- North Carolina teacher said student couldn’t ‘disrespect’ President in her classroom
- She said ‘arrests have been made for speaking poorly of George W. Bush’ but Mitt Romney gibes were fine
- When student said he had a right to say what he wanted, teacher replied, ‘Not about him you don’t’
PUBLISHED: 22:32 EST, 20 May 2012 | UPDATED: 07:05 EST, 21 May 2012
A teacher told a student in her classroom that he could be arrested for saying something bad about Barack Obama.
The social studies teacher at North Rowan High School in Spencer, North Carolina told the student he could go to jail for speaking negatively about the President – but that it was fine to criticise Mitt Romney.
Video captured the intense debate between the two as the teacher demanded that Mr Obama be respected, while the student insisted he had a right to share his own opinions.
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On the video, the teacher can be heard discussing with students a recent report that Mr Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had bullied someone as a youngster.
The 10-minute video uploaded to YouTube last Monday appears to be taken from a cell phone where only voices can be heard and it does not show anyone inside the classroom.
As the teacher explains the Romney allegations, the student asks: ‘Didn’t Obama bully somebody, though?’
The teacher responds that she was not aware of Mr Obama being a bully. She begins to raise her voice telling the student not to make ‘degrading’ comments.
The student tries to reply: ‘If you’re going to talk [about] Romney…’
But he is interrupted by the teacher, who starts shouting.
‘Uh-uh! Stop! Stop! No! Because there’s no comparison. He [Mr Romney] is running for President. Obama is the President.’
The student, not satisfied with that answer, went on to say: ‘If you’re going to talk trash about one side, you gotta talk trash about the other.’
However, the teacher disagreed. She said, ‘Let me tell you this: you’ve got to realize this man is wanting to be what Obama already is, OK?’
She continues, screaming: ‘That’s disrespect! That’s disrespect!’
The student contends that the teacher is the one being disrespectful – to Mr Romney. This infuriated the teacher.
She insists that the student follow her rule.
The teacher cried out: ‘You will not disrespect the President of the United States!’
The student retorted: ‘I’ll say what I want.’
She angrily counters: ‘Not about him you won’t.’
As the exchange went on, the student told the teacher that he had different beliefs than her and when he asked a question about Mr Obama and bullying, the teacher got ‘defensive’ and ‘freaked out.’
Then he tries to reason with the teacher that plenty of people have talked badly about President George W. Bush.
The teacher answered that the student needed to stop slandering the current President because ‘people were arrested for saying rather poor things about Bush.’
Unconvinced, the student offers his viewpoint: ‘You would have to say some pretty f***ed up crap … to be arrested.
‘They cannot take away your right to have your opinion or your freedom of speech. They can’t take that away… unless you threaten the President.’
The teacher demands to know whether the student was aware that the police do not always read Miranda rights when a person gets arrested.
The student responds: ‘Well, I’ve never been arrested.’
After some minimal discussion on how government officials sometimes say negative things about presidents, the teacher make her case that negative comments about Mr Obama will not be tolerated inside her classroom.
School officials who have reviewed the video say they will not share the teacher’s name because it is a personnel matter.
The woman has not been removed from the district.
In a statement to the Salisbury Post, district spokeswoman Rita Foil said: ‘This incident should serve as an education for all teachers to stop and reflect on their interaction with students.’
Political analyst Michael Bitzer told the news agency that he was not aware of any arrests of people for negative comments they made about Mr Bush.
He said: ‘I think what this broke down to was a perceived personal slight by an instructor against someone she sees in a positive view, and things just went out of control from there.’
Watch video here