Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Are Rights Without Self Respect?

I saw a news story yesterday that bothered me. But what bothered me wasn’t the same thing that bothered the media and the rest of the world that sympathized with the story.

Back story: If you haven’t heard, a Colorado school decided to have a Patriotic Day in which all the students were encouraged to wear Red, White and Blue. One 5th grader shows up in a homemade white t-shirt that reads, “OBAMA IS A TERRORIST’S BEST FRIEND.” The school gave the boy two options 1) turn the shirt inside-out or 2) get suspended. The boy was suspended.

Minor point: The boy and his father (more on them in the Major point) claimed it was his 1st Amendment right to wear that shirt. The school claimed that the shirt was causing disruptions and was distracting other students from learning. I agree with the school (no printed shirts, no matter what their message, should be allowing in school). Public schools are a FREE place for our children to get an education, not a public forum for expressing your viewpoints (no matter how much we may or may not agree with those viewpoints). In the America of today where there is much more grey area than there is black and white, who is to say what is appropriate/inappropriate or what is right/wrong? While the shirt very well could have been referring to Senator Obama’s close friendship with William Ayers (after seeing the news interview I don’t think it was deeply thought out) who admits to attacking the United States, there are still some who do not classify Ayers as a terrorist. So now even the validity of the message of this boy’s shirt is at question. What if the shirt read, “Abortion – the easiest way out” or “George Bush is a murderer” or “Worship Satan with me…he loves us all no matter what we’ve done”? Would we be cheering for the school instead of the boy? If you want your child to be able to wear whatever shirt he wants, send him to a private school or make the ultimate sacrifice and home school (Warning: Home schooling may take away from your free time and may cause you to have to cut back some on your standard of living. Please make sure your children are worth that sacrifice before attempting). If you want the government to educate your child then exercise your 1st Amendment right by doing something about it…get involved, vote, write a letter to the editor…don’t hide behind a homemade t-shirt and wine about one of your rights being violated if you aren’t taking full advantage of all of your rights. And, oh by the way, during the interview it came out that the t-shirt was not the boy’s idea. He was “encouraged” to wear it by his Dad. Way to go Dad. Let your son take the heat for your freedom of speech.

Major point: Do we as American’s not have any self respect anymore? More and more I’m seeing things like this. When this boy and his father showed up for their interview for national news they not only failed to dress up, they didn’t even dress neatly or appropriately. During the interview I got to thinking, “I bet this is the way they dress to go to church as well.” Now that is complete speculation, but if I were a betting man I’d bet it was true. For those of you fortunate enough to have not seen the interview, I’ll describe their attire for you. The boy was wearing a black t-shirt with some sort of skull figure drawn on it with what appeared to be a bullet hole in the forehead…classy. The father was dressed in his finest camouflaged t-shirt. I can just imagine the conversation he had with his wife as he was getting ready for the interview. “Honey, have you seen my good camo?...No, not that one, that’s last year’s Mossy Oak. My good camo. The Hardwoods HD one you got me for our anniversary.”

Yes, sir, you do have a right to wear whatever you want when you receive your two minutes of fame. But people are watching…people in other countries are watching. Please have enough respect yourself if not your country to be presentable during your short lived fame.