West Virginia Teen Arrested After Refusing To Remove NRA T-Shirt

article-2312730-196C26EA000005DC-284_634x354There is an interesting free speech case brewing in West Virginia where Jared Marcum, 14, has been criminally charged for refusing to remove a T-shirt with National Rifle Association’s logo and hunting rifle. The T-shirt was found in violation of Logan Middle School’s dress code. However, regardless of how you feel about gun rights, the T-shirt was the expression of a recognized constitutional right and constitutes political speech.

Marcum was waiting in line for lunch when a teacher ordered him to remove the T-shirt or to turn it inside out. He refused and was sent to the principal’s office. The police were called and Marcum insisted that there is no rule prohibiting the T-Shirt. He said that the officer told him to sit down and, when he continued to assert his rights, he was arrested.

He was charged him with disrupting an educational process and obstructing an officer. The charges sound suspicious since if he made any serious effort to resist, he would have been charged with resisting arrest and assault of an officer.

The dress code itself prohibits clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. I do not see how this fits any more than a T-shirt proclaiming evolution as a theory or peace as a movement.

The dress code does prohibit advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco, or drug product but that would not fit this case.

T-Shirts have long been the target of attempted censorship. In Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971), the United States Supreme Court case overturned a man’s conviction for disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket that displayed the phrase, “Fuck the Draft” in a courthouse. Students have also received such protection. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), the Supreme Court supported the first amendment rights of Iowa residents John F. Tinker (15 years old), John’s younger sister Mary Beth Tinker (13 years old), and their friend Christopher Eckhardt (16 years old) in wearing black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. In his majority decision, Justice Abe Fortas held that “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.” In a statement would would seem to fit this case, Fortas found that “the record does not demonstrate any facts which might reasonably lead school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities, and no disturbances or disorders on the school premises in fact occurred.”

Of course, since Tinker, the Supreme Court has steadily limited the speech rights of students as in the ruling in the “Bong Hits For Jesus” case. Ironically, this trend might be slowed by a case where the expression concerns second amendment rights. However, it is hard to believe that the district will persist in this arrest. Unfortunately, it is also part of a trend toward the criminalization of our schools where disciplinary issues are now being handed over to the police.

This seems a case of over-reaction by a teacher and a failure of the school administrators to take steps to deal appropriately with this issue short of an arrest.

Source: Daily Mail

46 thoughts on “West Virginia Teen Arrested After Refusing To Remove NRA T-Shirt

  1. it is also part of a trend toward the criminalization of our schools where disciplinary issues are now being handed over to the police.

    This is where it gets scary….when ignorance & prejudice gets so out of control….

  2. It does not sound like he violated any of the school’s code but if there was a problem why wasn;t he just sent home? Using the police this way is inappropriate. Maybe the hope is it will cow the kid(s) early on into doing whatever authority (including of the state) tells them to do

  3. The Police State we live in prohibits such conduct….. Arbitrary and Capricious….. Vague for Voidness comes to mind…. but the dress code is fairly explicit…..

  4. My neighbor’s big Christmas decoration this year was a giant inflatable snowman dressed in camo and holding a rifle. Somebody shot it with an arrow. Free speech for everybody!

  5. I read about this earlier and am glad it is posted here. I support this boy and his right to keep and wear T-Shirts.

    In a news video I saw outside this school there is a statue of a man holding a rifle in one hand and a hand grenade in the other.

    It was a situation that reminded me of a friend of mine who in college said one of his fellow students was kicked out of class because he wore a Hooters Restaurant t-shirt (with the owl), by the professor who claimed it was offensive to women. So one of the other women, who was also a student in his class, took offense to this censorship and had printed up some shirts that had a profile shot of a rooster with the logo “C0CKS” and handed it out for other students to wear in protest.

    Students in this WV school should print up t-shirts of the statue holding the gun and hand grenade and wear them for a week.

