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Even A Picture Of A Gun Now Cause For High School Suspension

February 5, 2013
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Even A Picture Of A Gun Now Cause For High School Suspension
Breathe loudly and you might be suspended from high school these days — which hurts your ability to learn and get good grades for college, and is a violation of your civil liberties.

The latest outrageous booting from school comes in Arizona, where Daniel McClaine, Jr. was suspended for having a photo of an AK-47 as a laptop background.

Law prof Jonathan Turley writes:

A teacher noticed the picture on his school-issued computer. It shows an AK-47 on top of a flag. He was immediately suspended for three days under a policy that prohibits “sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures” and prohibits access, sending, creating or forwarding pictures that are considered “harassing, threatening, or illegal.”

The problem is that many people do not consider a picture of a gun to be threatening or harassing. It happens to be an object that the Supreme Court in Heller said was protected as an individual right under the Second Amendment. Of course, it could be argued, pornography is protected under the first amendment but restricted in terms of persons and places where it can be seen. Yet, the image of a gun alone is not viewed by many Americans as threatening as opposed to protective or patriotic. The school’s position appears to be that any picture of a gun is inherently an image of violence. There are a variety of images that may be read differently by students from pictures of Obama to protest pictures of torture or pictures of whaling. Likewise, there are pictures like the Iwo Jima memorial or revolutionary images that involve guns. The question is whether such a policy is intentionally vague to allow arbitrary or absolute regulation of this form of speech.

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