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Author Topic: Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees
vegimo
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Also, while I may understand you, I might not ever "get" you.
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scifibum
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phil, I do tend to agree with the idea that it should be OK to display the American flag in America. (I also, incidentally, think it may be a good idea to have an official national language. English if we can get it established in the next 10 years, otherwise Spanish. [Wink] )

But I think it's a mistake to test this situation against that principle.

Freedom of speech also protects cursing and taping up signs that say that people of a given race are incredibly ugly. Public schools can and should ban this kind of thing.

What is wrong, IMO, is that a school population is factional to the point that patriotism (for whatever country) is disruptive. This can't be made better by refusing to defuse particular types of disruption, unfortunately. So yes, something is wrong.

The choice to ask students to quit deliberately riling up the Mexican students isn't automatically wrong, though. It is important to note that the intended message isn't "don't be patriotic" - it's "don't be deliberately hostile because it is disruptive". The situation would have been different if those kids wore flag bandannas every Wednesday.

I'm guessing the district criticism of the decision was mainly placatory. It'll be interesting to see what happens the next couple of years.

Aside: this is one more point in favor of school uniforms, IMO. Schools shouldn't have to work so hard to deal with controversies of which clothing choices are merely a symptom.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by vegimo:
Sorry, it does not make perfect sense to get in a fight over "disrespect".

Everyone else?

If it was a kid using the word, I'd expect that it probably was in the slang sense of "actively insult", which has been the cause of fights of all manner for all of human history.
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vegimo
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Of course, people have been getting upset with each other for all of human history for all manner of things, from violent abuse to just not wanting to look away from across the room. I understand this, and I know it will continue to happen. What you don't "get" about me is that I normally don't care about the petty things - and most things are just petty things, so don't sweat them. Pet the sweaty things instead.

Kids need to be taught different methods of responding to their own insecurities. I don't profess to know how to do this on a global scale, or even within my own neighborhood. If I can teach my children I will feel as if I have accomplished something worthwhile.

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Pyrtolin
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I guess, then, that their biggest problem must be that they don't have a nice objective outsider like you to tell them what's important in their lives and how to behave so that they don't step on the toes of any of the white folks around them.
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hobsen
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Parts of the southern Central Valley of California have serious gang warfare, so that people have been murdered for wearing the wrong color shirt. Morgan Hill is probably in a less incendiary region, since it is located in the Santa Clara valley about ten miles south of San Jose, but it could have had trouble before. That may be why a San Francisco ACLU spokesman refused to comment on this incident, saying that students generally should have the right to wear a flag shirt, but not commenting on this specific instance. Also the school district seems to have agreed its administrators acted too hastily this time, creating an incident when there were no real signs of impending trouble, in a school where Hispanics were getting along well enough with the other students. The fact that wearing the flags could have been considered an insult to those celebrating their Mexican heritage does not mean that it was intended that way, and a lot of those of Mexican descent in Morgan Hill may have lived there for generations, and would just as readily wear American flags themselves, even if that does violate the flag code.
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TommySama
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"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?"

Yes. I never understood why children can get away with wearing a sheet (ghost) costume on Halloween and going from door to door demanding stuff, but these liberals get all butthurt when a couple of white guys do the same thing. It AREN'T AMERRRICAN DARN IT!

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vegimo
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Here is another thought on my original post as well.

Intentionally offending somebody is wrong. Being offended when no offense was intended is wrong also. I am not saying that there is never any reason for anyone to ever get their feelings hurt, I am saying that often people take offense just for the sake of taking offense. That is what I do not "get". The whole concept of getting mad just to show that someone will not be able to walk into my house, get up in my grill, and insult my manhood. I am still able to walk down the street without having to prove that I matter. I can generally take an insult without having to respond in kind (sometimes it amuses me, so I indulge - is that wrong too? Yeah, probably).

The kids in CA were two groups set in opposition, with a history influenced by their belief that they were bound to be opposed. One group did something to intentionally offend. The other took a disproportionate amount of offense. Who was wrong? Who cares. The principal should have found a way to use the whole thing as a lesson in civility. Instead, he made it worse by reacting decisively, then vacillating on that decision.

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vegimo
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Pyrtolin,

That very well might be their biggest problem...this week.

