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Principal Who Voiced Support for McKinney Police Officer Should Not Have Been Punished
High School Principal Alberto Iber has been Removed for Supporting Officer Eric Casebol
Do Not Censor Teachers for Supporting Those Not Yet Proven Guilty
The Internet is abuzz with the case of McKinney, Texas police officer Eric Casebol. Casebol, while breaking up a group of teenagers at a private pool party, provoked the ire of millions by pushing a teenage girl to the ground, restraining her, and unholstering his pistol when two teenage boys approached. All the teenagers were unarmed, which sparked outrage. The outrage was amplified by the fact that the assaulted teens were all black, Cpl. Casebol is white, and the white teenager who filmed the incident claimed that Casebol ignored him and only yelled at the black teens.
In the aftermath of Eric Gray and Baltimore, yet another incident of allegedly racist police brutality is the last thing America needs. The blogosphere has erupted, Casebol has resigned his post, and the exhausting conversation about the behavior of police officers begins anew.
However, is it wrong to support Cpl. Casebol? Though the actions of this police officer have outraged many, he has not been charged with a crime. The video of his actions is far from comprehensive. He has supporters online. One supporter, Alberto Iber, suggested that Casebol was afraid for his life. "He did nothing wrong," Iber wrote. "I commend him for his actions."
Iber, the principal at North Miami Senior High School, has been removed from his job for the post, reports The Washington Post. This is inappropriate behavior on the part of the school district - Iber is exercising his freedom of speech, as a private citizen, by defending a man against which no criminal charge has been made. However despicable you think Casebol's actions, the man has not been charged with a crime. Nor has he admitted wrongdoing. Until all facts of the case are in, it is extremely inappropriate to punish Iber for defending him.
Like it or not, Casebol is innocent until proven guilty. By extension, those defending him are also innocent. Even if Casebol were proven guilty, or admitted wrongdoing, Iber's online post was a personal opinion. He did not make the statement as a school leader or representative of the school district. Though it may rightly erode the school district leadership's opinion of him, it does not justify involuntary demotion or transfer.
The school district's hasty removal of Iber from his position as principal is tantamount to censorship. It places a chilling effect on the free speech of public school personnel nationwide. Which other teachers, administrators, or school staff will be punished for voicing an unpopular or politically incorrect opinion? When a racially-tinged case appears in the media, will teachers be punished for vocalizing any opinions which are not deemed sufficiently "progressive"?
Teachers and administrators should be outraged by Iber's unfair punishment. Though I think Casebol went too far in his aggressive actions, I do not know the entirety of the situation. Perhaps, when all the facts are examined, the officer did have reason to believe that some of the teenagers might be attempting to do him harm. What then? Will the school district apologize to Iber? Publicly apologize? The school district jumped the gun and should reinstate Iber immediately, with a public apology.