US Flag Shirts "incendiary" on 5/5 at California School

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by madanthonywayne, May 6, 2010.

  1. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I am of the opinion that displaying a US flag should never be banned in the US whatever the context or motivation. It is the symbol of our nation and should enjoy special status, especially at government funded institutions such as schools.

    If the students involved were taunting other students or were acting inappropriately they should have been sent home for that reason.

    If they were indeed wearing US flag shirts to symbolize their support for the recently passed AZ law or to protest multiculturalism or illegal immigration, so what? So long as the only form their protest took was to wear a US flag, I can't fault them.

    If they were wearing confederate flags to piss off black students, or swastikas to piss off Jews; I'd agree with the vice principle's actions. But the US flag does not symbolize hate as those other flags do and it should not be treated as if it did.

    To acknowledge that I do understand your point, I would suggest that next year the vice principle could nip this whole problem in the bud by asking all students to help commemorate cinco de mayo by wearing clothing with Mexican and/or American flags. This would serve the dual function of not allowing some small group to pervert the meaning of the US flag and reinforce its actual meaning to all the students. E pluribus unum.
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  3. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    If the context is that it disrupts the learning environment in a school, then I have to disagree - the right of students to a safe, productive learning environment trumps the free speech rights of the offender, whether he uses the flag or not. Ask the Supreme Court if you don't believe me.

    In fact, carving out exceptions to that rule in cases where offensive speech employs the flag (which is precisely what is being attempted here) is a recipe for disaster: it gives carte blanche to subversives to be as disruptive and offensive as they like, provided they wrap themselves in the flag (and so debase our national symbols, in the process).

    And, again, the flag wasn't "banned" here. The flag continued to fly on the flagpole the entire time. And I would wager that the Pledge of Allegiance has been routinely recited in that school throughout this whole time. It was a specific instance of speech employing a flag display that was censured. Your dogged hyperbole on this point wins you no respect.

    In the first place, the government that said flag represents does not fund the schools in question.

    In the second place, special status for the flag is a two-way street. If we want to demand that the flag be flown freely and respected as a symbol of admirable national values - and only those values - then we also have to insist that nobody appropriate it to convey other, contrary, offensive values. Anyone who does the latter is violating the special status of the flag by polluting its meaning, and so must be prevented from doing so. Else we have no grounds to turn around and insist that people interpret the flag as representing only admirable national values.

    All of which is to say that preventing the students in question from misusing the flag for their own political speech is exactly the sort of thing you should support if you're serious about this proposition. Allowing the nefarious to abuse the meaning of the flag all they want, and then only invoking this special status when someone is offended by that speech, is just a perverse way of consigning the flag to right-wing reactionaries while pretending to respect it. It's dishonest, divisive, and offensive.

    So such speech is contrary to the national values the flag represents, and as such debases a supposedly-sacred national symbol by reducing it into a token of reactionary nativism.

    The flag can't be simultaneously a symbol of shared national values and a partisan token used for political attacks. You have to choose, and the refusal to do so - or the pretense that the rightwing values being espoused are synonymous with national values - is contemptible.

    If we allow reactionaries to appropriate the flag for offensive speech, it will not be long before the flag represents nothing more than offensive positions. If that's not the fate you desire for the flag, then you have an obligation to resist its being so abused. You don't get to stand on the sidelines and blithely insist that the flag only means whatever you say it should mean while the craven appropriate it for other ends.

    Or rather: you do, but all it achieves is a reduction in your intellectual and ethical credibility. You aren't going to impress anybody with insistence that the flag should only represent admirable, universal ideals coming out of one side of your mouth, when you're defending people who use the flag to convey contrary ideas out of the other. You're only going to provoke the question of whether you're malignly dishonest or astoundingly stupid.

    Your grasp is too simple - minds with a bit of creativity will have no trouble finding ways to use the flag to offend, and the very attempt at pre-empting this will empower them and redefine the flag in ways contrary to the motivation there.

    The only solution is to censor people who are determined to be offensive assholes, regardless of what flags they do or do not choose to employ in that effort. That leaves everyone else free to be cool to one another, and display whatever national symbols they may like without malice or fear. Or, I suppose, you could allow the schools to be reduced to trolling grounds for the reactionary children of teabaggers, in the name of "free speech." But that involves consigning symbols like the flag to becoming partisan tokens. If you want the flag to remain sacred (at least in school) and the schools to be functional, then you have to send home assholes who show up at school with flag-based political displays aimed at offending other students.
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    When I was in high school wearing the US flag as a shirt would have got you sent home - for disrespecting the flag.

    I see the point, now.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    The problem with your blanket reduction

    Are you suggesting, then, that no action taken with the flag can symbolize and communicate hatred?
  8. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Nothing new, perhaps, but something you appear to have forgotten.
    I didn't try to make it personal, Tiassa.

