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Ian McColgin
04-21-2015, 07:28 AM
[IMc - A deligtfully sane discussion of the issue. I don't see obvious bad faith on the part of the student or her parents and consequently I'm inclined to believe that the principal's assertion of getting permission to photoshop is more wish than reality. That is, in so many ways, the more disturbing part of this story.]

Did Ohio Principal Who Censored T-Shirt Violate 8th Grader’s Free Speech Rights?
April 20, 2015
Marc Belisle Justice

Sophie Thomas, an eighth-grader at Clermont Northeastern Middle School in Batavia, Ohio, said she wasn’t trying to make a school-wide statement when she wore a t-shirt with the word “FEMINIST” written on it on the day of a class photo. When she received the finished photo, she noticed it had been digitally altered to remove the word “FEMINIST” and make it look as though she was wearing a solid black shirt in the class photo.

The school’s principal, Kendra Young, “insisted that a class photo is no place for a statement that she deemed controversial." The student said that the administrator declared, ‘It was mine and the photographer’s decision to photoshop your shirt because some people might find it offensive.’”

Since discovering that she’d been censored, the student and her parents have contacted the school, and the administration has tried to address it more proactively. Nonetheless, the student insists she was not informed prior to being photoshopped, while the principal says she was.

She just wore it that day to assert herself after a high school student made a sexist comment to her. “I’m going to stand up for what I believe in,” says the teen, who, with her parents, has since met with school officials about the incident. (Thomas insists that she wasn’t given any notice about the shirt being censored but the school’s superintendent, Ralph Shell, told Today, “The parents were contacted, the young lady was contacted…They said it was OK to remove it.”)

Now the middle school will reportedly be holding group discussions and welcoming guest speakers to address the issue.
The principal’s decision to censor the shirt has sparked controversy in the school’s community and debate online. It raises an important question: Does an administrator have a right to judge whether a student’s expression is “controversial” or “offensive,” and then to censor the student’s expression?

The answer is a bit complicated. The most recent major ruling by the Supreme Court on the issue of student speech in school events limited the rights of students and empowered administrators. You may recall the notorious “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” case, otherwise known as “Morse v. Frederick.” In 2002, in Juneau, Alaska, high school students were taken out of school on a school function to observe the Olympic torch pass through their town. As the torch neared, a student unfurled a banner that read “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS.” The school’s principal approached him, confiscated the banner and suspended him for ten days. The student sued. The case bounced around courts based on two controversies, whether the student was at a school function or in public, and whether advocating illegal activity is protected political speech or inappropriate offensive speech in the context of school.

A district court dismissed the case, saying that the principal had “reasonably interpreted the banner as contravening the school’s policies on drug abuse prevention.” The Ninth Circuit Court then found in favor of the student. The circuit court’s ruling argued that, while previous rulings in other cases had empowered school administrators to ban blatant sexual innuendo and blatantly offensive speech, the statement in question was neither, and furthermore, the student was not in school, and thus not under the school’s jurisdiction. The ruling argued that “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” could reasonably be construed as political speech since Alaska had seen ballot initiatives to decriminalize marijuana.

The Supreme Court ruled on the case in 2007, and found in favor of the school’s principal. Chief Justice John Roberts issued the majority opinion, which held that the event was a school function, and thus, was under the school’s jurisdiction. Roberts ruled that the banner could reasonably be interpreted as advocating an illegal activity, using drugs, which the school is charged with advocating against. It was within the school’s right and consistent with its mission to restrict a student from making that statement.

Despite the fact that the case set new limits on speech and broadened the reach of schools over students, it illustrates that the bar is actually relatively high. While the argument that the speech could be considered political is compelling, the banner’s statement was, admittedly, markedly juvenile. The bar on limits of student speech in school is set at blatantly offensive speech, blatant sexual innuendo, and advocating illegal behavior in direct contravention of the school’s mission.

This makes the current case of the censored “FEMINIST” shirt seem like a wild overreaction on the part of the administrator. To be fair, the student probably has no grounds to sue, since she was not disciplined or punished in any way, beyond being censored, she alleges without notification. But the principal’s decision that the shirt was “controversial” and potentially “offensive” seems to be a judgment that she doesn’t necessarily have a right to make on behalf of others. Indeed, the word “FEMINIST” is only controversial by those who fail, often willingly, to understand what it means. Equality between genders is only a controversial statement for those who object to equality. Furthermore, as an administrator who leads and manages the careers of her teachers, and the educational lives of her students, the middle school principal, whether she realizes it or not, is a feminist herself. It’s not her job to encourage her young charges to realize that, but it’s also not her job to prevent them from seeing a statement of feminism.

Administrators, when considering the social discourse of young minds should err on the side of allowing controversy to flourish, as long as it is not overtly offensive or harmful to individuals. The student in question is clearly thinking about political and identity issues that adults grapple with. She is obviously developing an adult intellect. She should not be discouraged from developing intellectually and experiencing the potential risks that entails. And students who see shirt’s message should not be barred from dealing with their own reactions to such a statement. A free society depends on people willing to make such statements all through life. Students should not be discouraged from beginning to experiment with such statements, so that they’ll be ready for America’s morass of adult public discourse.

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xflow7
04-21-2015, 08:33 AM
Who the f--- is offended by the word 'feminist'?

Kevin T
04-21-2015, 08:37 AM
Who the f--- is offended by the word 'feminist'?
Apparently the principal at the school in question. :-)

CWSmith
04-21-2015, 08:39 AM
At my high school I was required to wear a tie. The students still are.

I can see a complaint that the casual dress was inappropriate, although that idea is outdated, but calling it controversial was just stupid.

