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People need to “just calm down,” Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) said on The Todd Starnes Radio Show, a day after cheerleaders for North Stanly High School in New London, N.C. were put on probation for posing for a photo with a Trump 2020 banner before a football game.
Cheerleaders wearing star-spangled socks with red, white and Columbia blue uniforms – were celebrating “patriotism,” according to Hudson, who called the move to chastise the cheerleaders by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, “outrageous.”
Starnes asked Hudson what he hoped to gain by writing a letter to Maryland Q. Tucker, the NCHSAA commissioner, in which he cited a local news report that said the school system had not disciplined any of the students nor found any violations of the student code of conduct.
In the letter, Hudson wrote: “As leaders, we should be encouraging America’s youth to participate in our democracy and political process – not punishing and silencing them. These North Stanly students respectfully displayed a sign and took a picture. They did not cause a scene, participate in a protest or break any school code of conduct.”
While Tucker may downplay the “probation,” Hudson said he would like her to explain how exercising free speech rights violates the code of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, or in her words “creates a negative athletic environment.”
It would have been debatable if the cheerleaders displayed a banner during halftime, Hudson said. But in this case they posed with a few other students outside of game time and the photo ended up on social media. The larger problem, he said, is the chilling effect this has on public discourse.
The “outrage culture,” Hudson said, should recognize there is little honest political discourse currently and to disagree politically could mean dismissal of each other as human beings.
“I hope that in these cases we can all just take a deep breath and realize that … we all have a right to express ourselves and we all ought to respect each other’s opinions even when they differ with our own,” Hudson said.
Starnes and Hudson agreed it’s harmful when students are used as “pawns” to make political statements, like in the case of the the Covington Catholic High School boys as well, and in the more recent situation at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy, Ark.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Hudson said. “Someone’s got an ax to grind that has a problem with Trump. And frankly these kids, like you say, are kind of caught in the middle.”
It’s also harmful when students believe they have done something wrong, and they haven’t, Starnes told Hudson. “This idea that there’s something wrong with you if you’re a Trump supporter. That idea needs to stop.”
Hudson agreed. Further, he urged young people to do even better than the adults.
“You have to have respect for each other’s opinions when you disagree politically, but get out there and test out your beliefs and support people,” Hudson said. “Get involved in the political system with people you believe in. … That’s what makes this country great.”