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No Constitutional Right to Wear Marilyn Manson Shirts to School
March 19, 2001 9:01 AM   Subscribe

No Constitutional Right to Wear Marilyn Manson Shirts to School The Supreme Court has upheld the right of a public school to send a student home for wearing what they deemed to be an "offensive" Marilyn Manson t-shirt. The student, according to the court, had no First Amendment right to wear the shirt in an educational setting. And the debate over what rights kids have and do not have in the schoolhouse rages on. . .
posted by Dreama (97 comments total)

 
Manson promoted Satanism?
Silly stuff.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2001


There are boundaries set as to graphic material or skimpy clothes already set. I think they are right.

I'm not sure I'd want to defend an idiot wearing something as bad as a Marilyn Manson shirt, but I guess I don't see a reason to kick him out. But if you think, what if he had a nazi t-shirt? or one that had david's star? Or a three faced Buddha?

I'm pretty sure the Nazi stuff isn't allowed in school, and you can get expelled.
posted by tiaka at 9:26 AM on March 19, 2001


I think he should be expelled simply on the grounds of chronic -- and perhaps congenital -- stupidity. I mean is the right to wear a marilyn manson t-shirt the hill you want to die on? Puh-leeze.
posted by darren at 9:30 AM on March 19, 2001


Of course, this doesn't have anything - really - to do with the First Amendment, and everything to do with adults being absolutely freaked out by what the market has wrought - including Marilyn Manson. To enjoy the fruits of capitalism and widening circles of commerce, everything has or will soon become a commodity - values have no meaning, only whether or not a thing can be marketed and sold and a profit made. In the face of this reality, adults shriek at the loss of morality and blame the products of a terribly amoral economic system they themselves adhere to with near religious fervor.

So, schools ban t-shirts and bookbags and blame Nintendo for youth violence. It's easier than giving up the comfy lifestyles and SUVs.
posted by gsh at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2001


offensive to whom? the sweaty history teacher with a comb-over? Who is appointed the right to judge what is offensive in a public school? The deeper issue, of course, is freedom of speach. If the t-shirt goes against religion, so be it. There are plenty of school kids out there wearing shirts proclaiming their side of the issue also. ( for example, my nephew wears a shirt that states "Don't want to burn in hell? Follow me, sinner." This, to me, is more offensive than the Marilyn shirt.) As long as they don't start getting together and burning puppies on the playground, so be it. Let the kid wear the shirt.
posted by bradth27 at 9:53 AM on March 19, 2001


The first shirt was considered offensive because it "depicted a three-faced Jesus on the front and the word 'believe' with the letters 'lie' highlighted on the back."

I will assume the reasoning is that it would be offensive to students who do believe in Jesus Christ. That's fine, then, but on the flip side I would expect kids wearing shirts such as this, or this, or this also be asked to turn them inside out or go home because these shirts make the suggestion that students who don't believe in Jesus Christ are lesser or wrong or doomed to suffer in the fires of eternal damnation. I find that far more offensive than a shirt that suggests organized religion is a sham, and I don't even like Marilyn Manson's music.

Then the article states that the student came back to school wearing four different Marylin Manson shirts, but no reasons, other than "there was evidence that Manson had promoted drug use and Satanism" were given as to why they were also deemed inappropriate.

Here are some other Marilyn Manson t-shirts. Ugly, yes. Encouraging people to question authority? Absolutely. Directly promoting drug use or Satanism? Mmmm... no.

When a school with no uniform program has the right to regulate what t-shirts student wears, "even if they are not obscene and have not caused a substantial disruption of the school program," then yeah. I think that's a pretty worthy hill to pitch a battle on.
posted by jennyb at 9:57 AM on March 19, 2001


ding dong concurs.
posted by ding at 10:04 AM on March 19, 2001


What "rights" do kids HAVE in school anyway? Some kids got in trouble for not wanting to watch the Channel One thing, they can't wear what they want, they're supposed to do the pledge of allegience, they HAVE to go each day, they can't sue other students for harrassment, they can't express their anger, and they can't LEAVE... ugh. Oh yeah - and then there are the GRADES... And then people grow up wondering why they feel like they have no choices in their life.... :-) Hmmmm.
posted by thunder at 10:13 AM on March 19, 2001


I would think kids could "question authority" outside of school.
posted by owillis at 10:19 AM on March 19, 2001


I don't follow, owillis. Are you saying that kids can question authority, as long as it isn't actual authority?
posted by jpoulos at 10:27 AM on March 19, 2001


I'm not sure why there should even be a question of a constitutionally protected right to wear an item of clothing. I wholeheartedly agree with every school and workplace policy banning any item of clothing with writing. Such policies end any problems before they start.
posted by Dreama at 10:31 AM on March 19, 2001


Wow. metafilter discussion gets taken over by communists, news at 11.
posted by bradth27 at 10:43 AM on March 19, 2001


> Who is appointed the right to judge what is offensive in
> a public school?

Is your point that nobody has the right to make such a judgement, and therefore anything and everything should be allowed? Swastikas? Klan robes?

