anti bush t shirt banned
February 23, 2003 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Anti-Bush T-shirt banned at Michigan school "DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) -- School officials ordered a 16-year-old student to either take off a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "International Terrorist" and a picture of President Bush and or go home, saying they worried it would inflame passions at the school where a majority of students are Arab-American. " That amazes me. Heard the same thing with a canadian teenager wearing this Tshirt of his favorite rock star, Matthew Good. "Freedom of fashion?"...
posted by Sijeka (43 comments total)
That amazes me.

You don't watch the news enough. Every couple of months there's a filler story about some school and it's zero-tolerance "Oh my god that doesn't make any sense" policies, whether it be about t-shirts, piercing, tatoos, hair color, pokemon, magic the gathering, Harry Potter...etc etc.

This isn't anything new.
posted by Stan Chin at 2:23 PM on February 23, 2003

You forgot nail clippers and aspirin, Stan.
posted by beth at 2:26 PM on February 23, 2003

Ashcroft is behind this somehow, I just know it....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:28 PM on February 23, 2003

Unfortunate that the ACLU local to the Dearborn area has bigger fish to fry.

Dearborn is home to one of the largest Arab and Moslem communities outside the middle east. It is routine to see women shopping in attire ranging from typical American clothes with a headscarf to a full fledged burqa. I imagine it isn't hard to find people who know of friends/neighbors/relatives who have been detained, arrested, and/or deported since 9/11. And of course, you would be hard pressed to convince everyone involved that Constitutional muster was reached in each and every case, regardless of your personal position on the "War on Terra."

So in the end, it will boil down to one more school admisitrator with delusions of Zero Thinking Policy working.
posted by ilsa at 2:40 PM on February 23, 2003

School's panel votes to ban Confederate wear

They usually ban things because they're afraid of violence, it seems.
posted by oaf at 2:49 PM on February 23, 2003

Actually they usually ban things because they're disruptive to the education process. You have to admit, a kid wearing this shirt would certainly mess with a lesson plan for the first few minutes.
posted by mathowie at 2:52 PM on February 23, 2003

it amazes me because if someone was to wear a 'fuck [insert politician]' t shirt in france, teachers would applaude.
posted by Sijeka at 2:53 PM on February 23, 2003

Actually Sijeka, I seriously doubt they would. People in France don't have the same free speech rights that we do, and privacy and slander/libel laws are much stricter. There are very few personal attacks in French politics. So such a T-shirt would likley never be made in France, and almost certainly would not be applauded by anyone.
posted by dcodea at 2:58 PM on February 23, 2003

I'm not convinced that it would really disrupt anything, educational or otherwise, if teachers and administrators didn't make a big thing out of it. Back when I was in high school, poeple wore (and did) crazy stuff all the time and it didn't become an issue. Maybe times have changed since then, but I doubt it.
posted by Mark Doner at 3:04 PM on February 23, 2003

Do you really think so?
A student i know wore a T shirt saying "Ferme ta Bush" which means "shut your mouth" (as Bouche [pronounce it bush] means mouth) last week here, and teachers all thought it was funny.
posted by Sijeka at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2003

if i was arab american, i'd be mighty offended too. i mean, sure international terrorist is a bad arab stereotype, but comparing them to george w bush is just plain mean.
posted by fuq at 3:08 PM on February 23, 2003

Well, that may be because Bush isn't about to sue anyone in France under French laws. I seem to recall reading an article to the effect that people in France were somewhat horrified at the level of vitriol people and newspapers in the States have for them, especially because such headlines wouldn't even be legal in France.
posted by dcodea at 3:10 PM on February 23, 2003

That's true! but we're horrified only because for most part, it's bollocks (excuse vulgarity).
People still can't believe the NY post cover (i think?) saying "sacrifice, we helped them during WW2 and they have forgotten", not to mention the Sun (UK tabloid) saying "chirac is a ver" on their front page last week.

I mean, what's the point? It's newspapers, not teenagers for one. Second, it's seen as media propaganda here, not information.
posted by Sijeka at 3:13 PM on February 23, 2003

Steve_At_Linwood: i doubt ashcroft is behind that, but here's one i'd certainly lay at the feet of the administrations tilt toward fear, folly and fascism: Immigration Agents Capture Armed Canadian Terrorist
posted by quonsar at 3:21 PM on February 23, 2003

I totally agree. Brad Delong makes a point about this, about how there wouldn't even be a United States without the support of the French. Yeah, I found French-basing amusing when it was just like, The Onion, but when real newspapers are getting in on the act, it seems really innapropriate. Real newspapers should be above that sort of thing.
posted by dcodea at 3:24 PM on February 23, 2003

So why is anyone surprised by this? For years, schools have pandered to every group to eliminate anything that may be offensive in the classroom, irrespective of whether the offense is significant or not. This is just an extension of political correctness run amok. It seems to me that left wingers are outraged this time because they agree with the student's message. This school simply appears to be applying the same draconian rules on student expression to left wing messages as it does with other messages.
posted by Durwood at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2003

Relevant link, Dcodea!

