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Aug 25 2012

Does the First Amendment Exist in Oklahoma City?

This is just one of those stories that leaves your mouth agape at the thought that anyone could possibly think that these actions could ever be justified. A kindergarten student in Oklahoma City ran afoul of a city ordinance by wearing a t-shirt with a non-Oklahoma university logo on it:

An Oklahoma City kindergartner was forced to turn his University of Michigan shirt inside out last week because it violated a city ban on any apparel not supportive of the state’s college teams.

Cooper Barton, 5, comes from a family of Michigan fans. He went to school wearing a maize and blue shirt with “The Big House,” the nickname for Michigan’s 114,000-seat stadium, written on the front. The school principal made Cooper turn the shirt inside out due to the state policy.

The rule is among many restricting clothing and dress in the city schools. It came into effect in 2005 after suggestions from a gang task force. On the list of banned items, non-Oklahoma college dress falls directly in between gang symbol haircuts and “satanic cult dress, witchcraft and related symbols.”

WTF?

41 comments

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  1. 1
    dean

    Five year old? Gang attire? He didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose him.

    Is this type of thing common or was this school administrator an ass? Clearly the folks who wrote the law are in the second category (and not second category in the mathematical sense)

  2. 2
    D. C. Sessions

    They may be able to make this one fly by looking t Bong Hits for Jesus just right.

  3. 3
    lordshipmayhem

    I seem to recall hearing about a high school that banned NFL team apparel in favour of apparel representing a college or university – any college or university.

    The thinking was they wanted to encourage the kids to consider enrolling at the college or university whose sweatshirt, jersey or whatever you were wearing.

    Don’t know if it worked or not.

  4. 4
    sc_19a93d5fcaec8e1700caa792f5c9c782

    Jeebus, how does this not run afoul of the First Amendment? I can understand school dress codes, that’s a special environment, but a city ordinance? I’m so glad I moved far away from the midwest, the high winds or something has made the people that live there just plain crazy.

  5. 5
    graey

    My friend who lives in Midwest City says it has to do with gang related violence. There’s a strict dress code, and somehow wearing another states’ university t-shirt falls under that.

  6. 6
    imrryr

    You’ll be pleased to learn that even though Oklahoma is very conservative there are people in the comments blaming this all on liberals.

    But my favorite comment of all has to be this one:

    I agree 100% with the ban, though I think it should be more of a wear at your own risk policy since its kind of like a rights issue. If you like Michagan so much, go live there! Thats the way it should be! It makes me freaking sick to see longhorn stuff and Oklahoma stuff, or anything other than HOG stuff here in ARKANSAS! I dont mind one bit what Sooner or any other fans do within there own state, but I am a loyal ARKANSAN, and I dont want to see other colors unless it is gameday, then I am a nice welcoming host. Im not a heckler or gloater or sore loser either, I just dont like the guy down the street who claims to be a (loyal Bama fan)? If your so loyal, live there, simple as that.

    I’m a welcoming host but you make me sick and I wish you would leave because you support a college football team based in a different state than this one.

  7. 7
    piegasm

    The University of Michigan invited Connor’s family out to watch a game next month. They also held a press conference where they introduced a reversible shirt with a logo on both sides.

  8. 8
    jesuslovesbags

    a city ban on any apparel not supportive of the state’s college teams

    So technically, this is requiring that all apparel must support the state’s college teams.I mean, a plain black t-shirt isn’t supportive of OK college teams, therefore its in violation of the ban, no?

    if that’s the way the ban is actually written, it seems like it could easily be taken to absurd levels (as if it isn’t already) since “apparel” is a pretty vague term.

  9. 9
    Aliasalpha

    a city ban on any apparel not supportive of the state’s college teams

    Wouldn’t wording like that mean that any garment at all thats not explicitly expressing support for the local team is in violation? Did the person who wrote the law wear a business suit of some form? I’d sue to make a point.

  10. 10
    skinnercitycyclist

    Apparently, they also ban symbols of “witchcraft,” whatever that may mean to someone who bans college T-shirts among students.

    In a school in Eugene, they have banned bandanas (sounds like the beginning of a tongue-twister) that are red or blue (you know, Crips, Bloods), but allow lavender ones because that is the school color. I don’t know what they do at the school in town whose colors are actually red and blue…

    And I loved the comments from one of the original press appearances, people justifying this ban based on not wanting to see rival sports teams promoted, nothing about gangs, it just makes them “sick” when they see a fan of a rival team getting away with supporting their team. Now THAT is stupidy stupidy stupid.

  11. 11
    sailor1031

    “…. I just dont like the guy down the street who claims to be a (loyal Bama fan)? If your so loyal, live there, simple as that.”

    How can I get this unamerican moron to come here to Virginia to sort out my Iowan neighbour who has a Nebraska flag by his mailbox? I’ve wanted to do it but he’s an ex-marine and would kick the crap out of me – but I think this Arkansan has more crap in him than even my neighbour could expel.

