Another day, another student sent home from school for wearing an inappropriate T-shirt.
The big difference this time: The student in question, Jared Marcum, 14, was arrested and suspended from his middle school in Logan, W. Va., CBSDC reports, for refusing to remove his shirt in support of the National Rifle Association.
Logan police actually arrested Marcum on school grounds last Thursday after he refused a teacher’s order to remove the shirt, which features the NRA logo, a graphic of a hunting rifle and the words “Protect Your Rights.”
Marcum’s lawyer, Ben White, said that when the teen was told to remove the shirt or turn it inside out, he attempted to engage the teacher in a debate. The police were called in and Marcum was promptly removed from school grounds. He was taken to the local police station and released to the custody of his mother.
Logan police chief E.K. Harper insisted that Marcum was not arrested for wearing the NRA shirt, but rather for “disrupting the school process. … His conduct in school almost incited a riot.”
The Logan County school dress code prohibits clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexual language, along with ads for alcohol, tobacco or drugs. The NRA is not mentioned in the dress code.
After serving his one-day suspension on Friday, Marcum returned to Logan Middle School on Monday – wearing the exact same shirt. Several other students wore NRA T-shirts as a show of solidarity.
And obviously, Marcum isn’t the first student making headlines for wearing a shirt deemed offensive by school authorities.
In February, a 14-year-old boy in Genoa, Ill., was told to remove his T-shirt in support of the U.S. Marines, primarily because the shirt featured two intersecting rifles; the youth avoided suspension by turning the shirt inside out.
On May 5, 2010, five students were kicked off the grounds of a high school in Morgan Hill, Calif., for wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the American flag, presumably in an attempt to irritate Mexican-American students on the Mexican holiday known as Cinco de Mayo.
And remember Bretton Barber? Way back in 2003, the high-schooler in Dearborn, Mich., was sent home from school for wearing a T-shirt with a picture of then-president George W. Bush and the words “International Terrorist.”
As for Marcum’s personal statement on the right to bear arms, his lawyer Ben White told ABC News: “Jared respects firearms and believes in the Second Amendment. He believes it’s being threatened by current legislation. He wore [the shirt] as an expression of political speech and the need to protect the Second Amendment.”
Just last week, a restrictive gun-control legislation plan spearheaded by U.S. President Barack Obama was roundly defeated in the U.S. Senate, despite the fact more than 90 per cent of the American public supported it. The bill’s failure to become law is largely credited to the efforts of gun lobbyists and groups like the NRA.
But whether the cause is pro-gun or anti-gun, is it really necessary to drag a 14-year-old student into the discussion? Did the school officials overreact in the first place, or is Marcum just another attention-seeking teenager?
What do you think?