26, 2006, Volume 13 Nr. 50, Issue 218
Banning Body Jewelry.
Stretching Ear Lobes While Shrinking Free Speech
neo-cons who have high-jacked the United States government continue
straight-jacketing the nation with their ideology. The
corporate ethic rules. Corporate icons are everywhere,
appearing as celebrities, philanthropists, military experts, even
educators, paragons of fame and success. The corporate climate
is pervasive. Pin-stripped, clean cut, meticulously coifed,
the business set tells us how to behave, what to think, what to
wear, what is and what is not acceptable. The corporationist
mindset permeates the schools. A recent example is the Arlington, Texas,
school district ban on excessive body jewelry and other items. The nbci.com
website article entitled, "School District Bans Mouth
Jewelry. Other Items. Grills, Other Fads Banned From Arlington
Schools", quotes school board trustee, Gloria Pena, that the
reason for the student ban is,
We want to instill in
them a sense of modesty and a sense of community. We're
preparing them for the work force, and in the work force there are
One has to give Ms. Pena
some credit. She is truthful in assessing the main
reason why state schools exist, that is, to create cogs from
students for the
neo-liberal machine that best takes advantage of their surplus labor
value. Who cares about education when rules such as workers' dress codes, are on the line?
Since when do the schools determine what "modesty"
is. Is the Arlington school district, when it lets military
recruiters propagandize and deceive its students, concerned about
the indecency of their deception?
Ms. Pena is not being completely honest with
her students as huge numbers of jobs, for which her
school district is supposedly preparing its students for, are heading
offshore, to Asia, Mexico, etc. While the Arlington school
district is heavy-handedly serving up the rules by which students
must function in the U.S. job marketplace, the corporate masters are
eliminating them. Talk about immodest. And, many
of the jobs Ms. Pena is preparing her students for are heading to
countries where body jewelry is common.
The February, 2004,
issue of the International Herald Tribune reports that,
who earn $60 an hour in the United States get $6 in India; data
entry agents who cost $20 an hour in Topeka run $2 in Calcutta.
Ms. Pena, you should consider getting
a nose piercing as a way of
preserving your job. Having body jewelry in today's
off-shoring job marketplace appears to be a positive
asset. Just wait, Ms. Pena. Your job and your teachers'
positions are about to be eliminated. You are going to be
replaced by foreign educators and teachers with body jewelry!
These other fad-endowed educators and teachers even have
the audacity of speakong English correctly. Unlike "Texan"
G.W. Bush, they can pronounce the word
"nuclear" properly and not mangle verb tenses. G.W.
Bush said, "If our country fails in its responsibility to
educate every child, were likely to fail in many other areas."
This explains why the Bush administration is such a failure.
The above sentence is copied directly from the White
House webpage on July 26, 2006. It incorrectly uses the
word "were", instead of the contraction, "we're"
or the words "we are". Touché, George.
Modeling being educated is the least of your skills. The
following two quotes by G.W. Bush on education speak volumes:
We want our teachers to
be trained so they can meet the obligations, their obligations as
teachers. We want them to know how to teach the science of reading.
In order to make sure there's not this kind of federal—cufflink.
One of the great things
about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.
Ban It All
Turner, the Arlington, Texas, school district's student services
director gave another, seemingly more plausible rationale, for the
student mouth and body jewelry ban:
The district is having to
respond to fads because they've become distracters or a safety
hazard for those around them.
and many teachers are intimidated by students who dare to be
themselves, who culturally identify themselves outside the system's dominant
paradigm, and who dare to express themselves. The real
hazard to getting an education is not student body jewelry.
The hazard is the lessening of student freedom in the name of
getting an education. Unless, of course, the lesson is that
state control and uniformity trumps individualism.
If the professional
educators have their way, the brave new world that’s coming will
be a hostile environment for anyone with a sharp wit and a wiseass
Leave Those Kids Alone, Gene Healy.
Controlling students is
not limited to banning jewelry. It includes banning foreign
languages. In Kansas City, a student was
suspended from school for speaking Spanish. The Washington
Post on December 9, 2005, printed an article (Spanish At School
Translates to Suspension) by its staff reported T.R. Reid:
Most of the time,
16-year-old Zach Rubio converses in clear, unaccented American
teen-speak, a form of English in which the three most common words
are "like," "whatever" and
"totally." But Zach is also fluent in his dad's native
language, Spanish -- and that's what got him suspended from
Getting suspended for speaking a foreign language, perhaps, the
dominant language spoken at home. You would
think that educators would pat students on the back for being
bi-lingual. Again, it is a matter of control. Since most
teachers and school administrators don't speak Spanish, they don't understand what Spanish-speaking students are saying.
When I was a student, I spoke Polish. Many students spoke Italian. So what? Imagine
what might happen if a student were to wear mouth jewelry and
speak a foreign language?
Dowling-Sendor writing in a column
on school law for the American School Board Journal on-line, states,
as the Supreme Court
stressed in Tinker, school officials can regulate or ban
expressive conduct by students only if their forecast of
disruption rests on substantive facts, not on mere speculative
fear of disruption.
Where is the disruption
caused by mouth jewelry at the Arlington, Texas, schools?
Where is the disruption when students speak a foreign
language? There is none. The Arlington school district, like the rest of the
"No Child Left Behind" indoctrination youth centers, says
it is preparing its students for the
"real world". That is, it is their mission to create
my 30-year teaching career, I recall one student coming to school
everyday dressed in combat boots, fatigues, flamboyant earring and what some
teachers considered, "provocative" tee shirts. His skinhead appearance
troubled some of the staff, as did the music that he listened
to. That was their problem. Today, this fine member of
the community in which he was
once a student, is a successful family and business man. His
unique food products are popular and highly praised. He is a
baker of fine specialty breads.
a choice between banning expressions of free speech out of fear of
disruption in school, and protecting free speech even if it may be
disruptive, I chose the latter. The author Salmon Rushdie said,
is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases
We, in the United
States, have become afraid of being offended. We are offended
by body jewelry, body piercing, foreign languages, dissent,
questioning authority, non-Christian religions, no religion,
socialism, anarchism, anything other than what resides in our
suburban SUV-like comfort zones. We are afraid of anything
unfamiliar. We attempt to control that which makes us
uncomfortable. Institutionalized control, however,
necessitates the presence of fear. And, institutionalized fear
narrows people's options. And that, of
course, is the point. Isn't it?
schools are but a microcosm of what is taking place
nationally. The Bush regime routinely uses fear to push
through its agenda. And, we the people, have allowed our fears
to let the neo-cons have their way. We are told to accept
perpetual war for perpetual peace. And when the people object
a bit too much we can expect another dose of fear. David
When the population
starts to feel a little too free, and bold enough to question its
rulers, another attack or two should straighten the rabble out. (Bush's
Trifecta: Control Through Fear, June 29, 2002)
Schools are the training
grounds for adult behavior. An inculcation of fear in early
life creates pliant adults that accept whatever line the State spews
out. Today, in July, 2006, half the United States population
surveyed, still states that Iraq had weapons of destruction.
Fear makes people stupid. Fear takes away freedom. To
the Arlington School District, I say, "Teachers, leave those
Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of Metaphoria
along with his life partner and wife, JeanneE. He is 30-year
veteran retired teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace.
His writings have appeared in Metaphoria,
After Downing Street,
Corner, Rense.com, Omni
Center, Rutland Herald,
Times Argus, and others.