Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some Flags Are So Offensive That California Schools Will Not Allow Them

And a federal judge has upheld that decision. In this case, it was several kids (one of them Hispanic) in a Morgan Hill school who chose to wear American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, and because they were threatened with violence by Hispanics for this "racist" act, they were ordered to not wear them.

Eugene Volokh at Volokh Conspiracy points out the serious absurdity of this--that the school has decided that some symbols are so likely to provoke violence that the school may prohibit them: an American flag--and that the school would rather do that than require civilized behavior from the angry Mexicans.

Volokh points out that this is technically consistent with the Tinker decision, although absurd in its results.  I happen to think Tinker was a bad decision; I would generally give public schools considerable latitude to suppress symbols or expressions that are likely to be disruptive to learning, as long as the school is reasonably equal in its approach.  That would mean that pro-gay materials are just as subject to prohibition as anti-gay materials; antiwar stuff can be prohibited as long as prowar stuff is prohibited.  I don't have a problem with schools mandating uniforms or prohibiting all disruptive clothing.  Minors do not enjoy all the same rights as adults, and this is part of our legal tradition from the very beginning.  Tinker was wrongly decided, and trying to make sense out of it is hopeless.

Even aside from the error of trying to apply Tinker in a sensible way, there is something pretty darn scary about a situation developing where expressions of patriotism and national pride are allowed--as long as they are not of American patriotism and national pride.  That is just madness.

1 comment:

  1. They should have taken their shirts off and exercised their Supreme Court-granted rights by burning the shirts.

    All that aside, don't the kids know that it's tacky to wear the flag as clothing and inconsistent with flag etiquette?