  6. Yeah, call the police. Don’t just let him sit in the Office all day falling behind in schoolwork and just ask him to not wear it again or he’ll sit in the Office again bored silly all day. No, call the cops who are always eager to make an arrest.

  7. “…charged him with disrupting an educational process and obstructing an officer.”

    Legislatures approve vague laws that lead to meaningless charges giving police cover for a bogus arrest.

    Once arrested, you end up with legal bills, wasted time and a record. The cop walks away secure in the knowledge that he can negatively affect your life with no repercussions to him.

    It just means more power for government and fewer rights for citizens.

  8. “He was charged him with disrupting an educational process…”, Excuse, me, the teacher that hounded the kid was the one “disrupting an educational process”.
    Sad, sad indeed.

  9. When my youngest was in jr. high and high school, their dress code forbade any article of clothing depicting any kind of weapon, including guns, knives, or martial arts weapons. They also forbade pictures of of skulls or any jewelry using a skull theme. Wearing a Grateful Dead shirt would get a student sent home.

    She slipped past the prohibition on weapons when she wore a Commemorative Air Force (she held Cadet rank at the time) t-shirt. Her CAF shirts had pictures of bombers and fighter planes with machine guns sticking out of the wings.

  10. I am reminded here of Pavlov’s dogs, sensitization via behavior modification. Only educational process that got disrupted here was passing on the knowledge base that encompasses what our Constitution is all about — and it is not about a “police state” enforcing “the majority opinion” regarding a state/national issue. Down right scary and threatening to mechanisms for social change, grounded in The People’s Rights to Free Speech.

  11. “He was charged him with disrupting an educational process and obstructing an officer.”

    Frankly, the teacher and school’s administration were the perpetrators of disrupting an educational process by creating a contrived flap over a student’s silent free speech, and doubling down by calling the local state terrorists, the police, as a bullying tactic. That he must waste his time and treasure to defend himself against the self-absorbed knee-jerk “adults” in his world is abuse upon spite.

    Jared Marcum needs a fundraiser, not police and administrative threats.

  12. Defendant opCay’s arrest and seizure of the person of plaintiff violated his rights under the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to wit his right to exercise free speech, to assemble, to petition his government for redress of grievances, to bear arms, to be secure in his person from arrest, seizure, to be free from assault, battery, to violation of his liberty interests, his right of privacy, his right to secure his privacy, and those aforesaid rights were violated under state action by defendant opCay, his Superior Officer Crumpke, by the City of Bumchuck, and said actions and conduct are state actions in violations of the aforesaid protected civil rights under 42 United States Code, Section 1983. Said defendants and the school defendants in the preceeding paragraph conspired to violate his civil rights under Section 1985. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and injunctive relief enjoining such conduct and monetary damages and punitive damages.
    Respectfully submitted, BarkinDog, Attorney for Plaintiff

    Exh. A.
    Tee Shirt

    Exh. B.
    Photo of brainless school principal

    Exh. C.
    Photo of brainless Superintendent of Schools

    Exh. D.
    Photo of brainless Police Chief.

    Exh. E.
    Copy of United States Constitution printed on Tee Shirt.

  13. The student needs to call up Beth Tinker and ask for some advice. If he has a mom named Lorena Jean then he is off to a good start. If the school district thinks that they are in Iowa then they are off to a losing start. Dont those schmucks in present day W. Va know that they seceeded from Virginia so that they would not have to seceed from the United States and therefore they have a Heritage to uphold which is of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This school district, the cops, the town, need to have the largest prong of the First Amendment shoved somewhere (without the battery). Yeah, ok, voice over my shoulder, without the battery, there is no sense letting them enjoy it.

  14. Kid has learned two lessons:

    (1) Fear cops;
    (2) Have contempt for our judicial system.

    Way to develop citizens.

  15. The police should only be called in when there is no other recourse. This is happening all too often. Police are called in to arrest, handcuff, and haul away children of all ages for trivial matters.

