A North Carolina high school student told Fox News on Monday that he wanted to "laugh" when his teacher told him he could be arrested for criticizing President Obama during a heated, classroom discussion. The incident has led to the suspension of the teacher.
"Honestly, at the time I wanted to laugh at her, because I've been taught all my life that nobody can take your opinion," Hunter Rogers commented. Rogers said he was aware that it takes an actual threat against the president, not just criticism, to be arrested.
The incident took place last week during a social studies class at North Rowan High School in Spencer, N.C., when the teacher, Tanya Dixon-Neely, who is black, told Rogers in a loud and forceful manner, "Stop, stop, no, because there is no comparison. He (Romney) is running for President, Obama is the President."
The teacher continued to scream at Rogers, telling him, "You will not disrespect the President of the United States – not in this classroom."
During their appearance on Fox News, Rogers and his mother were perplexed at how the teacher handled the situation and Ms. Rogers said she didn't realize how extreme the teacher's response was after being told by her son about similar political discussions.
"[The teacher] doesn't want to hear anything but what she believes, and … if you disagree, you get berated and put down," said Rogers. "I just decided to finally get some proof of it."
The discussion was recorded on a cell phone camera. The nine-minute YouTube video can be viewed below.
The discussion in the classroom began to intensify when Rogers asked, "Didn't Obama bully somebody though?" referring to an incident Obama described in his memoir "Dreams From My Father." The issue in question was when Obama said he pushed a female classmate as a child after other students taunted them as the only two black students for being boyfriend and girlfriend. The question was asked after the teacher mentioned that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in the news for allegedly bullying someone in high school.
The students asking about Obama were immediately hushed by Dixon-Neely who repeatedly stated that she would not allow for any disrespect of the president.
After Rogers brought up the fact that President Bush was routinely criticized, the teacher told them that people were arrested or reprimanded for making negative comments about Bush.
"As a social studies teacher, I cannot allow you to slander any president, past or present."
Hunter said he decided to tape the discussion because the teacher was constantly berating students for expressing opinions that she did not agree with.
In a statement released by the school system, they said it "expects all students and teachers to be respectful in the school environment and for all teachers to maintain their professionalism in the classroom. This incident should serve as an education for all teachers to stop and reflect on their interaction with students."
Dixon-Neely has reportedly been suspended with pay.