American School Makes Boy Remove American Flag From His Bicycle

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  • #1
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http://www.fox40.com/ktxl-americanflagbike11122010,0,5978528.htmlstory".

Sure, they later "capitulated," but only after being contacted by a major news agency.

I have two grave concerns over this issue:

1. Just how out of touch with reality are educators these days, anyway?

2. Since when did the complaints of some students supercede a school administration's requiremen to follow Constitutional law, then State, county, and municipal law.

No principal has the right to deny a child's properly-exercised Constitutional rights, and displaying our American flag is utterly proper. Having seen hundreds of schools and never having seen one lacking an American flag, I can't help but wonder if this school has struck our nation's flag from it's grounds!
 
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  • #2
Ivan Seeking
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By Constitutional law, I assume you mean First Amendment protections. There is no specific right granted to display the flag, in the Constitution.

As I understand it, schools have grown found of banning anything that causes complaints or that might offend someone else, such as one's choice in clothing or jewelry. This in turn opens the door to things like banning the flag.

To be fair, I think this started as result of gang colors. If you wear blue in a red area [gang colors] you could end up dead or be the cause of a drive-by shooting. If one follows the dots, one finds that this is just another manifestation of the war on drugs, as this is ultimately what funds and motivates gang warfare.
 
  • #3
Danger
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I'm of mixed minds about this, but remember that I have no right to an opinion of a Yank situation since I don't belong to that society. My first thought is that no one has the right to deprive someone of displaying his national emblem. The first respondent to that article, however, stated that all flags had been banned from the school to alleviate racial tensions arisen from celebrations of Cinco de Mayo. That is understandable.
A minor mishap at our cenotaph ceremony on Thursday caused me to think of something, though. North Americans (Yank and Canuk; I don't know about Mexico) seem to hold our respective flags in the highest regard. Yanks more than us, I think, particularly of the southern variety.
This is one of those situations such as you might encounter in a bar, where your first statement will piss someone off so much that you don't have a chance to explain it. I'm about to make that statement, but I believe that PF members are cool enough to read through my reasoning rather than pounce upon me after the first sentence.
I neither love nor respect my Canadian flag. I appreciate the talent of the graphic designer, since it is very simple and yet uniquely Canadian. We're not the only place on Earth with maple trees, but probably the most prolific growers thereof. (Oregon produces some damned fine syrup, but I'll stick with the Ottawa Valley stuff.) The maple leaf, therefore, is appropriate. Until I was half-way through public school, however, our flag was the Union Jack, and I still have one somewhere in one of my various storage units.
I do love and respect what both of those flags represent. Also, I respect what the flags of other nations represent, whether or not I agree with the politics involved. I don't care whether it's the Stars and Stripes, or Saudi, or the Italian stripes or the Japanese meatball, or whatever. They all represent an ideology that deserves respect. Some are worthy of hatred, such as the hammer and sickle of the former Soviet Union, the Rebel flag glorifying slavery and racial intolerance, the Swastika (which, in reverse, was originally a North American native good luck symbol). Again, though, it's not the piece of cloth in question; it's what it stands for.
Back to the original item, though. What the kid did might or might not have conflicted with local ordinances (which was a bit unclear in the text), but I believe that his intent was pure.
 
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  • #4
Pengwuino
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To be fair, I think this started as result of gang colors. If you wear blue in a red area [gang colors] you could end up dead or be the cause of a drive-by shooting. If one follows the dots, one finds that this is just another manifestation of the war on drugs, as this is ultimately what funds and motivates gang warfare.

Source? This is probably the same ol mexicans feeling threatened by people with american flags thing. Why don't they just have all kids come to school wearing gray, with the same backpacks, and walk in step. And they can all speak French so we don't have to deal with this nonsense.
 
  • #5
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From what I understand this became an issue when mexican-american students wore or displayed the mexican flag and met a similar rebuke. The idea espoused by the school is that this is meant to avoid racial issues, which is absurd. I don't know that I've ever flown any flag in a non-formal occasion, but it seems to be common sense that the flag of the country in which you reside can be freely displayed... period. That said, I wouldn't have made the mexican students remove their flag either... have you seen how young these kids are? Who cares?!

If you offered every kid involved one of each gaming console for free if they dropped this issue, the only people talking would be the parents and community... and they never stop talking and arguing. These kids aren't uber-patriots... they're kids!
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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By Constitutional law, I assume you mean First Amendment protections. There is no specific right granted to display the flag, in the Constitution.
That's just silly, Ivan. The 1st Amendment doesn't specifically list any speech that is protected - besides being a cumbersome exercise, it would go against the point of the 1st amendment!
As I understand it, schools have grown found of banning anything that causes complaints or that might offend someone else, such as one's choice in clothing or jewelry. This in turn opens the door to things like banning the flag.
Offensive or distracting, yes. I think there is an important difference, though, between what you wear in class and what you park outside on a bike rack!
 
