Remington Reimer—valedictorian of this year’s Joshua (Tex.) High School senior class—did as he was asked and gave the text of his graduation-ceremony speech to school officials for approval.
The caveat? Any deviation from the prepared remarks would result in the podium microphone being turned off.
Apparently, Reimer deviated the other night…and the whole kerfuffle went viral.
At first the scuttlebutt was that he started to talk about God, and that’s what got Reimer silenced.
But according to news reports that included interviews with other graduates, his remarks about God and Christianity throughout his speech weren’t the issue; in fact, the ceremony opened and closed with prayer.
Rather, these eyewitnesses say, when Reimer started talking about his Constitutional right of free speech being taken away, that’s what prompted someone to hit the mute button.
“He just said, he was talking about getting constitutional rights getting taken away from him,” Colin Radford, a Joshua graduate, told KDFW-TV. “And then he said, ‘Just yesterday they threatened to turn my microphone off…’ and then his microphone went off.”
Joshua Independent School District issued a statement:
“Student speakers were told that if their speeches deviated from the prior-reviewed material, the microphone would be turned off, regardless of content. When one student’s speech deviated from the prior-reviewed speech, the microphone was turned off, pursuant to District policy and procedure.”
Fellow graduate Zachery Hull told KDFW-TV that he believes it had nothing to do with religion.
“Freedom of speech,” Hull said. “He said what he was going to say, they did what they had to do. Everyone was right.”
According to the Dallas Observer, the Burleson Star newspaper ran with this text of Reimer’s speech:
We are all fortunate to live in a country where we can express our beliefs, where our mics won’t be turned off, as I have been threatened to be if I veer away from the school-censored speech I have just finished. Just as Jesus spoke out against the authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who tried to silence him, I will not have my freedom of speech taken away from me. And I urge you all to do the same. Do not let anyone take away your religious or Constitutional rights from you.
There has been no further comment yet from the kid fellow classmates refer to as “Spock” and who will ship off to the Naval Academy this fall, but the following KXAS-TV report sheds some additional light (although it characterizes Reimer’s remarks about God as a potential issue in the matter):
Here’s a video snippet of Reimer getting cut off…and you can clearly tell (at least in these instances) that it was, in fact, his mention of his Constitutional rights being taken away that resulted in the mic mute:
(H/T: Dallas Observer)