Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Oregon “Redneck” Flag Case Moves Forward

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 6, 2012

Ken Webber, the rural Oregon school bus driver who was fired after refusing to remove a large Confederate flag from his truck, blazoned “REDNECK,” when it was parked in his employer’s lot, has gotten permission to proceed with his case against the local school district. I had understood that the district had been excused from the case because Webber worked for a private contractor, but perhaps they were reinstated as defendants.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke ruled against a motion to dismiss the First Amendment case and said the suit should go to trial, according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in Medford.
School bus company First Student Inc. and Jackson County School District 4 had argued the case should be dismissed because driver Ken Webber flew the flag as an expression of what he called his “redneck lifestyle,” not protected political speech.
Clarke wrote there is enough evidence to allow a jury to find that Webber flew the flag to express his feelings for history and heritage, which other courts have included in freedom of speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The magistrate’s recommendation goes to a judge for final action. No trial date has been set.
Webber’s attorney Thomas Boardman called it “a thrilling victory for the First Amendment.”

Well, no — not yet, anyway. This ruling means Webber’s still in the game. It remains to be seen whether the federal judge in the case will accept the magistrate’s ruling and schedule an actual trial. And this:

Clarke also found that Webber’s flag amounted to an expression of his personal beliefs, and could not be considered an expression of policies of the bus company or school district.

I have no idea what those beliefs actually are, which would at least help one understand Webber’s position. As I’ve said before, the interesting thing about this case to me is that Webber, as far as I can see, hasn’t made any claim that his flag is an expression of Southern culture or Confederate heritage or any particular historic connection; he seemingly equates the Confederate Battle Flag with redneckism/redneckitude/redneckery. That’s entirely his prerogative, of course, but advocates for public display of the Confederate Battle Flag ought to be uneasy about that.

Image: Associated Press.


20 Responses

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  1. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on August 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

    A tip o’ the cap to Mr. Webber for providing the media with more fodder with which to stereotype anyone who dares express any sort of positive view of any aspect of the Confederacy. It’s always nice to be lumped in with the real Rednecks.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Yup. What bothers me is that most vocal advocates for display of the CBF, all the time, everywhere, don’t seem to be overly-bothered about folks like Webber, or Confederate flag TruckNutz, or places like the Redneck Shop in Laurens, SC, that sell Confederate merchandise alongside Klan paraphernalia. They’ll offer vague platitudes about how they don’t approve of that, or don’t agree with it, but that’s about all.

      But let the elected city officials from a small town in Virginia decide not to fly Confederate flags from city-owned light poles three days a year, and it’s boycotts and petitions and protests and angry speakers at city council meetings, and God-knows-what-else.

      It’s very telling, what some folks get torqued about, and what they don’t.

      • Woodrowfan said, on August 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Confederate TruckNutz? OMG. I’m going to take your word for it as I refuse to Google it…

        • Andy Hall said, on August 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

          You understand, I’ll make the sacrifice for my readers. . . .

          When the Flaggers start protesting the people who make a buck off these, or circulating online petitions against them, or start hyperventilating that they’ve “sold out their birthright,” then I’ll take them seriously. Vendors like this do far more damage to that symbol than any number of Waite Rawls or Mimi Elrods ever could.

  2. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on August 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Having seen the inside of the Redneck Shop in Laurens myself, I can agree that it’s very telling, indeed.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      As you probably know, the UDC has recently incurred the wrath of certain folks who think they’re not being proactive enough in advocating for the CBF, particularly for not joining the Virginia Flaggers in their protest against the VMFA, which happens to be the UDC’s next-door neighbor there in Richmond. What they don’t appreciate it that the UDC has a long, if not too successful, history of opposing the commercialization of the Confederate flag, along with its use for modern political causes, going back to the Dixiecrats and the “massive resistance” movement of the 1940s/50s/60s. The UDC may not have been very successful in that, but to my mind they’re at least on the right side of the issue.

  3. Jefferson Moon said, on August 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Who would want this guy driving their kids around ???

  4. Josephine Lindsay Bass said, on August 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    As a Confederate Southern American this doesn’t bother me at all, what scares me is What you are saying, that is that our Bill of Rights has no literal meaning to you; You are saying Free Speech is out the window in your scheme of a perfect world. You are now criticizing him for calling himself a redneck, and criticizing Confederate Heruitage groups for not putting him down. This guy has every right just as the KKK has every right to display any symbol. If you don’t like it turn your head. Andy are you trying to copycat the Chick-Fil-A thing? We true blue Constitutionalists may not like something but we never will go as far as chiding a man for his Constitutional rights. Why, We never even boycotted that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream place that donates all that money to gay activist organizations, because we know they have a right to spend their money anyway they choose.
    Andy, as usual, you are on the wrong side of this issue.

    • Brooks D. Simpson said, on August 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      In other words, Ms. Bass supports the right of school bus drivers to display KKK symbols as they drive children to school.

      • Andy Hall said, on August 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm

        It’s not easy being a “Confederate Southern American.”

        • Jeff Bell said, on August 7, 2012 at 1:24 am

          Yeah, I heard that a hand-full of “Confederados” established colonies in various South-American countries after the War, where they suffered hardships such as racial discrimination. Or is that a Confederate South-American?

          • Andy Hall said, on August 7, 2012 at 9:41 am

            I don’t know a lot about the “Confederados,” but it does seem to me they at least had the gumption to go and make lives for themselves elsewhere when they decided they couldn’t abide the aftermath of the CW and the loss of the Confedracy. How different from modern, make-believe Confederates whose commitment extends only to whining and fantasizing about a new Confederate utopia.

      • Jefferson Moon said, on August 7, 2012 at 11:12 am

        A school bus driver in full Klan robes,hood and all. Thats a mental picture,LOL

        • Andy Hall said, on August 7, 2012 at 11:57 am

          I’m pretty sure Ms. Bass doesn’t explicitly support that particular thing, but it’s no more of a leap to suggest she does than she makes when she asserts what I or others she dislikes supposedly believe or intend. (She apparently thinks she’s devined my position on the current Chick-Fil-A kerfluffel, too, even though I don’t think I’ve said a word about it here or anywhere else.)

          My guess is that she will be greatly offended when folks apply the same sort of over-the-top rhetoric to her that she uses routinely. Ms. Bass, in particular, is famous in some parts for blurting out the first crazy-ass thing that pops into her head, unfiltered by reason, objective fact or self-awareness. Her case — I think of it as a sort of “Confederate Tourette’s” — is not as advanced as Billy’s, but it’s getting there.

          • Woodrowfan said, on August 8, 2012 at 9:16 am

            I suspect she does assume all the students are white Christians…

          • Josephine Lindsay Bass said, on August 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

            Ha, just andy’s silly opinions of me – this is his way of defending his position so just pay him no mind. He is no good at connecting dots, very bad at discerning and detecting the truth.

  5. g2-132541380fdf5651404aa716e6ac486e said, on August 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I think it was Billy Carter that described the difference between a Redneck and a Good ol’ Boy. When driving his pickup a Good ol’ Boy tosses his empty beer cans in the back of his truck. A Redneck tosses them to the roadside.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

      That’s actually a pretty good working definition. . . .

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