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Why the conservative students suing Edina High School may have a decent shot of winning their case

MinnPost photo by Erin Hinrichs
Edina High School Young Conservatives Club president Nick Spades spoke last week about the lawsuit.

Add Edina High School to the list of political battlegrounds this year.

A lawsuit filed in early December against the high school by five students who claim the school violated their First Amendment rights has tensions in the Minneapolis suburb running high.

The controversy started on Nov. 9, when a handful of Edina students refused to stand during a playing of taps at a school assembly, the complaint says. After members of the Young Conservatives Club (YCC) — a student group not sponsored by the high school — criticized the protesters as disrespecting the flag, the school stepped in and shut the student group down, essentially restricted its speech.

That’s how the plaintiffs are framing their suit, at least. Erick Kaardal, who’s representing the five students in the suit, called the school’s actions “a clear case of discrimination against students with conservative beliefs,” and helped the students to file the lawsuit in district court. 

Among other things, the complaint alleges that by forcing YCC members to “respect” students kneeling in protest — and because the school and school board policies regarding student clubs are unnecessarily vague — Edina High School and its school district are violating the plaintiff’s free speech rights, as well as violating federal law, including the U.S. Flag Code.

But not everyone finds the situation so clear-cut, especially when it comes to public schools, which courts have typically given leeway regarding restricting student speech. “When speech by students amounts to threats or harassment, or intimidation, that becomes much more difficult [to protect],” said Raleigh Levine, a law professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and a First Amendment expert. “Schools have to draw a line between speech that amounts to material and substantial disruption of the learning environment and speech that’s merely offensive.”

In public schools, context matters

When it comes to free speech in public schools, context matters. “Schools have to tread on what is often a very thin and blurry line between allowing students to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Levine said, “but also maintaining a learning environment.”

That’s because of the U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which ruled that schools can restrict student speech if it’s substantially affecting the learning environment of the school. “So, speech that keeps students from learning effectively or teachers from teaching effectively, essentially,” Levine said.

Though Edina Public Schools declined to comment because of the litigation, the Star Tribune reported that members of the YCC made disparaging remarks online, particularly toward immigrants. Edina High School Principal Andy Beaton also told the school’s newspaper that while the YCC has the right to voice their disagreement with students protesting, the school stepped in because the comments became “disrespectful.”

Levine said that means if the school can show that the YCC members were creating an atmosphere of harassment and intimidation at school through their speech, then the First Amendment claims likely won’t stick.

Nevertheless, Kaardal said that he thinks the YCC students have a strong case, particularly because of the federal Equal Access Act, which requires any school receiving federal aid to provide equal access to school facilities for any student group regardless of viewpoint.

But Levine said even that law is restricted by the Tinker case, which today remains the test for any free speech claims made in public schools. In the end, it’s all about who said what and how the school perceived it to affect the learning environment. “All of those facts change what is appropriate for the school to do,” she said.

‘A leg to stand on’

Kaardal said school officials also committed discrimination when they disbanded the YCC while allowing more liberal clubs to host protests on school grounds, and by ignoring disparaging remarks made by students against YCC members. In the complaint, for instance, Kaardal displays a screenshot of a student insulting YCC members on Twitter and calling them expletives.

It’s those allegations — along with complaints that the school district’s student club policies are too vague — that might stick, said Heidi Kitrosser, another First Amendment expert and a law professor for the University of Minnesota School of Law. “I think they have some argument that that policy is very broad, and I even think they have some argument that that policy has been implemented in a viewpoint-discriminatory way,” she said. “So, I do think they have a leg to stand on.”

That’ll be another aspect the courts will have to hash out, Kitrosser said. And while courts tend to provide schools with a decent amount of leeway when it comes to restricting speech, those restrictions still need to be applied in a nondiscriminatory way. “Were they discriminated against based on their political viewpoint, or alternatively, was the school just protecting school discipline?”

Levine said she also believes this case could help decide to what extent schools can punish student speech off campus and outside of school hours, such as when students interact with one another on social media.

But both Levine and Kitrosser agree that there are some claims in the complaint that will likely get dismissed, such as that the Edina Public School’s policy that students must respect kneeling protesters violates the U.S. Flag Code. “There’s a really clear Supreme Court precedent saying that schools have to tolerate students who don’t stand for the flag,” Kitrosser said. “That’s just a distraction.”

Comments (71)

  1. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 10:40 am.

    OK, hold it.I must have

    OK, hold it.

    I must have missed the part where these kids sat through the playing of taps.

    That is a horse of a different color than sitting through the national anthem; it’s a blatant and disgusting show of disrespect for Americans that have given their lives for us.

    Now, maybe these kids didn’t know that, but someone had better damn well teach them about the sacrifice their fellow Americans have made. They crossed the line; full stop.

    I suggest a mandatory viewing of the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan”.

    • Submitted by Max Millon on 12/18/2017 - 11:35 am.

      Taps & Respect

      Ironic that you choose to highlight World War II in your comment, one of many American wars where black service members served honorably, then returned home to face heinous discrimination, harassment, and even frequently lynching/murder, despite their heroism and sacrifice for their country.

      America is a country where discrimination and injustice have worked their way into the very social fabric of our society. The rotten stink of it is in everything we touch. There is nothing that is too sacred for it, not even taps. Why should students respect a ritual that is not equally applied among all of the citizens of their society? Did a military band play taps under the trees where black service members were extra-judicially tried and unceremoniously lynched by angry white mobs?

