I can't stand stupidity. This is stupidity.
The senior class President in Exeter, PA is delivering a speech at commencement. He decides to go off-script and criticize the school for the limited role that the student council makes in decision making.
He does not swear. He does not insult anyone specifically. He doesn't even raise his voice. He simply expresses the hope that future senior class Presidents will have greater opportunities than he had.
The school's response? They cut off his microphone mid-speech and removed him from the podium.
Perhaps the kid should've stuck to the pre-approved speech. Maybe this wasn't the time or place to express the desire for structural changes in his school's decision-making processes. Even I might've been angry at the kid for clearly circumventing the system for vetting speeches prior to commencement.
But when you cut off someone's microphone and publicly limit their ability to express a reasonable, rationale, and respectful opinion, particularly as senior class President, you only confer greater power upon the speaker and his words. The optics of this moment are atrocious. School officials portray themselves as authoritarian goons, and the kid achieves cult figure status.
In this case, his newly minted cult figure status attracted the attention of late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who brought the kid onto his show to finish his speech. Kimmel criticized school officials as well.
Silencing dissent is never a good idea, particularly when the dissent is being expressed respectfully. Had the school district allowed the kid to finish his criticism of the role of the student council, his words would've been completely forgotten about nine minutes after he concluded his speech.
Instead, it became a national story. The video went viral. The kid got to finish his speech to millions of Jimmy Kimmel viewers. The moment will live on forever.