Zero Tolerance

Eighth-Grader Suspended for T-Shirt Honoring Dead Soldiers

The rifle on the shirt allegedly violated a ban on clothing that promotes violence.

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KPTV

What happens when mindless zero-tolerance policies are pitted against support-the-troops patriotism? At Dexter McCarty Middle School in Gresham, Oregon, zero tolerance wins. The Washington Post reports that the school recently suspended eighth-grader Alan Holmes, whose brother served with the Marines in Iraq, for wearing a T-shirt that says "Standing for Those Who Stood for Us" against the backdrop of an American flag. The problem: Fallen soldiers are represented by an empty pair of boots, one of them with a rifle capped by a helmet protruding from it. The shirt, part of the Jeff Foxworthy line of "Vintage Redneck Wear," violated a school ban on clothing promoting alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or violence.

Or so the school's assistant principal, Amy Nimz, thought, and the principal, John George, agreed. When Alan refused to take off the shirt, the school called his father to take him home. "They won't let me wear a shirt that supports the people that keep us free," Alan told KPTV, the Fox station in Portland. "I was nervous and kind of heartbroken, because I feel like I should be able to support the troops who have died for us." His father, Charles Holmes, agreed, saying, "I would have done the same thing." School officials would not comment on the case, KPTV says, but they did say "they believe that weapons on a shirt are inappropriate for a school setting." 

A staff member at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, California, had a similar idea in 2013, when he or she ordered sophomore Haley Bullwinkle to change out of a National Rifle Association T-shirt that depicted a hunter with a rifle. After the NRA contacted the Orange County School District, Superintendent Michael Christensen offered an "unconditional apology," saying "the shirt logo does not promote violence."

Deer might disagree, but you get the idea: The shirt did not promote the sort of violence that inspired the clothing restrictions. Likewise the T-shirt honoring dead soldiers, although Alan Holmes' contention that the war in Iraq had anything to do with defending Americans' freedom surely is open to question.

Whether or not school officials agreed with the opinions expressed by those students' shirts, Supreme Court precedent suggests they had a First Amendment right to express them. In the 1969 case Tinker v. Des Moines School District, the Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment right of high school students to wear black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam War. More recently, in the 2007 case Morse v. Frederick, the Court said a student could be punished for displaying a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at an off-campus event. But the rationale in the latter case was that the banner promoted illegal drug use. 

I will update this post with the school district's seemingly inevitable apology if and when it is issued.

[Thanks to CharlesWT for the tip.]

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74 responses to “Eighth-Grader Suspended for T-Shirt Honoring Dead Soldiers

  1. Hey there Reason. I see at least one of you decided to roll outta bed this morning.

    1. Jacob Sullum ain’t got time to sleep

      1. Does he have time to duck?

  2. I like our Supreme Court’s use of motivated reasoning. Kids at school have free speech rights….. well, as long as they don’t say anything we disagree with.

    How in the world you get to a position that protesting war is protected speech, but protesting the war on drugs is speech that can be censored – well, I have no idea.

    1. it will all be clearer once you take a bong hit 4 Jesus

      1. CENSORED FOR STUDENT SAFETY

        1. well at least we can still take LSD and practice sorcery amirite agile?

  3. Fallen soldiers are represented by an empty pair of boots, one of them with a rifle capped by a helmet protruding from it. The shirt, part of the Jeff Foxworthy line of “Vintage Redneck Wear,” violated a school ban on clothing promoting alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or violence.

    That t-shirt pretty much hit all 4. Nice.

  4. Deer might disagree

    Deer are too stupid to disagree.

    1. Rats on stilts.

    2. So, apparently, are some school administrators.

  5. the school district’s seemingly inevitable apology

    HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHA!

    Fuck you, peasant, learn to submit!

  6. I’m curious if there is a link between the demand for trigger warnings/safe spaces and zero tolerance policies? A conditioning for if something is controversial it must be banished from sight.

  7. In high school I was so mortified at being told that I had to read about all those wars in World History class that I refused to do so.

    1. If this is true, which I don’t believe for a minute, I hope they immediately put you in “Special Class” and handed you the box of THICK crayons.