      I’d suggest some required reading for you.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 01:00 pm.

        Dredging history for dirt our ancestors did does not make it acceptable in the current year to disrespect slain service men and women. Period.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/18/2017 - 01:22 pm.

          Probably learned it from Trump

          See the linked story in the other comment.

          Never in this county’s history has there been a president who disrespected slain service men and women as much as Trump has. Don’t focus on high school students – focus on the real issue – the disgrace in the White House. He should resign immediately and be replaced with someone who can set a better example for young people.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 01:53 pm.

            No. Sorry to have to put your political rant in a box, but focusing on high school students is *exactly* the right thing to do. Trump is what Trump will be; these kids still have time to learn some respect for the people that made their disrespect possible without garnering a 10 year Gulag sentence.

            I don’t need to visit the linked story; I don’t require an “I hate America” session to get through the day, thanks.

        • Submitted by Max Millon on 12/18/2017 - 01:23 pm.

          You keep saying things like ‘period’ and ‘full stop’ as though you have the final word on the subject. You do not.

          Understanding perspectives that differ from yours, particularly regarding the abhorrent treatment of minorities in this country, is a good first step. Recognizing their views are valid and that you do not get to tell them how to behave or think is a good second step.

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 01:58 pm.

            We are miles ahead of where we were 75 years ago. At no time in American history have minorities of all types had more opportunity for happiness and success.

            It is the people that find it their mission in life to continually dredge up history’s mud to drag America through, that keeps the stink you complain about in the air.

            It is the current year; welcome to it.

            • Submitted by Max Millon on 12/18/2017 - 02:57 pm.


              I specifically brought up World War II because it was the war you were referring to in your comment. It was hardly ‘dredging,’ and it took about 0.01 seconds for my brain to make the connection because the appalling treatment of black soldiers who fought for their country throughout American history is well-documented.

              The broader point is that ‘respect for veterans’ has hardly been an equitable cause throughout the vast majority of American history. You can discount this as ‘not being recent’ (despite that it was ongoing throughout the Vietnam War), but that doesn’t change the fact that this history affects how people act today.

              I don’t like speaking of it, I speak of it because speaking of it is necessary to understand why students might not stand up for taps or why they might kneel for the National Anthem. I’d rather be honest about our past then pretend that racism ended years ago or that enough ‘progress’ has been made that black folks should ‘stand up and shut up’ when pointing out historical and ongoing inequities in our society.

              You can welcome me to the current year, but what of the members of American society who still do not feel welcome to all the benefits of it?

              • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 02:56 pm.

                Yeah, I know about appalling treatment of soldiers who fought for their country, Max. I was in the US Navy between 1972-1976. Used to hate to leave the base when we were in port; and that’s the truth.

                I still stand, upright and motionless for taps. I still revere those who gave all, and I still deplore those who don’t.

                • Submitted by Richard Owens on 12/19/2017 - 10:20 am.

                  North Koreans stand and march very respectfully.

                  But respect coerced isn’t really respect, is it?

                  You will need to model the behavior you wish to see in others. Their lives are very different than yours, but everyone responds positively to those who are respectful in sitting standing speaking or remaining silent.

                  Disrespect arises when folks see disrespect in the behavior of their leaders.

                  The rise of Trump has been one of public vulgarity, treating opponents as enemies and speaking bluntly about issues that should be humbling and serious. Even neo-nazis and white supremacists.

                  Trump is the problem in Edina too. He shows disrespect for our American institutions, including law enforcement, the DOJ, the FBI and CDC the NIHs and the DOE, which he is actively dismantling. Ruination of Net Neutrality, of the EPA Clean Energy Plan, the snubbing of the UN and the Paris Climate Talks–

                  I suspect Mr. Senker, you have trouble putting yourself in the shoes of those you criticize, for if you knew why they behaved as they do, you might respect them more. These are victims of Trumpism.

                  Imagine living in Trump’s America today if you were Mexican, or Somali, or Hmong, Muslim or transgender, female or a bullying victim. Trump has encouraged all these people and NFL players as well to be treated terribly.

                  RESPECT is not among the banned words yet. Trump should lead the way.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 12/18/2017 - 12:42 pm.

      Indeed, no one less than our President should teach them.

      “Trump continued to talk while ‘Retreat’ bugle call played” (Stars and Stripes, Oct. 13, 2017),

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 02:10 pm.

        Looks like Trump needs a refresher course. He can attend one with those disrespectful kids.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/24/2017 - 02:38 pm.

          Disrespectful Kids or Adults?

          As a volunteer 69-73 (Vietnam ERA Navy Vet,) not sure I see these kids as disrespectful, I see disrespect as: a 5 time draft dodger trying to tell me what patriotism looks like. Who has the moral high ground on patriotism, respect here. The uber-rich privileged 5 time draft dodger that puts down gold star families, or the blue collar kid that volunteered and served his country honorably during time of conflict?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 01:37 pm.

      All this talk about “sacrifice”

      All this talk about honoring “sacrifice” from the same folks who are always whining about having to pay taxes just burns the cockles of my heart. It’s too bad we live in a free country where one person’s patriotism can be another’s fascism.

  2. Submitted by Shaina Brassard on 12/18/2017 - 11:31 am.

    Great reporting from Kris Tigue. I’ll be interested to see where this case goes.