  • #7
cobalt124
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Similar situations occur in the U.K. where we get too busy worrying about minorities' feelings rather than expressing our identity. For example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6051486.stm" [Broken]

in this case the "oppressed minority" which indirectly caused the issue were Muslim women who were wearing headscarves. I am glad we don't have a written constitution to refer to but I do wish we wouldn't let common sense go out of the window. Whatever the reason for the flag banning, a stars and stripes on the back of a bike surely cannot make it any worse.
 
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  • #8
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To be fair, I think this started as result of gang colors. If you wear blue in a red area [gang colors] you could end up dead or be the cause of a drive-by shooting. If one follows the dots, one finds that this is just another manifestation of the war on drugs, as this is ultimately what funds and motivates gang warfare.

How is that fair or to be understood? The "Colors" of the USA are red, white, and blue. It sounds to me as though the problem is with the gangs - why not take their colors away?
 
  • #9
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In the interview the Superintendent said it was the campus supervisor who asked the boy to remove his flag. He said she did so "based on some information that she heard about the students complaining." In other words we got fourth hand information about unspecified complaints, if I count correctly. Will we ever hear her side of the story? The campus supervisor, at best, had second hand information. Does anyone here know what complaints, or rather information about complaints, caused the campus supervisor to act so stupidly? Did she contact the boy's family about her concern for his safety?
 
  • #10
Hurkyl
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Sure, they later "capitulated," but only after being contacted by a major news agency.

I have two grave concerns over this issue:

1. Just how out of touch with reality are educators these days, anyway?

2. Since when did the complaints of some students supercede a school administration's requiremen to follow Constitutional law, then State, county, and municipal law.

No principal has the right to deny a child's properly-exercised Constitutional rights, and displaying our American flag is utterly proper. Having seen hundreds of schools and never having seen one lacking an American flag, I can't help but wonder if this school has struck our nation's flag from it's grounds!
Who needs to have silly things like the facts of the situation before passing absolute judgment?

The paucity of information we're given does make the administration seem very silly, but not enough to warrant being closed-minded about it.
 
  • #11
talk2glenn
By Constitutional law, I assume you mean First Amendment protections. There is no specific right granted to display the flag, in the Constitution.

This is ridiculous; of course there is. Things are more muddled on public school grounds - the school has a right to censor expression which it "reasonably foresees" causing a "substantial disruption" to the ability of the school to teach. A handful of anonymous complaints to an administrator would not pass muster. This case wouldn't a last a day in court.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker...Community_School_Dist.#The_court.27s_decision

The Court held that in order for school officials to justify censoring speech, they "must be able to show that [their] action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint," allowing schools to forbid conduct that would "materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school."

Ivan Seeking said:
To be fair, I think this started as result of gang colors. If you wear blue in a red area [gang colors] you could end up dead or be the cause of a drive-by shooting. If one follows the dots, one finds that this is just another manifestation of the war on drugs, as this is ultimately what funds and motivates gang warfare.

To be fair, no it didn't. Your idle speculation is unnecessary when we have the source.

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-school-officials-respond-to-fl-111210,0,2143331.story

"The last thing we wanted was to deny Cody his rights," said Parraz speaking about the boy's wish to fly the American flag.

Parraz said national flags were banned from campus after a Cinco De Mayo incident when tensions escalated between students displaying the Mexican flag and those waving the Stars and Stripes. Recently, several students complained and there was even one threat.
 
  • #12
Danger
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Similar situations occur in the U.K. where we get too busy worrying about minorities' feelings rather than expressing our identity. For example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6051486.stm" [Broken]
I semi-agree. A lot of my friends, and my ex-wife, wear crosses. Since I am one of the world's most militant Atheists, that is in my mind equivalent to branding a large red "L" on one's forehead. At the same time, their wearing thereof does not offend me in the least, and I would never ask an employee to hide it (unless it was some kind of 10kg bling like rappers like to wear; that's just rude no matter what symbol is portrayed).
 
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  • #13
Hepth
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If ALL flags were banned, why didn't the PARENTS and MEDIA complain earlier about it, as the American flag has been banned since what, May now? Why wait until some kid breaks the rules to complain about the rule, especially since it's been in effect for a few months, and was a hot topic back then.

I see it as more of a "We want to ban their[\u] flags, so we can proudly display ours in their faces." Even though they're all American...
 