I am glad that you consider me objective, or were you employing sarcasm? I think the latter, but I might be wrong.

Both groups were wrong. If the first group had not banded together to intentionally try to insult, there would have been no incident. If the second group had not taken the flag-wearing as insulting, there would have been no incident. Who was more wrong? Does it matter?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
One group did something to intentionally offend. The other took a disproportionate amount of offense.
Complaining to the principal is a disproportionate amount of offense?
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vegimo
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When the scene played in my mind, yes it was. I don't think that they just saw the shirts and ran to the principal's office. I would bet that there was a confrontation first.

Yes, I know that I'm making inferences. We all do it.

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LoverOfJoy
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If the principal concluded the kids were intentionally trying to pick a fight, I guess I could take their word for it. I can picture it being very obvious.

I will say, though, that I can imagine a number of scenarios where the kids with the American flag shirts were not trying to insult others.

There's a subset of black people who dislike people using the term "African-American". "I'm American," they say. They believe they're ancestors have been in the country long enough that a qualifier shouldn't be needed (as many people of Irish descent may not describe themselves as Irish-Americans). They don't even know anything about Africa.

If there was an African holiday where every black kid dressed up in traditional African clothing I could imagine these guys wearing an American flag shirt in protest. Not to pick a fight. Not to insult. Just to make a statement in disagreement. We can argue over how childish that might be, but it wouldn't necessarily be done to pick a fight or insult.

Likewise, I can imagine some snot-nosed white kid getting annoyed that all the Mexican-Americans seem to think of themselves as Mexican first and Americans last, if at all. I could imagine him wearing an American flag as a statement that "we're all Americans, let's celebrate that!" without intending to pick a fight.

I can imagine a group of white kids saying "hey, let's celebrate cinco de Mayo, too" and being shot down by other Mexican-Americans. "Dude, you're not Mexican. Don't try to act like us." "Fine. I'll do my own thing." And they decide to wear the colors of the American flag instead of the Mexican flag only in response to being excluded and not as an attempt to insult.

These scenarios may seem far-fetched but I've seen similar things happen among kids. There are all kinds of situations where kids might wear the U.S. flag shirts without intending to insult.

But like I said, the principal should generally be able to talk to the kids and assess their motives. I just mention it because some people seem to think that it was undoubtedly meant as an insult a priori. I don't think I'd go that far. But even if the kids had no ill intent I can imagine scenarios where the principal would still be in the right to ask them to turn their shirts inside out to prevent violence.

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TommySama
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quote:
There's a subset of black people who dislike people using the term "African-American". "I'm American," they say. They believe they're ancestors have been in the country long enough that a qualifier shouldn't be needed (as many people of Irish descent may not describe themselves as Irish-Americans). They don't even know anything about Africa.
Identity politics are the best. Separate and destroy!
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
That very well might be their biggest problem...this week.
And so you assert again that you, from a perspective completely removed from their lives know what their problems and values are and can judge for them what's they consider important and what is trivial?

quote:
Both groups were wrong. If the first group had not banded together to intentionally try to insult, there would have been no incident. If the second group had not taken the flag-wearing as insulting, there would have been no incident. Who was more wrong? Does it matter?]
Wow, so the whole civil rights movement has been a waste of time. Instead of getting in trouble, all black people really needed to do was learn to not be offended by being required to sit at the back of the bus, or to use separate facilities. Everyone would have been happier if they'd have just learned to accept Jim Crow laws.

Imagine how much better the world would be if the colonists hadn't got so riled up when the British tried to milk them for cash and resources.

It's not my fault, your honor; you should have seen what she was wearing.

If people just learn to stay in their place, we wouldn't need to put them back in it.

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vegimo
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Their biggest problem next week could be that a cat dies in the air duct, causing noxious odors in the school.

Are you trying to give my words additional meaning? Yes. Yes, you are.

Your snark is, well, snarky. However, you do take it to some interesting extremes. Although I said nothing about putting people back in their places, maybe some people do need to be put there. When they escape.

edited to remove a big but in the wrong place

[ May 07, 2010, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: vegimo ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
The principal should have found a way to use the whole thing as a lesson in civility. Instead, he made it worse by reacting decisively, then vacillating on that decision.
Now, see, there I agree with you. AS I said much earlier, this wasn't the best response and went to show that the administration hadn't properly prepared to deal with an issue that they should have know would eventually arise. They let themselves get maneuvered into a no-win scenario given the options that they believed were open to them.