      1. They never did anything immediately.

  8. although Alan Holmes’ contention that the war in Iraq had anything to do with defending Americans’ freedom surely is open to question.

    Yokel heads are as-ploding.

    1. The theory is if we go breaking shit around the world, people won’t come here and steal our freedom. Unfortunately the greatest threat to our freedom is domestic.

      1. And ISIS can rape, enslaved and rape the entire world and still not be as bad a Saddam Hussein, amen.

        1. ISIS can enslave and rape the entire world, and we still needed to take down Saddam. Less because he was a bad man (although he was) than because he didn’t follow the terms of surrender, and we need people to keep those.

  9. If it had been a t-shirt of Che Guevara wielding a bloody machete, they’d be grooming this kid for class president.

    1. I thought Che was into baseball bats.

  10. OT from ThoroughlyPathetic: What a bunch of dicks:

    http://thinkprogress.org/justi…..carry-law/

    The protest is designed to draw attention to the fact that carrying a dildo to class could be “prohibited expression” under university rules. The rules prohibit “any writing or visual image, or engage in any public performance, that is obscene.”

    “You’re carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I’m carrying a HUGE DILDO. Just about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play,” the organizer, Jessica Jin, wrote.

    1. It’s “concealed” carry, Jessica. You are protesting wrong.

      1. She might still be carry concealed. Is she walking funny?

    2. #cocksnotglocks – which is real, by the way.

    3. If carrying a gun to class isn’t effective at protecting you from sociopathic shooters, why are the police summoned?

      1. Because they’re highly trained?!? Are you highly trained Paul?!? I don’t care that you’ve been handling firearms since you were 12, you don’t have a government stamp of approval. Also I too scared to defend myself so I’m sure you would panic and just shoot all the innocent people and not the shooter. Plus guns just go off, unless they’re police guns so I don’t want to be near them. Also, ARBLEgarblARBLE!!!11(!&7:(&@;12$

        1. Of course after I typed my comment, I remembered that police hide outside until the shooting stops… So the police too feel that being armed is ineffective.

        2. I got my license to carry a rifle when I was 12. To do that safely, I needed to start handling firearms when I was 6

      2. They are there as clean up crew and to provide details to the media which support the chosen state position.

    4. Clearly she’s never played GTA: San Andreas.

    5. why should anyone care about sex toys either? fucking statist logic

      1. Well, do you think she can get a date with a real man?

        1. I’d hate fuck her brains out, but I wouldn’t be on for a second date

          1. This might be her, and you might want to reconsider the no second date thing.

            1. but sooner or later you’d have to talk to her, and then you’d have to throw up

      2. Because everyone knows that all gun nuts are Republicans and all Republicans are religious right prudes who cannot abide the sight of anything the least bit sexually suggestive.

    6. And people tell Aggie jokes.

  11. “The rifle on the shirt allegedly violated a ban on clothing that promotes violence.”

    So then kids wearing tee shirts in support of the teachers’ union are banned too?

    1. Excellent idea — wear a t-shirt depicting self being carted off to jail for wearing the t-shirt in question, with the caption “Support zero tolerance”.

    2. Don’t bet on that possibility.

  12. It was an “assault” t-shirt.

    1. clearly a common sense “trigger” limit is needed for clothing

  13. “They won’t let me wear a shirt that supports the people that keep us free”

    Reflect a bit on what’s wrong with that statement during your suspension.

    1. THIS times a thousand
      I was shopping a few weeks back and the guy gives me a military discount, someone behind me in line says “thank you for defending our freedoms” i looked her dead in the eyes and said “If i were defending your freedom DC would be a war zone, the only thing i did was participate in legalized murder on your behalf.”
      she looked horrified, and the store owner gave me a thumbs up and started laughing his ass off.

      1. Awesome. Thank you for doing that.

      2. “If i were defending your freedom DC would be a war zone, the only thing i did was participate in legalized murder on your behalf.”

        Put that on a T-shirt.

  14. “The Seattle City Council may consider legislation requiring stickers on gas pumps to warn drivers that burning fuel contributes to climate change.”

    City of seattle hasn’t done anything retarded for five minutes.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/se…..e-warning/

    1. Yeah, the only problem is that people just haven’t been told about the whole climate change thingy. If only people knew that cars produce CO2.

