Out, out, damned dress!…..

April 25, 2012

Tennessee school officials teach conflict resolution “cat-box” style ….

How can a dress cause racial tension? How about a shoe? Could that be responsible for social discord as well? Well, I understand the shoe bit, at least in situations where one might be thrown at a visiting head of state. But even then, it is the one committing the act of assault that is guilty of an offense, not the shoe.

In the case of the Tennessee teenager who was banned from her school prom for wearing a dress made in the image of the Confederate Battle Flag, I question the allegation that her clothing could create “racial tension”.

I wonder if it would have been ok had it been a “hoodie”….

I once had the crap beat out of me because I was wearing a jacket with a fraternity emblem on it when I walked through an alley some State College “townie” had decided was his personal property. In today’s climate, I wonder if it wouldn’t be I who was in court and my assailant viewed as the victim of some injustice.

Both the public and judicial courts will most likely rule that it is the human actions taken with or without the presence of a “hoodie”, Confederate flag, or any other symbol, and those committing those actions, that bear full responsibility. When someone causes harm to another because of his or her clothing, race, creed, gender, gender preference, or favorite vegetable, those alleged contributing factors are irrelevant. Only the behavior is at fault. The ethic du jour of the legal profession seems to be bottom fishing for secret entrances to other people’s wallets, and I don’t think society is better off for the effort. It has contributed to a paranoid society, fearful of marching out of step lest they be sued or something. It’s political correctness gone rogue.

Some elements of any society can be reasonably expected to exhibit no higher intellect than basic brain stem activity, but public school is the last place such a vacuum should be created and fostered. In addition to learning essential useful knowledge, such as the traditional “readin’ writin’ and ‘rithamatic”, by the time one reaches the final years of the required twelve, emphasis should be on critical thinking and creativity as well, and I don’t mean parsing the same comfortable classics their grandparents groaned over and providing the same canned analyses. Educators who are locked into the unfortunate one size fits all mind-set so characteristic of public school today are slamming the all too brief window of opportunity to put the minds of tomorrow’s leaders into gear, instead guaranteeing a surplus of “followers”.

The administrators who couldn’t think beyond the horizon of their next evaluation when addressing the Confederate Flag issue could have, and should have, used the situation as fodder for lively group discussions, both among those they projected would create discord if they saw it, and among those who thought it was a clever idea. Instead of hiding the very real potential for inappropriate behavior, educators owe it to their students and to their communities to teach the adults of tomorrow how to meet conflict head on, not how to bury it and just pretend it isn’t there and doesn’t smell bad.


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