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Author Topic: Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees
philnotfil
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Oooh, the ACLU will be all over this one, right?

msnbc.com

quote:
On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal's office.

"They said we could wear it on any other day," Daniel Galli said, "but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today."

quote:
But to many Mexican-American students at Live Oak, this was a big deal. They say they were offended by the five boys and others for wearing American colors on a Mexican holiday.

"I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. "We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that.

Apparently the district disagrees with the school administrators on how to handle the situation, this could be interesting, but I'm guessing that the school district will roll over and do whatever the families ask rather than let this go to the courts.

Something is seriously wrong in American schools if you can't wear a shirt with the American flag on it to school. I wonder if they skipped the pledge of allegiance that day, or took down the flags in the classrooms.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
Oooh, the ACLU will be all over this one, right?

Why would the ACLU have to get involved? The local school board has already publicly stated that the staff at Oak High didn't follow policy and made the wrong call, which means there'd be nothing left for the ACLU to do even if they wanted to.

Oh no wait, that was one of those rhetorical questions wasn't it. Did I just stuff up an attempt to imply that the ACLU only represents cases which promote a PC liberal ideology? [Smile]

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RickyB
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"to imply that the ACLU only represents cases which promote a PC liberal ideology?"

Right, because PC liberals just love Illinois nazis... [Big Grin]

That principal is an idiot. I would seriously consider removing my kids from a school run by such a moron.

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DonaldD
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Just to be contrarian... The school has in loco parentis responsibilities that are often at odds with students' civil rights. In this case, the principal may have been acting in the interests of security; we do not know whether the actions of the flag bearing kids were otherwise inflammatory, if they had 'history' with the Latino students, if the anger of the other kids risked turning into a physical (or other) confrontation etc.

Courts have in the past supported stronger limitations on in-school speech by students, so it is really unclear whether the principal went too far.

On a separate note, those who respect the flag and it's symbolism should be aghast at the impertinence of these kids for desecrating the flag. According to section 8d of the flag code: "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel" [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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Hm. It's been demonstrated many times in court that the wearing of clothing which might be disruptive or intentionally subversive may be banned at a school's discretion. I'm not a huge fan of such decisions, but certainly the precedent exists.

What makes this case at all noteworthy is that the school found displays of the American flag to be disruptive or subversive; this causes a kneejerk reaction in some people.

But consider. These students made a deliberate decision to wear the flag -- in fact, to display the flag en masse -- not as a part of their regular day, or even on the 4th of July or another traditional day for American patriotic expression. They chose to express their American pride specifically on Mexican Independence Day, a day when presumably a number of Mexican immigrants would be expressing their pride in their own heritage. The message here is clear. It's not "I'm proud to be an American," but rather "I'm proud to be an American and not a Mexican."

The outfits (worn as a statement) become "disruptive," then, not because they express American pride, but because they implicitly challenge the validity of Mexican pride.

As Donald notes, there may well be context here which legally justifies the school's actions. If you believe a school has the right to censor its students' speech (and clothing) while they're on the grounds, the circumstances of this case do not make it particularly exceptional.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
But consider. These students made a deliberate decision to wear the flag -- in fact, to display the flag en masse -- not as a part of their regular day, or even on the 4th of July or another traditional day for American patriotic expression. They chose to express their American pride specifically on Mexican Independence Day, a day when presumably a number of Mexican immigrants would be expressing their pride in their own heritage. The message here is clear. It's not "I'm proud to be an American," but rather "I'm proud to be an American and not a Mexican."
I sort of agree with this analysis. But my main concern is that they weren't told to remove them because the school officials felt they would be disruptive, but because the Latino students felt disrespected and demanded they be removed (or so the article says). This is where the whole affair starts to stink. It's not exactly the same situation, but it does remind me of the whole South Park episode. I don't approve of certain groups using the threat of anger or their own feelings of offence as a type of blackmail to force speech censorship.

Edit to add: I made an inference from the article that the school reacted to a complaint or demand from Latino students, but admittedly it did not actually clearly state that in the article.

My view of this would probably change depending on who instigated this i.e. what sequence of events caused the school to make this decision. Censorship as a form of discipline and promotion of order by the school is okay with me, but not if it's a tool used by Latino students to deal with their perceived "disrespect".

