Thursday, December 21, 2006

From the land of "You've got to be kidding"

Another absurdity; perhaps you've seen this: Patrick Agin, a senior at a high school in Rhode Island, has been told that his picture cannot be published in his yearbook. In the picture, posted here, he's dressed in medieval chain mail with a broadsword over his shoulder; Mr. Agin is something of a medieval enthusiast; he's a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which promotes re-enactments of medieval history.

From yesterday's New York Times:
The Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit supporting Mr. Agin’s free-speech rights to use the photo, and both sides have agreed to take the matter to the state education commissioner.

The civil liberties organization said the school’s position took zero tolerance well past the point of common sense.

“It’s a perfect example of bureaucratic ridiculousness,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island branch of the organization. “We have had zero-tolerance cases before, one where a district punished a kindergartner for bringing in a butter knife, and another where a school suspended two first graders who brought a toy ray gun. But this case is even more ridiculous, since Patrick was not even bringing the weapon to school.”

The school’s position is particularly untenable, he said, given that the school mascot is a Revolutionary War soldier carrying a rifle.
Oh, in case you didn't catch on, the school is opposed to the sword. I guess they're afraid he'll leap off the pages, like some fantasy movie, and start swinging.

But here's the real absurdity:
The school has offered to let Mr. Agin buy a yearbook ad showing the photo. By itself, that takes the whole situation into the surreal, the civil liberties organization said.

“I guess they think it’s a danger to the school system on Page 6, but not on Page 26,” Mr. Brown said.
Hypocrites; that's all I can say. Hypocrites.

While there is no freedom of speech in an independent school, I've found independent school leaders to be more reasonable than the (pardon the pun) gun-shy administrators in public schools. I'm reminded of the recent Captain Underpants incident out on Long Island... but that's for another post (or did I already post about it?)...

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