Shirt ban focuses on the wrong issue

Hickory Daily Record
March 29, 2004

The Caldwell County school board, or someone within it, has betrayed the purpose for which it exists.

The purported reason for banning the Confederate flag on clothing at school is because it might be offensive to some people and thereby contribute to racial tension. Such reasoning is fundamentally flawed.

Offense does not reside solely or even primarily in an object, act or event. People find offense in what they perceive. People take offense in response to some event. To do so, it is necessary to interpret something as being offensive, and responsibility for that interpretation lies with the perceiver.

Suppression as a means of social control is notoriously ineffective. By focusing on clothing rather than the actual issue and ways to deal with it, the school has aimed at the wrong target. The saddest part is that not only are such efforts doomed to failure, but they perpetuate the very conflict they are put forth to prevent, and they mislead the public into believing that a solution has been put into place.

Is the flag issue really about race? Many interpret its meaning otherwise. What if a black student wore clothing with a Confederate flag on it? Who is offended then? In the final analysis, where race is concerned, the only one which really counts is the human race, of which we are all members.

Useful education involves teaching students how to think, not just what to think. The school has abdicated its role by its irrational focus on the latter. In doing so it is reduced from the status of an educational institution to that of a mere tool of indoctrination. It is fortunate that there are still teachers who continue to foster genuine learning despite a context which functions to impede it.

Alec Riddle

Granite Falls

Bravo to students protesting comment

Am I hallucinating? Did Principal Byron Jones (South Caldwell High School) really say "We’re more an Abercrombie & Fitch kind of school.?"

Not only is that appalling for the reason that Abercrombie & Fitch has a penchant for featuring pictures of mostly-nude teenage kids in their stores and catalogs, but it is completely ignorant of the fact that not all high school kids fit a single mold!

Mr. Jones, you, a high school principal, should be more aware of that fact than most! It makes me sad for the student body of your school. Open your eyes and see that there is a huge variety of tastes, personalities and ways of thinking.

You should be celebrating that fact instead of pigeonholing your students that way. Bravo to the students who wore t-shirts saying "I’m not an Abercrombie & Fitch kind of guy!"

Christy Fitzgerald


Responsibility is not to hate, but pray for revival

Although I was initially inclined to simply laugh off the "Homosexual abomination" letter written Friday, it is evidently guilty of its own complaint.

In his diatribe, Mr. Bynum decried the "buffet mentality" of pick-and-choose Biblical application, suggesting instead a strict and immediate adherence to specific Old Testament verses which outlined rules of law and punishment for many types of disobedience in ancient Israel.

The law was established to clearly show the need for a savior (Hebrews 7:19-28), not to apply some modern dictatorial purging. To simply ignore the words of Christ himself (Luke 6:36-37) to avoid judgment and show mercy, or to advocate a violent and self-righteous judgment of homosexuals is ironically a trip to the same buffet.

In Jesus’ ministry, He pardoned a woman caught in adultery who was about to be stoned by the Pharisees (John 8:3-11). Although they countered with O.T. law, His words were simply, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her (verse 7)." If the law were the preeminent weight in this matter, Jesus would have grabbed a handful of rocks and joined the Pharisees, but His love and mercy transcended human sin. God will judge all at the appointed day, but we are not to take matters into our own hands (1 Cor. 4:3-5; Matt. 7:1-5).

Last, this criticism in no way justifies homosexuality, for its pervasive presence in our media and culture resonate with echoes of Romans 1 and the need for God’s salvation.

Our responsibility is then much less the non-contextual message of hate printed Friday and much more the work of prayer and encouragement for personal and national revival.

Dwayne Mitchell