by Nick Shepard – Web Editor
There’s a tradition here at Kentlake, one among many, and one that students look forward to from the moment they walk into the gym for pictures freshman year, where they see some senior with wacky hair and thick eyeliner in line with their friends. They can’t wait for the time three years in the future when they’ll be getting professional senior photos done, and thus do not have to care about what’s going on their ID as it isn’t going in the yearbook.
This tradition was violated.
There are also rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, rights which were upheld during the 1969 Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines. The justices spoke 7-2 that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”; as long as the student is not causing a disruption or harming other students, teachers, or school property, they cannot be forced to act or look a certain way.
Those rights were violated.
I was one of many students who, upon entering the gym for photos, was ordered to change how I look to conform to a certain image the school had chosen – I was ordered to immediately remove the black lipstick I was wearing; a fellow senior, Trenton Curtis, was ordered to remove the fishing hat he had decided to wear that day. Please note that it is school policy that hats may be worn, again as long as they are no distraction.
The First Amendment is what guarantees us our freedom of speech – if something doesn’t sit well with a student, they can talk about it. If they support a certain political candidate or public figure, then they can wear a shirt supporting that person. The point is you are not only allowed but are encouraged to express yourselves in these ways, so why can’t we do so in a way that will affect even less people than the other ways?
The point is, there’s a word for those in charge who force certain opinions or actions upon their subordinates. The most infamous example took place about 80 years ago – there are parts of the world where you can still see them.
They’re called fascists.
No, they didn’t threaten bodily harm. They threatened the very fabric of our society – our sacred principle of freedom of expression and speech, the solid foundation for our constitutional democracy. Without it we are sheep. We go with the flow and conform to the status quo. Anyone can talk big and encourage individuality and independence, but if they don’t lead by example then why bother? What I glean from the school’s actions is that everyone must be the same, like me.
There can be no expression.
There can be no freedom.