It just saddens me because i fear a lot people end up thinking that what trashy newspapers (i.e Rupert Murdoch's ones, or Fox news) say is true.
Of course most americans (i hope) realise we're not the selfish bastards the NY post say we are, but still, how can we defend ourselves in front of CNN, ect?

Actually i don't even think we *have* to, but that's just me.
posted by Sijeka at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2003

I'm shocked. SHOCKED! This article strongly suggests that schools are more interested in herding the kids through the system quietly than fostering debate and free speech.

Yes, school is hell. Then you graduate, and if you're well-adjusted you stop thinking about how rotten school was. Also, the kids probably learned more about life, expression and the idiocy of adults through the shirt being banned than if no one had noticed or cared about it.

The proper response, if school authorities want to minimize the impact of snotty t-shirts, is to ignore them. Youthful idealism peters out more quickly when kids are taught that no one cares and you can't change anything.

(I tried to Help Save the Youth of America but all I got was a bunch of lousy t-shirts and a long-hair passport photo that I have to live with for another year.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:04 PM on February 23, 2003

Sometimes it's interesting to turn issues like this around. How many of you would complain if your children came home with stories of teachers wearing "Burn those terrorist bastards to a crisp" shirts? Be honest. :-)

Think about that for a moment.

I don't think a teacher would do that -- Having lived through a teacher's strike as a student, I've found teachers, while generally unwilling to change their position, very open to hearing opposing viewpoints, which was quite refreshing when I was a student. Other schools decided to take their problems with the government out on the students in a more direct way (like denying timetables, etc), though, unfortunately.

So I am somewhat surprised at a teacher doing this from my personal viewpoint, but looking at it from broad viewpoint, I'm not.

Conformity factory it is, then.
posted by shepd at 4:14 PM on February 23, 2003

Okay, so where do we draw the line? I don't want my daughter to walk into school and seeing some kid with a T-Shirt that says, "F*CK THE USA" or "I'm going to kill my teacher today". Sure, you can wear it on the street in public, but in a taxpayer-funded public school, no way - it will be disruptive. So the problem is where do we find a happy middle ground?

I don't know, that's why I'm asking.

Sijeka - yeah, we shouldn't believe Fox or the NY Post. We should listen to the Associated Press (who is picked up by over 15,000 outlets in print and broadcast) right? Oh wait, maybe not seeing as how they allowed Christopher Newton to publish "news" cotaining nonexistent sources such as "Angelica Victor of the Education Alliance" and "Thomas Jakes of People for Civil Rights" for over two years. Find me some actual lies rather than things you don't agree with. I'm sure they exist, but not agreeing with these sources is not grounds for calling them trashy as long as they report the truth.
posted by stormy at 4:22 PM on February 23, 2003

I shall repeat myself stormy (why the arrogance?)
I consider any Rupert Murdoch's newspaper to be biased and not reliable/ good sources of information.

A great article was written in the Guardian last week about it. Murdocj clearly admitted being pro-war, saying he would support propaganda in his papers. Result is 'Chirac est un ver' (worm) on the Sun cover.

Not only i don't agree with it (even if i don't love Chirac), but i find it to be very, very cheap propaganda. I don't really think Chirac looks like a 'Ver' (worm) for one.
It says (i quote, as the first page was actually adressed to french ppl, and written in french:
'Chirac is now EU's greatest shame'. And this is read by millions of english peeps.

Now, can u tell me where the information is? Puh-lease. Because if you can, well, i don't think keeping on arguing holds any significance.
posted by Sijeka at 4:34 PM on February 23, 2003

While its been a long time since I was in high school, I'm not very surprised that the school took issue with the shirt. This is close to off topic, but I'm going to throw it out anyway: public schools usually design dress codes in order to create a safe educational environment. My high school actual made us wear white shirts and dark trousers in order to control gang related conflicts. Gangs would use colors and designers as signifiers, so the school, after many years of creating limitations, ended up banning everything but the most conservative clothes. The policies worked and there was very little gang activity in the school after the stricter codes where enforced (the neighborhood was another matter.) So, in conclusion, the school did the right thing. The student wasn't asked to go home for speaking his mind, but for wearing a shirt that was a obvious troll and could have created the wrong kind of conflict.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:37 PM on February 23, 2003

Metafilter: Last week's Drudge Reportâ„¢
posted by Zurishaddai at 4:39 PM on February 23, 2003

Jeez, next thing you know, they won't let kids wear those 'Malcolm X was an Uncle Tom' tshirts in urban schools.
posted by HTuttle at 4:45 PM on February 23, 2003

Arrogance? What I read in your post is "I fear a lot people end up thinking that what trashy newspapers (i.e Rupert Murdoch's ones, or Fox news) say is true." I was calling you on this and asking you to point out a lie. I agree that there is a bias, just as Andy Rooney admits of Dan Rather's bias. Bias is fine by me when people admit it. I don't even mind if it taints their reporting as long as they report the facts.

The specific quote, "Chirac is now EU's greatest shame" may or may not be a fact. It can be argued either way. As long as the evidence used to support the claim is valid, I think the statement is a fair one. At any rate, I'm sorry for dragging this off topic. I really would appreciate feeback to the on-topic part of my original post!
posted by stormy at 4:46 PM on February 23, 2003

believe me there wasn't evidence, but i don't feel like translating the whole article.