    Mandatory patriotism does not make sense, and is inherently dangerous. The conservative kids could have called for a dialogue about why the students protested, as there are a myriad of possible reasons. Instead they showed they are not interested in hearing from their peers. I understand why the school is not interested in allowing them a platform.

  3. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 12/18/2017 - 11:35 am.

    Individual responsibilit

    Conservatives can object all they want to thee message they believe is being communicated, but ultimately those who communicate the message to say what they mean. America’s treatment of racial minorities and immigrants has been and continues to be very bad. Bullying based on religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation is present in every school. This bullying results in physical injury, reduced school attendance, substance abuse and an alarming number of suicides. Schools first responsibility is providing a safe environment. That is why schools are trying to shut down bullies and those who support them whether it be bigoted parents or hate groups. Is bullying and threats of harm protected speech? If our justice system says yes, our society will never heel what ails it.Frankly it would be better to put both sides of students in a room and let hash it out. Helicopter parents are not gong to always be around to protect their children when they enter the adult world where a person’s bosses and bad habits can get you into a lot of trouble.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 12/18/2017 - 01:32 pm.

      Bullying is broader than that

      Bullying has never been just over the reasons you state. Bullying has been to make people be weak and give fear to the bully or bullies no matter what the background is on each. Schools try shut them down because they interfere with the education of that student or group of students.
      This case is not based from bullying but in the effect that one group cannot express it’s feelings while another can. From the article, this conservative group was shut down by the school because they were ‘disrespectful.’ This group is also not supported by the school. But their actions were the same as other school sponsored groups in which the school has not stopped.
      In the end, the school allows for one group to behave in a ‘disrespectful’ manner while another cannot. This is far from fair no matter what each group believes.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/18/2017 - 02:27 pm.


        When one group’s feelings consistutes bigotry, its not a 2-way street. Intolerance of bigotry is not the same as the bigotry itself.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/19/2017 - 12:42 pm.

          Who determines what constitutes bigotry?

          • Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/22/2017 - 11:55 am.

            Who, What and Is

            I don’t know how words make it into dictionaries, but when it comes to your question, “the” dictionary (“But which dictionary?”) probably provides a good clue as to “who” decides their meaning. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the way it works is a reflection of the same process that is the answer to your question.

            I suspect it has to do with the words “society” and “consensus”: The members of a society (whether that’s everyone on the planet, everyone who lives in a particular country, state, province, district, etc., all the way down to members of an American township, neighborhood or remote village) get together to discuss their views on what this or that word means and, when there is substantial enough agreement, that’s the word that makes it into that society’s “dictionary” as its “definition” — the most widely agreed upon meaning of that word in that society that is then included in that society’s “official repository” of words and their meaning.

            Or something like that.

            If that sounds “logical enough” to you, that may be the answer to your question. Or you may have a different idea about how the meaning of words are arrived at.

            In any case, however the meaning of “bigotry” was decided upon, the most common definition (in most dictionaries) goes like this:

            “Stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own”


            “Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself”


            Interesting, no? Viewing that definition in terms of today’s “expressed political views” it would be hard to argue against the notion that just about everyone appears to be engaging in bigotry.

            I don’t think that’s what most of us think of as engaging in bigotry (the examples of lynching and general post-service disrespect of non-white veterans Max Millon provided is a much worse, much more consequential form of people being intolerant toward those who hold different opinions than you and I arguing about whether or not specific political figures, parties or policies are the best or worst thing ever) but, as far as the dictionary definition of “bigotry” goes, that’s it.

            So, if we agree on that definition, I guess no one could blame either of us for calling the other a bigot (along with just about everyone else who comments here).

            Hard to say for sure, but, when viewed in that light, that MAY have something to do with why finding much “political consensus” or anything resembling a bi-partisan or, better yet, non-partisan, approach to anything is tricky, at best: Most of us don’t like being called bigots and, I suspect, being called that by someone tends to make the accused all but “totally unpredisposed” to have any respect for their accuser, or feel they have any “internal obligation” to give any credence to anything that person may say (about anything) in the future.

            Oddly enough — and even though I have to admit I was “predisposed” to think otherwise before looking into it — your question turned out to be a fairly good one.

            In my (bigoted?) opinion, anyway.

            P.S. On a related note, I’ve thought for years that “The World’s First Definition of Words Conference” would provide the basis for a pretty good short story:

            “Rhaaaahck? What mean ‘rhaaaahck?’ ”

            “No . . . I say ROCK!”

            “No? What mean ‘No?’ ”

            Or, even tougher, what mean “what” or “say” or, tougher yet, “What mean mean?”

            Or imagine someone like Bill Clinton being there trying to introduce and get the meaning of “is” nailed down.

            P.P.S: “No matter what anyone says,” the whole definition of words thing — and the development of the seamless and mind-boggling relative mastery of language we’ve all come to possess — over the eons goes to show how far from the cave we human beings actually have come . . . Now. If we could just come half as far on all this political stuff we MIGHT be able to get some other mutually beneficial and important things done (before we blow ourselves up)!

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/22/2017 - 10:41 pm.

              Thank you for your research and thoughtful conclusion. I guess this proves that the right way is always to thoughtfully check on what your opponent is saying or asking… which will help us stop being bigots. However, let me continue with your analysis: I actually didn’t ask what bigotry IS but what constitutes bigotry which a different thing. Yes, we agree on the definition of bigotry but now we have to define “intolerance” in order to agree on what is and what is not bigotry in each particular case. Is saying “this is incorrect” or “you are mistaken” about someone’s opinion “intolerance?” What about saying “this is nonsense” or “nothing supports your views?” Or the next step: “you are stupid?” And thus all the way to hitting and then killing someone for “wrong” views… Hopefully we will all agree that physical violence will always constitute intolerance but it is much more difficult with the words…

              • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/23/2017 - 04:51 pm.


