Forced Patriotism in Florida

by Dan O'Brien

This May, the Patriotic Programs bill, a bill which mandates students to participate in "patriotic programs" was sent to Jeb Bush to be ratified or vetoed. The bill, which was already passed by the state legislature, requires students to take part in such activities as the Pledge of Allegiance. The only way for a student to dodge this requirement is a note from a parent. As opposed to being able to speak for oneself, the student can only pass on things like the Pledge of Allegiance with parental permission. Understandably very upset with this bill that mandates patriotism, the ACLU wrote a letter to Mr. Bush calling on him to veto the bill and demonstrating how it would be unconstitutional. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush let down them down as he passed the bill.

Citizens in the United States of America, no matter what their age, from birth until death, enjoy the wonderful First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. This freedom of speech was most important to our forefathers who wrote the manuscript on which we base all of our rights as citizens. Just as we are allowed to say anything we want, we are allowed to be quiet whenever we want. No one has to take part in the Pledge of Allegiance if he/she doesn't want to, it's his/her right, granted to him/her by the Bill of Rights.

If Florida wants to develop a "democracy-based" fundamentalism in which the children blindly believe in the government because that's what they are forced to do from birth, then they want nothing to do with America and the general principles that it has been run on for the past two centuries. What would the enforced patriotism that would result from such a bill be worth anyway? Are the children going to be more loving of America, or are they going to be indignant and upset that they're being forced to recite things that they don't want to? This bill attempts to control the human mind, to train it so that it is a "pleasing" addition to society. This is almost fascist in principle, and truly impossible in execution: the human brain works for itself and on its own orders.

We urge all our readers to contact the following people and let them know that forced patriotism does NOTHING to instill true patriotism, it only serves to weaken the very freedoms that could be the only true inspiration for the patriotism desired by these elected officials. Measures such as this are inherently counter-productive as you cannot force true pride in one's country by eliminating freedom. A forced patriotism is an empty and hollow patriotism that is only seen on the surface as mandated by government. Forced patriotism will only make those inclined to not love this country see their feelings escalate to hatred for this country due to the sheer hypocrisy evident in being forced to pledge allegiance to a nation that no longer respects the freedoms it was built on.

Gov. Jeb Bush:
fl_governor@eog.state.fl.us
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Telephone: (850) 488-4441
FAX (850) 487-0801

Lt. Gov. Frank T. Brogan:
fl_ltgov@eog.state.fl.us
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Telephone: (850) 488-4711
FAX (850) 921-6114

ACLU-Florida:
Telephone: 305-576-2336
Mailing Address:
3000 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 215
Miami, FL 33137
http://www.aclufl.org/

Florida Legislature's Online Sunshine page:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/

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