And what i meant to say is, the other voices in the media world seem to be struggling to be heard, that's all. When all u get is CNN and Fox and whatever, you end up thinking they are always right.

sorry it was off topic too. Like you said, let's get back to the original thread.
posted by Sijeka at 4:50 PM on February 23, 2003

Back when I was a kid, if you wore a Corona or Spuds Mackenzie t-shirt you'd get suspended. The kid who tested the limits of this cruel censor was eventually expelled (not for the shirts, but i'm sure they didnt help) and years later is now the town drunk with a gut the size of the Hindenberg. My point: none really. But if the terrorists can create an adorable animal mascot who gets the chicks by blowing things, we're in for a lot of trouble.
posted by Peter H at 5:01 PM on February 23, 2003

that's blowing things UP
i dont know what complicated message it would be if he just blew things. scuse me.
posted by Peter H at 5:03 PM on February 23, 2003

School uniforms... it's the only way.
posted by Witty at 5:50 PM on February 23, 2003

"Chirac is now EU's greatest shame" may or may not be a fact. It can be argued either way.

Uhhh.... No it can't.
posted by Espoo2 at 5:58 PM on February 23, 2003

It is a freedom of speech issue. I understood that the US Supreme Court said that students do not have freedom of speech if it 'would substantially disrupt school operations,' and creates 'a specific and significant fear of disruption, not just some remote apprehension of disturbance.'

Does tittering in the first few minutes of class "substantially disrupt school operations"?
posted by ?! at 6:28 PM on February 23, 2003

newsfilter (again)

not a gem of the internet
posted by lampshade at 6:43 PM on February 23, 2003

>School uniforms... it's the only way.

...Because when I was in a uniformed school, I much preferred the fact that they teased me for much more personal things than my clothes.
posted by shepd at 6:50 PM on February 23, 2003

What's with the french-bashing? Is this or something?
posted by spazzm at 7:06 PM on February 23, 2003

Wearing uniforms saved me so much time in the mornings. (I also learned how to speed-iron when floor storage created crazy pleats, but I guess that's beside the point.)
posted by swerve at 7:11 PM on February 23, 2003

Stan Chin: Note that your search for "school ban" did not actually have any quotation marks around it, and was searching the entire internet, not CNN's archives. The true figure is 761 stories, most of which seem to be tangentially related to zero-tolerance policies.

Mathew The "classroom disruption" argument is, frankly, bullshit. As a high school senior, I can safely say that there is practically no discussion of current events in classes. Which is an absolutely idiotic thing to do. Students should be able to put down the vocabulary words and flashcards for a few minutes, and discuss/argue/debate the stuff that actually happens, rather than preparing for yet another standardized test.

If thinking for yourself is "disruptive," then I'm all for it. His "International Terrorist" shirt is on the same level as one that says "God Bless America." Both display opinions, and therefore are open to debate.

Social conformity inevitably leads to mediocrity.

(Note: A shirt with some sort of retarded sex joke purchased from A&F is still thinking for oneself, it's just that the wearer is thinking about being an asshole. Most teenagers have some sense of the, um, "rectal magnitude" or "colonic equivalence" of their peers. If someone wants to wear a shirt that illustrates one's coefficient of sphincterocity, so be it.)
posted by LimePi at 7:24 PM on February 23, 2003

When I was in sixth grade a friend of mine got sent home for wearing a shirt with a picture of a cartoon mouse holding a gun with a caption that said, "I'm on a pussy hunt."

Oh yeah, and I got dragged to the principle's office by my ear for showing off my switchblade comb.

Oh wait, none of this seems to have anything to do with anything.....
posted by spilon at 9:17 PM on February 23, 2003

Well, that may be because Bush isn't about to sue anyone in France under French laws. I seem to recall reading an article to the effect that people in France were somewhat horrified at the level of vitriol people and newspapers in the States have for them, especially because such headlines wouldn't even be legal in France.

You really shouldn't think you know how a foreign country operates just because you read an article about it.
posted by Summer at 2:06 AM on February 24, 2003

I second Witty's short and sweet comment: School uniforms.
posted by hama7 at 5:42 AM on February 24, 2003

My senior year of high school, no one was allowed to wear baseball caps in school (even the baseball team...during school hours anyway...). This was because of issues with "gang colors", etc. The odd thing was I had just transfered into this school on Long Island my senior year, and before that I went to a high school in queens that actually had gangs (and we would have to show ID cards and go through a metal detector to enter school grounds) but were still allowed to wear caps.
posted by stifford at 7:08 AM on February 24, 2003

Gee summer you're right. I had absolutely no right to discuss an article I had read about France. I humbly apologize.
posted by dcodea at 9:49 AM on February 24, 2003

Did anyone notice that the article said he wore it to compliment a class assignment? I don't see how wearing the t-shirt is any different from showing a slide or two...except that he showed it to the entire student body instead of just one class.
posted by ArsncHeart at 9:00 PM on February 24, 2003

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