    2. Give them a minute or two and they probably will.

    3. Well that oughta be enough to make that unenlightened, fossil-fuel-using Neanderthal drive right off without fueling up. And as soon as he runs out of gas, he’ll abandon his retro polluting machine and henceforth bicycle everywhere.

      Goddamit, Seattle. So glad I moved away from those abjectly stupid, sanctimonious fucking control freaks.

  15. A picture of a rifle. Oooo I have the Vapors.

    1. I have the Vapors

      +1 Turning Japanese

      1. You really think so?

  16. The obdurate idiocy of these public school administrator-drones never ceases to astonish me. Or is it the parents? When I was in school, a principal who pulled this would have had to face a derisive and scornful parent, asking sarcastically if collecting losing lawsuits was a hobby. Didn’t the kid’s father do this? And if he had, how stupid would standing pat make the principal?

  17. Both Nimz and George should be fired for abject stupidity. Do you seriously mean to tell me that, at no point, did anyone stop and say “You know, throwing a kid out of the school for wearing a ‘support the troops’ t-shirt might be a really, really, bad PR move”? Like get your school on in the national news as an example of liberal excess and have the liberal representatives in the media call you “an isolated case” bad.

    1. If they were smart they would have real jobs

      1. Smart is one thing. But, this doesn’t even show the crude animal cunning I’ve come to expect from our tireless civil servants.

    2. “Like get your school on in the national news as an example of liberal excess and have the liberal representatives in the media call you “an isolated case” bad.”

      I love that phrasing.

      1. “phrasing.”

        BOOM!

        Uh. Inappropriate.

  18. I think I probably know the answer to this, but have they really purged the school’s history books of all images depicting battles?

    1. Any image of a weapon used for good violates the narrative of all weapons are evil and only evil people use weapons

  19. “They won’t let me wear a shirt that supports the people that keep us free.”

    Well that does sound like a threat. The school is infringing on his freedom, and he says troops keep us free (with rifles), therefore…

    1. It doesn’t matter if the sentiment on the shirt is inane. If First Amendment Rights depended on making sense we could just mute the entire faculty of many colleges.

      In point of fact, any ban of any message in schools irritates me. OK, I understand that street gangs and their colors and ‘Gangsta” lifestyle are a problem. I suspect that that was true (with alterations for era) in the 1920’s, too. Have a school uniform, or leave the little apes alone.

      Of course if Parents still had substantial control over local schools, that would be something else.

  20. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to find Gresham, OR is in the Portland suburbs. But, still,
    the local middle school here in the Pa. suburbs regularly invites Civil War re-enactors to lecture classes on Veterans Day and encourages them bring their muskets, bayonets and swords. Sad that they are raising such precious little snowflakes in Oregon and elsewhere that cannot be
    exposed to the ugly, killing side of war.

    1. Seriously, what happened to the good old days when schools prepared boys for the draft, or (once we got a volunteer military) brought in military recruiters to ask “if you’ve considered a career which will give you full scholarships to etc.”

  21. So, I suppose the administrator is worried the next Columbine shooter will look at this T-shirt and…what, join the Army? Confuse his classmates with Afghan fighters?

  22. “”Fallen soldiers are represented by an empty pair of boots, one of them with a rifle capped by a helmet protruding from it.'”

    And what do they show in the textbooks when the topics of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, etc. come up?

    Dancing elves?

    Because if we’re to suppose that the image /concept of a weapon is ‘inappropriate’ in a school setting, one has to wonder how they’re supposed to be able to digest the Rape of Nanking or the Holocaust without a team of psychiatrists on hand to offer immediate trauma support

    1. Past vs. present. As long as it’s about past wars that nobody can do anything about, it doesn’t bother people.

  23. Every time I’ve gone into a head shop I’ve been told the bongs are only for tobacco use. They’d probably suspend him for that too.

  24. Strikes me that the problem lies in and with the idiots who dream up the rules that were allegedly violated by the wearing of the “t shirt” in question here. Of course, I admit that my views of such things might be jaundiced,as believe it or not, I still hold that 2 + 2 = 4.

  25. Did the idiots who dreamed up the “offended rule”, I wonder have PHD’s in Education, or merely Masters Degrees?

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