Zero Tolerance Gone Overboard
See that picture at right? Portsmouth High School says "no" to this senior's submission of his photo for the school yearbook. Why did they say no? (No, not because they don't want to promote embarrassingly goofy pictures of students ... okay, I'm kidding -- that was harsh. ( : I'm all for the theatrical.)
The school rejected it because of a "zero-tolerance" policy against weapons. (Oh, the student, Patrick Agin, 17, is wearing the get-up in identification with his membership of the Society for Creative Anachronism, "an international organization that researches and recreates" J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings ... I'm kidding -- "that researches and recreates medieval history.") Now the ACLU is suing to prevent the school from publishing the yearbook without Agin's photo.
According to the lawsuit, principal Robert Littlefield told [Agin's mother] Farrington she could pay to put the photo in the advertising section of the book, but he would not allow it as Agin's senior portrait.
"That in and of itself demonstrates to us that there's absolutely no legitimate rationale for banning Patrick's photo," said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU.
Littlefield said he thought there would be less editorial scrutiny given to paid advertising space, and that an ad would not be viewed as receiving the school's endorsement.
The complaint says there is nothing in the weapons policy that would apply to the picture Agin submitted. It also says the weapons policy is arbitrarily enforced, noting theatrical plays at the school have included prop weapons and that the mascot — a patriot — is depicted on school grounds and publications as carrying a weapon.