A Donald Trump supporter who isn’t even old enough to vote yet is braving bullies at his high school in Maine by wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap even if it means taking heat from his fellow students — plus some misguided adults on the faculty.
South Portland High School sophomore Connor Mullen told the Portland Press Herald he started wearing the bright red ball cap to school about three weeks ago, expecting to take some ribbing from his classmates, but not expecting supposed grown-ups to join in.
But that’s what happened.
One teacher took a look at Mullen’s hat and disparaged him with a dismissive, “thank God you can’t vote,” the 16-year-old said.
In another classroom, during a discussion of uninformed voters, a teacher’s aide reportedly took Mullen’s hat and held it up for the class — spurring a round of laughter from the other students.
“I knew kids would pick on me about it, that’s just kids being kids, but when the adults started doing it I thought that’s problematic,” Mullen told the newspaper. “This is a school that preaches equality.”
But as George Orwell might say, some high school students are more equal than others.
When Connor went to an assistant principal about the teasing, he recalled, he was advised to leave the pro-Trump hat at home.
Mullen didn’t think that was the answer to how to handle the harassment.
“People wear the Bernie [Sanders] pins all the time, and I’ve never heard anything about them,” Mullen told WCSH-TV. “But I wear this hat, and now it’s, ‘Keep the hat at home.’”
In interviews with students outside the school, the Press Herald found opinions were mixed.
“I don’t think he deserves (to be bullied), he hasn’t done anything,” one senior told the newspaper. “It’s like saying you don’t like someone else’s shirt so you have the right to punch them in the face.”
But another student wasn’t quite as open-minded. Mullen, she said, “was trying to start something” by wearing a hat he knew would provoke other students.
“I think if you’re wearing a Trump hat around here, you know people aren’t going to like it,” she said.
Well, young Miss I-need-my-safe-space, that’s called exercising the right to free speech, the God-given right enshrined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
And Mullen vowed to keep on exercising his right — as provocative as it might be — by wearing the Trump-touting headpiece. Backing down, he told the Press Herald, will just mean the students and adults who tried to bully him will have won.
“And I don’t want them to win,” said Connor.
Social media reaction to the story was as split as the students the Press Heraldinterviewed. Trump-bashers, of course, tended to come down on the side of the bullies, but there was a fair amount of support for Mullen, even among Twitter users who don’t support the billionaire businessman’s presidential bid.
No, “not pretty” when adults act so childish.