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credit: dailyyonder.com

credit: dailyyonder.com

“The National Guard,” “the national guard…” Hmmmm. It seems I’ve heard of that…something to do with defending the nation, if memory serves. The Volokh Conspiracy at the Washington Post has the story:

T-shirts handed out by a National Guard recruiter at a local high school [Ravena, New York] have caused heated debate among parents, students and the school district. The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk superintendent says the shirts are not appropriate for students to be wearing in school.

The T-shirts in question say ‘National Guard’ across the top and then show the silhouette of a solider holding a gun in front of the American Flag. The school district says it has a very strict policy forbidding students from wearing any clothing that has a weapon on it….

Superintendent of RCS Schools, Alan McCartney says rules are rules and if an exception is made for one shirt with a gun on it, where do you draw the line? ‘One of the problems you have in school during this period in our history is that the weapon becomes the focal point for some people,’ McCartney says…. ‘[T]his has nothing to do with patriotism, nothing to do with anybody disliking the military, it has nothing to do with the recruiter himself, it just has to do with the fact that there was a weapon on the shirt and that just doesn’t have a place in a high school,’ he says….

A National Guard T-shirt with a soldier holding a gun becomes a “focal point?” And who, pray tell, might “some people” be? Perhaps “some people” might wear shirts depicting ammunition, and the next thing you know, there would be t-shirts depicting guns firing, and then there will be t-shirts of targets with holes in them, and pretty soon, dogs and cats living together, and the whole world is thrown into chaos!

A number of students refused to take the shirts off on Friday, saying that they felt the policy was disrespectful to the recruiter who is an active member of the National Guard.

There is a word for kids like that: rational.

Todd Starnes (Fox News) adds:

‘A pointed gun is just not appropriate for a high school,’ said Alan McCartney, the interim superintendent of the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District….

‘A couple of teachers realized [the T-shirt] showed a silhouette of a rifleman on it,’ McCartney told me in a telephone interview. ‘I realize some students look at the t-shirt and all they see is the National Guard. And that is a good thing. Others look at the shirt and all they see is the rifle.’ …

Un-huh. A silk-screened depiction of a rifle. A two-dimensional representation of a rifle. A likeness of a rifle. Might I be so bold as to suggest that anyone, and particularly a teacher, that is in any way disturbed by the mere sight of a two-dimensional image of a common firearm might want to have their sanity checked as quickly as possible? The inability to distinguish images on t-shirts from reality is usually considered to be a bit troubling and indicative of deeper problems.

McCartney told me the shirts violated the school’s dress code.

‘Our code of conduct says no t-shirts depicting violence or weapons,’ he said….

‘Where do you draw the line?’ the superintendent asked. ‘Is it okay to wear this weapon because it’s a National Guardsman wielding it? (But it’s not okay) if you’ve got a t-shirt on from a video game that shows somebody aiming at gun at somebody’s head?’

We try to be consistent, he said.

‘We are here to educate students to be neutral,’ McCartney said. ‘To create an environment where there isn’t a lot of controversy within the environment.

Where do you draw the line? I’ll be glad to explain. Schools are not there to “educate students to be neutral,” but to be proud of their nation and grateful to those that defend it. A substantial part of the educational process is transferring the values that have made America successful and free to new generations such that they too will appreciate the value of liberty and the sacrifices that must be made to keep it. The wearing of a National Guard t-shirt seems among the least offensive symbols a teenager might choose to embrace.

When I was a young airman standing guard duty, the eight jet engines of a B-52 suddenly roared on the distant flight line.

A fellow airman exclaimed “what’s that?”

A nearby sergeant calmly replied: “the sound of freedom.”

Those t-shirts are the sight of freedom, and we should be glad there are men and women of sufficient character to join the military. We should also do all we can to encourage others to do likewise.

Any school superintendent or principal that can’t see the difference between honest patriotism and frivolous, nihilistic, bloody video game images, and the clear line dividing them, calls into question their fitness for their position. Violence is carried out by individuals, not the tools they employ.  Firearms are neutral, neither good nor evil.  A rational policy would proscribe depictions of violence, not the implements of liberty.

One might be tempted to think that such a person actually can see the difference, but chooses to ignore it for ideological reasons. Perhaps they are reflexively anti-gun, or anti-military. Perhaps they aren’t that fond of America and in hiding behind an over-broad, zero-tolerance policy, are hiding their own beliefs, beliefs that even in the East might not be acceptable.

In any case, at the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District, “some people” are honorable, rational Americans. They’re the ones wearing National Guard t-shirts.

Alan McCartney, Interim Superintendent of Schools may be reached at: amccartney@rcscsd.org

Tom DiAcetis, Principal of the High School, may be reached at: tdiacetis@rcscsd.org

I trust, gentle readers, should you decided to contact these folks, you’ll do so with the polite diligence you show in commenting here.