[ May 07, 2010, 08:35 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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JWatts
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The Hispanic students were wearing pictures of the Mexican flag. The Hispanic vice principal ordered the students to cover up the American flags (wear their shirts inside out) or go home.

To ban wearing of the American flag is blatant discrimination.

I have a hard time believing the posters saying it was OK to ban wearing an American flag would have been fine if a Caucasian principal had banned wearing the Mexican flag on a Memorial Day or Fourth of July day event.

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
But consider. These students made a deliberate decision to wear the flag

Which is a protected by their free speech rights, even if it makes people uncomfortable.

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
They chose to express their American pride specifically on Mexican Independence Day,

Furthermore, you're just wrong! Cinco De Mayo is Not Mexican Independence day. September 16th is. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican armies victory over the French. Indeed, Cinco de May is primarily an American-Mexican holiday.

quote:

Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday limited primarily to the state of Puebla. There is some limited recognition of the holiday in other parts of the country.
The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico.



[ May 07, 2010, 08:52 AM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

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RickyB
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Interesting. I always thought Cinco de Mayo was a pan-Latin American holiday associated with the victories of Bolivar. I think I have Heinlein to blame for that error...
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Interesting. I always thought Cinco de Mayo was a pan-Latin American holiday associated with the victories of Bolivar. I think I have Heinlein to blame for that error...

Was that from 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress'?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Something is seriously wrong in American schools if you can't wear a shirt with the American flag on it to school. I wonder if they skipped the pledge of allegiance that day, or took down the flags in the classrooms.
And (pretending there was school on that day) do you think it might cause some tension if a group of kids came to school wearing British flags (or even better Iranian flags or the Flag the Taliban used to represent Afghanistan) on July 4th?

I think it wasn't the best way to handle the situation overall, and the school should actually try to plan ahead to figure out better ways to head off such situations in the future.

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edgmatt
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I agree with that. The students should be taught that they shouldn't get offended if someone else is wearing a shirt they don't like. This way when it comes up that someone is wearing a 'Go Britain!' shirt on the 4th of July, or an U.S.A. flag on Cinco De Mayo, there won't be as much tension.

The students should learn to not let someone else be in control of their emotions.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
And (pretending there was school on that day) do you think it might cause some tension if a group of kids came to school wearing British flags (or even better Iranian flags or the Flag the Taliban used to represent Afghanistan) on July 4th?

The difference there is that these kids got in trouble for representing the country that they were living in. When we have to put away our national symbols in our country there is something wrong.

Your example would be more appropriate if it was kids wearing British flags in a British school on July 4th.


(and yes, the ACLU question was rhetorical, and yes, the school district short circuited all of the fun by quickly declaring that the school administrators were in the wrong)

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Mariner
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Well, I'm of mostly German descent, so I don't want to see any of you wearing American paraphenalia during Oktoberfest. Such an act would be deeply offensive to my cultural heritage, and may incite me to violence.

Ooh, and I'm also part French. So no American flags on July 19th. How dare you insult my heritage like that by wearing red, white, and blue! You should be wearing blue, white, and red instead to support my culture.

And now that I think about it, my French side emigrated here via Canada. So I guess that makes me Canadian too. Sorry everyone, no American flags then either. That would be incredibly offensive.

There's also a smattering of Scottish in me. So on... wait, I don't know any Scottish holidays. But the local theater is putting on Macbeth next month, so that will count. How dare you promote America when I'm engaging in my diverse multicultural background!

And you know what? I'm Catholic, too. Wearing American flags just reminds me that this country was founded by a bunch of Protestants. I wouldn't wear a Pope hat on George Washington's birthday, would I? So why are you insulting my religion by wearing an American flag on a Catholic feast day? Which is... pretty much every day of the year. I'm trying to celebrate the feast of St. Acacius of Byzantium here; stop treading on my delicate sensitivities!

What are you, some kind of bigoted intolerant racist?? Where's your sense of multiculturism??

...

And don't you dare question my patriotism!

(Seriously, Cinco de Mayo is the equivalent of St. Pattie's day and Oktoberfest. It's an excuse to get drunk within nation-specific ethanol concoctions. The idea of getting insulted by people being proud OF THE COUNTRY THEY ARE IN is aburd. Which is why Pyrtolin's hypothetical is off. If I wasn't in the country on the 4th of July, why should I get offended by displays of other nations?)