    That stench you're whining about could be coming from your own realisation that you're not as bipartisan as you make yourself out to be. Take away the gloss of the half page replies and the numerous quotes, and all we're left with is someone who refers to the wearing of a T-shirt as "brandishing a flag".

    I have noted that you failed to address your own twisting of events to suit yourself, something you accuse others of. I have noted that while you deplore the actions of the five as stupid, you argue that the same stupidity displayed by the school and the mexican students is an understandable reaction.
    You have not offered anytihng in defence of that, but rather cried that I "got personal".

    You're a little more complex and subtle than those you purport to despise, Tiassa, but essentially not much different. You simply disguise your hypocracy a little better than they do.

    I suggest you have another little whiff and see if you understand of that stink a little more. It's quite possible it's been there all along, but things have gotten so easy for you around here lately that you don't notice it any more.

    Until someone points it out.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Try a little harder next time.

    Then control your emotions.

    Or it could have something to do with the delusional, paranoid, uneducated hatred that drives you.

    Seven and a half years you've been here, Marquis. When did I ever claim to be anything other than a flaming leftist?

    Implicit in your complaint is that nobody can possibly abuse the flag, present it counterintuitively, or betray its purpose by their intention in display.

    Telling, of course, is the first part of your sentence: "Take away the gloss of the half page replies and the numerous quotes ...." It's much easier to complain when you throw out everything you don't want to deal with, isn't it, Marquis? For instance, it's a lot easier to whine about "someone who refers to the wearing of a T-shirt as 'brandishing a flag'" than it is to consider the "choice to brandish the U.S. flag as a specific and agitating counterpoint to Cinco de Mayo".

    Honest up, Marquis. Few would agree that "bipartisanship" should be defined by your need to have everything stated according to your satisfaction, or interpreted according to your myopic and, at best, semi-literate accusations.

    Perhaps if you present even a halfway decent case in support of your complaint, there would be something to respond to. But, no. Instead, the best you can come up with, apparently, is, "Just as you constantly remind us of yours."

    Why don't you just stick your tongue out and waggle your fingers in your ears while you're at it?

    You're a lot simpler than those you purport to despise, Marquis, and considerably different in some cases. You simply accuse hypocrisy of others in order to feel better about your own shortcomings.

    Sniff, sniff. Nope. It's your rancid excuse for an argument.

    I would say, "Nice try, Marquis," but I don't really feel like lying to you. That would only reinforce the idea that your childish behavior is somehow appropriate, dignified, or intelligent.
  10. sly1 Heartless Registered Senior Member

    Kiss the US goodbye.....seriously if this is the rout things are starting to go this countr will not last under one flag anymore. It will or has already turned into a melting pot that cannot and will not be able to identify with anything.

    Too many cultures mixed together in a rather disgusting stew of confused masses running around like their culture/race/ethnicity owns the joint and if they dont they should because they are oppressed. lol

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  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member


    Just reiterating a question I think is close to the heart of the argument: Are you suggesting that no action taken with the flag can symbolize and communicate hatred?
  12. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    No. But, as far as I know, no action was taken beyond the wearing of the flags.

    That they choose to wear the flags as a counterpoint to others wearing Mexican flags that day doesn't make it an expression of hate. Some students choose to celebrate their Mexican heritage that day, others choose to express the primacy of their status as US citizens regardless of the land from which their ancestors hailed.

    Both viewpoints are valid, and both should be able to co-exist. As I said much earlier in this thread, it is the person incited to violence by either flag that is the problem.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    (Insert Title Here)

    And as I noted much earlier, "The irony, then, that the U.S. flag has been deemed incendiary, derives from the equal application of standards that have been previously invoked against equality, diversity, and free expression."

    Or explained in greater detail (to you, no less):

    In Tennessee, last month, a fifteen year-old student was sent home for wearing too gay a t-shirt. While this incident certainly stoked the fires in the queer sector, it certainly didn't blow up into this sort of controversy. In that case, the district similarly does not have a policy that bans the word "gay" on t-shirts, but, "Administrators said they stepped in Monday because of a fight that happened the week before."

    Thus we might consider what other factors might have contributed to the school's decision. To the one, if, as Quad suggests, there are legitimate concerns related to past violence in Morgan Hill, we can expect those incidents and effects to enter consideration.​

    Bear in mind, sir, the idea of giving over to the bullies. Such as the argument that homosexuals should not adopt children because bigots will make the kids' lives miserable. Regardless of what you or I think of such compromises, your point that "it is the person incited to violence by either flag that is the problem" suggests quite exactly the problem with giving over to the bullies. Unfortunately, it's the American way right now. Take it up with your fellow conservatives; once upon a time, y'all complained about political correctness. These days, conservatives demand a perverse version of it, in which we shouldn't describe people accurately because it might hurt their feelings.

