High School Student Forced To Remove NRA Shirt, Because Pictures Of Guns Are Scaaaaary
from the the-pen-is-mightier-than-the-10mm-pistol dept
Being a strong, if not fanatical, supporter of free speech sure does make you occasionally jump in bed with strange folks. See, I think the National Rifle Association is largely a group of privileged blowhards who have gone so far past their original purpose as to be a caricature of their former selves. Any virtuous purpose it may have served has been pushed from the public eye by the kind of actions that make me think the NRA is being run by under-fed six-year-olds that found mommy and daddy’s liquor cabinet.
And now, for my next magical trick, I’m going to defend a high school student’s right to wear an NRA shirt to school. A sophomore from Orange County, California was ordered to remove an NRA t-shirt that included an image of a deer, an American flag, and the silhouette of a hunter.
Canyon High’s principal emailed Bullwinkle’s father, stating, in part, that “The shirt had a gun on it, which is not allowed by school police.” Note that the principal invokes, ominously, the authority of the school police – it’s the police, not administrators, who are enforcing this rule! Nevermind that administrators wrote the dress code and that the principal, according to CBS, enforced it. Pass the buck on the shirt about shooting bucks, if you will.
I don’t care if you’re the biggest gun-control supporter out there, you should think this is stupid. And, frankly, it’s hard to divorce the school’s actions from political leanings, because I’d bet everything I own that this young man wouldn’t have been asked to remove a shirt with the US Army National Guard logo, which has a gun on it, or perhaps one of the US Army’s secondary logos, which include swords. What this is, plain and simple, is a reactionary stifling of speech due to a combination of public opinion against the NRA and silly cautionary rules for expression in schools due to recent shooting incidents. And that isn’t acceptable. In fact, courts in the past have said that kind of thing is likely a first amendment violation.
Besides all that, the school’s dress code is hilariously broad.
Clothing or Jewelry that promotes or depicts: gang, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, violence, criminal activity, obscenity, the degrading of cultures, ethnicity, gender, religion and/or ethnic values. (In general, anything that is divisive or offensive to a staff member).
Oh, great, let’s leave the definition of disallowed clothing up to the whims of a potentially easily-offended faculty. What could go wrong? You know, other than faculty claiming offense at something they dislike but is not offensive.
Let’s be clear: the NRA may suck, but it doesn’t make a habit out of promoting general violence and school shootings. It has its problems, to be sure, but the NRA is a legitimate lobbying organization. The t-shirt had a picture of a hunter, not an AK-47 spitting bullets into a series of small puppies. To pretend that there was any danger worth censoring a student’s speech in any of this is as ridiculous as it is dangerous.