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Your Opinion Please
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~Lenore    Posted 03-14-2004 at 12:30:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
Institute Defends Student Suspended for Wearing Marine T-Shirt!

FORT WAYNE, Ind., March 14, 2004 -Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to protect the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of a high school student who was suspended under his school’s dress code policy for wearing a T-shirt bearing the likeness of an M-16 rifle and the text of the Marine Corps creed. Institute attorneys argue that the zero tolerance nature of the dress code’s provisions, which ban clothing bearing any reference to symbols of violence, violates core First Amendment principles. Institute attorneys pointed out in their complaint that the right of Indiana students to express messages via the articles of clothing that they wear is protected by the United States and Indiana Constitutions.

On March 17, 2003, 16-year-old Nelson Griggs, a sophomore at Elmhurst High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., wore a T-shirt to school that bore the image of an M-16 rifle, the standard issue American military rifle, and a portion of a work entitled “My Rifle,” also known as the “Marine Corps Creed.” Written by Major General William H. Rupertus (USMC, Ret.) following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, the Marine Corps Creed is widely accepted and quoted in the American military, law enforcement and rifle sports communities as a statement of personal responsibility and rifle safety. On the day Nelson wore the T-shirt, school officials informed him that he would face discipline if he wore the shirt again. The following day, believing that he possessed a constitutional right under the First Amendment to display the Marine Corps Creed and logo, Nelson again wore the T-shirt to school. Elmhurst High School Principal Laura Taliaferro ordered Nelson to serve in-school suspension and threatened him with graver consequences, including out-of-school suspension, if he wore the shirt again. Principal Taliaferro then notified Nelson’s father, David Griggs, that the T-shirt was “inappropriate for the school setting.”

Ironically, hanging on the wall of the room to which Nelson was sent to serve his in-school suspension was a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting poster depicting a marine holding an M-16 rifle identical to the one shown on Nelson’s shirt. In filing suit against the school district, Institute attorneys have asked that school officials cease restricting students’ free speech rights through their enforcement of the dress code policy. Institute attorneys also pointed out that because the dress code’s provisions are substantially overbroad, they could result in students being subjected to disciplinary action for wearing clothing on which such commonplace items are depicted as, for example, the Seal of the City of Fort Wayne (depicting a sword).

“The right of students to express themselves through the articles of clothing that they wear is protected by the First Amendment,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “This case is yet another example of school officials going too far in their efforts to regulate student expression for the so-called purpose of creating a safer school environment.”

Jim in michigan    Posted 03-15-2004 at 06:58:22       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I went to do 4h at the local school,,,half the girls had shirts that stopped just above the belly button and pants that showed the butt crack,,I am in favor of school uniforms,,kids are there to learn, not to be in a fashion show ,,,Jim

SusieQ    Posted 03-15-2004 at 02:37:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
I think, schools are taking context way out of hand here, it is really disturbing, worse yet, no one can wear or carry a confederate flag into schools, but they have reenactments of civil war in just about every town, above and below the Mason-Dixon line.....a classic case of Do as I say, Not as I do???????

JF    Posted 03-14-2004 at 17:25:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
speaking as a former teacher of 11 years that dealt with dress codes and discipline issues. These matters are a political hot potato. Dress codes are an enforcement nightmare. The 1 st teacher enforcers then the next class does not. They are only as strong as as the adminstrator who enforces. Interpretation is another matter all together. You don't expect the high school basketball star who is leading the team to the state finals to adhere to the school dress code. Punish him in the customary manner and he cannot play that night-then the community loves ya. AT my last school tucking in shirts was a total nightmare. The principal who sets the tone in the building would walk right past a student with the shirt untucked and say/do nothing-then the same kid comes to your class and you write a discipline referal. The kids argument was that he just talked to the principal who said nothing so 1-what is your problem, 2-if the principal wanted it enforced he would do it, 3-do you effective undermine your boss who has the ability to in short fire you? Teaching an elective and enforcement of dress codes and discipline is a one way ticket to the unemployment line. Why would a kid take your elective class when their is one down the hall who has no behavioral standards, let alone academic standards. The school I was in the principal would openly play favorites among the staff. To address the marine shirt-why did he wear it? what was his intent? if he is allowed then the next student will want their gun slogan or you will have the ACLU on your butt. Example outside Ashland Ky they let a religious organization utilize the school for a meeting. Then a homesexual club wanted the same privilige-had to allow it or face a lawsuit and lose big time. No principal or school district wants the bad publicity. The only effective dress codes is uniforms. The rebel flag caused much controversy in the last school. Another key issue is faculty members who will not lead by example. Take for issue that all students shirts must be tucked in yet faculty was not held to the same standard. So I ask you how can you effectively discipline a kid for an untucked shirt when a third of the staff is not tucked? Our american schools are suffering from a vacuum of leadership and willingness to stand up for traditional fundamental values. Most adminstrators are there for the money and want to seek the next position. It is a stepping stone mentality. Parents send their kids to school totally unprepared, communities show apathy in every aspect except sports, classrooms are overloaded, teachers have no support only vague educational phrases. I believe th average american would be totatly shocked if they spent one full day in their local schools and seen the lack of organization, mismanagement, poor discipline, etc.

