The principal of Neshaminy High School confiscated the student newspaper’s last issue of the school year because editors refused to run a letter advocating use of the word “Redskins.” A day later – at graduation – the newspapers mysteriously reappeared, reports Keith Olbermann. His ESPN show script from last night:
And a bizarre victory for the student journalists at Neshaminy High School in Pennsylvania — where they are trying to stop the administration from **forcing** them to print the racist name of the school’s sports team.
Months ago, the school newspaper editorial board voted 14 to 7 to no longer refer to the name quote “Redskins” unquote. They didn’t demand it be changed, or refuse to cover the teams’ games, or call for a fan boycott.
Administrators responded by telling them they **had** to refer to the teams by the name.
Last week, the paper received a letter to the editor from a student — the son of a School Board member — who said refusing to use the name was a violation of **his** First Amendment rights. The letter included the word and, using the Associated Press style book instructions for how to print an obscene or offensive word, they included the capital letter “R” and then seven dashes for the remaining letters.
Editors say in a meeting with Principal Robert McGee and others, they were told they had to print the letter with the word spelled out, or the paper wouldn’t be published.
The editors cut out the middle man and talked to — the printers.
The letter was removed outright and replaced by an editor’s note explaining the situation.
When copies of the newspaper arrived at the school Friday, staffers began to handle it out, only to find Principal McGee following them and **confiscating** as many copies as he could grab. One student said they saw McGee with a **cart** full of newspapers.
**That** was Friday.
Even more startling, at graduation the next day, Neshaminy students arrived to find their newspapers on tables and nobody preventing them from distributing them.
One editor told me they guessed the school’s attorney explained to the Principal that he couldn’t actually take the papers. I’m guessing somebody may have also explained the 1st Amendment, which protects you only from the **government** punishing you for free speech, and that if anybody in this equation is the government — it’d be the local school board.