Answer your own question, please. Who decides?
posted by jfuller at 10:56 AM on March 19, 2001


Dreama, when you went to law school, do you remember any mention of the US Constitution? I'm pretty sure it's part of the core curriculum.
posted by jpoulos at 11:04 AM on March 19, 2001


Right, but do you allow swastikas? Do you allow see-through dresses? It's a public place of education, there should be some guidelines. Do you allow 'w.w.j.d.' arm bands and t-shirts? I don't know, uniforms are making much more sense now.

And Bradth27 - You're thinking of Paris, look up the news.
posted by tiaka at 11:15 AM on March 19, 2001


I think that a child should have the right to wear anything they want, as long as it doesn't break the laws of our country. ( for example, a transparent shirt, giving way to the old unnecessary public nudity laws.) I cannot wear certain things at work, this is true, but I am a paid employee, and I can choose if I want to work here or not. In the case of schools, often a child has no voice, or is required to attend a public school becuase of the location in which he resides. As a parent, I would enforce a few laws, such as " You cannot wear anything that shows your nipples, young lady" or "You cannot wear a toilet on your head, and that's final".....but any thing other than that intrudes upon that child's freedom of expression.
If my child wants to wear a shirt that states that he worships the devil and enjoys wearing horns on his forehead while dancing a jig around a fiery pentagram, so be it. If it offends, sorry. As long as I, the parent, have stated he could, then it's nobody's business but mine.
Now, if he wants to wear that shirt to school, he'll probably get beat up. That's his problem. He shouldn't have worn the stupid shirt.
posted by bradth27 at 11:15 AM on March 19, 2001


This really bugs me (as does most news these days). By sending this kid home they're just giving manson more record sales. They make it look like he's this "bad guy," but they're just making him more appealing to the foolish youth who choose to follow his "rebellious" ways. Give me a break! So what? He can spout a few anti-christian phrases and wear mascara...That doesn't scare me, does it scare you?
posted by starduck at 11:15 AM on March 19, 2001


Marilyn Manson gets that attention because he's a brilliant marketer. If you disagree with me, you probably think Martha Stewart is an idiot too. The current batch of gerontocrats don't seem to realize that the more evil they make something out to be, the more kids will like it. They are indeed playing right into MM's wallet.

The real danger here is if the school finds this t-shirt offensive but not one advocating, say, Christianity. I'm just sick and tired of freedom of religion only extending to those who happen to be of a Judeo-Christian creed.

Schools have always made rules about what one could wear. I don't have any problem with this as long as they can manage to apply it fairly. I think Dreama's no legible clothing idea is a pretty fair one.

Hell, my high school reserved the right to do random locker searches. These kids today have it so easy.
posted by astrogirl at 11:28 AM on March 19, 2001


I wholeheartedly agree with every school and workplace policy banning any item of clothing with writing.

Oh, me too. I'm sick of seeing people wandering around with corporate logos plastered all over their bodies. It offends my sense of human dignity, and I'd be happy to see them all disappear.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:30 AM on March 19, 2001


bradth27: "As long as I, the parent, have stated he could, then it's nobody's business but mine."

Not if my kid has to be around it. Go to school to learn, not promote some agenda (Christian, Satanist, whatever).
posted by owillis at 11:33 AM on March 19, 2001


I agree with Dreama, the last things schools need are kids wearing weirdo t-shirts with that freak on them.
posted by RightWinger at 11:33 AM on March 19, 2001


"Not if my kid has to be around it. Go to school to learn, not promote some agenda (Christian, Satanist, whatever)."

But the question is, are they promoting, or just expressing themselves? the problem is, school is pretty much the only place a child has to do this, and I for one will not be the one to tell the kid he can't. Otherwise, they all start killing each other because they can't wear the clothes they want to wear.
I promise, I am not some racist, devil-worshipping freak that screams at people at random on the street.
posted by bradth27 at 11:38 AM on March 19, 2001


and, just for the record, I think Marilyn Manson is a freak too. but than again, his music is incredibly rebellious, and that's what Rock and Roll is all about.
So be it.
posted by bradth27 at 11:39 AM on March 19, 2001


He can spout a few anti-christian phrases and wear mascara...That doesn't scare me, does it scare you?

I'm not so much scared as shocked by it.
posted by jpoulos at 11:43 AM on March 19, 2001


I too would defend my children's right to wear any legal clothing to school, so long as school walls are plastered with corporate logos, there are vending machines with corporate logos in the cafeteria, so long as Channel 1 shows commercials in the classrooms, so long as Marine and Army and Navy bookcovers are allowed, so long as shoes and shirts and pants and hats and bags and books and notebooks carry logos that turn children into free sandwich-board men, etc. etc. Each of these is a statement that is valuable enough to corporations that they are willing to pay big $$$ to get them into the schools. I find each of these brand incursions to be just as offensive as any Marilyn Manson shirt.
Advertising is representation of a cultural point-of-view NOT shared by everyone. Bad enough that this blight has taken over the urban landscape. Since this dire door has been opened wide, it has to be perfectly acceptable to fight this plague of visual spam with visual spam that represents counter-mainstream, counter-materialistic viewpoints. Wind the clock back on the corporate crap, and then let's talk about what's "appropriate".
posted by Twang at 11:47 AM on March 19, 2001


Kids still want to wear Marilyn Manson t-shirts? I thought he was over...
posted by stefnet at 12:10 PM on March 19, 2001


tiaka: Right, but do you allow swastikas?