    Obviously a bs arrest and harassment. I agree he should sue, but I’d much rather he sue the police officer, teacher, and principal instead of suing the deep pockets.

    Either that or sue for mega mega bucks with the offer that if the people who actually committed the crime are fired, then no money is expected,.

  16. ”disrupting an educational process ”
    When we moved to Houston in ’71, my brother & I had to get our hair cut “so we wouldn’t/couldn’t encourage ”sex drugs & R&R”
    I wish I was joking… shortly thereafter….
    When William Wayne Justice (The most hated man in Texas, according to a popular bumper sticker) ruled against the junior college in the long-hair case (college officials argued that the hair regulation was essential for maintaining discipline and a proper educational environment), the reaction in town was that the ruling would destroy the college.
    Wayne’s Obit

    http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/judge-william-wayne-justice-rip

  17. This is an example of what happens when we put police officers into schools. Normal school issues and problems are elevated to criminal offenses. This is not a teacher thing. This is an administration thing because the teacher was following his/her marching orders. I had a similar situation like this with a high school student who was stopped on the street with an offensive t-Shirt (according to the officer) and he told him he wouldn’t arrest him if he turned it inside out. The student was arrested, but the case was dismissed.

  18. “This is not a teacher thing. This is an administration thing because the teacher was following his/her marching orders.”

    The five teachers the boy encountered in classes before lunch didn’t have a problem with the t-shirt. It sounds more like one blowhard teacher overreacting.

  19. The actions of this school are just what citizens can expect from our government if no protections were in place.

  20. nick spinelli: 1, April 22, 2013 at 10:45 am
    Sorry, women..but this is fundamental first amendment.
    —————
    A sexist non-sequitur to start your posting; if that was a pejorative to the commenters you’re out of line, if it refers to the incident the numbers aren’t on your side. Stay classy nick.

    Complaining teacher – male
    Principle – female
    Cop – male
    3 opportunities to demonstrate common sense, follow the letter of the policy and respect the Constitution – all failed.

    BTW, I’m one of those socialists that think home schooling and vouchers are un-American but the more I read about children being criminalized for school infraction the more I have to re-evaluate how I would educate my hypothetical kids. This is the most disturbing trend in our culture IMO. When a culture starts using the full weight of the criminal justice system to enforce arbitrary school policies on kids- some of them so young as to have no real concept of right and wrong- then has not the school system become a terrorist organization? Is the aim not to terrorize our young proto-citizens into compliance with the political aim of ‘good order’ and bowing to authority? These kinds of activities reek of oppression.

    http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/school-prison-pipeline

    Just do a Google on “6 year old arrested” and keep upping the age- news reports abound of children being arrested at schools for insane reasons. Here’s the list of related searches listed under “6 year old…”:

    Searches related to 6 year old student arrested
    6 year old arrested for a tantrum

    creekside elementary 6 year old arrested

    six year old handcuffed

    6 year old in handcuffs
    six year old gets handcuffed

    6 year old arrested for temper tantrum

    6 year old arrested for playing doctor

    6 year old arrested for playing tag

  21. However, regardless of how you feel about gun rights

    I don’t think guns have rights at all. I mean, they aren’t even alive.

    (sorry)

    Lotta,

    BTW, I’m one of those socialists that think home schooling and vouchers are un-American but the more I read about children being criminalized for school infraction the more I have to re-evaluate how I would educate my hypothetical kids.

    Allow me to get on a soup box (and this isn’t directed at you, but it’s a good stepping off point):

    Teaching’s a skill. Especially teaching subjects like science and math. There’s a reason that after the first few years they have separate teachers for different subjects.

    If you want to shape your kid’s education, join the PTSA, schooboard, and volunteer. But please, leave the teaching to the professionals.

    A sexist non-sequitur to start your posting; if that was a pejorative to the commenters you’re out of line, if it refers to the incident the numbers aren’t on your side. Stay classy nick.

