The North Carolina high school student who was berated by his teacher after he spoke critically of President Obama told Fox News on Monday that he wanted to "laugh" when he heard the teacher suggest he could be arrested for criticizing a sitting president.
"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 said. He said he knew that it takes an actual threat against the president, not just criticism, to be arrested.
Hunter Rogers and his mother Gina spoke to Fox News about the incident and the recording of the argument that later went viral on YouTube.
"(The teacher) doesn't want to hear anything but what she believes, and ... if you disagree, you get berated and put down," Rogers said. "I just decided to finally get some proof of it."
The web video does not show faces, but the heated argument in the classroom can clearly be heard.
The argument started when the classroom began discussing news reports that Mitt Romney bullied a fellow student when he was in high school. At the time, The Washington Post had recently published a lengthy article alleging that Romney, as a teenager, had cut off another student's hair.
"Didn't Obama bully somebody though?" a student in the North Carolina classroom asked when the report was brought up, referring to an incident Obama described in his memoir "Dreams From My Father." In the book, Obama wrote that, as a child, he once pushed a female classmate after other students taunted them -- the only two black students in their grade -- and called Obama her boyfriend.
The teacher, in the video, said she didn't know whether Obama bullied anyone -- but the argument quickly escalated, as the teacher yelled at the student, telling him "there is no comparison."
"He's running for president," she said of Romney. "Obama is the president."
The teacher later said: "Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?"
The student told the teacher that someone can't be arrested "unless you threaten the president."
The Salisbury Post reported Monday that district school officials suspended the teacher in the course of their investigation into the incident.
Rogers' mother Gina told Fox News she was "shocked" when she heard the tape. She said her son had told stories about the classroom arguments, but she didn't realize they were this "extreme."
"I don't feel the teacher should have started a political discussion if she wasn't willing to hear both sides," she said.
The school system said in a statement that it "expects all students and employees to be respectful in the school environment and for all teachers to maintain their professionalism in the classroom."