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
"The difference there is that these kids got in trouble for representing the country that they were living in."
So the issue isn't really about freedom of expression. It's really about "patriotism" and lack thereof.

As long as we're clear about what troubles you with the school's decision.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
So the issue isn't really about freedom of expression. It's really about "patriotism" and lack thereof.

As long as we're clear about what troubles you with the school's decision.

[Roll Eyes]

No the issue is about their right to express their opinion.

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cherrypoptart
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I always hated it in London when they'd wear those shirts with British flags on the Fourth of July. Almost like they're still not over it.
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edgmatt
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quote:
The students should learn to not let someone else be in control of their emotions.
That's a good point.
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Brian
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quote:
No the issue is about their right to express their opinion
TomD already addressed that. The courts long ago stripped most basic rights from students.

Why is no-one addressing DonaldD's point about using the flag as apparel?
If you are going to respect the flag, you should respect all of the rules surrounding it, not just the convenient ones.
It is very irritating to be confronted by a redneck wearing a ballcap who sneers at me for not putting my hand over my heart during the national anthem.

And how about 'patriots' who leave their tattered flag out at night, in all kinds of weather?

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edgmatt
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The issue is not about the flag. It's not about respect for the flag, it's not about patriotism.

It's about people wanting to wear a red white and blue bandanna or shirt to school, but they can't but only on one certain day because someone else might get offended.

It's not the same as wearing a shirt that has the 'F' word on it, it's not the same as wearing a nazi shirt.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
It's not the same as wearing a shirt that has the 'F' word on it,
I think you're missing the fact that many feel it was meant to communicate an "F-word you".

Now I can concede that it becomes increasingly foolish to censor *implicit* insults.

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edgmatt
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I didn't miss it, I just came to the same conclusion that you did that it's foolish to censor *implicit* insults.

Other wise anyone can control what anyone else wears simply by claiming they were offended by: a national flag, a picture of daffy duck, short pants, long pants, high heels, or the color red.

[ May 07, 2010, 10:38 AM: Message edited by: edgmatt ]

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Brian
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Lest anyone mistake my feelings on this:
The principal was probably trying to head off a fight. At risk of perpetuating a stereotype, most of the young Mexican males I know are very into the whole machismo deal. Getting them to back down from what they saw as a deliberate insult would be very hard.
The principal likely hoped that the boys wearing American flags would be a bit more open to reason and able to act as mature adults.


Having said that, if I had accidentally worn something which someone found offensive and sicced the principal on me, I would totally tell them to suck it up. A quiet word from a friend goes much further than an edict from above, especially with Americans. We have raised stubborness (I might even say...orneryness [Smile] ) to a cultural art form in America.

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DonaldD
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I think everyone can agree that, ideally, people should never allow themselves to be manipulated by others wishing to push their buttons. But living in the real world as we do, expecting teenagers of all things to keep their emotions in check, and basing public safety policies on teenage boys' abilities to remain calm in the face of perceived insult is not just silly but irresponsible.
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edgmatt
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By doing this, the principal says that it is okay to be offended by someone else's clothing and start a fight about it.

The principal is also setting a standard that says 'the next time someone wears something that offends anyone, get offended enough to start a fight.'

They are tackling the problem at the wrong spot. The students, (and everyone else in my opinion) should be taught that if someone wears something offensive, the proper reaction should be 'so what?'.

Why would the Mexican students let it be known that they have a button that anyone can push at anytime to enrage them?

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
he difference there is that these kids got in trouble for representing the country that they were living in. When we have to put away our national symbols in our country there is something wrong.

No they didn't. They got in trouble for wearing shirts with the explicit intent to offend and create tension. The explicit content of their shirt doesn't matter as much as the intent they had in wearing them. (And, most likely full awareness of how they could use disingenuous appeals to patriotism to create a fuss when actin was take against them, much in the same way middle schoolers like to try to steer female dogs into a conversation so they can hide behind technical correctness as an excuse to say bi***.)
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edgmatt
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quote:
They got in trouble for wearing shirts with the explicit intent to offend and create tension.
You don't know that.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
The Hispanic students were wearing pictures of the Mexican flag. The Hispanic vice principal ordered the students to cover up the American flags (wear their shirts inside out) or go home.
...
Which is a protected by their free speech rights, even if it makes people uncomfortable.
...
To ban wearing of the American flag is blatant discrimination.