Duncan Gibbs
04-21-2015, 08:41 AM
Who the f--- is offended by the word 'feminist'?
Misogynists.

Ian McColgin
04-21-2015, 08:49 AM
The last paragraph of the OP raises an important educational issue - the abolition of civics courses from middle schools and high schools. The excellent public junior high of my youth called it "social studies". One year the curriculum was simply that we all got a copy of the Sunday New York Times "Week in Review", which was really the flagship OpEd rag of the day, and picked apart various issues. Discussion and writing were graded for argument quality, factuality, relevance, and expressive quality. This in WASPy Republican rural Long Island.

Sometimes we got assigned debate sides by chance, sometimes by what we initially thought, sometimes the other side, sometimes what our parents thought, and sometimes the side opposite that. One of the key things we learned about civil discourse was how to respect an opposing view.

Can you imagine a public school teacher using the New York Times today?

It's unconscionable that such things are not at the heart of public education today.

Keith Wilson
04-21-2015, 08:51 AM
Who the f--- is offended by the word 'feminist'?Shell-Shocked School Administrator Syndrome - trying at all costs to avoid controversy, and making things worse.

CK 17
04-21-2015, 09:00 AM
Shell-Shocked School Administrator Syndrome - trying at all costs to avoid controversy, and making things worse.
Then there's the school board. Politians. They will have the administrators back if there's no controversy, let them burn alone if there is.

Osborne Russell
04-21-2015, 09:19 AM
It's a hierarchy of politicians. As you go up they don't get any less craven, just more vicious. That's how they got there.

Reynard38
04-21-2015, 09:39 AM
Who the f--- is offended by the word 'feminist'?

Most likley the guy that coined the term "Feminazi"

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminazi

xflow7
04-21-2015, 11:28 AM
Apparently the principal at the school in question. :-)



Misogynists.


Shell-Shocked School Administrator Syndrome - trying at all costs to avoid controversy, and making things worse.

All true.


Most likley the guy that coined the term "Feminazi"

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminazi

And no doubt this too, which is especially ironic given that "Feminazi" is legitimately offensive.

TomF
04-21-2015, 12:45 PM
I don't get offended by the word feminist (I've got a daughter, after all) ... but that's in no small part because of the way I define it in my own head. I have great difficulty with some versions of feminism which have had a demonstrable effect of discriminating against my sons.

Osborne Russell
04-21-2015, 12:59 PM
A girl's sense of being protected and valued for the independence of her mind has been assaulted and people think it's no big thing.

bobbys
04-21-2015, 01:03 PM
School photos and school is no place to display any pet causes no matter what they are..

The schools around here do not allow any messages on shirts..

it's all in the handbook of rules..

Nicholas Scheuer
04-21-2015, 01:09 PM
"School not the place to display pet causes"? Cultivating constipated minds much?

Bobcat
04-21-2015, 01:13 PM
If the school made it clear that there should be no slogans on shirts in school pictures before hand, that's one thing. Photoshopping out something after the fact is another.

I wonder if all slogans were photoshopped out or just this one.

And goodness "Feminist" on a shirt is certainly innocuous.

Phillip Allen
04-21-2015, 01:15 PM
Who the f--- is offended by the word 'feminist'?

anyone who has overdosed on the notion of PC (be careful what you wiish for... )

Captain Intrepid
04-21-2015, 01:32 PM
School photos and school is no place to display any pet causes no matter what they are..

I'm curious as to your definition of "pet causes" if you include "Men and women should be treated equally" amongst them.

bobbys
04-21-2015, 01:36 PM
I'm curious as to your definition of "pet causes" if you include "Men and women should be treated equally" amongst them.
.

No ,nothing ,no matter what. That's the definition..

Bobcat
04-21-2015, 01:49 PM
.

No ,nothing ,no matter what. That's the definition..

So no sports team names on picture day?

bobbys
04-21-2015, 01:52 PM
So no sports team names on picture day?
.
No Red Sox that's fer sure.

Barry
04-21-2015, 01:59 PM
Boobys didn't even wear a shirt for his class picture.

https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthechive.files.wordpress.com%2F200 9%2F05%2Fa-funny-senior-pictures-2.jpg%3Fw%3D500%26h%3D390&f=1

John of Phoenix
04-21-2015, 02:03 PM
The school’s principal, Kendra Young, “insisted that a class photo is no place for a statement that she deemed controversial." The student said that the administrator declared, ‘It was mine and the photographer’s decision to photoshop your shirt because some people might find it offensive.’”"Feminist" hasn't been controversial for 20 years.

Captain Intrepid
04-21-2015, 03:08 PM
.

No ,nothing ,no matter what. That's the definition..

Baldrick?

Definitions

Dog: Not a cat.
Irony: Like gold or bronzy but made of iron.
Pet Cause: No, nothing, no matter what.
Sea: Big blue wobbly thing that mermaids live in.

bobbys
04-21-2015, 03:25 PM
Boobys didn't even wear a shirt for his class picture.

https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthechive.files.wordpress.com%2F200 9%2F05%2Fa-funny-senior-pictures-2.jpg%3Fw%3D500%26h%3D390&f=1
.

LOL,I'm can take it not like Glen!

CWSmith
04-21-2015, 03:43 PM
I wonder if all slogans were photoshopped out or just this one.

Yes, that is the interesting question, isn't it?

Bobcat
04-21-2015, 03:57 PM
Yes, that is the interesting question, isn't it?

Yup: if you remove all slogans without regard to content, that's one thing. If you pick and choose which slogan survives and which is obliterated, that's censorship

purri
04-21-2015, 06:25 PM
What does soup have to do with it?

Misogynists.