Someone else mention klan robes, I don't feel like scrolling to find it.

Yes. Let the kids wear swastikas or klan robes. If anyone came to my high school in such getup (avoiding, for the moment, the uniform issue) they were rather soundly beaten by pretty much the first person who saw them.

It happen twice, with swastikas. One on a t-shirt underneath the uniform shirt, one a medallion thingy on a chain.

You've the right to make your opinion known, but if your opinion's one based on ignorance, you'll pay the price.
posted by cCranium at 12:11 PM on March 19, 2001


What the--? When did anyone get the idea that speech was suppressable simply because some group of people decided it was icky? It just makes me itch.

The student, according to the court, had no First Amendment right to wear the shirt in an educational setting.

Righto. Let's definitely not add any nasty, unpopular, debatable issues into our educational setting. That would be inappropriate.
posted by Skot at 12:28 PM on March 19, 2001


wonderfully done.
posted by bradth27 at 12:31 PM on March 19, 2001


RIP, Tinker v. Des Moines. Another fine SCOTUS ruling gutted.
It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. . . . In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights, which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved.
posted by norm at 12:35 PM on March 19, 2001


(Yes, I realize this is hardly the first time Tinker was gutted. But the hyperbole was irresistable!)
posted by norm at 12:36 PM on March 19, 2001


Haven't we already done enough to stifle kids' creativity? Telling them how to dress is just another way for schools to condition children to think the way they want them to think.

Schools are for education and socialization. Both are equally important. Imposing someone else's morals on my child should not be part of the curriculum. I'll take care of educating my child on morals and values myself, thank you.
posted by goto11 at 12:36 PM on March 19, 2001


Or irresistible. You know. I hate it when I do that.
posted by norm at 12:42 PM on March 19, 2001


Personally, what I find supremely disturbing is the trend of treating those under 18 as essentially non-citizens, especially when they are in school. If kids are required by law to go to school, then they should have the same first amendment rights we have, if we are to assume we are in free country. Give people their freedom of speech, and therefore allow everyone else their freedom of thought.
posted by ookamaka at 12:48 PM on March 19, 2001


Plus Ca Change - the guy who sat next to me in French in 1983 was sent home because he was wearing a shirt that read "Circle Jerks". Credit to the vice principal for knowing what a circle jerk is (although he didn't know that this was a band).
posted by plinth at 12:59 PM on March 19, 2001


Credit to the vice principal for knowing what a circle jerk is

Ugh. I don't know if "credit" would be quite the right word to use there...

Haven't we already done enough to stifle kids' creativity?

Unless kids are making their own damn clothes, this has little to do with "creativity" or "self-expression." Wearing someone else's words, or logo, or whatever on your body is not expressing yourself -- it's repeating what they said, as if you can't be bothered to come up with something of your own. What's creative or self-expressive about that?
posted by kindall at 1:03 PM on March 19, 2001


As a student in a public high school, I know that there is an unwritten dress code. Even though the school handbook says very, very little about dress code, there is the stigma that goes along with wearing things such as Marilyn Manson t-shirts. Wearing one got me a one-way pass to the guidance counsler and the school psychologist, who both asked if I had plans to hurt myself or others. All I did was wear a t-shirt. Why must students be pressured to lose what little self-expression they have in the public school setting? And no, I'm not talking about nazi symbols or klan hoods. I'm talking about clothing that does nothing more than express a fondness for the band. However, many musicians, and Manson in particular, have become more than just a band - they have become symbols of the anti-christ, of satanworship, of all that is evil in the world. Which, in turn, gets them more publicity when some horrible tragedy is blamed on their influence, which increases their album sales. The man(?) is a genius, and he knows exactly the impact he has on society.
posted by elf_baby at 1:11 PM on March 19, 2001


Haven't we already done enough to stifle kids' creativity?

Unless kids are making their own damn clothes, this has little to do with "creativity" or "self-expression." Wearing someone else's words, or logo, or whatever on your body is not expressing yourself -- it's repeating what they said, as if you can't be bothered to come up with something of your own. What's creative or self-expressive about that?


Completely beside the point. Obfuscation. Who says speech has to be creative or original or nonderivative? If I want to make a "statement" by wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt or a Marilyn Manson shirt or an "I Hate Wham!" shirt (actual shirt from my past), then who on earth gets to tell me I can't?

Apparently, school boards.
posted by Skot at 1:16 PM on March 19, 2001


Ookamaka: exactly.

I personally know a 16-year-old that dropped out of high-school (with parental support!), got her GED, and is now attending college for these very reasons. I did the same thing when I was in school 20 years ago, and I had no problems with wearing odd clothes (which I did). To call our schools "intellectually stifling" is a severe understatement. In Oregon, kids are dropping out like lemmings. As our schools become more and more like prisons, our kids will try harder and harder to escape.

