A case of banning the flag:
On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American flag.
Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.
The new rule stems from a controversy over students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.
I have difficulty figuring why exactly students wearing flags of other countries is such a problem that it requires this solution.
Back during and after the Gulf War, there was a student of Middle Eastern descent that was a vocal Saddam Hussein supporter and actually had an Iraqi flag pinned to his bag. It was a bit of a distraction because a lot of people took great exception to someone wearing the flag of a nation that we were at war against, but teachers were unusually capable of alleviating the conflict and getting on with class discussions. It seems to me that the ability to express oneself, even if it causes some conflict, was worth the minor distraction.
The superintendant explained it thusly:
The superintendent of schools in Sampson County calls the situation unfortunate, but says educators didnít want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible.
Even if we make a different judgment in the above case of an Iraqi flag in a time of war, it would seem to me that there is a substantive difference between wearing an American flag and the flag of a foreign nation. We are, after all, on American soil. I don’t think a “home rule” exception to the flag ban is wholly inappropriate, on 9/11 or any other day. Even if we don’t want to leave judgment in the hands of educators (heaven forbid), that seems like something of a no-brainer.
Sure, if one kid wants to wear a British flag and another a Sudanese and we allow the former but not the latter, that can become problematic. I could see how banning both might be preferable to making those distinctions. But we’re in America and an American flag ought to be uncontroversial.
The only gray area I see with the home rule exemption is if an exchange student says that Americans can fly their flag but he is not allowed to fly his. As such, maybe make the rule about flying the flag of the nation they come from. If a young Mexican or Canadian going to school hear wants to wear something with a Mexican or Canadian flag on it for Cinco de Mayo or Canada Day (or any other day, for that matter), that too is substantively different from some kid just deciding to wear some other nation’s flag cause he likes it or he wants to register his protest somehow.
These do not strike me as terribly difficult distinctions to make. They are pretty clear (American flag or flag of a nation that you have citizenship), easy to state, and not too difficult to enforce. I find it odd that the school district declined to make these distinctions and must attribute it to either some sort of transnationalistic thinking (we should want to be citizens of the world!) or, more likely, schools being terrified of making any distinction, no matter how unsound, that might come across as unfair to somebody, somewhere.
Either way, from a PR standpoint it almost never makes sense to mess with the red, white, and blue.