I appreciated the Press Herald’s eloquent editorial in support of the South Portland High School students bravely advocating for the right to decide whether or not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (“Our View: South Portland students give lesson in patriotism,” Feb. 26).

These students are displaying just the kind of critical thinking that our schools ought to be teaching and encouraging.

It has been interesting to see the range of community responses to this issue, including the tortured logic of those who argue that depriving people of basic freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom from governmental endorsement of religion – is the way to show our appreciation for American freedoms.

Throughout history, it is dissent, not conformity, that has led to expansions of liberty and human rights. These young women are to be commended for their willingness to question authority and to take a principled stand for an unpopular position.

Mary Murphy

Portland