So here's a story that is a lot more complex than a simple case of he-said, she-said. A 13-year-old boy served a one-day in-school suspension after he reportedly used an American flag to wipe his hands after leaving the bathroom. On top of this, Moses Hinton is the only African-American student in the Virginia Beach Plaza Middle School's gifted program; his parents are saying that he was unfairly punished because of it ... although the principal at the school is black.
There's definitely a lot going on here. When confronted about it, Moses allegedly told the teacher there were no paper towels left in the bathroom, but according to the boy’s mother, "His response was 'mommy I was coming up the stairs and I lost my balance and I touched the flag.'"
Oh boy. No matter, it seems that Hinton did touch the flag. But I do feel like a one-day suspension was extreme in this case.
Of course, if Moses did wipe his hands on the flag, he should have been punished ... it's a symbol that must always be respected. My dad is a veteran and my brother went to the Air Force Academy; I know all the rules when it comes to the flag and I don't mess around with them. People who intentionally deface the flag should be held accountable, no doubt about it.
But the flag in the auditorium wasn't damaged or broken or stained beyond repair. It was a careless mistake; it wasn't as if the boy actually had the intention to take the flag off the pole and stomp around on it. Perhaps he could have gotten a warning or detention or written an essay about the flag instead -- a suspension will be on his record, and it's too harsh a punishment.
Still, I don't believe that Hinton's race had anything to do with suspending him, though his parents say otherwise. "Why react so harshly?" said the Hintons' attorney. "You have a bright, gifted, young black male; it seems to be an attempt to pour ice water on his motivation."
Would the punishment have been less severe had a white student wiped his hands on the flag? It's an impossible question to answer -- I just hope that Moses will be able to move on from this incident and continue to succeed in his gifted program, politics and patriotism aside.
Here's more on this story:
Do you think a one-day suspension was too harsh a punishment?
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