This whole country needs to get over its fear of teenagers.
posted by frykitty at 1:22 PM on March 19, 2001


Wearing Marilyn Manson shirts will get you a quick ticket to hell. These kids shouldn't be wearing Marilyn Manson shirts, they ought not to be wearing t-shirts at all, rather button down shirts with ties. Now, that's what i call a fine young man.
posted by RightWinger at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2001


What I find disturbing is treating kids as if they are adults. When you're a kid, you answer to someone - either your parents or a teacher. That's how you learn to become your own person. Otherwise you can rationalize that's its perfectly fine to spray the cafeteria with an uzi, because you're "entitled to it".
posted by owillis at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2001


Uh. Suddenly, the thread took an odd turn, one which caused poor ol' sonof to lose his bearings and caused his noggin to ache.

What were we talking about? Shirts? Where'd the uzis come from?
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:38 PM on March 19, 2001


I wholeheartedly agree with every school and workplace policy banning any item of clothing with writing.

Oh, me too. I'm sick of seeing people wandering around with corporate logos plastered all over their bodies. It offends my sense of human dignity, and I'd be happy to see them all disappear.

What, even these beautiful promotional devices? [Warning: possibly offensive]
posted by davidgentle at 1:38 PM on March 19, 2001


> Yes. Let the kids wear swastikas or klan robes. If anyone
> came to my high school in such getup (avoiding, for the
> moment, the uniform issue) they were rather soundly beaten
> by pretty much the first person who saw them.

And school admins are supposed to sit there and accept vigilante law by the students as the right way to solve the what-self-expression-is-permitted issue? If you're OK with beatings-up, are you OK with shootings?
posted by jfuller at 1:45 PM on March 19, 2001


I wish this country would stop letting itself be controlled by the Christian fascist hypocrite regime.

We as a country are a bunch of wimps, because we knuckle under every time some whiny Christian asshole feigns offense. As if we subconsciously believe they _may_ be right, and we don't want to rock the boat too much more than we've already done in our lives.

I personally have seen enough of Christian bullshit and sheer evil in my lifetime, that I feel not the slightest remaining sliver of obligation to humoring their bankrupt lifestyle and superstitions. I say let them be offended. It is not my duty to shelter their fragile eggshell minds from this world they've helped to create.
posted by TheShovel at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2001


Wearing Marilyn Manson shirts will get you a quick ticket to hell. These kids shouldn't be wearing Marilyn Manson shirts, they ought not to be wearing t-shirts at all, rather button down shirts with ties. Now, that's what i call a fine young man.

This puzzled me until I remembered Fight Club. I think RightWinger is the Brad Pitt side of one of the bleeding-heart liberals. Time to swallow the gun, Brad.
posted by anapestic at 1:50 PM on March 19, 2001


The Shovel, youre a bigot against christians, Adolph! Get offf the planet!
posted by RightWinger at 1:52 PM on March 19, 2001


they have become symbols of the anti-christ, of satanworship, of all that is evil in the world.

I have a (slightly off-topic) question. Forgive me for sounding like an old man, but does MM actually promote Satanism? I only ask because, when I was a kid, bands like Judas Priest and Motley Crue were accused of "worshiping Satan," although there was absolutely no mention of anything like that in any of their lyrics--and they certainly weren't actual Satanists in "real life". It was just cool to put pentagrams on your album covers.

I know MM (at least the character of Marilyn Manson, althought possibly not Brian Werner himself) is a sick fuck, but is he actually singing about Satan?
posted by jpoulos at 2:05 PM on March 19, 2001


....not that there's anything wrong with that.... :-)
posted by jpoulos at 2:06 PM on March 19, 2001


First off, I'm not a Christian, that doesn't mean I don't like christians. Everyone is entitled to a religion, I don't care what other people do as long as it doesn't affect me. And that's what I think this entire article is about! A boy, wearing a manson t-shirt to school. He knew he'd get in trouble, so why did he do it? To disrupt others dammit! He wore that shirt just to piss people off (it's even working on me)! Who cares if he had his dad's permission? That's totally irrelevant because it came down to him. Surely he isn't some mindless drone because he wore a manson shirt (note the sarcasm). This isn't about religion, it isn't about school shootings, it's about judgement, and having respect for other people. He was in a neighborhood where that kind of behaviour was distracting! Show some respect...
*sigh*
posted by starduck at 2:07 PM on March 19, 2001


oh, and another thing
a genius? all he does is prey on the fragile emotions of teenagers. I don't know a single adult who enjoys his music or what he represents. Some people would argue that's because adults are "whipped." I think we all know the real reason.
posted by starduck at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2001


So are Led Zeppelin t-shirts to be outlawed too? Seems they fit the bill. Pink Floyd too.
posted by muppetboy at 2:11 PM on March 19, 2001


Marilyn Manson has to be loving this after the Onion's lampoon of his shock-for-money scam.
posted by muppetboy at 2:13 PM on March 19, 2001


If we all dress according to what won't upset others, we'll all be wearng rightwinger's button down shirts and ties. Or just brown uniforms.

I'm totally offended by the crass commercialism inherent in the Nike logo-plastered nylon jumpsuit on the guy in the cubicle next to me, but I'm certainly not going to insist he go home and change.
posted by jennyb at 2:14 PM on March 19, 2001


I don't understand how anyone can get offended unless someone is pointing and yelling at them. Nothing offends me, and I seriously don't get it.

