I am not a fan of the NRA. I am not a fan of guns. If you asked me whether or not I'd want a kid wearing a T-shirt that said "NRA" with a picture of a gun on it to the school where my children also go, I'd say "No." But then I have to ask myself why -- beyond my personal opinion of the NRA. And that is where I get stuck. An eighth grader in West Virginia was arrested after refusing to take off his T-shirt, which had the NRA name on it and the motto "Protect your right." The school's clothing policy doesn't specifically ban a shirt like that, although it comes close, as it bans clothes that "display violence."
When a teacher saw Jared Marcum with the shirt on -- which he had already worn to five other classes -- he reportedly demanded its removal. When Jared refused, he was arrested and also suspended after the altercation.
The school's dress code "prohibits clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages, or sexually suggestive phrases. Clothing displaying advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco, or drug product also is prohibited."
So you can see how the image of the gun fits in a gray area here. But the family's lawyer (crazy how fast these lawyers come out of the woodwork!) says that the school interfered with Jared's First Amendment rights.
The presence of a lawyer already makes me wonder if Jared wasn't sent to the school with that shirt on for the sole purpose of trying to get a case going against the school. But that said, I'd have to agree with the lawyer. Just because you don't like the viewpoints or opinions of a T-shirt doesn't make it worthy of being banned -- unless all clothing displaying opinions, logos, mottos, quotes, or pretty much anything other than solid colors is banned.
This reminds me of a time I spotted a young kid in my neighborhood wearing an LGBT T-shirt. Since the kid couldn't have been more than 10 years old, I thought a couple of things. First, was the shirt the parents' idea or something the kid insisted on buying/wearing? Also, what was the reaction at school? Since this kid was in Brooklyn, and very likely could have had gay parents, I imagine the school's reaction was nil. But put that kid in a conservative, highly-religious district, and you might have a different story.
I would have supported this kid's right to wear his LGBT shirt, so I have to support the right of a kid to wear his NRA shirt. Although they represent different things entirely, both are politicized notions and the kids should get to express their political views if they're not banned by schools.
Back in the day, all of us kids wore band shirts. Some of them -- especially of death metal bands -- were pretty gory. I wonder if they'd be banned now?
Anyway, teachers could have seen this as a "teachable moment" and had the kid explain the NRA and his views on it to the class, and had someone debate him. Are differing viewpoints allowed in school anymore?
What do you think of the NRA T-shirt? How about the LGBT T-shirt?
Image via News 13