Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What a jerk!

Joanne Jacobs has a post today that deals with some of the nonsense that public schools have to deal with in this day and age.

An eleven-year-old brat, with obvious encouragement from his father, wore a home-made t-shirt to school that said, "Obama is a terrorist's best friend." The school had asked their students to wear red, white, and blue to show their patriotism. The school told the kid that he could either turn the shirt inside-out or be suspended. The kid chose to be suspended. Now, Dear Ol' Dad, who's position is that public schools are "full of liberal loons," is suing the school. What a complete jerk!

Joanne Jacobs has the best education blog that I know of, and she usually shows good common sense, so I was disappointed when she said, "Having asked students to express a message with their clothing, the school can’t censor the message."

The school asked kids to show patriotism. Earlier this year I wrote a post about teaching patriotism, and anyone who read that should know that I would have reservations about having a red, white and blue day--at least at the high school level. But that doesn't mean I think that school should have to put up with a t-shirt containing an obnoxious message like the one that kid wore.

If the student wanted to wear a "McCain For President," t-shirt, I think that would be fine. But wearing one that says "Obama is a terrorist's best friend" is clearly meant to cause confrontation. Maybe the eleven-year-old wouldn't realize that, but his father sure would. In fact, does anyone doubt that all the press coverage this incident has gotten isn't exactly what the old man hoped for?

The school correctly decided that the t-shirt the student was wearing was inappropriate, and they acted accordingly. Now they are being sued by this pathetic, publicity-seeking father, who is itching for a fight. He has used his eleven-year-old son to get what he wants. As we said in the limbo contest at our homecoming pep rally last week, "How low can you go?"


Blogger Mrs. C said...

Did you see the interview on Fox News? Clearly the child had been coached. Not sure how I feel about the censorship, though. I've seen plenty of offensive shirts about "will sell my sister for video games" and the like on little kids. Can you ever see a self-respecting black family pop that on their kid??

Um, I don't think so. But people think it's "cute."

9/24/2008 7:07 PM  
Blogger mazenko said...

The courts have long decided that a student's right to free expression (speech) especially in terms of clothing can be limited if it is deemed disruptive to the educational environment. That is exactly what happened in this case. According to the Denver Post:

"While on the school playground that morning, Daxx and other students got into a shouting match over the shirt, Superintendent John Barry said.

Barry said Daxx was not suspended for what he wore but because, according to school policy, "any type of attire which attracts undue attention to the wearer, and thus causes disturbance to the educational process, is in bad taste and not acceptable."

When the argument spilled into first-period math class, Daxx was sent to the principal's office. He was given the option of turning the shirt inside out, wearing a shirt provided by the school or going home and changing into something else and coming back to class.

Daxx didn't like any of those options, so district officials suspended him."

Clearly, the disruptive element was relevant here, especially because the boy's sister also wore an anti-Obama shirt, but she was not suspended because it didn't create disruption, and she didn't refuse options given by the administration to alleviate the situation.

Sadly, this is an example of an eleven-year-old boy's father exploiting his son - not to mention a non-partisan ceremony to honor Medal of Honor recipients - for his own political agenda.

This is a true shame.

9/24/2008 7:22 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Mrs. C., I completely agree that it was clear that the boy was coached.

Michael, I was hoping there would be some discussion on this post, but you've killed it--but in a good way. With the additional facts that you've supplied, I don't see how anyone could possibly support what that father has done. It's even worse than I thought it was.

9/25/2008 6:03 PM  
Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

I agree that the so-called father in this sad story has used his young son as a means of deliberately creating unnecessary controversy and therefore, of course, grabbing some attention for himself.

The information included in Michael Mazenko's comment is very interesting, namely that the boy's sister was also wearing what many would deem to be an offensive t-shirt but that she was not suspended as hers did not lead to incidents of disruption.

Like Dennis, I disagree with Joanne Jacobs' view on this matter because the students were asked to display a specific message with their clothing. The school is perfectly entitled to "censor" anything that falls outwith what was asked of the students.

In a way, I feel sorry for the kid as his irresponsible father has thrust him into a situation that is no doubt beyond his comprehension.

9/27/2008 2:46 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

UST, I agree with you that it really is too bad for the kids involved. But this looks like a case where the apple isn't falling very far from the tree. As the boy gets older, it's going to get harder and harder to feel sorry for him.

9/27/2008 3:13 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

So if I don't like your shirt, all I have to do is cause a disruption and *you* have to remove *your* shirt?

We call that a "heckler's veto", and it's not a very good way to run a business.

10/08/2008 7:47 PM  
Blogger soldier1393 said...

Its amazing that even though the father did this in bad taste we can start censoring our children if its something we don't agree with, I mean its not like the child had something profane on his shirt.
Of course violating freedom of expression and speech can be covered up with whatever liberal agenda is currently at hand.

6/22/2009 6:59 AM  

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