And, *sigh*no, MM doesn't actually sing about worshipping satan.
Satanism is different than that, though. And if anyone who's offended by him actually read his lyrics and some interviews w/ him, they'd find that he's not at all against christianity, he's against hypocritical christians. (Not all christians.) I don't care for his music much, but he's a funny guy, he seems nice, and he makes fools out of some people who could use it. He's just trolling for suckers who go around looking for things to get mad about.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:17 PM on March 19, 2001


For what it's worth, I was into Mr. Manson around the time of his "Antichrist Superstar" album. In interviews, he came off as well-spoken and well-read. I got the impression that he wasn't Satanic at all. Rather, his anti-Christ stance had more in common with Nietzsche's views than with the self-professed devil-worhipping black-lipsticked kids that Jenny Jones likes to make over. Manson seemed to be attempting to, by opposing the Judeo-Christian mindset that pervades the society he's operating in, lay the groundwork for the appearance of a morality that was Beyond Good and Evil.
posted by poseur at 2:19 PM on March 19, 2001


Ah. So that's what the spell-check button is for. For the record, I meant "devil-worshipping" rather than "worhipping."
posted by poseur at 2:25 PM on March 19, 2001


> For what it's worth, I was into Mr. Manson around the time
> of his "Antichrist Superstar" album.

Heh. I was into Marilyn back when he was going by the name of Alice Cooper, before he went to Switzerland for monkey glands. As the man says, plus ça change...
posted by jfuller at 2:31 PM on March 19, 2001


I would be impressed only if you were into Marilyn back when he was into voodoo, wore a bone through his nose and went by the name Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The Cooper era... ? Man, that's when he sold out.
posted by poseur at 2:40 PM on March 19, 2001


MM doesn't actually sing about worshipping satan. Satanism is different than that, though.

Please to be explaining?...
posted by jpoulos at 2:43 PM on March 19, 2001


After watching things develop here, I have decided upon a few things....
1- No one likes Marilyn Manson.
2- I feel sorry for the guy.
3- I am going right out and buying one of his albums tonight, pop it in the CD player, lean back, close my eyes, and see what all the hoopla is about.
From what I have learned here today, after listening to the music, I will probably want to kill kill kill. Wish me luck.
posted by bradth27 at 2:58 PM on March 19, 2001


jpoulos: This seems to be a good overview of modern satanism. (it seems to be mostly humanism with some theatrics. I have only a general knowledge of it myself, so I'm probably misrepresenting.) I don't think Manson is even a levayan satanist, though. The logic of people who say this seems to be !christian==satanist.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:01 PM on March 19, 2001


Here's the thing. This kid's shirt was a direct attack on someone's belief, then he aggravated the situation. If someone walked in with a "Christians Rule, Jews Drool" t-shirt I would have the same policy.

A school exists for people to learn, not promote your political/cultural agenda.
posted by owillis at 3:08 PM on March 19, 2001


That would be a great shirt, though, you have to admit.
posted by bradth27 at 3:12 PM on March 19, 2001


A school exists for people to learn, not promote your political/cultural agenda.
Tell that to the teachers I had!
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:14 PM on March 19, 2001


yessssiiiirrr you are correct. My high school biology teacher once took up a whole class making us read scripture at random, so he could guess where it came from in the bible. I told him that was great, but what about biology?
And to think, I almost got expelled for that.
Years later,he tried to cram religion down the throat of my little sister, and she got him fired.
times change, sometimes for the better.
posted by bradth27 at 3:18 PM on March 19, 2001


Here's what I don't get about the t-shirt issue-- both sides have something to gain from student expression. Have those in power learned nothing from natural coloration or the dressing habits of Bloods and Crips? If birds can use self-expression on the bugs' parts (red="bad tasting") to help them identify potential trouble-makers, then why can't over-exuberant reactionary school administrators? The kids can wear what they want and the admin. get easy identifiers without having to talk to or know the kids. Don't make the kids hide their subversive elements! Let them think they're getting away with something and KEEP AN EYE ON THEM! (Besides, true rebellion or belief is deeper than clothing and the sooner kids learn to keep their heads down but maintain their beliefs, to slip under the radar, the better. Let them learn history, math, and sociological stealth!)
posted by poseur at 3:23 PM on March 19, 2001


I can't believe no-one's brought up school prayer yet in this thread, when many of the people who would condemn this kid's choice of clothing as offensive to their religious beliefs would probably then turn right around and demand the right to pray in public classrooms and before football games.
posted by lia at 3:40 PM on March 19, 2001


What is the point of high school? Are the things people learn there things we want to pay to have them learn?

I'm getting the impression that the answer is "no".

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:06 PM on March 19, 2001


If I want to make a "statement" by wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt or a Marilyn Manson shirt or an "I Hate Wham!" shirt (actual shirt from my past), then who on earth gets to tell me I can't?