1) No free speech rights apply. The courts have established, time and again, that students do not have the right to wear what they want, read what they want, say what they want, or carry what they want while on school property. Students are in many ways similar to prisoners; it is merely necessary that the school demonstrate that it believed it had good reason to restrict a right for that restriction to be legal.

2) The students wearing the Mexican flag on Cinco de Mayo were doing so to celebrate the holiday. The students wearing the American flag on that same day were doing so to insult (or, at the very least, directly confront) the people celebrating the Mexican holiday. Whether or not the school expected fights as a result, it is neither unreasonable nor discriminatory for the principal to object to deliberately offensive "speech" (in the form of clothing) based upon the situation.

Consider, if you will, how a school with a substantial black population might react to a bunch of people wearing Confederate flag clothing on Martin Luther King Day. Or how a school with a large population of Irish ex-pats might respond to a mass of people deliberately wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day. Or, heck, imagine how the very same high school in this situation might respond to people wearing Chinese flags on July 4th.

These kids wore the flag on this specific day not to express their love of their country, but to criticize the love others felt for another country. In so doing, they were attempting to create an implicit "conversation" that challenged the views of other students.

Whether or not such a thing is often a good idea -- and I believe it often is -- schools have long had the right (and in some cases the duty) to prevent it.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
The students wearing the Mexican flag on Cinco de Mayo were doing so to celebrate the holiday. The students wearing the American flag on that same day were doing so to insult (or, at the very least, directly confront) the people celebrating the Mexican holiday. Whether or not the school expected fights as a result, it is neither unreasonable nor discriminatory for the principal to object to deliberately offensive "speech" (in the form of clothing) based upon the situation.

What country were they in? Did the school not fly an American flag that day?

If someone is going to get offended over an American flag in America, they are in the wrong country.

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cherrypoptart
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What if a Mexican student wore American colors on Cinco de Mayo?

Is this another one of those cases where it's not so much what's being done or said but who's doing it and saying it that makes it wrong?

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edgmatt
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quote:
The students wearing the American flag on that same day were doing so to insult (or, at the very least, directly confront) the people celebrating the Mexican holiday.

These kids wore the flag on this specific day not to express their love of their country, but to criticize the love others felt for another country.

Again, you don't know that. The kid wore another Flag Shirt on Thursday when there was no such holiday.

Even if they said out loud, "we are wearing this shirt to offend you" the worst thing to be done (and the best way to encourage this kind of behavior) is to recognize it, and say "that offends me."

On another note, why is it offensive to wear an American shirt on a specific day, but it is not offensive to wear a Cinco De Mayo shirt on the same day?

If the boys wearing the USA shirts claimed to be offended by the Mexican shirts, would the principal have told the Mexican students to take off their shirts? Of course not because they have the exact same right to wear those shirts as the other boys do to wear theirs.

quote:
Consider, if you will, how a school with a substantial black population might react to a bunch of people wearing Confederate flag clothing on Martin Luther King Day. Or how a school with a large population of Irish ex-pats might respond to a mass of people deliberately wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day. Or, heck, imagine how the very same high school in this situation might respond to people wearing Chinese flags on July 4th.
All of your examples have two very opposing sides; the confederates were stark against what Martin Luther King was for. The United States has nothing to do, either for or against, Cinco De Mayo.
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DonaldD
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From the article itself
quote:
The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts "incendiary" that would lead to fights on campus.
Well, yay for american nationalism, rah rah, all that, but if the school adminstration, in the school environment at the time, felt that these students' actions risked inciting violence, it was their absolute responsibility to address that risk. Yes, if there had been violence on the part of latino students in response to the US flags, they would have been absolutely at fault, and they would have been very, very bad, hot-headed, latino, violence-prone unamerican people. But that ignores the point that the school administration would have been at fault for allowing the situation to escalate.

Personally, if my child got into a fight at school and I later found out that the school administration knew of the situation and had it in their power to defuse the situation, I would be, not to put too fine a point on it - pissed. If, God forbid, children got hurt because of this lack of action, you can bet there would be lawsuits flying.

