Brittany McComb, valedictorian of Foothill High School in Clark County, Nevada, stood up at her graduation and began to speak. A few paragraphs into her speech, school administrators cut off McComb's microphone. She didn't tell a dirty joke. She didn't curse. She didn't insult her classmates or her teachers. Brittany McComb committed the egregious sin of attempting to thank God and Jesus. "I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech," McComb stated. "God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my lord and savior."
The American Civil Liberties Union, which seems more intent on curtailing important liberties than protecting them, praised the school's decision. Nevada ACLU general counsel Allan Lichtenstein explained, "There should be no controversy here … It's important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school, and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech." The school district stood by the school's decision, suggesting that McComb's speech entered into the realm of "preaching." "We review the speeches and tell them they may not proselytize," said district legal counsel Bill Hoffman. "We encourage people to talk about religion and the impact on their lives. But when that discussion crosses over to become proselytizing, then we tell students they can't do that."
Welcome to the federal judiciary's America, where simple expressions of thanks to God in commencement speeches are banned for fear of state-sponsored religion. Let's assume McComb's speech offended some attendees at the graduation. Let's even assume McComb proselytized, and wasn't merely expressing her gratitude to God and Jesus. Finally, let's assume the school district, by allowing McComb's speech, would have been promoting her message.
Here's the question: So what?