Ron,ar    Posted 03-14-2004 at 18:04:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
you are right,on both counts. The schools have no leadership, the school boards generally play a control game and the administrators are looking for the next step up. Teachers don't have time to deal with it, cause they are trying to cope with whatever new cirriculum the DOC has been conned into trying, whatever new teaching fad comes along (usually from Calif.
Nobody wants to deal with discipline period.
But the bigger question is Why aren't these kids being taught manners at home. Discipline starts at home and they won't learn it playing Super Nintendo, watching MTV or playing on the computer all night. JMO

jf    Posted 03-15-2004 at 02:58:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
all I can say to that is AMEN!!!!!

Sid    Posted 03-14-2004 at 17:19:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
I am probably gonna Heck for this but a dress code is a dress code. I rember when Tee shirts period were a violation of dress codes. I do not think that is a bad ideal. Just what is a dress code but teaching discipline. I do not think the constitution gives us the right ot wear clothing with messages ads or whatever on them. I for one am getting a little tired of everybody hollering my constitutional If we would practice a little constitutional responsibilty we would not have all these squabbles we are having today.

doolittle    Posted 03-14-2004 at 16:30:22       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Big Mike    Posted 03-14-2004 at 15:25:02       [Reply]  [No Email]
Let that kid wear his shirt. Political Correctness gone amuck!

KellyGa    Posted 03-14-2004 at 15:05:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
At some schools here in Georgia they won't allow students to wear the confederate flag on any clothing. Says it causes racial tension. BUT...its okay for the blacks to wear their FUBU crap. What a load. For those who don't know, FUBU stands for "For Us, By Us" which means, for blacks, by blacks.

Although, some here in Georgia have told me it means something else to others, lol.

Farmers Used to Beat Us, lol, sorry, the changing of the long standing Georgia flag is a sore spot with me. Now I didn't make that up, I just heard it.

Anyway, all joking aside, things are so out of hand in my opinion. Nobody can express themselves anymore for fear of offending another. Seems majority doesn't rule anymore. The one with the squeeky wheel gets the oil as my Mama says.

I think if the kids want to wear clothes to express their opinion, they should be able to. As long as it isnt anything lude and crude.

I am proud of my heritage and I show it off. I have a confederate tag in my front window, and dare somebody to say something about it.

When we go to the fair, I always get Dixie Outfitters shirts for us. They have some really nice shirts, they even have tractors, deer, puppies, guns, you name it, and it all comes with a confederate flag somewhere on it.

I had a neighbor ask me if I was prejudiced, because of some of the omments I was making, and I said well, I don't condemn all blacks, but I am a product of my environment. My husband has been driving down the road and had his window shot out, and himself shot at by two juvenile blacks, we had over a thousand dollars worth of tools stolen out from under the carport by a black man. (we know because the dumb neighbors saw him lugging them off and didn't realize they were OUR tools.

I am tired of one person causing everyone to have to conform, bottom line.

Oh, now ya got me all wound up, I better take me a deep breath. LOL, well, anyway, I could go on and on, and tell you all so many stories that made me the way I am. Everybody gets a chance in my eyes, until you prove your subhuman. I am done ranting, sorry.

Jessie    Posted 03-14-2004 at 15:48:29       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I agree with you Kelly and I think that this politically correct/racist etc., etc. crap that goes on has nothing to do with having respect for someones ethnic orgins, gender or whatever. I firmly believe that liberals started that junk to generate money and having an avenue of opportunity to generate money thru the court system. I don't believe anyone is affected by the logo on a T shirt, a flag, a statement or anything of that nature until it can be made to pay off opposing it.

KellyGa    Posted 03-14-2004 at 16:16:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Fills my heart with hope to know there are still plenty of us out there that thinks we are getting a raw deal, while they get colleges and the Atlanta Airport has to be renamed. MLK has a day all his own, but not George Washington and Lincoln, now its just Presidents DAY. One day we are gonna get tired of being manipulated and pushed around, and something is gonna give. I hope I live to see it.

donna in w.v    Posted 03-14-2004 at 14:44:47       [Reply]  [Send Email]
boy it's good to be back . let me share a story with you . while i still lived on cape cod my youngest was in high school and played football.his two best friends were a puerto rican and a black kid from the team .one day in study hall the 3 of them are sitting together telling some definelty racist jokes to each other writing them in my son's notebook and passing it back and forth . now we have 3 different handwritings so when the teacher[black lady] picks up the book she sends my son to the headmaster .his 2 friends try to explain she just tells them to shut-up.i get a call to come to school and the black headmaster asks me if this is what i teach my son,of coarse i'm sure he didn't like my next question which was are they racists jokes when they aren't about people of color ? the other 2 kids mothers showed up a few min. after me and we all knew each other very well and nelson's mom said if they all get suspended that's fine but if just suspend donna's son we'll all go to the school board with her. he told my son to just go to's that for for being a racist.!!!!