    Why it’s almost like he’s trying to intentionally get people angry and annoyed.

  22. lotta, I had good natured exchanges w/ Blouise, Elaine, and SWM about guns yesterday. That was to whom my comment was directed. Lighten up, life’s to short!

  23. lotta,

    Nick’s remark was in response to a joke I directed at him yesterday on a different thread but you couldn’t be expected to know that. He’s not a gun nut so we can kid with him without getting our heads blown off.

  24. nick,

    I coulda just left you hanging but honor is my middle name … ;) … and don’t hold it against lotta … she’s good people

  25. Gyges, I agree, there are degrees and licences in education for a reason. I have some very old fashioned and conservative attitudes about schooling and education. It serves a valid function of the state for the benefit of the state and socializes children by providing at its most basic level, if it’s working properly, a sheltering gateway to the wider society. Calling the police in to deal with little kids for being little kids is just organized sadism IMO. Once is too often.

  26. How about all the black men in Connecticut that are arrested and prosecuted for nothing. Where is the story on that? Why is it when a white boy is arrested for nothing it is a story but when it is a black man, no one cares about it???

    ________________________________

  27. BTW, I’m one of those socialists that think home schooling and vouchers are un-American but the more I read about children being criminalized for school infraction the more I have to re-evaluate how I would educate my hypothetical kids.

    I can’t even to begin to understand how deciding to use methods other than traditional schooling is “un-American,” any more than I understand how it’s “un-American” to not go to church or criticize the government.

    Teaching’s a skill. Especially teaching subjects like science and math.

    As a former teacher, I agree. But this pretends that homeschooling parents don’t use outside resources for subjects they’re not good at, when they actually do. All the time. Regularly.

    Tutors, museum classes, you name it. If there’s a resource for a homeschooling parent, they will use it, because they know they need all the help they can get.

    That’s one of the reasons there is no evidence that kids entering college after being homeschooled are less prepared than kids who were publicly schooled.

    Unfortunately, I find that people who criticize the very practice of homeschooling (using irrelevant arguments like this) have little to no experience in homeschooling communities. Yes, that’s right, folks. I said, “communities!”

    It serves a valid function of the state for the benefit of the state and socializes children by providing at its most basic level, if it’s working properly, a sheltering gateway to the wider society.

    I think you’re right, lottakatz, about being “conservative” about schooling, because there is as much evidence to support your above assertion as there is to support conservative assertions that schools are teaching kids to be gay communists.

    There is no evidence that kids who are homeschooled are not as well socialized as kids who go to public school. Homeschooling parents want their kids to have friends and regular activities with those friends just as much as public school parents do. It’s a natural desire for any parent.

    Schools are great for some kids and awful for lots of others. Homeschooling is the same. Those are simple facts. Condemning one or the other method out of hand isn’t a matter of being “liberal” or “conservative,” really. It’s just an objectively incorrect thing to do.

  28. Update:

    Students from all over the county showed up the next day wearing similar t-shirts in solidarity. This student had a one day suspension and went back to school wearing the same t-shirt.

  29. LJM, Sorry, I’m having some work done to my house and had some people out yesterday. They’re killin’ me and I’m paying through the nose for it. LOL, first-world concerns, whine, whine, whine.

    Something about your rebuttal struck me, your claim that there are “communities” of people that home-school. What communities? Who are the members (demographically) of these communities? And why, if they can agree on a curriculum don’t they just borrow someones family room or even rent some space and start their own school? As long as there is a meeting of the minds it would seem to be a way to husband their resources and still get the job done. It seems to me that these communities are doing the job the hard way. “Communities” can mean ideology or locale, I need more info.

    To address other aspects of your posting: If a child has special needs that can be better addressed at home then homeschooling may well be appropriate. If one lives 150 miles from the nearest school which may still be the case in some states, then homeschooling or telecommuting actually, may be the best way to get the job done. Every rule has and needs exceptions. I am not adverse to that. I’m suspecting that that group of children probably constitute the small minority of students.