  12. 12
    Alverant

    @imrryr
    That moronic commenter did know the reason why the parents bought the shirt was because it was there and it fit and not because of the logo right? Their family didn’t have the money to buy new clothes so they bought second-hand (a good idea for kids anyway since they grow so fast) and the selection is unfortunately not that great.

  13. 13
    D. C. Sessions

    Wouldn’t wording like that mean that any garment at all thats not explicitly expressing support for the local team is in violation?

    I wonder if the Mormons have heard about this?

  14. 14
    kacyray

    That was shitty writing on the journalists part. It’s a city-wide public school dress code, not a city ban.

  15. 15
    imrryr

    @alverant – I’m not sure if that moronic commenter knows much of anything. :)

  16. 16
    D. C. Sessions

    I’m not sure if that moronic commenter knows much of anything.

    Don’t be silly. Of course he knows things. In fact, I’m certain that he knows a great many things. Some may even be true.

  17. 17
    rogue74656

    As others have stated….It is NOT a city or state ban….IT IS A SCHOOL DRESS CODE!!

    This is in district (OKC) that has a problem with gangs (crips, bloods. etc) than use college and professional sports logos (like North Carolina) to show affiliation. Maybe the rule is a little over-reaching, but you must understand the context in which it was written. The people involved are not total idiots, they are trying to deal with a very difficult problem and, yes, there are “members” of street gangs that young.

  18. 18
    ArtK

    And I loved the comments from one of the original press appearances, people justifying this ban based on not wanting to see rival sports teams promoted, nothing about gangs, it just makes them “sick” when they see a fan of a rival team getting away with supporting their team. Now THAT is stupidy stupidy stupid.

    It’s tribalism, pure and simple. Sports teams (especially football in that part of the country) are very important tribal totems.

    Odds are really good that they started with writing a dress code to limit gang identification (a noble, but not always reasonable goal) and everybody started throwing in whatever they didn’t like. One hyper-Christian added the witchcraft stuff; someone else added the rival schools clothing.

    Question: When does being a healthy fan turn into being an unhealthy hyper-fanatic?
    Answer: When it interferes with someone else’s free speech.

    An aside: Kid is lucky. Wear the wrong shirt to some pro football games and you can get beaten unconscious.

  19. 19
    Rowan vet-tech

    If I was there, I’d send my kid to school wearing a pentagram and claim we’re wiccan and they’re violating my freedom of religion by banning things related to witchcraft. Sometimes I will wear my pentagrams as I think the symbol itself is beautiful and the whole “mind, then body” aspect of it is still appealing.

  20. 20
    chilidog99

    I spent some time this summer monitoring a construction project in one of Chicago’s high schools on the edge of some of the poorer, gang ridden neighborhoods in the city.

    The corridor walls were hung with pennants from universities from all over the country.

  21. 21
    Pierce R. Butler

    rogue74656 @ # 17: This is in district (OKC) that has a problem with gangs (crips, bloods. etc) than use college and professional sports logos (like North Carolina) to show affiliation.

    So if they ban sports logos, then one gang will start wearing stripes and the other will wear plaid.

    Really, the only way around this is to mandate that all students attend school naked.

  22. 22
    busterggi

    Doesn’t this law by default make it illegal to wear anything – t-shirt, jacket, pin – with an American flag on it?

    Why does Oklahoma hate our freedom?

  23. 23
    michaellatiolais

    @Pierce R. Butler
    Exactly. If you are going to mandate a dress code, go all the way. And foot the bill for the families that can’t afford it otherwise. But trying to piecemeal a dress code like this is just silly.

  24. 24
    Ace of Sevens

    The purpose of a dress code is to keep students from fighting about clothes. Arguments between fans of rival sports teams need to be nipped in the bud.

  25. 25
    gopiballava

    @piegasm:

    A reversible shirt with logos on both sides is nifty, but what I want when I hear things like this is a shirt that says “fuck censorship” on the inside.

    Perhaps a less confrontational version could have the first amendment on it.

  26. 26
    davroslives

    Ok, so I’m a loyal Buckeye and everything, so (theoretically) I “hate” Michigan. But who freakin cares what some little kid is wearing to school? I’ve seen kids wearing Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio University, Kent State, Xavier, Harvard, Yale, Indiana, and Texas clothing, and that was all ON CAMPUS AT OHIO STATE.

  27. 27
    caseloweraz

    I fail to see the logic of this ban. If the school district bans clothing wearing out-of-state team logos, slogans or whatever because gangs have begun using them, how can the wearing of clothing items touting Oklahoma teams be justified? what’s to prevent gangs from latching on to those?

  28. 28
    D. C. Sessions

    how can the wearing of clothing items touting Oklahoma teams be justified? what’s to prevent gangs from latching on to those?

    They may be murderous gangs, but they’re not blasphemous.

  29. 29
    Ace of Sevens

    Adopting apparel from a local team as a gang affiliation marker would cause confusion. Imagine a Chicago team adopting Cubs hats as their gang clothes. It would lead to a lot of false positives when trying to identify your fellow gang members.

