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Robert Winner

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School dress codes

After the arrest of Jared Marcum in W. Virginia for wearing a T-shirt that stated "NRA protect your right", I begin looking at dress codes. For that school it was, "dress code prohibits clothing that has violence, profanity, alcohol, drugs or tobacco, along with any sexually suggestive or discriminatory messages." He wore the t-shirt most of the day until a teacher was offended and he was told by that teacher to take it off. He refused and was arrested for disrupting the educational process and suspended.

The question is: Did the 14 year old disrupt the educational process? Could this have been handled differently? Did the teacher enforce the dress code or express a personal opinion on the issue of gun control?

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      Jun 19 2013: I was going to make the same comment. Schools may enforce whatever dress code they like. My son goes to a school where boys are supposed to wear navy-colored pants, white or light-blue shirt, black or navy socks, and shoes of a single color. No symbols are allowed on any item - not even a brand name logo on the shoes. Parents comply for multiple reasons. Equality is one. Kids from well-to-do and from low-income families look no different. Clothes, brand names, worn in specific ways often serve as gang and clique symbols. When I was in the Soviet military, there was hazing based on how long a soldier had served. There were subtle signs by which the term of service was determined, even in a uniformed environment - the way the buckle is bent, the shape and color of the hat, the way the uniform is pressed, etc. All these differences are used to polarize the group and ostracize people.

      The student may have violated the dress code - we don't know. We need to see the code. The teacher may have been an NRA member or anti-gun activist - we don't know. What I find disturbing in the whole situation is that so many people are reading too much into the matter and making judgments without knowing the details or the context. We have to thank our media for that. It's fun to pit people against each other. It can be very profitable too. Headlines about shootings and violence tend to chain people to their boxes and justify the existence of lawyers and politicians.

      The case seems to be badly mishandled. A clash of egos, as usual. Much like the Sheldrake controversy here on TED. Instead of calling the police, explaining the reasons behind the policies and talking to the parents might have done the job.

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