    The homeschooling ‘movement’, for lack of a better word, has little to do with kids and everything to do with parents. Everything I have read about thee parents indicate that the majority of home-schoolers (60%+) are ideologues and are comprised primarily of Christians that want the material provided in a christian context. The rest are divided among people that feel schools are not competent and persons that have distance/disability related problems. I’m sure that there are other reasons.

    Schools provide social opportunities that mimic the greater society, homeschooling is just the child and mom or dad. Yes, in my life view things like diversity across the entire spectrum of cultural indicators is important. Home-schoolers get to establish the manner of presentation of the material, pace of learning, as well as the context.

    Pace is not so much on my radar except that the pace in public schools is determined (again, I have read) by what a young mind should be ready for at a particular age based on studies of what constitutes a normative learning curve. Even in public schools a rigid pace is not necessarily a great thing but works for the majority of students. I grew up when kids were held back or moved ahead, that was the method of dealing with different academic readiness. It left something to be desired. Pace and readiness could generate it’s own mini-debate among people familiar with its pitfalls, I’m sure.

    I think a society has a duty to itself and its children to pass along skills and ideas that benefit the society as well as the child being trained to live in that society and to do so without coloring those things. Yes, that means toeing the nationalist line at its fundamental best. I don’t care if the coloring, or context, is christian biblical, catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or white power, or black power or any other power. The Amish should go to public school.

    Aside: [Found myself on “Stormfront” a couple of days ago- wow, I am always amazed at that site in the same way I am amazed at the quiver-full and separatist christian sites. Some of those white power folks home-school too from the comments I read. Since I refuse to become a member many of the site pages are off limits to me; if they are big on homeschooling and have threads on that I can’t get to them since I am limited to comments on a few threads.]

    The group of people that think the schools aren’t competent are in some respects correct but that’s an old and well founded argument over at least the 50+ years I’ve been watching the schools. Even off and on the fact that some schools are better than others at doing the job has been a constant. But I like the Gordian knot solution on that front, if a school isn’t performing just close it down, test the kids for grade readiness and reassign them to other schools that are performing.

    Yea’ I’ve heard the arguments between closing or making them better, but meanwhile the kids are trapped in a non-performing school and being shortchanged. I’m for getting them where they need to be to succeed as quickly as possible. Redirect the money being wasted on non-performing schools to schools that are worth subsidizing. It would be disruptive but wouldn’t go on forever. Schools are part of the infrastructure, like bridges and roads. I’m not adverse to remaking them, or a substantial bunch of them from the ground up to meet current needs.

    If the establishment clause was applied strictly and there was a mechanism for seeing to it that kids didn’t need to be trapped in a poor school I’m betting 90% of homeschooling would be neutered.

    Still, I’d like to know who those ‘communities are from your perspective.

  30. lottakatz,

    Something about your rebuttal struck me, your claim that there are “communities” of people that home-school. What communities? Who are the members (demographically) of these communities?

    Communities of homeschoolers exist all over the country, in rural areas and and major metropolitan areas, alike. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are several with hundreds of families. In each group you a mixture of races and religions and economic backgrounds.

    And why, if they can agree on a curriculum don’t they just borrow someones family room or even rent some space and start their own school?

    The one thing that homeschoolers agree on is that kids learn in different ways. There are lots of different ways to homeschool, from making a school environment at home to radical unschooling where kids have no requirements of them at all. And there are countless combinations in varying degrees of both these philosophies in homeschooling groups. Many times some families get together to study one thing and other get together to study another. They meet at museums and parks and they learn together. For most homeschoolers, the surrounding hundred miles is the school.

    As long as there is a meeting of the minds it would seem to be a way to husband their resources and still get the job done.

