Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hands Off

Once again the people in charge prove that overreacting is worse than the problem. From NBC6:

MIAMI SPRINGS, Fla. — Six days before graduation, three South Florida high school students have been suspended after school officials said they made what could be interpreted as gang signs in a yearbook picture.

Miami Springs Senior High School senior Jean Morales, his brother, sophomore Adrian Morales, and another student were suspended after the three used hand signals to make the number 305 in the varsity baseball picture published in their school’s sports yearbook.

The three students said the hand signals were meant to show their love of rap music, not to incite gang violence.

School officials saw the hand gestures as a gang sign and suspended the three students.

“It is something that I think everyone, including them, acknowledges could be associated with, you know, sort of threatening gang intimidating kind of activity, and we need to get to the bottom of it,” said Joseph Garcia, of the Miami-Dade School District.

The three students said that is not true. They are fans of local Cuban rapper Pit Bull, who uses the number 305 to depict Miami-Dade County. It is also the date of Pit Bull’s son’s birth.

“They sell hats (with 305 on them). My brothers have hats. We buy posters with 305 on it, shirts with 305 on it. It has nothing to do with a gang,” Jean Morales said.

Miami has two area codes — 305 and 786 — and you have to dial ten numbers to make even a local call. A lot of people forget which area code to dial. I actually think that the boys were providing a public service.

Like the principal who had a kid suspended from school for taking a cellphone call from his mom on duty in Iraq, or the ones who bust the kids for praying around the flagpole before the start of the school day, school officials are taking the rules way too seriously and forgetting that there isn’t a sinister motive behind every little thing kids do. Not only that, the lesson they’re teaching the kids about freedom of expression — apparently you don’t obtain your First Amendment rights until you’re out of high school — is heinous. It also doesn’t advance the cause of respecting authority when you make a complete laughingstock out of yourself.