Don't get me wrong, you certainly should be allowed to. But the reason is that you should be allowed to do anything that doesn't hurt anyone else, not because it's some protected form of "expression." Turning yourself into a walking billboard for someone else's message is not really "expressing yourself," it's turning yourself into a medium for their expression in exchange for whatever social currency it will get you with peers.
posted by kindall at 4:15 PM on March 19, 2001


Kindall, I just don't understand. There is a shirt. It has a message on it. How is this NOT "expression," and why shouldn't it be protected? Why does it matter if you are expressing someone else's point of view if you agree with it (or, hell, even if you don't)? You in particular may think it makes a particular person a corporate tool, or just ignorant of larger forces around them, but maybe they're just trying to say, "Hey, I kind of dig Marilyn Manson." Or, to use your phrase, maybe they're saying "I'm wearing this shirt as sort of a ploy to gain more social currency. Will you oblige?" I just don't get why you're trying--as I see it--to contort this into a situation where expression is only valid if it is . . . what? True to the individual?

Here's an interesting example that actually happened to me. I went out shopping a couple years ago in my (very) boho, liberal neighborhood, and man, was I ever getting the evil eye, mostly from women. I couldn't figure it out, until I realized that I was wearing my (now ex-) girlfriend's t-shirt, which featured the legend "My Body. My Choice." Oops. These women were thinking I was mocking them by wearing it, but of course I wasn't. It was just a mistake.

But those ladies were pretty damn sure I was expressing something with that shirt. The fact that I wasn't only goes to show that none of these issues are cut-and-dried when it comes to speech.
posted by Skot at 4:34 PM on March 19, 2001


What are you supposed to learn in high school?

1. Keep your head down and conform. (least you stick out and get picked on or suspended)

2. Become accustomed to routine. (No matter how repetitive and inane i.e. homework. You'll be prepared to do the same for a lifetime when you get a job)

3. Learn to be punctual. (To make it easier for your future boss. It also supports the watch industry. It also adds another authority figure to rule your life, time. Which dovetails quite nicely with 4...)

4. Learn to obey authority. (least you try and think for yourself)
posted by john at 5:22 PM on March 19, 2001


Being shortly out of school (i'm 23) I will tell you that what students put up with is ridiculous. This is why schools are being shot up. Not because of some rebellious punk, but because of the over stifling, innovation ignoring, concept blind school system that can't accept anything that is outside of the norm.

I live in the central area of what is commonly referred to as "the bible belt." I went to a school that many in other schools referred to as "redneck." Students were blind sheep, and teachers were lazy.

As a student with a well spoken mind, I was shunned and outcast. I was not a Christian, which by the way did not sit well with the administration, who all went to the same church. I was openly homosexual. (Still am, by the way...) Again, didn't sit well with them. Anything they could maneuver to shut me up was just fine with them, because they could not stand that I was upsetting the status-quo of their concept of reality.

Almost everyone had the same thoughts and ideas. I was an exception to the rule. I refused to be a sheep, and I refused to be a pawn to their games. I spoke my mind, and I spoke it when I felt it was appropriate. I brought up topical concepts. I had a Mormon health teacher who though homosexuals were "icky" and "condemned". Not exactly a good self-image boost from the "learned community" of a school system. I had another teacher who was quoted as saying, "well, Jesus will love you anyway, as long as you accept him." Trying, failed. Whoops, did you just try to convert me? Ah shoot, it didn't work.

This is about students being treated as second class citizens in all moments of their lives. They go to school, and they must leave their selfs at the door. No, can't have free thinking here, can't happen. No chance.

I have said it before and I will say it again, this is was causes school shootings. It is not video games or Hollywood. It is kids, with minds that can't handle the pressure, being tormented because they will not conform with the status quo.

Students should not be allowed to run amok in the hallways, unsupervised, uncontrolled. But in the same instance, they should be encouraged to speak their minds, to open the forum to new ideas. And in today's school system, they are not allowed to do that. Because of fear someone is going to shoot up the school. No one seems to understand or comprehend the root of the problems. They want an easy-to-fix, point one finger solution.

There are no easy solutions. There are no easy concepts. This is a complicated world. And students are people. Students are not second-class citizens, and as such should be accorded the same rights and privileges as any other students.

Threaten me with failing grades (and they tried). Threaten me with suspension, expulsion (and they tried). But stifle my creativity? Never. Stifle my ability to think, to be coherent (which this post is getting less and less)? Never.

Allow students to speak their minds, and you will learn a wonder of new things. How they think and how they live. Don't teach them how to be, teach them to be. Let them learn their individual selfs on their own. Guide them, don't stifle them. They are children, not machines. Show them mathematics, reading, poetry, science. They will learn, as they grow. A free mind is a well mind.

Independent thought is the forefront of this society, of western civilization. Slowly it is being taken away. Student and adults are able to speak freely less and less. These are the future leaders of the world. By teaching them how the world should be, eventually the world will be what they have been taught. This means free thoughts, free concepts. Not totalitarian regimes. Students deserve the right to be heard, and they will be heard. Allow them to speak with words, and perhaps, they won't speak with violence.
posted by benjh at 5:22 PM on March 19, 2001


Sorry if that ran a little long, had to get it out.
posted by benjh at 5:22 PM on March 19, 2001


3- I am going right out and buying one of his albums tonight, pop it in the CD player, lean back, close my eyes, and see what all the hoopla is about.
From what I have learned here today, after listening to the music, I will probably want to kill kill kill. Wish me luck.


