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Don’t forget responsibility when it comes to rights

Don’t forget responsibility when it comes to rights Don’t forget responsibility when it comes to rights

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Last Friday, a group of Medford Area Senior High School (MASH) students held a protest calling for the school board to make wearing masks optional. The students disrupted the school day and walked out of class. They marched on the school property live streaming their actions before being told they had to leave or be ticketed for trespassing. They later gathered at the busy Hwy 13 and 64 intersection carrying signs and waving flags. While overall it was a peaceful exercise of fundamental liberty, there were those voices in the crowd and in comments posted online urging action against property and suggesting protests be brought to the homes of school board members in support of keeping the mask rules in place.

There are many who would celebrate these students for having the backbone to stand up to the oppression they are suffering by being forced to wear a piece of cloth across their face during the school day. They are the champions of those who seek to throw off the yoke of being forced into a minor inconvenience to help prevent the spread of a disease that has contributed to the deaths of more than a half million Americans.

The right of the students to lift their voices in protest is undeniable. Yay for them, for standing up and demanding to be heard. Yay for them, for getting the school board to put their issue on its next agenda. Yay for them, for encouraging people to take part in the government. These are all things that should be celebrated.

With any choice, there are consequences. This is the burden of responsibility that comes with freedom. Being right is no absolution from the consequences of actions.

The job of a student is to be a student. Just as all of us are required to follow the rules in our workplaces or face discipline, students are expected to follow the rules in the school buildings. An employee walking off the factory floor or away from their cash register, griddle or workstation to participate in a political rally would quickly find themselves looking for other employment.

Similarly, the students face consequences for their actions including In- and out-of-school suspensions; possible tickets from law enforcement; the potential loss of playing time on sports teams; and being ineligible for things like prom court.

The district must follow through on its warnings and discipline those involved, fairly and equitably, just as the district would discipline any other disruption of the educational process. While the students could have avoided the negative consequences by protesting on their own time, rather than disrupting the school day, choices were made and actions taken.

Students taking part in last week’s protest were doing so in order to affirm their right to choose. If you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.