“Pledge of Allegiance” Not Mandatory, Judge Should Reverse Himself
[Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to credit Francis Bellamy as the author of the pledge. I originally credited the eighteenth century pirate Charles Bellamy but he got enough free stuff. Thanks to an alert reader, Ryan H. for spotting the error. My apologies to everyone from the 19th century still among us who may have been offended. Bob Higgins]
Danny Lampley a 42 year old attorney in Tupelo, Mississippi was jailed Wednesday after refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance in court.
Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn had the attorney hauled off to the slammer after he stood mute during the recital of the pledge.
The 42 year old attorney spent part of the day in jail, an eventuality he hadn’t expected and was released and returned to court by Littlejohn who declined to comment.
The pledge of allegiance was written in 1892 by a Christian Socialist and Baptist minister (chew on that teabaggers) named Francis Bellamy.
It was first published as a Columbus Day promotion for The Youth’s Companion a children’s magazine at the time.
The promotion was designed to instill the idea of American nationalism in school children while stimulating the sale of the magazine to the kids and American flags to schools.
I’ve read several stories and dozens of comments on this incident in the last couple of days and a sizable number of people seem to believe that recitation of the pledge is required. That is untrue.
Congress recognized the pledge in 1942 but the Supreme Court had ruled that school children could be compelled to stand, salute and recite the pledge as early as 1940.
In 1943 the Supremes reversed their earlier decision and ruled that no one could be compelled to stand or salute or recite the pledge as it represented a violation of free speech rights.
The tradition of the time was to stand and present the Bellamy or Roman salute while reciting the pledge. In 1942 Franklin Roosevelt pointed out the obvious, the salute looked just like the Nazi salute and the tradition was amended to the current hand over heart or military salute.
From the judge’s order:
Be it remembered, this date, the Court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegience, and having found that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law, failed and refused to do so, finds said Danny Lampley to be in criminal contempt of court.
This is a small matter but like all small matters involving public displays of patriotism or piety it will create a brief but noisy squall in some quarters and generate some good humor in others.
Personally I think all such displays are ridiculous and serve no purpose other than a vain and futile attempt to enforce conformity on a free people who will conform only as they choose. I also know that the picture at the top of this piece chills my blood a bit.
Judge or Chancellor Littlejohn should probably be required to brush up on the Constitution and the history and case law on the pledge and revisit his unfortunate ruling from a perspective devoid of jingoism.