                You appear to be searching to make something absolute, (the Geiger counter went off this is radioactive), when, it is far more situational dependent. And of course it will vary by observer, and in the end, perhaps a judge.

                • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/23/2017 - 09:15 pm.

                  Correct, it will vary but just somewhere in the middle, not at the ends. So just like we can all agree that hitting someone is intolerant, we should also all be able to agree that calmly saying “this is not true” or “this is incorrect” is not intolerant.

  4. Submitted by Joe Smith on 12/18/2017 - 11:40 am.

    Good luck to the kids of

    YCC. They have every right to state their beliefs, even if the some don’t agree. How about having a discussion on the topic and encouraging alternative thinking…… That used to be what school was about.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/18/2017 - 01:26 pm.

      In That Case . . .

      “How about having a discussion on the topic and encouraging alternative thinking……” Except that isn’t what happened, and a lot (if not all) of the blame for that goes to the YCC.

      This was not a case where the YCC was disbanded because they saw disrespectful behavior, and said “Gee, whipperkins, we need a full discussion of this topic.” What happened was members of the YCC used the organization’s website to post offensive remarks, some of which their own attorney admitted were racial. While students are free to express their personal opinions, doing so with the imprimatur of a school-sponsored group is beyond the pale (and yes, I know about That One Kid who said he was antifa and who made the threatening video. Was he sponsored by an officially-sanctioned school group when he did that? If not, there is no analogy).

      BTW, any attorney who bases a lawsuit on the Flag Code needs to write out Rule 11 at least 500 times.

      “That used to be what school was about.” And here I thought school was for teaching Useful Trades, and making sure kids are ready to be good employees of job creators! When did this “alternative thinking” business start? It sounds awfully dangerous–it could lead to straying away from traditional American values. Do we really want that?

  5. Submitted by Mike Hindin on 12/18/2017 - 12:04 pm.

    US FLAG Code is not a law. It is a voluntary standard. Otherwise Fleet Farm and other commercial establishments could be prosecuted for flag patches on their grubby uniforms. More conservative misinformation.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 12:20 pm.


    There are several problems with Kardaal’s line of reasoning. First, there’s the issue of provocation and group vs. individual behavior. Provocation is not irrelevant, expletives issued in response to provocation aren’t equivalent to provocative expletives or insults… it matters who threw the first punch.

    Conservatives keep trying to argue that the sit-down during the ceremony was the initial provocation but that’s a facile argument because the sit-in while potentially disrespectful in some eyes, wasn’t an attack on fellow students. Students in public schools have to live with diversity, they don’t get to demand or enforce conformity. In other words, schools cannot enforce a “flag code”, and frankly, it’s ridiculous to suggest they could. We have multiple rulings confirming the fact that student cannot be required to pledge allegiance for instance.

    We also have several existing legal precedents going back decades that give school administrators wide latitude and authority regarding student conduct in public schools, as well as establishing restrictions to authority. Students cannot be compelled to participate in school ceremonies be they religious or “patriotic”. The “demonstration” i.e. sit-down, was a perfectly legal exercise of civil rights by the students, and an exercise that is protected by law. Some have accused the protesters of being disruptive, but that was a judgment for school officials at the time, and no student group is entitled to step in and try to discipline other students for being disrupting in any event.

    We also have multiple court rulings establishing the limits of student speech in public schools and responsibility of administrators to limit student speech. These rulings go all the way back to the 60s and have been upheld multiple times in courts all over the country. In general, student expression must be respectful of students and teachers, and not disruptive to educational environment. If speech or behavior violates those expectations, school officials can block, ban, or otherwise limit and prohibit that behavior, and sanction offenders.

    One can distinguish therefore between behavior that disrupts and event, like a ceremony, and behavior that disrupts the school environment itself. Even if we decide that the sit-down was “disruptive”, the disruption was limited to THAT event. YCC attacks on fellow students AFTER the event reached into the general environment, and were targeted attacks on fellow students, not protests against policy or ceremony. Appropriate behavior would be to express disagreement with the protesters, i.e. “we think they were being rude and disrespectful”, but attacks, i.e. “Go back to where you came from” are hostile. One can easily see the difference between speech that expresses a different point of view, and speech (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) that creates or has the potential to create a hostile environment for fellow students.

    We can also distinguish between individual and student group behavior. Some conservative students have reported individual acts of hostility, such as insults regarding Trump t-shirts etc. Those actions are not actually comparable to the YCC activity, and certainly were not authorized or condoned by school officials. The YCC hostility to fellow students was organized around their student group, and a conservative ideology, it wasn’t random individual reactions to “Hillary” t-shirts or whatever. Insults and remarks on a students group webpage are not the equivalent of individual insults. Speech on a groups webpage can reasonably infer group endorsement, so unless one of the “liberal” student groups initiated attacks on “conservatives” Kardaal is promoting false equivalencies if he’s comparing individual acts in the hallway to YCC conduct.

