Oregon has its share of interesting people, and one of them won a First Amendment ruling over the weekend. Jackson County school busdriver Kenneth Webber earned his job back after an Oregon court ruled that the schooldistrict could not fire him over his decision to fly the Confederate Flag.
Webber, who has driven a school bus in Jackson County School District 4 for six years, was fired for his refusal to remove a Confederate Flag with the word "redneck" prominently displayed on his personal pickup truck. Webber's truck had been parked on school grounds, and his decision to ignore a supervisor's request to remove the flag while on school property eventually led to a suspension and, ultimately, his firing.
According to the court, that's a violation of Webber's First Amendment rights.
The flag was a birthday gift from Webber's father, and Webber claims that it has nothing to do with any sort of racism. According to the Huffington Post, "The married father of four said the flag had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with proclaiming his 'redneck' lifestyle of hunting, fishing and family."
"I work for what I have. I support my family. It's just who I am. I'm a redneck," Webber told the AP. "It's a way of life."
School Superintendent Ben Bergreen explained to the APwhy he personally insisted that the school bus company force Webber to remove the flag:
"The fact is, our district is about 37 percent minority students. It's fairly common knowledge that the Confederate battle flag is perceived by folks as a racist or negative symbol. The Southern Poverty Law Center said more than 500 extremist groups use it as one of their symbols."
He claimed that the flag violated the school district's policy of anti-harassment, which according to the Christian Science Monitor, prohibits "jokes, stories, pictures or objects that are offensive, tend to alarm, annoy, abuse or demean certain protected individuals and groups."
Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke, however, ruled that Webber has the right to fly the flag. He decided that there was no proof that the "redneck" Confederate Flag had harmed school operations.
"The law governing Webber's First Amendment rights is clearly established," Clarke proclaimed. "The display of a flag is an act of symbolic expression protected under the First Amendment."
From the Examiner.com