Black clothes and freedom of religion, not in Grand Blanc

By David R. Parvo

The Grand Blanc Board of Education is considering banning not only Marilyn Manson clothing but all black clothing as well. This action would effectively deny the students of the Grand Blanc School District their First Amendment rights. Parents who have voiced their concern liken the fans of Marilyn Manson to a "gang" that uses its strength to frighten and intimidate other students with their black hair, black lipstick and jewelry with satanic symbols. Examples provided by these parents include: reading the satanic bible aloud, and distributing satanic literature and symbols during school hours. School Board member James Delaney said the First Amendment does not protect devil worship in the 8th grade...nor is it a First Amendment right to say 'I want to drink your blood' or 'I want to lick your blood.'" He also tried to link the lyrics of Marilyn Manson to the suicides of two middle school students. These School Board members and the parents themselves must be forced to realize that they cannot pick and choose what and who the First Amendment protects and that, yes, 8th graders are entitled the right to freely express themselves.

The Grand Blanc School Board members are rolling out all of the usual stereotypes in their attempt to deprive their students freedom of expression: gangs, suicides, and satanism. Schools have recently begun to consider any group of children that hang out together and wear similar clothing a "gang". A very disturbing trend, for that word makes censorship palatable to the general public. It enables School Board members to strip the students of their First Amendment rights. The U.S. Constitution explicitly states that NOBODY has the right to censor free expression. Also, there is no age clause to the First Amendment which would allow these students' free speech rights to be trampled in a school environment like Grand Blanc's. Another part of this incident that is quite disturbing is Delaney's belief that "the First Amendment does not protect devil worship in the 8th grade." Delaney is absolutely wrong, for that is exactly what it does protect. There is such a thing as freedom of religion in this country. What religion will be next? Judaism? Islam? Another false argument used by Delaney is that there is not "First Amendment right to say 'I want to lick your blood.'" If that is not covered by the First Amendment, what is? I will answer that question for you: not much. Only if a distinct and imminent threat to inflict some sort of bodily harm was made would there be something punishable in these situations. These statements attributed to these children imply no threat for perpetrating a violent act upon any other students. Who's to say that these statements are not merely "inside jokes" of the sub-culture with the intent of "freaking out" their more mainstream counterparts in the school setting. Sick jokes? Perhaps, but punishable offenses? We think not. There should not even be debate by the Grand Blanc School Board on the Marilyn Manson clothing and to go as far to ban all black clothing altogether just illustrates the insanity and hysteria that is rampant among our leaders. The First Amendment is very clear and not subject to debate in this area and these administrators have NO BUSINESS WHATSOEVER punishing students for their taste in t-shirts, colors, or music.

Please contact the administration of Grand Blanc Middle Schools to voice your disproval of this very unconstitutional and unamerican policy at the following:

Dr. Gary Lipe
Superintendent of Schools
Grand Blanc Community Schools
19205 S. Saginaw St.
Grand Blanc, MI 48439
tel: 810-603-3114

Norman Abdella, Principal
Grand Blanc Middle School
11920 S. Saginaw St.
Grand Blanc, MI 48439

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