    Surely being the brunt of insults for ones t-shirt is not pleasant, but I think it’s safe to assume that the Edina High School nor it’s officials condone such insults. We know that toxic student behavior such as bullying and threats are an ongoing problem our school officials are trying to address on a daily basis. We EXPECT the school to intervene in such instances if and when they become aware of them. The problem with Kardaal’s complaint is he’s arguing that we shouldn’t expect any intervention when his clients engage in hostile behavior.

    Yes, we’ve had “conservative” groups like the Center for the American Experiment attacking Edina Schools, fellow Americans, and everyone else they disagree with for decades now. The problem is that at the end of the day such conservatives are arguing that the expectation we tolerate different opinions, genders, skin colors, religions, non-religions, and science in our schools (and elsewhere) is creates a hostile environment for conservatives. Apparently and intolerant environment populated by mostly white Christians with bizarre notions of patriotism are the only environments that aren’t “hostile” to conservatives. It’s unfortunate that such environments cannot exist in free countries and public school within free countries, but there you have it. Simply living in a free country makes conservatives victims of oppression.

    Finally we have the problem of legal remedies. Kardaal and others should know that even if they prevail somehow, the remedy isn’t necessarily to re-instate the YCC, it could be to ban the “liberal” clubs Kardaal is complaining about; hardly a victory for free speech but certainly the most prudent option for risk averse administrators.

  7. Submitted by Tim Milner on 12/18/2017 - 12:22 pm.

    The issue I continue to have with this situation

    is that it came to light after a 3rd party published private on line conversations of several members of the YCC that were held off site and outside of school hours.

    To be sure, I am not a YCC supporter and find their views very troubling. But is this not a serious over reach by the school district? Is student behavior outside the classroom a responsibility for the school? I hope not – because our educational resources will never be enough to cover that and teach kids at the same time.

    But if we are going down that path, I find this statement even more troubling

    “by ignoring disparaging remarks made by students against YCC members. In the complaint, for instance, Kaardal displays a screenshot of a student insulting YCC members on Twitter and calling them expletives.”

    which is EXACTLY what the YCC did and when exposed, the school took action. But no action has yet been taken on the student with the “Hate” speech on the YCC. Why is that student being handled differently? Lack of consistency is what fuels the fire and makes people have doubts on the integrity of what the district is doing.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome. It may result in some substantial changes ie Plano TX.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 01:21 pm.

      The problem with your complaint

      If the school was in a position to shut down the YCC website, that website cannot have been a truly third party off-campus space. The school must have some relationship with that website in order to shut it down. We can make a prima facie assumption that this wasn’t purely off campus conduct because the school shut it down. Any school that tried to shut down an anarchist website would simply embarrass themselves for instance. It’s like anything else, including Minnpost comments, you may be sitting in your living room when write these comments but that doesn’t mean you get post whatever want.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 12/18/2017 - 01:40 pm.


      It seems that the fact that it is a ‘conservative’ group that is in trouble, many of the reactions are that they started all of this so they don’t get to have a First Amendment right to their speech.
      Take out conservative and liberal from the label and it comes down to one group is being punished for actions that another group has previously done and not punished.
      The political leanings matter not in this but seem to matter quite a bit with many. If a ‘liberal’ group was punished for doing something a ‘conservative’ group was allowed to do, that’s not fair either. Not sure why some seem to think the conservative group in this situation should be punished for doing something that has been allowed by other groups.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 02:21 pm.


        Almost all of the court cases setting precedent here are schools applying limits to “liberal” speech. Tinker vs. Des Moines for instance established that schools have the right to limit anti-war displays, the case involved student wearing anti-war arm bands. The fact is that liberal students and minority students have more frequently been the targets of school discipline. And in THIS particular case, NO liberal group or club engaged in the same behavior the YCC engaged in.

        This isn’t about liberals or conservatives, it’s about toxic behavior. And not student, liberal or conservative, have a “right” to such behavior in our public schools.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/18/2017 - 02:32 pm.


        Because the problem isn’t the politics. Its the abusive and racist behavior. And again, standing up to the YCC’s racist and abusive behavior – even in a crude way – is not the equivalent of that behavior itself.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/18/2017 - 01:46 pm.

      “Why is that student being handled differently?”

      That student was not acting as a part of a school-sponsored organization, nor was he using a school-provided Twitter account.

      • Submitted by Tim Milner on 12/18/2017 - 08:52 pm.

        Some clarification is in order

        RB – I think some clarification is in order because what you wrote is not the whole story as I have read it.

        The YCC did indeed have an Edina Twitter account as you said. However, the perceived (and I am using perceived as that is how the police described it) offensive and racist messages were not Twitter account postings but part of a “GroupMe” message app that is NOT supported or provided by the Edina school system. My understanding is that GroupMe is designed as a private message system used by invited members.

        It was these exchanged private messages in the club’s “GroupMe” app that were later leaked by an anonymous Twitter account known as the EHS Antifascists who threatened to expose the names of the students. That’s what got the Edina police involved.

        Again, I deplore the whole situation and don’t find myself overly sympathetic to the YCC, parents or lawyers. Their money would be better spent elsewhere.

        But I am concerned about rights, privacy and process. It’s very important where this communication took place.

        If the students violated policy on their school sponsored Twitter account – the district’s actions were not only warranted by urgently needed

        However, as I have found it in print, the comments seem to have been made not on Twitter but on GroupMe, a private messaging system not sponsored or provided by the Edina schools. If so, we have a far different situation. Because at that point, we start dangerously treading on people’s rights to privacy and their ability to think as they wish in their own personal lives.