Charles(Mo)    Posted 03-14-2004 at 14:12:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Let me start off by saying that I agree with anybody that is taking a stand for patriotism. Whether it is wearing a t shirt or flying the American flag. But the gun is the issue with this shirt. And since schools have a no gun policy, then maybe it is not appropiate.

If a kid wore a shirt that said "pro queer" and had a picture of a couple of homos on it, I am sure everybody would be upset, except the queers.

Don't bash me, please.

Ron,ar    Posted 03-14-2004 at 13:43:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have two sides to this opinion:
1: I have taken so many knives,throwing stars,gang related stuff and a few guns away from kids on school buses that I kinda wish we would take a zero tolerance stand on it.I see the connection with the rifle being a bone of contention but (see #2)

2: The Marine's weapon is his rifle basicaly. If that same kid had worn a shirt with US Air Force and a F-15 strike eagle emblazoned on it I doubt that anyone would say a word. What about a shirt with US Navy and an aircraft carrier on it? Same answer I bet. Something here isn't right. What do they want on the USMC'S shirt? an unarmed Marine is a naked Marine I once heard (at Camp Pendelton by a drill instructor friend of mine).

I also agree with the other remarks about southern pride. Try wearing a Happy Birthday Robert E Lee shirt on Jan 19 and see what happens.
Ron,Ar-who works for a local school district and KNOWS it's the craziest run job I ever had.

DD    Posted 03-14-2004 at 14:03:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
I gotta say I agree with ya Ron. The youngest child in our county to have been armed with a 9mm LOADED (good thing the lil bugger wasn't strong enough to pull it back)was in the 2nd grade : O

DD    Posted 03-14-2004 at 13:19:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
I think this is very sad when a young man can't wear a t-shirt depicting the Marines. Rifle or no rifle on it. Reminds me of a news story that happened awhile back ( sorry, don't remember where) of some Southern younguns that got suspended from school for wearing their rebel flag t-shirts. Now wait jest a minnit, I see all kinds of Martin Luther King Jr. t-shirts and "Black Pride" (for lack of a better term) t-shirts and such. Maybe I'm the ignorant one here but what I don't understand is WHY is it ok for one race to show their pride and not another. I know the rebel flag is not a race but to me it means Southern Pride. Same as they have their pride, I have mine. Some folks have said the rebel flag stands for segregation, if it does, thats a new one on me. And what about on t.v.? You hear commercials to give to the United Negro College Fund" ( here again, NOT sayin thats a BAD thing) but when are they gonna air the ones for the White Kid College Fund? Caint do that cuz that'd be discrimination. I don't get it. Sorry Lenore for the rant, I think that boy SHOULD BE ALLOWED to wear his t-shirt : )

KellyGa AMEN!    Posted 03-14-2004 at 15:12:14       [Reply]  [No Email]
THANKYOU DD! You took the words right outta my mouth, I am so glad to hear the truth out of someone elses mouth. Thankyou so much....

toolman    Posted 03-14-2004 at 13:24:36       [Reply]  [No Email]
i agree 100% with what your, but im white and when i say stuff like that it,s not policitally correct or in simpler im bein rasists.

DD    Posted 03-14-2004 at 13:36:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm white too and I don't care if it's PC or not and I don't consider myself a racist in no way, shape or form : )

toolman    Posted 03-14-2004 at 18:31:30       [Reply]  [No Email]
i don,t consider myself a rasists either but if we say anything , wow all the minorites scream bloody murder , your a rasists , but they can run around slamming us and EACH OTHEr and thats ok, to he!! with them as far as im concerned i,ll speak my mind and if they don,t like it ,tough.

Ana    Posted 03-14-2004 at 12:46:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
What happened to the days that if the principal said you were not dressed appropriately, you went home and changed your clothes and end of problem?

Bob    Posted 03-14-2004 at 13:03:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
Amen to that! My kid gets in all kinds of trouble in school, and expects to have everything his way. Lately, he just wants to drop out.

He can't fathom what I tell him... that school is like the rest of his life... there are rules, and there are people in charge with their own opinions. Learning to cope with people in charge in school is good preparation for adult life, when there isn't going to be a parent around to get life's little irritations "fixed"!

Pitch    Posted 03-14-2004 at 16:35:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
So what exactly on that shirt violated the dress code. A depiction of a rifle is not violent, a picture of a Marine is not violent, and the riflemans creed has no references to violence in it.

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