    Well, you have to define what “the job” is. And that’s a whole separate conversation. What “education” is, is different to different people. I think that’s because education is such a profoundly personal experience, even though it frequently occurs in groups. But which groups and when and how and why are all very, very personal choices. On the whole, homeschooling families “get the job done” in a way that brings them the most joy, the most satisfying results. Some families find that joy and satisfaction in public and private schools. Some families wing it. It’s a personal journey.

    I’m suspecting that that group of children probably constitute the small minority of students.

    Yes, just as in regular schooling, special needs kids (the population I worked with) are in the minority.

    The homeschooling ‘movement’, for lack of a better word, has little to do with kids and everything to do with parents.

    With all due respect, this is as ignorant and objectively wrong as it is insulting.

    Everything I have read about thee parents indicate that the majority of home-schoolers (60%+) are ideologues and are comprised primarily of Christians that want the material provided in a christian context.

    You are at a profound disadvantage, basing your very strongly held opinion on outdated and inaccurate information. The most recent research shows that about one third of families homeschool primarily for religious reasons.

    http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/homeschool/parentsreasons.asp

    Schools provide social opportunities that mimic the greater society, homeschooling is just the child and mom or dad.

    This is simply and demonstrably false. Homeschooling families work hard to get their kids into a variety of classes and sports and other opportunities for social interaction. Just this last weekend, my 13 year old son attended a masquerade ball for his homeschooling group. There were over a hundred kids there. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Indian, you name it. My son has a much more diverse group of friends than I ever did growing up.

    Pace is not so much on my radar except that the pace in public schools is determined (again, I have read) by what a young mind should be ready for at a particular age based on studies of what constitutes a normative learning curve.

    There is as much scientific evidence to support this assertion as there is to support astrology. Kids are individuals with individual methods of learning. There is no “should” when it comes to what a young mind is ready for. There simply isn’t. And it’s precisely because of this that so many kids are failed by public school.

    Again, I’m for public schools. I support the idea of public schools. But they are, unquestionably, failing millions of kids, because of the stubborn, baseless assertion that the basic paradigm works.

    Even in public schools a rigid pace is not necessarily a great thing but works for the majority of students.

    What do you mean by “works?” Are the majority of kids very happy in school? Are the majority of kids really learning or are they temporarily memorizing? There are lots of brilliant, successful adults who went to school who will tell you that they hated every moment of it and that they succeeded despite it.

    I think a society has a duty to itself and its children to pass along skills and ideas that benefit the society as well as the child being trained to live in that society and to do so without coloring those things.

    If you cannot demonstrate that homeschooled kids are less likely to have these skills, then your entire argument is moot. And you cannot demonstrate it, because there is no evidence to support the notion that homeschooled kids are less likely to possess these skills.

    Yes, that means toeing the nationalist line at its fundamental best. I don’t care if the coloring, or context, is christian biblical, catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or white power, or black power or any other power. The Amish should go to public school.

    This is a more fundamental kind of disagreement, then. I believe that the way we choose to educate ourselves and our kids is as personal as the way we worship or don’t. And so, for me, the idea that people should be forced to send their kids to a school they don’t want to attend is no different than forcing them to attend a church they don’t want to attend. It is fundamentally a totalitarian idea and has no place in a free, liberal society.

    When we talk about how a school “performs” we’re using a failed metric: standardized tests. Until the paradigm changes, there’s no use in talking about how a school performs. It’s meaningless when a “high performing” school can have hundreds of intelligent students who hate to be there and can’t wait to leave. They are not really learning and it’s silly and counterproductive to pretend they are.

    Homeschooling is growing in popularity. And the percentage of religious fundamentalists in homeschooling is steadily decreasing. There is no sign of that growth slowing and this is a good thing. I do agree, that when schools give up on the idea that testing is what measures progress, that all kids must progress at the same rate, and that authoritarian structures must exist to keep kids in line, rates of homeschooling might decrease.

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