        So RB – is what I have said above factual? Or can you share more detailed information?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/19/2017 - 08:47 am.

          Thank you Tim

          If this is indeed an accurate account of the events leading the disciplinary action, it’s a much needed clarification. However, your clarification highlights the difficulty local reporters seem to have when it comes to complex stories. The impulse, and I think it was a lazy impulse, was to assume that the lawsuit itself was the story rather than the complex events leading up the lawsuit.

          On the other hand, if your account is accurate, the complaints about liberal bias still miss the mark by a wide margin because whether the school acted properly or not, it was the content of the comments on GroupMe not the conservative orientation of the group that triggered the sanctions.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/19/2017 - 10:46 am.

          Clarification Appreciated

          Thank you–I was under the impression that the offensive comments were posted on a site authorized or maintained by the school. Yes, if this was just a group of students using their own resources to make these remarks in private, the school has no cause to disband their group or discipline the students.

  8. Submitted by Wes Davey on 12/18/2017 - 01:08 pm.

    Disrespect of the flag? You see it everyday by those who have a flag decal on the back of their car or a flag on their license plates. In the wintertime those vehicular flags are often covered with dirty road slush, and in the summer the front plates plastered with the state bird (mosquitoes); in either of those cases a reasonable person might wonder where the respect of the flag is.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 01:43 pm.


      I don’t exactly feel the love when I see a bunch of intolerant racists waving the flag. Kind of a mixed message if you ask me.

    • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 02:14 pm.

      US military uniforms sport American flag patches; sometimes they get muddy….and bloody.

      They being disrespectful, too?

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/18/2017 - 02:30 pm.


        That might be the strawman of the year comment on Minnpost.

        Yes, flags on military uniforms (which are permitted under the flag code) are just like people (civilians) who wear the flag on their clothes.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/18/2017 - 02:30 pm.


        One can compare to a flag waving KKK guy to a Marine in combat if you want… but I’m not sure one can claim to the great patriot in the room having made that comparison.

        • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/18/2017 - 03:06 pm.

          You can make that comparison if you want; no one else is.

          I concur; it precludes any claim to patriotism, which clearly isn’t much of a deterrent to some.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/18/2017 - 02:48 pm.

        Walking into a machine gun barrage = a dirty license plate?

        Do you ever listen to yourselves?


  9. Submitted by Cornel Culp on 12/18/2017 - 09:33 pm.

    I foresee another “Belle Plain Satan Box” decision coming

    I can only suggest this bit of wisdom to Mr. Kaardal and company.
    “Careful what you ask for, you might get it”

    The constitution is a very pesky document. Just ask the people of Belle Plain. If the Satan Box is ever put in that open public space, I’ll have a new bucket list place to visit.
    The situation the YCC is creating is probably going to lead to a similar outcome (no one is going to like it).

  10. Submitted by Joe Musich on 12/18/2017 - 11:04 pm.

    As the flag…

    is being waved by some and the individual stories behind it get lost, my father and my brother both combat veterans would not have sided with YCC group. And likely would have labeled them as deluded. And even more likely as tools or victims of their parents indoctrination. All the vets I know in my limited life would have felt and thought the same. But these are anecdotes. Maybe some data regarding a long term gathering of data vets viewpoints regarding flag waving is in order. Otherwise defense of the YCC viewpoint is only opinion.

  11. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/19/2017 - 12:44 pm.

    Let me state a few facts. First, people who do not stand up for the flag or taps not only show disrespect to the flag, country, military, and fallen soldiers, but they also show disrespect to all those who do stand up; so behavior of those sitting was disrespectful towards their piers which the school should have acknowledged. Second, people who sit do have the freedom to do it but those who criticize them also have that freedom. And third, even though those sitting have the right (in a public setting) to do so without fear of repercussion, they do not have the right to be respected for that so Edina school policy requiring “that students must respect kneeling protesters” is not dictated by the Supreme Court decision.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 12/19/2017 - 02:40 pm.

      These are not facts.

      You say not standing up for the flag shows disrespect for the country. I say standing up for the flag shows disrespect for the country. Whose reasoning is more sound? Depends on the reasoning.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/19/2017 - 10:17 pm.

        Historically, standing for a country’s flag and anthem was a show of respect for that country – I am not aware of any exceptions. Standing for taps is the same – everyone understand it as a show of respect for fallen soldiers.

        • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 12/21/2017 - 09:22 am.

          You moved the goalpost.

          You stated it was a fact that not standing for the flag shows disrespect for the country. I replied that this is not a fact, but a proposition, that must be supported by reasoning.

          Now you are saying it is a fact that historically, it is understood that not standing for the flag shows disrespect for the country. You are correct, this is a fact. It is in fact true that not standing for the flag is considered by society at large to show disrespect for the county. But the statement that most consider not standing to be a show of disrespect is entirely different from the statement that it actually is a show of disrespect. Whether it is, is not a fact but a proposition. And further, of course, many views held by society at large on such propositions have no reasoned basis. Note that I invited your reasoning in support of that proposition, and you offered none.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/21/2017 - 10:32 pm.

            “But the statement that most consider not standing to be a show of disrespect is entirely different from the statement that it actually is a show of disrespect” No it is not. If most consider that it is polite to say Hi when you meet people, it is actually polite to say Hi when you meet people… For those kinds of things, whatever most people consider is what it is.

            • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 12/22/2017 - 10:20 am.