?under the best circumstances they should have a plan for isolating bad actors in situations like this and trying to show them the harm that their actions cause and also to impress on them what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such.

I don't know the best way to implement such, but those are the key lessons needed to create the kind of empathy necessary to to promote such civility as you mention.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Sorry, it does not make perfect sense to get in a fight over "disrespect".

Everyone else?

My opinion is that the white kids' actions were probably provocative and it was reasonable to nip things in the bud.

But I am sympathetic to your position, since I think cow-towing to someone's subjective feeling of "disrespect" is about the worst reaction one can have.

There are alot of people who think that they are entitled to live a life free from offence and disrespect. A disturbing number of them are willing to enforce this "right" with violence.

School should be a place to break children of this nasty tendancy rather than validating it.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
School should be a place to break children of this nasty tendancy rather than validating it.
I agree with you, but legal precedent disagrees quite strongly.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
I agree with you, but legal precedent disagrees quite strongly.
In what context?
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TomDavidson
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The law has made it quite clear that it is a school's job, acting in loco parentis, to actively protect students from suffering offense or injury.
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edgmatt
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Within reason.

Would it have been reasonable if the kids wearing the USA flag shirts claimed they were offended and disrespected by the Cinco De Mayo shirts so much that were willing to fight over it? Would it have then been reasonable for the principal to then demand that those kids remove their Cinco De Mayo shirts or go home? If you can honestly say yes to both of those questions, I'll stop yapping. If your answer is no, then it will be clear that what the principal did demand was unreasonable as well.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
The law has made it quite clear that it is a school's job, acting in loco parentis, to actively protect students from suffering offense or injury.
This sounds like an equivocation. I can't imagine the law requires the school to protect kids from "offence" in the sense we're discussing. Not even parents have that level of care.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Would it have then been reasonable for the principal to then demand that those kids remove their Cinco De Mayo shirts or go home? If you can honestly say yes to both of those questions, I'll stop yapping.
I think it would be reasonable for the principal to ask students to remove/conceal clothing that other students have found offensive, yes. That said, I do not think it would be reasonable for someone to be offended by a Cinco de Mayo shirt on Cinco de Mayo, any more than it would be reasonable for someone to be offended by an American flag shirt on the Fourth of July or a green shirt on St. Patrick's Day. These things are all natural expressions of the thing that is being celebrated -- and while you can make the case that Cinco de Mayo is as potentially offensive to some students as "Christmas break" is to others, I think you'll need to take the scenic route to get there. An orange shirt on St. Patrick's Day, however, much like this American flag display on May 5th, is not meant as a positive affirmation of the holiday but a rejection of the holiday.

It may not be logical, necessarily, but I think you'll find that most people object to the refutation of something they care about much more than they object to the affirmation of something they don't. You may be Baptist and Jane may be Catholic, but you'll both get along as long as you don't try to tell Jane to go to Hell. And you both hate the atheist with the "God is Dead" bumper sticker. (In fact, I strongly suspect that this little pro-American display was inspired by the belief that the Hispanic population of the school was rejecting or undermining the dominant culture; I have little doubt that the students thought of it as a way of sticking up for their beleaguered country. People react much worse when you criticize the things they love than when you promote the things you love. The nuance in this situation is that while waving an American flag on the 4th of July is a positive affirmation of patriotism, waving the same flag in this context is a negative rejection of someone else's patriotism.)

[ May 07, 2010, 11:03 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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cherrypoptart
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As this situation doesn't seem to have made the headlines before, I'm going to have to credit President Obama and the inspiration of hope and change for finally bringing to America the idea that there are times and places now where it should be illegal to be proud to be an American, and the American colors shall not fly, and indeed it will be demanded that they be literally turned inside out. That's change all right.

I'm just going to have to come right out and say it. I'm offended that anyone would be offended at a display of American pride in an American public school in, of course, America. The students who were offended offend me.

