Friday, October 5, 2018

Say the Pledge, Dammit!

There’s an 18-year-old in Texas who’s suing the school district in which she attended school because, she says, she was kicked out of high school for refusing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Texas law requires students to say the pledge in class unless their parents opt them out.

When I was a kid at the segregated public school for cripplets in the 1960s, even we weren’t exempt from saying the pledge. We said it in class every day. I don’t know if it was required by law but we all said it anyway. I did it routinely and mindlessly because, to me, it was just a series of words I memorized and mumbled out because adults told me to, like my bedtime prayers.

Rendering the pledge of allegiance in class was a three-part ritual. We were supposed to stand, place our right hand on our heart and recite. I was exempted from step one for obvious reasons. I was happy to have this excuse, not because I was speaking out against U.S. imperialism or racial inequality or anything like that. Geez, I was only in grade school. It was just cool to have an excuse to get me out of doing stuff adults made all the other kids do, whatever it might be. But nobody let me off the hook for steps two and three. The lucky cripplets were the ones who were so crippled that they couldn’t stand or talk or move their arms. I was jealous of those kids. They didn’t have to do shit during the pledge and no adult could do shit about it.

But today, thanks to technology, a kid like that probably wouldn’t get off the hook for the pledge, especially in Texas. Because nowadays, a kid who couldn’t talk might have one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes. And a kid like me might have one of those walking exoskeletons. And hell, in a state like Texas, where they’re so rabid about shit like the pledge, if I didn’t byo exoskeleton, they’d probably haul one into the classroom daily at pledge time and have a couple physical therapists strap me in it and crank me up into a standing position. And for the kid who can’t talk, they’d probably bring in a talking box with the pledge already programmed in. And they’d make the kid push the button with his/her nose or tongue or something.

No excuses, dammit!

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