This is exactly the point. I know that once I found out that his latest album's release was delayed because of the fact Manson was being blamed for the Columbine shooting, I knew I had to go out there and get that CD and see why they delayed it. Obviously, there is a lot of anger in the lyrics, but nothing inciting violent actions, and a good deal of it being satirical. Of course, some people don't get that. It's a wonderful way to market, though.
posted by elf_baby at 5:26 PM on March 19, 2001


Of course, if you want to ban Manson t-shirts because he's a satanist, you should also ban any other religious or activist clothing. After all, schools are not meant to be places where religion and activism are encouraged.

So.. all of those preaching the Bible and wearing 'Jesus Loves You' nonsense should also be sent down. Dang it.. just bring in school uniform. Problem solved!
posted by wackybrit at 6:07 PM on March 19, 2001


Ohhh, one other thing.

If you're the sort of person that can read a violent book or listen to 'evil music' and then feel an urge to go out and commit acts of violence.... you're totally messed up even before you started.

Blaming the media/computer games is easy, but anyone who recklessly carries these fantasy worlds into real life has a major mental disorder anyway. Blame the brain, not the game.
posted by wackybrit at 6:12 PM on March 19, 2001


Benjh: That was a really good post btw..

I suppose as many folks get older, they tend to give up on those things you mentioned. I personally see it as a crime of selfishness, or wanting things to be simplified at all costs. It's activism in a nonchalant manner....because many people just do not care about a tangible outcome, only the quick solutions.

If you keeping patching the tire, it will serve to fail you eventually (read: buy a new one, or stop risking the lives of others by your driving) Wackybrit: uniforms would be mearly patching the problem
posted by samsara at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2001


er..wrong link, I meant to post this one assuming that uniforms were present. I do agree that it has to do with the brain, just we're missing the boat when it comes to finding a proven way to keep that brain in check....as there tends to be too much to consider...and we stop caring and look at the quick solutions. That's not saying that there is an immediate need for change either. I agree with the fact that teens are as competent, if not as wise, as those that are instructing and disciplining them.

The fact that we're living in the present does give us the challenges of limited foresight. Fifty years ago, the age of good nature, did have it's benifits...veitnamn hit later on (around the same time a lot of today's school administrators were hitting the bong) and we saw the literal opposite of what was before with sex, drugs, and that other thing. Maybe now we're striving to find a commonplace between the two....to have the freedoms of choice, but also the security of control, which more or less turns into the "Tastes Great",:"Less Filling" arguement amongst the spectators, but on a personal level (atleast to me) translates on a growing desire to separate from the crowd and experience individuality. What we really need to do as a society, is to give these kids the benifit of the doubt (as benjh suggests), yet also have a method in place, from the start, to curb harrassment and depression and promote individuality along with good social adaptation. If those can be tackled in a manner more personal (ie. WTF is in a T-shirt anyway?), then we have a much better foothold into preventing acts of violence and encouraging education. This can be simplified by suggesting that the old people actually listen to the young people...and listen carefully since there hardly are tattle-tales anymore to make the real issues obvious.
posted by samsara at 7:39 PM on March 19, 2001


The heck with the links (I'm using bloatscape 6 in linux....very buggy)

http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/6428
Hopefully, this will show up the same posted as it is previewed...sheesh
posted by samsara at 7:41 PM on March 19, 2001


Forgive me for sounding like a naïve child, but is there anything wrong with Satanism? I find it disconcerting that so many of you don’t have a problem with Manson only because he’s not a Satanist.
posted by gleemax at 9:46 PM on March 19, 2001


Anyone want to go in with me in my new business idea/meme?


How about t-shirts that say:


"I want to fight (insert issue -globalism, fundamentalism, pokemon), but all I'm doing is wearing a lousy t-shirt."


I am unemployed, so I need a VC or something.
posted by john at 10:25 PM on March 19, 2001


High School is intended to prepare young adults for the real world. One which doesn't coddle, in which they will encounter opinions and ideas they find vile and repulsive every day. So why do our schools seek to shield students from differing opinions, from freedom of expression? How can we possibly expect students to respect school or the learning process, if we so obviously don't trust them? We feed them the accepted, lowest common denominator dogma, enforce the status quo, put the blinders on, and wonder why they emerge from 12-15 years of schooling without a clue. Having said all that- when it comes to dress-codes,you have to go one way or the other- either you require uniforms, or you allow all labelled clothing that does not break the laws on the books. Anything in between injects a level of subjectivity and arbitrariness that is not fair to students.
posted by kahboom at 11:21 PM on March 19, 2001


I'm 23 too, so I don't think I'm an old fogey (yet). I can't see anything wrong with uniforms in school. But like I've said before, this may be a cultural thing for me, American schools seem to want individuality, self-expression at the cost of actual learning. Considering that these are children, you have to learn what "revolution" is before you start declaring one.
posted by owillis at 11:29 PM on March 19, 2001


want individuality, self-expression at the cost of actual learning.

since when is learning about others' viewpoints not "learning"? by quashing these views, all you're doing is a) making the kid into a pariah, and b) breeding ignorance. so they do get out into the Real World eventually, right? and they meet a satanist. because this kid was smacked down in school and they never really were acquainted with the concept outside of a vague memory of ignominy, the satanist is bad to them, whereas before they could have at least had some vague semblance of a chance at an informed opinion.

