New York Student Suspended For Wearing NRA Tee Shirt To School

imagesWe previously discussed the free speech implications of the arrest of a student for wearing a NRA tee shirt to school. Now we have another case of a student, Shane Kinney, 16, who has been disciplined for wearing his NRA tee-shirt to the Grand Island High School. Once again, it is not clear why this tee shirt falls under the school’s written prohibition and appears to be content-based censorship by the school.

Shane is an avid hunter and his family are NRA members. His tee shirt depicts the second amendment and the logo for the NRA. He was told to take it off or turn it inside out. He refused and was disciplined with a one-day suspension. He was technically disciplined for the refusal, but there still remains the issue of censorship.

I would hope that the school would not force a student to remove an ACLU/First Amendment tee shirt. The Second Amendment has now been recognized as another individual right like free speech for citizens. The problem was the NRA logo with two guns on it. However, it is hard to see how such an image would “disrupt or interfere with the educational process” or “encourage …violent activities.”

The Kinney’s have said that they will not push the issue and their son will not wear such shirts to the school in the future. They called this a “learning opportunity.” However, I am a bit worried about the lesson being taught. Shane stood up for his right to free speech and I still do not see the basis for the ban on the tee shirt. The lesson appears to be that you have to comply with the arbitrary, content-based restrictions of the government.

3t_lawrenceGrand Island Superintendent of Schools Terese Lawrence issued this statement:

The Grand Island School District recognizes this matter as an opportunity to review its policies, procedures and actions to ensure that they are consistent with our commitment to provide a safe learning environment and protect students’ Constitutional rights.

I reiterate, no student was disciplined for wearing a shirt expressing a position on the NRA or gun control.

That sounds like a bit of a spin if he is being disciplined not for the tee shirt but refusing to remove the tee shirt. That is like the government saying that a blog was not shutdown for its writings but refusing to remove its writings. The original question remains: why is a tee shirt supporting a constitutional right and associating with a large non-for-profit organization prohibited? I would think that students feeling strongly about constitutional rights and active in such organizations would be encouraged rather than prohibited. Presumably, a tee shirt espousing religious or press freedoms would not trigger the same response. I recently wrote a column on the shrinking student free speech rights — a trend that the Supreme Court has accelerated with a serious of wrongheaded opinions, in my view. Regardless of how one feels about the NRA or gun rights, I feel this case reflects that trend and denies students their free expression and associational rights.

What do you think?

39 thoughts on “New York Student Suspended For Wearing NRA Tee Shirt To School”

  1. One of the problems here is students engaging in free speech and then being punished for “being insubordinate” . The school claims they respect students’ free speech rights and did not punish them for the free speech. There is no way the student can do anything right if they want to exercise their constitutional rights, just abandon their liberty and submit.

  2. I’m not a supporter of the NRA but when I bought an RV with an NRA sticker on the door I left the sticker in place as a much better alternative than carrying a gun.

    This principal acted similarly to cops that charge resisting arrest as the only charge. He’s suspended b/c he wouldn’t remove his shirt? Why was she demanding that he take it off in the first place? Was it turnabout Friday and he was wearing it right side out? An unreasonable demand was met with a reasonable refusal, so the kid gets punished.

    In-school suspension is better than being sent home, but even so, it is too harsh. He didn’t belong in the principal’s office in the first place. He should have been sent back to class. If the teacher had a problem with the shirt, he should have been sent to the library or a study hall, not the suspension room.

    His shirt did not violate the dress code. Only his refusal to remove it violated a rule.

  3. Veronica: “…there will still be
    issues from somebody pushing the boundaries, but generally a good idea.”

    Hmm. That’s exactly what they thought in the Soviet Union.

    Veronica: “Parents should just comply with the school’s policies for that reason – ”

    And roll over and play dead when the students rights are infringed. That’s teaching them a great lesson about their liberties, isn’t it, Veronica? The problem here is that too many parents have done exactly what you suggest. Even THESE parents, post suspension, are doing the same thing.

  4. I wonder if he was wearing short shorts that spelled PINK out across the rear if it would get the same reaction…..

    This is just stupid….

  5. Where are the PC, anti 2nd amendment contingent? I truly would like to hear your take on this post.

  6. Again another Judge Jury and Executioner. The promoting of the fallacious democratic socialist model is providing all those up and down the political system the protection to exercise powers because of the various abrogations of the Constitution by the ruling oligarchy through their puppets in the Administration and Judiciary. Wait and see, even though the school may lose this suit, the person or individuals who made this ridiculous determination will go unpunished and this will inspire others to take such actions again at a future date. Sadly, some will still be applauding their actions.