I just don't see why, just because the US flag was involved, that should trump the school's responsibility to the safety of the children in its care.

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Adam Masterman
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Edgematt, I think you are failing to acknowledge a social reality there. The groups in question are Latinos and anti-immigration white Americans. WEARING the American flag and other conspicuous/abundant displays of Americana are beyond mere abstract symbols of America. They are very closely associated with the political faction that is opposed to:

1. Mexican immigration,
2. Official use of the Spanish language, and
3. Cultural influence of any kind from central and south America.

Its not a perfect fit, but its absurd to say that the association doesn't exist; akin to saying you don't notice a persons' race.

This is not to say that the decision of the principal was correct (or not). As is almost ALWAYS the case, we don't (and likely won't) have enough of the details to make a good judgement. The Latino student is quoted as saying "we don't deserve to get disrespected like that," making people draw the implied connection that she is speaking exclusively about the apparel. But who the heck knows what else went down. There are a million small and large actions that these students *could* have done to be genuinely and purposefully offensive. No one here knows, and so any judgement on the merits of the principal's actions, one way or the other, are simply misinformed, even if they turn out to be correct by accident.

The article is pretty clearly slanted in favor of the students wearing the flags (damn liberal media), so its doubtful that the aspects that round out the story are included. Why aim for balance when a slanted piece will pi$$ people off and drive up traffic?

Adam

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
quote:
They got in trouble for wearing shirts with the explicit intent to offend and create tension.
You don't know that.
Me, personally? Sure. But the school administrators, whose job it is to keep a watch out for such things? I'm wiling to bet that have a least an inkling of where the tensions in their school exist, if not the history of the kids in question for playing on such tensions. So when they see a group of them coordinating an active statement, they probably can make an easy call about what's going on.
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Pyrtolin
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I'll also bet we can probably thank Pheobe Prince for influencing the schools decision in this matter, given that schools in general are suffering from extra scrutiny due to letting that kind of behavior go unchecked.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
All of your examples have two very opposing sides; the confederates were stark against what Martin Luther King was for. The United States has nothing to do, either for or against, Cinco De Mayo.
I can solemnly guarantee you that the cause those kids were childishly trying to advance stands starkly opposed to the promulgation of Hispanic (specifically, Mexican immigrant) culture in America. Yes, it bothers me that nationalists have always chosen to wrap themselves in a flag that's as much mine as theirs, but there's nothing I can do about that.
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philnotfil
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I will try for more clarity here.

If wearing a shirt with an American flag on it, in America, is such an incendiary act that it must be banned in order to prevent school violence, something has gone terribly wrong in America's schools.

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vegimo
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Again, the 5th of May is not a Mexican holiday. It is another excuse for us to drink in the US. That the Latino students felt "disrespected" says they were looking for a clash, not that they felt their culture was being slighted (yes, I think I will solemnly guarantee this). Don't get me wrong - the Caucasoid children were looking for that same clash by (probably) planning to all wear their colors on the same day. If the Silicon Valley crowd went down to Gilroy for the garlic festival just to drink all the beer, but they brought their own rhubarb to eat instead of the local fare, would it be silly for the townfolk to feel slighted?

I don't get the whole "disrespect" concept, and I guess I never will. Sometimes I am just looking at you because I think you look funny. I mean no "disrespect", and I'll only think worse of you if you get all up in my face about it. I'll stop looking when you start to bore me.

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DonaldD
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Alternatively, something has gone terribly wrong with public discourse and how nationalism is used to demonize political enemies. The elevation of the US flag into religious icon is just one symptom.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
If wearing a shirt with an American flag on it, in America, is such an incendiary act that it must be banned in order to prevent school violence, something has gone terribly wrong in America's schools.
Why? Do you simply not understand the message the kids were attempting to convey? Again, the problem isn't the flag; the problem is that they were wearing the flag to insult another group of students and/or pick a fight. I'd imagine you could probably do the same thing with a shirt that read "Choir Students Are Stupid."

quote:
I don't get the whole "disrespect" concept, and I guess I never will.
Then you may have to resign yourself to never understanding why some people do things which make perfect sense to everyone else, but not to you.

[ May 07, 2010, 02:28 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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vegimo
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Sorry, it does not make perfect sense to get in a fight over "disrespect".

Everyone else?

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