The principal couldn't have reminded them that they didn't have to sit and keep staring at the representations of the American flag on Old Navy tee-shirts and keep getting themselves offended if they didn't want to? He should have told the offended students that if they really thought they couldn't handle it without getting violent, they could go home where presumably there isn't an American flag in sight and they could cool off there where there will be nothing around to offend them.

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cherrypoptart
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I should point out that I wouldn't get offended if anyone wore a shirt with a British or Mexican or Russian or any other flag on the 4th of July. It wouldn't bother me in the least. I wouldn't even assume it was an insult. Maybe they just wanted to participate in their own way, like how when someone is speaking Spanish around me all of a sudden I want to show off how I can speak Japanese.
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RickyB
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Nobody has the right to be offended by the American flag on American soil. Of course they can be offended, but they don't have the right to have anyone respect their sense of offense. If all the kids did was wear the shirts, there is no legitimate grounds for offense.
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PSRT
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You might want to clean that up, Ricky. I have no idea how all those caveats are interacting.
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RickyB
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Huh? What caveats? All I meant is that people can be offended at the sun rising in the east, but nobody has to show consideration for such unreasonable feelings of offense.

Nobody has the right to say "I feel offended/threatened/disrespected" by the mere fact that someone else wears the flag and expect consideration to be shown for that offense. It is not legitimate grounds for offense. If these kids were taunting the Mexicans or whatever in addition to wearing the shirts, send them home for that. But even on Cinco de Mayo, an American has the right to make the point that "You may celebrate your heritage from another place on this day, and that's your right. MY right is to celebrate my heritage from this place. On the fourth of July, on the fifth of May and on the twenty sixth of every other month if I damn well feel like it." As long as no other provocation was involved, that is not grounds for any disciplinary action whatsofreakinever.

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PSRT
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"Legitimate," Creates a lot of subtext, which I why I was asking.

I, broadly, agree with you. But, as has been pointed out in this thread and Mariner's thread, context matters. If all the kids did was wear the American flag, then there shouldn't be offense taken. But if the point of wearing the flag is to say "We're better than you," or "We're trying to undermine your celebration," or a whole range of possible contexts to the flag wearing, then asking the kids to remove the flags may have been appropriate.

Fights start pretty easily at the high school level. I'd rather the kids trying to provoke the fight be the ones who authority is dealing with, then the kids who are being provoked.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I wouldn't even assume it was an insult.
Welcome to the dominant culture, compadre! Feels good, don't it? [Wink]

quote:
But even on Cinco de Mayo, an American has the right to make the point...
High schoolers do not. American high schools are, from a free speech perspective, operated much like prisons. That is not an idle analogy, mind you; I mean quite literally that high schools and prisons both restrict speech in roughly the same ways, for roughly the same reasons, and with roughly the same legal justification.

[ May 08, 2010, 11:36 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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RickyB
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Tom, I grant you that high schools restrict free speech. However, I maintain that a principle has a lot more 'splainin' to do when he does so. I maintain that it (to send home kids who did nothing more than wear the flag) is the absolutely wrong message to send. If they did more than that, and made it clear the "the point of wearing the flag is to say "We're better than you," or "We're trying to undermine your celebration,"" then the principle had a leg to stand on.
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hobsen
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As the original linked story makes clear, these students were sent to the principal's office after a vice principal told them to remove or cover the flags. Contrary to the thread title, they were not "Kicked Off Campus" - they chose to go home rather than remove or cover the clothing. And in any high school there is enough spare clothing floating around so that they could have been supplied with something else to wear.

Otherwise the Morgan Hill School District issued the following official statement, "The district does not concur with the Live Oak High School administration's interpretation of either board or district policy related to these actions." They made it clear the students should have been allowed to wear the flag shirts or bandannas, which seems to be in accordance with the law, and the students were not suspended or otherwise disciplined. At least one of them was back at school wearing a flag shirt the next day.

Today the superintendant of schools as quoted as saying he is troubled by the rumors on campus that Hispanic gangs from out of town may attack the school, and by a "patriotic" group which yesterday staged a demonstration yesterday at the center of town urging all immigrants should be thrown out of the country. He says he thinks others outside the school are exploiting this incident to promote their own agendas, and he is most likely right.

