We have yet another case of the “zero tolerance” policies being imposed in our school as an excuse of zero judgment or though by school officials.We have been discussing the steady stream of absurd actions taken by school officials under “zero tolerance” policies. For a prior column, click here. Now, Daniel McClaine Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School in Florence, Arizona, has been suspended for simply choosing a picture of a gun as a desktop background his computer.
A teacher noticed the picture on his school-issued computer. It shows an AK-47 on top of a flag. He was immediately suspended for three days under a policy that prohibits “sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures” and prohibits access, sending, creating or forwarding pictures that are considered “harassing, threatening, or illegal.”
The problem is that many people do not consider a picture of a gun to be threatening or harassing. It happens to be an object that the Supreme Court in Heller said was protected as an individual right under the Second Amendment. Of course, it could be argued, pornography is protected under the first amendment but restricted in terms of persons and places where it can be seen. Yet, the image of a gun alone is not viewed by many Americans as threatening as opposed to protective or patriotic. The school’s position appears to be that any picture of a gun is inherently an image of violence. There are a variety of images that may be read differently by students from pictures of Obama to protest pictures of torture or pictures of whaling. Likewise, there are pictures like the Iwo Jima memorial or revolutionary images that involve guns. The question is whether such a policy is intentionally vague to allow arbitrary or absolute regulation of this form of speech.
My concern is more with the blind application of the policy. I see no problem with the school asking the student to remove the picture or calling in his parents. However, the use of a suspension is problematic.
What do you think?
Source: Daily Mail