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