder whether having a Congressman speak to local schools was such a controversial proposal over a decade ago when the seat was held by Vic Snyder, a Democrat. Could it really be true that Snyder never spoke to a roomful of schoolkids during his 20 years in public office? And if he did, does that suggest that the decision to cancel Hill’s visit wasn’t exactly a politically neutral one?
Hopefuly, Hill’s visit can be rescheduled — and this shameful episode won’t be emulated by other schools throughout Little Rock and the state.