Home of the Free and the Brave-- Really?

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“Every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue.” The United States is known for its patriotism and the slight ethnocentrism of its people. In the past decade, the society’s love for its country has fluctuated due to economic, militaristic, and political highs and lows, but when one wants to display his or her patriotism, the question that concerns society is—how much is too much?
On May 5, 2010 in Morgan Hill, California, five boys had tried to show their patriotism by coming to school dressed in American flag shirts. On an ordinary day, the boys’ apparel would not have sparked controversy, but this was not a normal day, as it was Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican-American heritage holiday.

According to the Morgan Hill Times, Live Oak High School students Daniel Galli, Dominic Maciel, Matt Dariano and Austin Carvalho had been ordered to change out of their patriotic attire by the administration of the school in order to avoid fighting on Cinco De Mayo. Aol News stated that because Morgan Hill had a large Latino population, the school board had been trying to prevent any potential confrontation between the boys and their Latino peers. By doing so, the board inflicted upon the boys’ freedom of expression, but did so in order to protect their students.


The Live Oak administration’s decision has sparked much debate nationwide concerning not only the boys themselves, but the origins of and necessity to celebrate a specific ethnicity’s holiday and when it is the right time to display patriotism. Cinderella B, a student at RHS, made the following comment pertaining to whether or not it was the right decision of the school to ask the boys to remove their American-Flag clothes, “No I don’t think that it was the correct choice of the school. The school has a responsibility to allow students to express themselves any way that they want to.” Nikki , another freshman High School student, agreed with Cinderella by saying, “No, I don’t think that the school has any right to involve themselves in what the students are wearing unless it is offensive to others. This story did not bring out any problems in the school, so the administration had no basis to get involved.” Additionally, both girls decided that it was more important for a school to guarantee freedom of expression to their students than to allow the administration to inflict upon this right in order to prevent potential violence.


Contrary to the views of the students, Mr. Veto, an English teacher at RHS, felt that it is the job of the school to regulate what the students wear if it is clear that the clothing is presenting a distraction or instigating arguments. Concerning whether he would ever remove a student from his class due to their clothing, Mr. Veto stated that he would remove a student “only if [he or she] had been creating a distinct distraction and causing a serious problem,” but he did not feel that a clear distraction had been present when the administration asked the boys to change their clothes. In general, Mr. Veto was not in favor of the reaction of the Live Oak administration, which correlated with the reaction of the two RHS students.





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