besides which, uniforms won't help. first of all, kids get all bitchety when you make 'em wear ugly crap every day. i, for one, would not be a happy panda. second of all, they'll find other reasons to hate each other and distract each other. someone's shirt will always be tighter than someone else's, someone's skirt will always be shorter. someone will still never smile, and someone will still get the shit beaten out of them. why cover this stuff up? why not try to teach kids tolerance at an early age? if you're saying that appearances distract, why not teach them early on how unimportant it is? instead of just accepting problems inherent in society and trying to cover them up, why don't we go for the roots of the problems?
posted by pikachulolita at 11:40 PM on March 19, 2001


This may go without saying, but the Marilyn Manson T-shirt flap seems similar to the "burning the American flag" controversy in one way. When a form of speech is "outlawed", it just becomes a more powerful message and thus more attractive to a potential speech-maker. Some kids may actually make this realization, which would fall under the rule of unintended consequences for school boards.
posted by mac at 6:48 AM on March 20, 2001


I find it disconcerting that so many of you don’t have a problem with Manson only because he’s not a Satanist.

Gleemax, I hope you don't mean me. I asked the question about whether MM was really a Satanist only because I wondered if the "authorities" had actually "found" one. It seems strange to me that parents have always been on the lookout for Satanist rock-n-rollers, when in fact there aren't any....well, any remotely near the mainstream at least. Just once, I'd like to see an actual Satanist hit the charts. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 7:00 AM on March 20, 2001


When you have students that are not being listened to, then you have what feels like an entire population that cannot be heard. The efforts seem pointless, and not that I'm neccessarly agreeing with this kid's views, it also feels like it should take this type of statement in clothing to have a voice or get attention. They cannot vote, and are basically putting up with an insane amount of internal cover-ups to protect the school's integrity. But, on the other hand, kids like this one know that the ultimate power is one's parents. They alone (and it usually only takes one upset mother) can change the way things are done...dramatically. I suppose when you have parents that don't care, depression or anger is the result...that would be a different kind of thread.

As for uniforms, I agree with Pikachulolita, that we still would have what is considered to most as the law of the playground.
posted by samsara at 7:19 AM on March 20, 2001


On the topic of Satanism in music and impressionable people, but not about clothing:

Here, Neil Peart of Rush defends his lyrics against accusations of Satanism. The same could be applied to clothing. People see what they want to see.
posted by goto11 at 8:15 AM on March 20, 2001


High School is intended to prepare young adults for the real world.

Yep, and news flash -- in most of the real world, you can't go around wearing whatever you want to wear just because you want to wear it.
posted by Dreama at 9:41 AM on March 20, 2001


news flash -- in most of the real world, you can't go around wearing whatever you want to wear just because you want to wear it.

Dreama - of course you can - if you're willing to accept the consequences. But does the punishment fit the crime? Arrest for public nudity: probably. Firing for breaking a work dress code: probably not, but one can always quit that job. Peer pressure: depends on the peer, I guess. But suspension for wearing a MM t-shirt? Seems excessive.
posted by mac at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2001


news flash -- in most of the real world, you can't go around wearing whatever you want to wear just because you want to wear it.

So we'd better beat that independent spirit out of them as soon as possible!
posted by jennyb at 10:16 AM on March 20, 2001


in most of the real world, you can't go around wearing whatever you want to wear just because you want to wear it.

I am apparently fortunate, then, to have landed in that part of the real world where I can in fact go around wearing whatever I want to wear just because I want to wear it. It's fun, and I wish everyone could have this fun. It seems to me much better to work on changing things so that more people can wear what they want to wear than to say well, that's just how it is, kids - deal with it. You'd almost think we were trying to make sure kids come out of the school system cynical and disconnected, with attitudes like that.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:29 PM on March 20, 2001


in most of the real world, you can't go around wearing whatever you want to wear just because you want to wear it.

In the part of the real world happens to be run by militant Islamic forces, maybe. In America, as long as you don't show off your private parts in public, you can wear whatever you want. Now, in situations like a job they have rules, but you can't run schools like businesses. Why? Because you choose where you work.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:09 PM on March 20, 2001


Apparently, this was overlooked.
posted by samsara at 6:28 PM on March 20, 2001


I can hardly beat that link.

What I liked about having to wear school uniform was that everybody had to buy their stuff from the same shop, meaning that it was nigh-impossible to pick on the "poor kids" because they weren't wearing some meaningless label. It also lets you channel your individuality into something more substantial than your choice of dress. (That's probably why I wear black most of the time: nondescript, less colour clash, easy to wash.)

And it's surprising how much individuality you can express from the way you tie your school tie. Anyway, let's face it, it's more "individual" to wear a tweed jacket than a fucking MM t-shirt.
posted by holgate at 8:06 PM on March 20, 2001


I would just like to point out, Starduck, that I said "marketing genius." I don't want anyone to think I was applying that term more generally.

The real point of this, as I see it, is that adults fail to realize that banning something makes it all the more interesting to a teenager. The whole Marilyn Manson fervor would not exist if educators would just ignore it and get on with the business of educating children.

Malcolm Gladwell's _The Tipping Point_ has some interesting things to say about teen smoking running along these same lines.
posted by astrogirl at 12:56 PM on March 21, 2001


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