As compared to the incidents in a southern Mississippi school a while ago, there is no sign this particular campus is divided into hostile gangs which fight one another. The students are now worried about possible attacks by outsiders, not about attacks from their fellow students. So the whole incident amounts to some local administrators making a bad decision which was quickly corrected. Making more out of it than that seems a mistake.

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Michelle
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Saw a jeep today sporting two standard size flags-o-flying. Oh let the games begin.
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TommySama
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I'm a little bit confused - perhaps because the American flag is more strongly associated with selling beer and large dildos than it is with American history, and the Mexican flag is associated with various types of food and tequila - but this is the stupidest event I've had to read about for awhile, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves. Schools shouldn't be factories that pump out units of nationalism, like Ricky and Cherry want, nor should they be completely sterilized environments where kids express themselves. Let these kids wear whatever they want. If they turn to violence because a kid wore a car-selling rag that they find offensive, punish them. I suggest, in this case, that the white students be forced to wear American flag underwear and cloak themselves in the Mexican/USSR/666 flag for a week; the brown students should have to wear their national flag for underwear and an American/USSR/666 flag for the rest of the week.
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cherrypoptart
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http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=151053

Here's another flag wars story making the rounds.

My first reaction was that in this case, the student should be punished for removing the Mexican flag and especially for throwing it in the trash.

It depends though a bit on some of the details and if the Mexican flag was flying higher than the American flag as for whether or not it should have been taken down, but it definitely shouldn't have been thrown away. It makes that contention in the article that the Mexican flag was flying higher, but then I didn't really see much support for it. If the flags aren't within eye sight of each other I'm not sure the etiquette is that it matters anymore. Maybe someone could clarify.

But in any case, from the picture the amicable solution should be obvious. Just hang an American flag alongside the Mexican flag, and at equal heights. They could probably even find a good space to fly the colors of Texas alongside both of them. Maybe even put some representation showing a handshake between the flags symbolizing the hope for more friendship and cooperation between our countries.

I think when I was in Japan they had a lot of situations like this with various holidays or events, and a lot of times people would wave both flags together, holding one in each hand to show support for both countries and the hope for good relations between us.

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Greg Davidson
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I do get uncomfortable about the mis-use of the American flag as a political symbol. The flag is an object, and it is the underlying Constitution that is far more important. But because the flag is iconic, people can attempt to wrap noxious actions under its auspices. Too often I see people wrapping themselves in the flag not as a statement of unity, but rather as a attempted seizure of the moral high ground (something like; "my policies are the truly American ones, and to disagree with me is to be unAmerican"). This is literally what happened with the House Committee on un-American Activities in the 1950's and it is what occurred when legitimate criticism of Bush Iraq policy was deemed as harming the troops and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
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JWatts
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quote:
The battle over the American flag has reached a middle school art class in California’s Santa Rita School District where a student was told not to draw Old Glory because it was “offensive,” while another student was praised for drawing a picture of President Obama.

Tracy Hathaway, of Salinas, CA, told FOX News Radio her 13-year-old daughter was ordered to stop drawing the American flag and start another project at Gavilan View Middle School.

“She had drawn the flag and was sketching the letters, ‘God bless America,’ when the teacher confronted her,” Hathaway told FOX. “She said, ‘You can’t draw that – that’s offensive.’”

Source
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hobsen
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Any news report which refers to the flag as Old Glory is tendentious. That nickname was popular in the 19th century, and has become out of date since then. Just the same the teacher made a mistake, which was in this case promptly corrected by the principal. That differs from the Morgan Hill incident in which none of the school administrators understood what they should be doing. Obviously, with thousands of teachers in this country, such mistakes will occur from time to time - and will be publicized by those looking for them.
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The Drake
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from the flag code:

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like...

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume


Those kids were far from showing respect to America, its symbols, or its principles.

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DonaldD
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JWatts, I tend to believe that an elementary teacher may have acted as described in the Fox article; however, nowhere in the article does it suggest that the journalist attempted to speak to the teacher in question and get his or her version of the event. This is enough to hit my 'suspicion' button. What we do have is a mother's interpretation of her child's interpretation of events, and this presented as fact.
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