Thursday, June 03, 2004

Expletive gun deleted 

When they asked us for quotes for the high school yearbook, I told them to use "expletive deleted". Not a cuss word that they would have replaced with the phrase -- I asked for the phrase itself, as a protest of the Watergate tapes and to thumb my nose at any number of things that made high school a less-than-pleasant experience for me. Really sophomoric in retrospect, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

At Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin, a student posed for his high school yearbook photo holding a shotgun and standing near a Confederate flag. Though he was told that there were no restrictions on photos -- and checking it with the yearbook advisor, who said it was fine -- he is now being told by school officials that it cannot be used. He is to graduate shortly.
"They pretty much asked me if I had another picture to submit," Schultz said. He was told the photo, which included a rebel flag in the background and Schultz in a cowboy hat holding his shotgun, was inappropriate.

"It (the photo) was very tastefully done," said Tammy Ankomeus, Schultz's mother. She also pointed out that students were encouraged by the school to show their personality in their photos, portraying themselves with sports equipment or other items that they identified with.

Schultz uses the shotgun at Menomonee Falls Rod and Gun Club, where he has been trap shooting since age 15. ...

Schultz and his mother stated they met with Principal Marty Van Hulle May 27 and showed him photos in past yearbooks that had included firearms.

"One is an actor from a war movie holding an assault rifle in front of him," Schultz said. "When 9/11 was going on, they showed a whole bunch of Marines getting off a helicopter with M-16s in front of them."

Schultz and Ankomeus stated they were told there were restrictions on yearbook photos, but they were not given any in writing. ...

Pewaukee School Superintendent JoAnn Sternke stated that she had no knowledge of the photos in previous yearbooks or a firearm being brought into school for a presentation and was only responding to the situation with Schultz.

"Weapons or images of this sort are not something we endorse or condone in the school environment. Weapons by law and school policy are not allowed on school grounds," Sternke said.

She said the yearbook is a publication that is representative of the school district. Sternke held that the district has a right to regulate content and determine the appropriateness of photos in it.

The article has the picture in question. School officials are questioning both the flag and the shotgun as possibly being "misconstrued". That's an awfully slippery slope; could someone have misconstrued my "expletive deleted" to tell them specifically to "pound sand" (the phrase my parents taught me after hearing my first f-bomb)?

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs.)