              You have just stated

              your support for Totalitarianism. If the propaganda is effective enough to cause most people to believe something, then that something becomes the truth.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/22/2017 - 10:41 pm.

                You have an interesting point: if the propaganda is effective enough for most people to believe in something that something does become the truth. Of course, one has to be outside of that propaganda influence in order to see that this is just propaganda. North Korea is as close to this as it can be: Many if not most North Koreans do believe that Kim is the greatest person on Earth (of course, it also helps that those who don’t believe in it are publicly executed).

                However, your being correct in this does not mean that I support totalitarianism. First, I stated the fact that what most people believe in is how it is without stating whether it is good or bad. And second, in the case of what we are discussing (standing for the taps and saying hi to people) propaganda plays no role…

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/19/2017 - 12:45 pm.

    Now, again, this piece doesn’t give examples of what members of the YCC said either, just as the previous one didn’t. By now I am starting to get a sneaking suspicion that they really didn’t say anything that bad… And of course, it seems that the school antifa was not very respectful either…

    So how do people here “know” what happened even though the article really doesn’t give a clue about who did what.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/19/2017 - 01:45 pm.

      “Sneaking Suspicion”

      This is from the Edina Zephyrus, the Edina High School student news site:

      The day after the assembly, tweets were sent out by an anonymous Twitter account named “EHS Anti-Fascists.” These tweets consisted of screenshots from the YCC “GroupMe,” a platform for online group chats, discussing the protest. While some messages were simply criticising the intent of the protest, others displayed blatant racism. One member singled out a protester specifically saying, “he can barely speak English.” Another message said of the protesters, “at least we can relish in the fact that none of them are going to college and won’t amount to anything.” More messages called the protesters “crazy” and “stupid” and suggested the protesters should leave the United States saying, “let’s all do something nice and pitch in for a plane ticket.” One of the unnamed protesters described her reaction to seeing these comments. “I am completely disappointed and not surprised at the comments and messages Young Conservative Club keeps making. They are using their political platform for their racist views.” Another protester said, “I have known these kids since middle school, I didn’t know they had the capability to say these things. Reading the messages made me cry.” When contacted, the YCC declined to comment.

  13. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/19/2017 - 04:18 pm.


    Difficult to understand where my rights end, and yours begin. However, there is a certain level of consciousness that some folks don’t understand. There was a line in the Imitation Game, about bullies, went like this: “Do you know why people like violence?, because it makes them feel good.”
    So, the moral of the story from this perspective suggests, that rather than kick, bully, those that are already down, different, to make yourself feel good, (no you really aren’t getting screwed out of anything, by someone else kneeling, what have you lost?) perhaps better to understand their cause and determine if it is just. Pushing already downtrodden folks under the bus to make yourself feel superior is neither, moral. ethical, or spiritual, Folks are asking for help, and instead you kick them under the bus? As clearly spelled out by the framers “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union……………”
    “Food for thought”

  14. Submitted by Mary Gustafson on 12/20/2017 - 11:49 am.

    Since when

    is Taps sacred? I like when it’s played and find it a moving tribute. But it’s just a tribute. See the VA’s info on Taps in the .pdf below. Taps originated as a French bugle call to basically close the bar. Now it is used for a number of things including the end of the day.

    I’m still going to find Taps moving as well as stand for the flag and the National anthem but please don’t make every bugle call something sacred. I find no connection between Taps and the sacrifice anyone has made for their country. There are so many other ways to respect and honor the fallen.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/20/2017 - 10:48 pm.

      No one said that Taps is sacred but it’s played in memory of the fallen soldiers in America so it must be respected.

      • Submitted by Mary Gustafson on 12/21/2017 - 11:54 am.

        Okay…not sacred, but….

        What does standing up have to do with respecting something? I respect many people, places and things . I stand up for some and sit for others. Not standing doesn’t equal disrespecting unless you’re saying that Taps is somehow specifically special (or sacred). I don’t believe it is since it is also used to signify other military actions.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/21/2017 - 10:31 pm.

          It’s all based on what customarily. It is standard and customarily to stand for flag raising, anthem, and military taps to show respect (consequently, not standing shows disrespect). But the main thing, it is customarily to stand if everyone else is standing for something and you don’t need to know why – when in Rome, do as Romans do.

          • Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/22/2017 - 01:34 pm.

            When in Rome (or Berlin, especially)

            In regards to “going along to get along” in Rome or anywhere else, it may be worth remembering that there was a not so distant time when it was customary for just about everyone (with any sense of self-preservation) to salute and bark “Heil Hitler!” every time it was called for, according to prevailing custom. The Nazi salute, accompanied by those words, was THE greeting in Germany at the time (the equivalent of saying “Hi” in person or “Hello?” when answering the phone in America) and you can’t get much more customary than that.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/22/2017 - 10:38 pm.

              You are correct so when in Berlin in 1938, it would have been right (this word doesn’t sound right here but I can’t find a synonym to fit) to do what others did – out of “sense of self-preservation” as you noted. Fortunately, the reason to do this (I mean to do what others do until you understand what it is about – not saying Heil Hitler, of course) now in America is much more benign – to show the hosts that you are considerate, grateful, and respectful.

