Update: Families of students sue school district over American flag T-shirts/Cinco de Mayo incident

From left, Daniel Galli, Austin Carvalho, Matt Dariano and Dominic Maciel - sent home from school on Cinco de Mayo because they were wearing American flag T-shirts. Photo by: Gilroy Dispatch file photo

“Live Oak High School students …were sent home from school on Cinco de Mayo because they were wearing American flag T-shirts. Three families sued the school district.

The parents of three of the four boys…filed a lawsuit today against the Morgan Hill Unified School District, Principal Nick Boden and Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez for violating their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

“The families are hoping to have their Constitutional rights vindicated,” their attorney William J. Becker Jr. said Wednesday by phone.

The lawsuit, Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, “seeks nominal damages” Becker said, which is symbolic. The plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages or an apology. It’s whether or not Live Oak or any other school in the United States recognizes their duty to not infringe on students’ First Amendment rights, Becker said.”


It is a shame that whoever sent these boys home from Live Oak High School could not have been more culturally tolerant. Why couldn’t they have respected the values and the fundamental human right of expression due these young men?

It’s sad that, just because of the color of their skin, and because their cultural heritage did not include Cinco de Mayo, that school officials felt compelled to send the boys home.

I had hoped we were becoming a more tolerant nation than that. Hopefully someday this nation will fundamentally change and everyone will be able to express their views, regardless of their skin color and culture.

But weren’t they inciting trouble? Stirring up angry reactions? No, the way I see it, the responsibility to control angry reactions lies with the person who’s getting their feathers ruffled. Just because I don’t like something you say doesn’t mean I can react violently or cause trouble. It’s up to me to exercise self-control.

Here’s the way it works in America: people get to say what they think. I don’t get to shut them down if they say something that hurts my feelings or insults me. Think how much more boring Leno and Letterman would be if that were true.

What would Jon Stewart or Glenn Beck say? We’d have dead air. Now there’s change you can believe in; everybody just hush for a while.

“Oh, we can’t say that on air; it might hurt someone’s feelings or offend them.” That doesn’t stop anybody from openly expressing their views. Unless of course, you’re pretty sure someone might shoot and stab you for saying something they don’t like, and you know it could happen because it’s already happened over and over again in Europe.

Then it’s best if you forget freedom of expression, slink away with your tail between your legs, and not air that particular South Park episode.

Good for the families for not letting themselves be intimidated. Good for them for not backing down. Good for them for not going after big bucks in this lawsuit. It’s not about money it’s about principles and values they are willing to fight for.

The warrior spirit is alive and well in Morgan Hill – don’t mess with them and don’t mess with the first amendment.

Funny thing, though: I wonder why the ACLU didn’t jump in on this one? Aren’t they the true defenders of civil liberties in America? Huh. I guess it depends on which slice of America you fit into.

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