At the April 16 City Council meeting, children were watching. They were in the Council chambers and they were watching at home. They heard Mayor Whalen encourage respect for each person who would speak on the agenda item regarding the Laguna Beach police cars’ painting. They heard speakers invoke respect for the US flag and our country. So, what did these children learn about respect from the adults who were present that night?
They learned that the rules of City Council proceedings, a representation of our democracy and freedoms, do not need to be respected:
- The audience continued to applaud, shout, and hoot after being instructed repeatedly by the mayor to refrain.
- Speakers continued to speak to the audience, rather than speaking to the Council, after being instructed repeatedly by the mayor to speak to the Council.
- Speakers continued to speak after their time allotted by the mayor was up.
- Audience members shouted out of turn at Council members who were speaking.
- A Council member spoke out of turn, in violation of the rules, several times.
- Audience and a Council member made personal, name-calling remarks about others in the audience and the community.
The children also learned they could ignore, as members of the audience did, the US Flag Code:United States Code. Title 4 – FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES CHAPTER 1 – THE FLAG:
- 8. Respect for flag
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery…
Are these the behaviors and attitudes we want the young people of Laguna Beach to carry into their classrooms, playgrounds, sports, and other interactions in the community and outside our community?
Barbara Dresel, Laguna Beach