    Good show, sir. However you might identify the theme, this is the conservative variation on it we're dealing with here. The only reason that side of the aisle is upset is that their standard has been applied against something to which they are sympathetic.
  14. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    To me I think this situation has very obvious implications (and a few things that I wonder about):

    The Things I Am Sure About:

    1. The Mexican-American students should not see the wearing of an American flag as an insult.

    2. If the Mexican-American students did see the shirts as an insult, then the administrators were right to get the flag-kids out of there. It doesn't matter than the other side is wrong, what matters is preventing the ensuing fight, and it is easier to address the smaller group wearing an obvious symbol than to identify which students were offended enough to fight.

    That said, to reiterate, if Mexican-American students were prepared to fight over the flags, then the flags were incendiary. The question of whether they "should be" incendiary becomes secondary at that point.

    Things That I Wonder About:

    Were the white kids wearing the shirts as an insult to the Mexicans? Sure the Mexican's shouldn't have cared, but if they did care (and it seems they did), then the white kids may still have been purposefully goading them.

    Symbols matter. If you show up at a Giants game in full Cowboy regalia, you can expect that someone if goping to throw something at you...hard. I wore a Giants jersey to an Eagles/Giants game in Philly when I was 10-12 years old, and I got hit in the back of the head by a full grown man with enough force to drive me to the ground hard. I recall the reason I went out of my way to wear my Giants things was "I hated the Eagles." That intent doesn't justify an assault, but it does suggest that the emotion is a more normal part of social interactions of this sort than some seem to be thinking it is.

    Imagine the uproar that would have ensued if Mexican kids clobbered the white kids over those shirts? (Imagine the cries of "Where were the teachers?!") If there was a chance for a fight, I side with the school on this one.
  15. Pronatalist Registered Senior Member

    I can't think of much reason why a school in the United States, should oppose the U.S. flag, unless they wish to affirm state's rights, or are disgusted with tyrant Obama.

    This is OUR COUNTRY, not Mexico. If people want to fly Mexican flags or celebrate Mexican holidays, can't they do that in MEXICO? We should declare English to be our official language for official business. Doesn't mean we can't welcome some immigrants, but immigrants need to be learning English if they wish to stay here long.

    What is with this schools-as-prisons with the tyrannical thought police telling us what we can wear?

    I don't fly the American flag, nor say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore, as I don't know what they stand for now, I am so embarrassed at my country departing from freedom and Constitutional principles, and that's why we are in this The Great Obama Depression funk now.

    While the American flag is still acceptable, I prefer older traditional freedom flags, such as the Don't Tread on Me - Revolutionary War flag, the Christian, or other similar or State citizen flags. I believe it's time to reaffirm the states right to secede from the union, before the fiat paper dollar, backed by nothing, and the entire economy collapses, at least threaten to, as the proper check-and-balances of state power, as the states created the federal government, which this wicked administration is totally out-of-control.

    I think these student were wise to walk out and refuse to play these thought police's sick stupid game. If we can't have any freedom of thought and of speech at school, what's the point of going to such schools anyway?
  16. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    To learn to read and write, and to understand the basics of math, science, literature and history.

    Free speech is great, but cleary of secondary importance in a school. If a student wants to stand up in algebra class, and rail against Obama or Republicans (or discuss any other topic other than algebra), he should be disciplined, because that interferes with the primary mission of the school. There is certainly a time and a place for those other discussions, but "school" is not necessarily it.

    Also, no one in this case opposed freedom of thought. The issue here was a particular expression. So far as I know, no one told the kids that it was wrong to *want* to wear those shirts.

    Whether this expression should have been permitted in a fair question, but that schools can and should limit expression in certain contexts seems undebatable to me.
  17. Pronatalist Registered Senior Member

    Oh really? Then how come my Computer Lab teacher often talked about sports? What does sports have to do with computer programming? So what compensation can I get for this offense?

    How is a U.S. patriotic shirt, not welcome in a U.S. school? This is not Mexico, or did you forget that already?

    Did you even understand the whole point of this thread? There's something dreadfully wrong with the "politically correct" tyranny of today's phony marxist liberals. I find no basis for harassing those students, and it's no wonder that more and more parents are pulling their children out of the government monopoly schools, in favor of private schools and home schools. If a business was to ban the shirts of any political message, unless it's pro-Obama, how long do you think they would be in business? I suspect not long, as it would bring bad PR, and more and more people would come to boycott them. "Don't want my business? Okay," there's always your competitor across the street, and the internet to shop on.

    If I had been one of those students, wouldn't I probably do the same thing? I'm not going to wear an okay shirt inside out. I'd probably go home in protest as well. Sounds like grounds for a possible lawsuit, and I know some pro-freedom organizations I might want to call.

    Even if they stick all those stupid endless holidays, of 200 countries on the calendar, so that we have a dozen holidays and famous people's birthdays on most every day, we still aren't obligated to celebrate every stupid holiday they dream up. This isn't Mexico, or at least not yet, it isn't. I'm not at all surprised that people are becoming more and more upset at the spreading mass insanity of this once great country.

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