Use of Term “Illegal Alien” Gets Triad Student Suspended

The plague of political correctness has been with us for many decades. It struck down a young male public high school student last week in Davidson County after he used the term “illegal alien” in class.

It ultimately resulted in the school system suspending the student. The account is found at Carolina Journal.

Another student threatened to fight him in response. It is not clear what happened to that student.

Remain mindful that Davidson County is a “red” county. It has been solid Republican for many years.

Here are my questions. First, how could this have possibly happened in a strong Republican county? Second, did the school system discipline the student who made the physical threat? And third, has this been reported in the local mainstream media?


2 thoughts on “Use of Term “Illegal Alien” Gets Triad Student Suspended

  1. From Hanes Bader:

    “The term ‘illegal alien’ in English class, even though the term is legally accurate and protected by the First Amendment.

    The term “illegal alien” is used in federal statutes such as 8 USC 1365, 8 USC 1611, 6 USC 240, 13 USC 141, and 18 USC App. 1201-1203.

    It is not a racial slur. Illegal aliens can be of any race. They are here illegally, so “illegal” is an accurate description. “Alien” is not a slur. My wife was a “legal alien” when I met her, and she referred to herself as such, because she was in the U.S. on a temporary visa when we met and got married, and thus had no right to remain in the U.S. permanently. As my wife sometimes tells me, “you married an alien.” (She was an employee of the Embassy of Gabon when I met her).

    Likewise, illegal aliens have no right to remain in the U.S. permanently — or at all — so they are aliens, not immigrants. Calling them “undocumented immigrants” is doubly inaccurate, because aliens and immigrants have documents, just not documents entitling them to stay in the United States.

    Progressive reporters sometimes mistakenly believe that “illegal alien” is not legal terminology, and write that in their newspaper, so school district lawyers may mistakenly believe that as a result. But that belief is wrong, as federal statutes using the term illustrate, and as the Supreme Court’s usage of the term demonstrates.

    The student’s use of the term “illegal alien” didn’t reflect any hostility to immigrants — he was just giving an accurate example in response to a teacher’s question. But even if it had reflected anti-immigrant sentiment, it was still protected by the First Amendment. There is no “antiracism” or “anti-immigrant” exception to the First Amendment. For example, a federal appeals court ruled that a professor’s racially-charged, anti-immigration emails were protected by the First Amendment against a racial harassment lawsuit, were they were not aimed at any particular Hispanic employee who chose to sue over them, in Rodriguez v. Maricopa Community College District, 605 F.3d 703 (9th Cir. 2010).

    There is no exception to the First Amendment for speech perceived as anti-Hispanic, even in the high-school context, as a court made clear in Thompson v. Board of Education of Chicago (1989).

    Even though the student’s speech is not “political,” it remains protected by the First Amendment. Student speech does not have to be political or on a matter of public concern to be protected by the First Amendment. See, e.g., Garcia v. SUNY Health Sciences Center, 280 F.3d 98, 105 (2d Cir. 2005) (graduate student’s speech did not need to be on a matter of public concern to be protected); Pinard v. Clatskanie Sch. Dist. 6J, 467 F.3d 755, 765 (9th Cir. 2006) (even K-12 student’s speech need not be on a matter of public concern to be protected).

    The term “illegal alien” is obviously not disruptive by its very nature. Far more targeted offensive terminology has been held to be protected by the First Amendment, such as the “I’m not listening scab” buttons worn by students aimed at their replacement teachers, which a federal appeals court ruled were protected speech in Chandler v. McMinnville School District (9th Cir. 1992).

    1. These are all great points, Fred. Thanks for posting this.

      There are some sensitivities within portions of the Hispanic community over this term. But in all fairness, a significant portion of them have pushed the limits of what is acceptable. They decided to take a risk that– in their opinion– appeared to be a very good risk. And throughout much of the last 35 years or so, it HAS been a very good risk for them.

      That does not give them the right to restrict our language– particularly when that language is true.

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