Picture Imperfect

December 21, 2006 1 min read

Not allowing kids to bring weapons to class is a no-brainer. But Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island has gone a step further: It’s nixing senior Patrick Agin’s plan to run a yearbook photo of him in medieval garb, complete with chain mail and broadsword. “Students wielding weapons is just not consistent with our existing policies or the mission of the school,” explains PHS’s principal, Robert Littlefield. But, as expected, the local chapter of the ACLU has stepped in, defending the right of Patrick (card-carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism—a group that promotes medieval reenactments) to express himself. Noting that the photo was taken outside of school, Steven Brown of the ACLU says: “It’s a perfect example of bureaucratic ridiculousness. …But this case is even more ridiculous, since Patrick was not even bringing the weapon to school.” Let’s put aside the fact that the school mascot is a Revolutionary War soldier “wielding” a rifle. Littlefield may have a point: Patrick could open the door for other kids posing with, say, a crossbow, nunchakus, or a kitchen knife. But here’s the head-scratcher: The school says it would be OK for Patrick to take out an ad in the yearbook, and post his preferred photo there. Brown says of that offer: “I guess they think it’s a danger to the school system on Page 6, but not on Page 26.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.