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Rally for Extra Credit
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So an instructor at North Central Texas College has been suspended with pay, from one class. Why?

In February, Ms. Connally said, she offered an optional extra-credit assignment to her students in Corinth to attend a peace rally in Dallas and write a paper about the event.

Of course she's challenging it, wrapping herself in the First Amendment. A local commentator on NPR this morning trotted out tripe about "McCarthyism".

Now, attendance at a rally, unless you're holding up counter-demonstration signs, is generally viewed as support or approval, simply by your presence. When rally supporters do head-counts, they don't ask why every single person is standing there listening to the speakers. The understood assumption is that if you're standing in the crowd at a peace rally, you support the cause.

Isn't it disingenuous to send students to such a rally...for extra credit? Now then, in the months leading up to the war, C-Span broadcast peace rallies frequently. Most students would either have access to C-Span, or the instructor could record one and put it on reserve in the library. This isn't quite the same as actually attending a rally, but you don't get into the sticky issues of whether or not attendance is viewed as support of a cause.

Basically, her assignment was dumb. She deserved to be suspended, and I hope they uphold it. And obviously this is not a free speech issue. She has the right to attend the rally herself, but not the right to compel or entice her students to do so with rewards of higher grades.

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