  30. 30
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    My mouth is *still* agape!

  31. 31
    D. C. Sessions

    Imagine a Chicago team adopting Cubs hats as their gang clothes. It would lead to a lot of false positives when trying to identify your fellow gang members.

    And even more when your rivals are trying to choose targets. Think “adaptive mimicry.”

  32. 32
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    rogue @17:

    This is in district (OKC) that has a problem with gangs (crips, bloods. etc) than use college and professional sports logos (like North Carolina) to show affiliation. Maybe the rule is a little over-reaching, but you must understand the context in which it was written. The people involved are not total idiots, they are trying to deal with a very difficult problem and, yes, there are “members” of street gangs that young.

    Ok, so there is a very real problem.
    I don’t understand how a dress code *this* strict is supposed to alleviate the problem.
    Is the belief that people who wear OK college team shirts somehow *not* gang members?
    The people involved may not be idiots, but they’re grasping at straws with this ban.

  33. 33
    iancaballero

    rogue@17:

    Yes, they are idiots. Establishing a stupid policy? Okay, people make mistakes (although we should be clear; the rule is asinine in the extreme). Enforcing that rule on a 5-year old, and then holding firm? Idiotic.

    And while we’re on the subject, it might be a good idea to look into why there’s such a gang and drug problem in Oklahoma City. Aren’t the same “non-idiots” responsible for the policies governing the city? Is it possible, perhaps, that bad governance and arbitrarily stupid rules lead to crime? And that maybe continuing such bad policies is in fact a form of, dare I say it, idiocy?

    I don’t mean to come off like I’m attacking you personally, but your defense has some holes in it. And let’s not forget that these gang task forces aren’t always staffed by people who know anything about gangs. Banning collegiate booster shirts makes about as much sense (and will have as much effect) as asking the mean gang members to politely stop being criminals and go home.

  34. 34
    Gregory in Seattle

    “[S]atanic cult dress, witchcraft and related symbols.” So it is not just free speech that Oklahoma bans, but religion as well. Pentacles? Thor’s hammers?

  35. 35
    jnorris

    Where I live some school participate in sports tournaments in neighboring states. Oklahoma City is four hours from Dallas. It is possible for a Dallas soccer team or wrestling team to compete in Oklahoma City. Would the visiting team be forced to wear Brown Mackie College gear? Would the visiting parents have to hide their offensive apparel too?

    Gregory in Seattle @ #34, yes, it is religious discrimination if Christian gang shirts are allowed but not Wiccan.

  36. 36
    joseph

    In some cities sports teams’ logos and the clothes bearing them are used as gang symbols.

    In Galveston, Texas, the San Antonio Spurs Logo was adopted by a gang as their symbol. I had a friend whose brother was visiting Galveston to see if he liked the Texas A&M campus there. While walking in the city wearing a Spurs hat he was knocked down, his hat stolen and told not to wear Spurs clothing.

    After this he decided not to go to school in Galveston.

  37. 37
    kennypo65

    Didn’t Penn State teach us anything about priorites regarding sports?

  38. 38
    Ichthyic

    the law was written by, and for, RWAs.

    that really does explain it.

  39. 39
    Ichthyic

    This is in district (OKC) that has a problem with gangs (crips, bloods. etc) than use college and professional sports logos

    please read for yourself the REST of the statute, and then explain how a gang task force ends up including language banning things like:

    “satanic cult dress, witchcraft and related symbols”

    you really don’t know what motivates this stuff.

    I could explain it to you, or you could look up what “RWA” stands for.

  40. 40
    democommie

    “That was shitty writing on the journalists part. It’s a city-wide public school dress code, not a city ban.”

    Oh, then it’s okay; ummm, FAIL.

    “http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/oklahoma-youngster-forced-turn-michigan-shirt-inside-school-165451638–ncaaf.html”

    “The people involved are not total idiots, they are trying to deal with a very difficult problem and, yes, there are “members” of street gangs that young.”

    Yes, and there are rumors that some of them are being used to attack the FORSC* Sturmabteilung by approaching them, as if in search of the yummy MerKKKin chocolate they all carry–and then detonating chinese made hand grenades and maiming them all! 11onety!!

    Perhaps this will help:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/oklahoma-youngster-forced-turn-michigan-shirt-inside-school-165451638–ncaaf.html

    As any fool can plainly see the kid is not one of THEM. And you KNOW that there were never any problems with gangs before we were forced to let THEM into our schools. Everything was peachy keen before Brown v Board of Education.

    * Forces Of Righteous State Security

  41. 41
    TGAP Dad

    I was at Saturday’s Michigan-UMass game, and young Cooper Barton was there with his family. He made an on-field appearance during a first quarter timeout, and received a rousing welcome from the Michigan fans as he was presented with a Michigan t-shirt – printed on BOTH sides – on the big screen. He appeared to be having the time of his life. Here’s the story from KJRH, in Tulsa.

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