    As and example, if the Judiciary abrogates the Constitution by ruling again the rights of a Citizen for owning a sawed off shotgun, as SCOTUS did in a 1930s suite, because it did not meet the criteria of being an arms, as the military did not possess such a weapon at that specific time, and other such examples of the various other abrogations of the 2nd amendments right to bare arms that have been determined over the years such as required carry permits, cooling off periods etc., does that not open the door to all such actions in an attempt to promote the disarmament of the American Citizens by anyone in authority.

    Even if the majority decides that wearing a NRA Tee shirt to school should be prohibited, one should understand that this still abrogates our Constitution.

    As I have written numerous times, the Constitution can be lawfully changed, as there are at least two methods of doing such currently offered by our system by the Constitution. However this idea of the democratic socialist system being for the greater good of the people, thus ignoring and usurping the numerated and non-enumerated rights protected by our Constitution, have discouraged those in power to up hold the rule of law; our constituted democratic republic, with it’s primary intent of protecting individual rights and property.

    Throughout my life I’ve seen one story after another of this same mentality emanating for the halls of government. From arresting rock singers for there vocal prose to coaches suspending indefinably a football player for catching the player in a bar when under-aged. It has even seeped into our private sector, with employers today denying lunch hours and breaks and no holidays within the first years as so many people under this corrupt system are wanting for jobs, that employers treat people like slaves today. Just forty years ago it was not like this, jobs were everywhere. As the size and “scope” of government has grown, more rights and property continue to be usurped to meet the growing costs and demands of government, and these people try to blame it on capitalism and I say, what capitalism, our money is not even free market derived anymore. Capitalism requires the protection of individual rights and as this case shows, people in even the lowest positions of power, don’t care about individual rights anymore, even though such powers are not granted to these people by our Constitution.

  7. The student had worn the shirt before without a problem, so it sounds like one particular teacher just had a bug up his or her ass about either the guns or this kid in particular. That makes the discipline sound arbitrary. Individual teachers shouldn’t be able to make up rules on the fly.

    Regardless of whether he deserved a punishment, what galls me is that he received a suspension for a minor infraction. When I was in school, suspensions were used for serious violent behavior or multiple repeat offenses. There is just no sense of scale anymore.

  8. This is why schools have school uniforms – all kids wearing simple plain sensible clothes, that do not provoke anyone or anything – there will still be
    issues from somebody pushing the boundaries, but generally a good idea.
    A kid’s school clothes should not be an issue – their presence at school is education. Parents should just comply with the school’s policies for that reason – I think the parents in this case took the correct attitude – they may not agree with the teachers but there is a greater purpose – their son’s education – he can wear anything else in his own time.

  9. These are folks cut from the same cloth as those that brought us the Kommon Kore Kurrikulum. Expecting sensible actions from them would be a stretch.

    “Welcome to the new skool year Komrades – please pick up your designer Mao uniforms over to the left.”

  10. So, let me see if I understand…

    If I wear rather simple, plain clothing, each article being made of the same sort of fiber (clothing made of combined different fibers may violate some religious precepts, and truthfully be adjudged to be a constitutional-violating, and therefore prohibited, religious statement made in a public school setting.

    Any article of clothing I happen to wear may have a color that has been privatized by some gang, and my wearing such an article of clothing will, therefore, identify me with said gang. What color(s) of clothing can I wear and know, without error, that the color(s) is(are) not a violation of some law somewhere?

    Enough laws prohibiting what other laws require, and life itself becomes unlawful?

    If I were of public school age, and if I were determined to not wear offensive clothing, would my total nudity be adjudged also offensive?

  11. Should students be disciplined for standing up for their civil rights? I don’t believe they should. The student was correct that he could refuse and the school had no basis to punish him in doing so.

  12. This was clearly censorship based upon the content of the student’s shirt logo. I am sure there was no student ever told to remove her shirt due to a girl scouts logo or a boy with an eagle scout logo.

    It was the NRA logo having the two rifles on it. Doesn’t it make sense that the National RIFLE Association might have rifles in it’s symbols?

    I wonder if the student would have been disciplined for wearing a shirt with the West Virginia State Seal….

    Look at the bottom of the seal, a pair of rifles similar to that of the NRA’s.

  13. What do you think?” – JT

    Wouldn’t they have to exclude all content on T-shirts …

    Something like “no writing or messages allowed on student clothing” in their dress code (e.g. to preserve peace among the student body) … rather than allowing some messages or words but not others?

    All or none …

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