  • #14
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If ALL flags were banned, why didn't the PARENTS and MEDIA complain earlier about it, as the American flag has been banned since what, May now? Why wait until some kid breaks the rules to complain about the rule, especially since it's been in effect for a few months, and was a hot topic back then.

I see it as more of a "We want to ban their[\u] flags, so we can proudly display ours in their faces." Even though they're all American...

Are you implying that there is some kind of statue of limitations on protecting your constitutional rights? Or are you saying that displaying the flag is not protected speech?

Edit: I'm not sure you're right about flags being banned since May. The Superintendant said that the boy could display the flag. That wouldn't make sense if they were banned.
 
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  • #15
BobG
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To be fair, no it didn't. Your idle speculation is unnecessary when we have the source.

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktxl-school-officials-respond-to-fl-111210,0,2143331.story

This is true. The Veteran's Day controversy was a follow-up to the http://www.ktvu.com/news/23470391/detail.html [Broken])

I don't know that school officials handled the controversies correctly last Spring. But it was clear that the T-shirt students intentionally disrupted Cinco de Mayo celebrations last Spring by their own comments and it's reasonably clear that the timing of complaints about the US flag were more than coincidental.

I think it's clear that school officials handled the Veteran's Day controversy poorly, but it's not so clear how they can resolve tensions smoothly. Obviously a no-flags policy isn't going to work, though.
 
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  • #16
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Are we actually discussing whether or not the US flag should be banned? This is one of those - step back and look at the big picture - moments.
 
  • #17
Hepth
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Are we actually discussing whether or not the US flag should be banned? This is one of those - step back and look at the big picture - moments.

Or is it more of a "How BIG of a disruption must something threaten before the school officials are allowed to implement rules prohibiting free speech." In this case I'm not sure it was warranted.

I'm more worried about the state of the schools if there exists an environment where the US flag(or ANY flag) should be prohibited, rather than the free speech rights of the youths. Its more important to ask why they're in this predicament in the first place, and how can we fix it?

Let me pose a side question, are Post Office employees REQUIRED to wear their uniform? If so, isn't that prohibiting free speech?
 
  • #18
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I'm more worried about the state of the schools if there exists an environment where the US flag(or ANY flag) should be prohibited, rather than the free speech rights of the youths. Its more important to ask why they're in this predicament in the first place, and how can we fix it?
Free Speech is subject to restrictions.
After careful review of the briefs, record, and relevant case law, we affirm the decision of the district court, holding that Principal Simmons' unwritten ban of Confederate flags on school grounds was not an unconstitutional restriction of the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights

http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/324/324.F3d.1246.-.02-14931.html [Broken]
 
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  • #19
CRGreathouse
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That's just the Eleventh Circuit, though. I don't know of any similar restrictions upheld at the national level. (Restrictions, yes; similar restrictions, no.)
 
  • #21
Evo
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That's just the Eleventh Circuit, though. I don't know of any similar restrictions upheld at the national level. (Restrictions, yes; similar restrictions, no.)
That was just the first one that came up. Do you know any overturned at the national level?
 
  • #22
Astronuc
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And why does Cody Alicea site:ACLU.org not have any hits?
Perhaps because the family didn't contact them yet?

The news article was published on Nov 12. It's all over the internet by Nov 13, certainly with the help of Fox and various groups.

Maybe on Monday, the ACLU can offer assistance, but to do what if the school authorities have decided to allow Codie to fly his flag?
 
  • #23
CRGreathouse
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Astronuc -- I expected only comment, not legal aid. Beside being (it seems) unnecessary, that would take time, while giving a supporting comment would take seconds.

I used to think the ACLU was a good group, but I've come to think that they support only speech which furthers their underlying political preferences. I looked this one up in hopes that they would falsify my belief, but no such luck (nor the last several times I've tried).
 
  • #24
CRGreathouse
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That was just the first one that came up. Do you know any overturned at the national level?

Tinker v. Des Moines CSD would be the classic example.
 
  • #25
Astronuc
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Astronuc -- I expected only comment, not legal aid. Beside being (it seems) unnecessary, that would take time, while giving a supporting comment would take seconds.

I used to think the ACLU was a good group, but I've come to think that they support only speech which furthers their underlying political preferences. I looked this one up in hopes that they would falsify my belief, but no such luck (nor the last several times I've tried).
Presumably they will issue a statement tomorrow? It certainly appears that many folks aren't waiting for a statement based on comments I've read on various internet sites.

I think it is rather ridiculous for a school to ban the display of an American flag, but then I witnessed a lot of restrictions on students when I went to school, especially if it expressed political dissent - and the ACLU wasn't around to make a statement.
 
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