Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Student Flag Dispute

There's a hot discussion going on at The Volokh Conspiracy.   Some American students decided to wear clothing with US flags on them to school on Cinco de Mayo, and were sent home for the day, after refusing to change.  There was some talk about possible suspensions, but I think the school has backed down on that.

I don't know that there is an easy answer to the problem the school administration had on its hands.  Certainly, they took the easy way out - sent the small number of American students home, justifying their classification of US flag clothing as provocative on Cinco de Mayo.

I made a comment about it:
In a school, free speech is always somewhat limited. Given the fact that “wearing the colors” is considered to be deliberate disrespect by members of another gang, I think the school was justified in forbidding the wearing of the US flag, in this case. It would be taken as a deliberate provocation by the Hispanic students.
HOWEVER, the school has to be fair — if the US students can’t wear THEIR colors, neither should the Hispanic students.
Understand, I'm not against wearing US flags on clothing.  It does seem as though the American students doing so, did so to make a political statement.  Again, students' free speech rights under the Constitution have been limited in Supreme Court decisions in the past.  I have no reason to suppose that this case would be any different.  While the school was probably within their rights, they fail the even-handedness test by failing to also send home the Mexican students.

The admins took the easy route (imagine my surprise - an educational administrator fails to make the gutsy decision), and sent the 5 home.  From a strictly pragmatic standpoint, this was a no-brainer.  It's a whole lot easier to handle 5 protesters than, reportedly, 85.  And, not just 85 students, but MINORITY students.  Who, apparently, had no qualms about leaving class the next day to join in one of those "stand around and congratulate ourselves on how brave we are to stand up to attempts to suppress us" protests.  With, BTW, the encouragement of other, Hispanic staff.

I, myself, am proud and somewhat amused - 5 white guys intimidated 85 Mexicans?

Awesome - the Special Forces ought to send a recruiter out to that school - the kids are naturals, of Alamo caliber.

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