  15. Submitted by Dana Boschee on 12/20/2017 - 06:17 pm.

    The Actual Protest

    I watched the video of the Taps protest on Powerline and it left me with a few questions. As the video panned across the gym, there was a group of students of color sitting on the floor in front of the bleachers (though one young man who seemed to be in that group was standing). All other students other than those involved in the program were in the bleachers

    Did the students get up and walk out of the bleachers and down to the floor at the beginning of Taps to protest? Did they know Taps would be played? Did they move there earlier in the program to protest other parts of the assembly? Were they sitting there all along? If so, why weren’t they expected to be in the bleachers with the rest of the students, where if they had protested it wouldn’t have been as visible?

    How does required standing comport with other laws and rights, specifically the MN statute about reciting the pledge (“121A.11 (b) Any student or teacher may decline to participate in recitation of the pledge.”

    Just askin’

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/21/2017 - 09:31 am.

      Protests in public schools

      Students in public schools cannot be compelled to participate in religious or patriotic ceremonies. This has long since been established as a First Amendment right. If school officials decide a “protest” or any other behavior is disrupting the educational environment they can sanction students, and apply prohibitions. However simply opting out of a ceremony can’t be considered disruptive. And complaints about disruptions of ceremonies students can’t be required to participate in are inherently dodgy.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/21/2017 - 10:15 am.

    Patriotism vs. Nationalism

    Conservative typically have difficulty coping with subtleties like the difference between nationalism and patriotism. What we’re seeing in comments here by ILya and others is a conflation between nationalist, or even militaristic ceremonies and legitimate patriotism.

    The problem with conservatives is that they constantly claim that they have the morals and the patriots, and everyone else is immoral and unpatriotic. This is a false claim. Sending troops to the deaths and disfigurements in wars of choice based on lies rather than genuine national defense- and then memorializing their “sacrifice” is no more patriotic than trying to keep troops home safe and sound in their barracks. Nationalism tends to demand celebration regardless of merit, patriotism seeks to recognize the merit, AND demand improvement. The idea that YCC students are the patriots and demonstrators are unpatriotic is simply facile. YCC may nationalists, but patriots recognize the value and rights of their fellow citizens, they don’t denigrate fellow citizens. It’s the difference between worshiping the flag, and supporting the US Constitution.

    The proper liberal response to conservatives who claim to have superior values or a monopoly on patriotism is to simply point out that we’ve looked at their “values” and their “patriotism” and we’re not impressed. It’s not that we are not patriots, or that we do not have values, it’s that we have our own patriotism and values, and we’re sticking with them. Denouncing racism, demanding equality, and recognizing the historical realities of America’s military interventions IS and expression of patriotism. We are charged as Americans with an ongoing mission to pursue a more perfect union, not pretend we came out of the box with a perfect union.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/21/2017 - 10:14 am.

    Considering some of new information

    If the YCC comments were made, and the exchanges between students occurred on Groupme message account, the canceling of the YCC group by the school could be a complex matter. Off campus behavior isn’t completely irrelevant however, so school officials weren’t necessarily out of bounds acting on Groupme posts. For instance athletes can be banned or suspended from games and teams for off campus behavior such as sexual assault, or drug use and for a variety of other reasons. And shutting a group isn’t a serious disciplinary action, no students were suspended or expelled. The ability to have a student group could be considered to be a privilege rather than a right.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/21/2017 - 12:07 pm.

      “Privilege Rather than a Right”

      Not entirely. Federal law, the Equal Access Act, says that a school basically has to allow all non-curriculum clubs, or can’t allow any. Groups that “materially and substantially interfere” with the school can be banned, but as a rule, it’s all or none.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/22/2017 - 08:51 am.

        Not exactly RB-

        Guidelines for groups and/or clubs under the protection of the Equal Access Act:

        Host school is a secondary school and receives federal financial assistance
        Already have a limited open forum, which means that at least one student-led, non-curriculum club that meets outside of class time
        Attendance is voluntary
        Group is student-initiated
        Group must guarantee aid to members who cannot afford to attend all related events and/or meetings
        Group is not disruptive
        Persons of the community that are not part of the school may not “direct, conduct, control, or regularly attend meetings”

        Guidelines for schools under its protection and/or enforcement:

        All groups and/or clubs have equal access to meeting spaces, the PA system, school periodicals, bulletin board space, etc.
        School officials preserve and have the right to monitor meetings
        Officials preserve and have the right to require all clubs and/or groups to follow a set of guidelines
        Schools may limit meeting times and locations, only if the rules apply to all groups and/or clubs
        Schools may prohibit people from the community from attending student groups and/or clubs.

        The group can’t be “disruptive”, and the school can monitor groups and set and require guidelines, its not a simply ALL or Nothing question.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/22/2017 - 09:29 am.

          Well . . .

          “Host school is a secondary school and receives federal financial assistance” describes pretty much every secondary school in America.

          “Already have a limited open forum, which means that at least one student-led, non-curriculum club that meets outside of class time.” Again, it’s all or nothing. If you allow a student-led prayer circle, you have to allow the Young Communist League. If a school doesn’t want to, of course, it can say no student-run groups of any kind.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/24/2017 - 10:49 am.

            You’re focusing on the wrong requirements…

            It’s not just about allowing the groups, just because the group shall be allowed doesn’t mean that it’s members can do or say ANYTHING they want to do… this is an issue regarding conduct. This act does NOT allow any and all conduct by whatever group may be allowed. Sure, maybe you have let some boxing enthusiasts have a boxing club… that doesn’t mean they can walk down the hallways punching students in the face, and if they do, it doesn’t mean you have to disband EVERY other group. That would be a clear misreading of the law.

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